Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sweet and Simple Tank Tutorial

The days are getting warmer and it's time to bring out the summer playwear!  That doesn't mean that our little girls can't look as sweet as can be while they play outside, though!  To help them look cute and stay cool, I bring you the Sweet and Simple Tank tutorial!

This is a fairly simple tank style top to make, but it has some nice details that make it a bit more eye-catching than your average summer tank!  The top features a girly little ruffle and it ties over each shoulder in a cute bow.

It gathers in at the waist with elastic for a nice fit, while staying comfy for little ones.

A lovely top for a tea party on the lawn!

Ready to make one?  You will need:

- 1/2 yard main fabric (this should be plenty for most toddler sizes, although you might need a bit more for bigger girls)
- 1/2 yard coordinating fabric (you might get away with less, but you enough to cut on the bias for the straps)
- 1/2" elastic, the measurement of your child's waist plus an inch
- Sewing stuff (thread, scissors, machine)

To get started, take a t-shirt that fits your child well, fold it in half and place the fold on the edge of a sheet of paper.  Trace the outside edge, adding 1/2" seam allowance and trace the armhole about 3/4 of the way up.  I made mine in an A-line shape so the elastic waist would be pronounced later on and added some extra room since cotton won't stretch like a knit t-shirt.

I also drew the armholes in a bit, since the straps of the tank will be placed right on that line.  If your armhole is too far out (where the sleeve seam of a regular t-shirt would be) the straps will probably slip right off your little one's shoulders.  I would recommend bringing the armhole line in at least 1".

Draw a line straight across the top where you want your neckline to be and you should end up with something like this (ignore all my other chicken-scratchings...I also used this pattern for a different project).

Cut two pieces from this pattern on the fold of your main fabric.  These will be your main front and back tank pieces.

Determine where the waistline of your tank will be (you may want to hold it up to your child to get a correct placement) and measure across one of the pieces at this point.

Cut two pieces from your main fabric that are this length and 1 1/4" wide.  This will become the casing for the elastic waist.

Stitch the two ends of your casing together using 1/2" seam allowance.  Press each edge in 1/4" all the way around the loop.

Next measure across the very top of your tank.

Double that measurement and cut a strip of your coordinating fabric that length by 4" wide.  The top of my tank ended up being 6.5" (this was after I decided to cut the armholes in a bit), so I made my strip 13" x 4".  Fold that strip in half, wrong sides together, and press.  Set aside for now.

Next you need to make some bias tape for the straps.  You can find my favorite handmade bias tape tutorial here.  For this project, I just cut a bunch of strips along the bias and sewed them together.  You could also use pre-made bias tape and save yourself the trouble, but I love the look of the coordinating handmade tape!

If you cut the strips of fabric on the bias like I did, simply iron the piece in half lengthwise, then iron each edge into the middle.

Then fold it in half again and press and you have bias tape!

Once you have your bias tape made, you'll need to cut a few pieces.  You will need two pieces the length of the top edge of your tank.  These were 6.5" each for me.  You will also need two pieces for your straps.  The length is up to you, but you'll need at least enough to go around the armhole, over the shoulder and then tie into a bow.  My straps were each 30" long and the bow just sits on the shoulder with no hanging ties.  If you want ties with a bit more drama, you'll want to cut longer strips of bias tape.

Set your bias tape aside and let's make the ruffle for the top.  Take your folded ruffle strip and run a gathering stitch (longest stitch length, highest tension) about 1/4" from the raw edge.  Pull the bobbin threads to gather the ruffle to the same length as the top edge of your tank.  Pin and stitch the ruffle down, sewing over your gathering stitches.

Now grab one of your short bias tape pieces and attach it to the top edge of the tank, making sure it covers the stitches from your ruffle.  If you need a tutorial on attaching bias tape, Dana has a great one here.  Go ahead and attach the bias tape to the front and back top edges of your tank.

Place the front and back tank pieces right sides together and stitch up the sides using 1/2" seam allowance.  Finish the seams by serging, zig zag stitching, or trimming with pinking shears.

Pin and sew your straps into the armholes, making sure the straps are the same length on each side.  The bias tape should encase the raw side edges of your ruffle.  When you get to the end of the strap, tuck in the raw edges before stitching it up for a clean finished look.  I personally pin the heck out of my straps when I'm sewing them so they don't shift around on me!

We're in the home stretch now!  Take the casing you prepared and slip it up over the tank to the waist area you determined earlier.  The tank and casing strip should be wrong sides together.  Pin the casing in place, making sure it is straight and level all the way around!

Stitch all the way around the bottom edge of the casing, as close to the edge as possible.  Then stitch around the top edge of the casing, but leave a 2-3" gap open.  This will be where you insert your elastic.

Your elastic piece should be the measurement of your child's waist plus 1".  Using a safety pin, thread the elastic through the casing.

Make sure your elastic hasn't gotten twisted, then pin and sew the elastic together, overlapping each end by 1/2".  Tuck the elastic ends down into the casing and sew up the opening.

Now hem it up, tie the shoulder ties into a cute bow and you're done!

Have a tea party!

If you make one, I'd love to see it in the flickr group!  If you have any questions, as always, please let me know!  Have fun sewing!


  1. What a sweet little top! The fabric you chose is so pretty. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  2. I pinned a dress tutorial from you a few time this blog!!!
    Thank you!


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