Like any sewing pattern, the Tropo Camisole can be made from a variety of fabrics. We recommend knits with 40% stretch, though you can use a slightly less/more stretchy fabric (though you may want to go up/down a size, more on that below). Jersey is the most obvious choice though you can also use interlock, thermal, ribbing, sport lycra, and others. Below, we share examples of Tropo Camisoles made in different fabrics so we can highlight the good and bad in the subtly different fabrics (and so you can see what they might look like). The things you’ll want to pay attention to: weight, drape, stretch, and recovery.
Weight & Drape: This grey Tropo is made from the most lightweight of the fabrics we’ve used. It’s a jersey with some rayon content and 40% stretch. I love this one as a base layer for layering (it was my go-to all winter) since it feels like I’m wearing nothing. Some testers loved using lightweight rayon knits, others didn’t since they can be a bit drapey and clingy. Merino blends are also great for layering because they wick sweat and keep you warm while still being quite lightweight.
Stretch & Recovery: This dinosaur Tropo is 100% cotton and is actually a tiny 1×1 ribbing so it has a lot of stretch – more than 40% stretch. A couple things make this not the perfect camisole. Because it is more than 40% stretch I could have gone down a size however the nature of the printed fabric means that when it stretches the white base fabric is visible through the stretched dinosaurs which doesn’t look good so I didn’t size down. Also, this fabric doesn’t have good recovery (meaning when you stretch it it stays stretched out. This is pretty common with 100% cottons) so it kinda droops by the end of the day (until it’s washed again). This makes it fine for a stand-alone top but not great for layering.
Stretch: This polyester jersey had less than 40% stretch. If your bust is on the larger end of a cup size you’re selecting (e.g. if you’re a full B and using the A/B size) this may be problematic because it won’t stretch enough over your bust (because there is negative ease in the pattern across the bust). On the other hand, if you’re using your camisole in lieu of a bra (with or without the bralette built in) it may be a nice thing because it keeps your breasts in place better than a stretchier fabric – this is a personal preference thing. I would NOT recommend using less than 40% stretch on a Tropo Maternity Camisole because, with all the changes your body goes through, you have a smaller window in which the camisole fits.
Weight & Recovery: This is a 100% organic cotton knit that is a bit beefier than my other samples at 5.8 oz/sq yd (200 gsm). Like the other dinosaur print above, it doesn’t recover well so it feels a bit droopy at the end of the day. With the weight and droop it makes a good stand-alone fitting tank top but isn’t ideal for an underlayer.
Recovery: Interlock knit is a great choice for the Tropo either as a stand alone top or under layer. I’ve used a 60% cotton 40% polyester for many Tropo Camisoles at this point and they stand up to wear well and have good recovery (and 40% stretch). An interlock looks like a jersey from the right side but you can tell that it is an interlock not a jersey because the wrong side looks different on jerseys (all purl stitches instead of all knit stitches) but looks the same on interlock (only knit stitches are visible on right and wrong side).
Stretch: Fabrics with embossed or painted prints can be a fun choice but you do want to pay attention to what the fabric looks like when stretched. Some types of prints act like a glue on the fabric and won’t actually stretch though the fabric in between the prints stretches so it can look misshapen if stretched too much. In this example, though the fabric does technically stretch more than 40%, it looks weird to have it stretch that much so I wouldn’t actually consider it that stretchy.
Weight & Recovery: Our tester Carolyn used a lightweight synthetic activewear and thought it was a great choice. She noted that it was a bit slippery to sew with, so if you don’t have any previous experience sewing with knits it might not be the best choice. It can make a great base layer or hot weather layer because activewear fabrics can wick away sweat. Synthetic fabrics often have great recovery.