Monday, August 8, 2011

My Favorite Tank

When Berkeley was a baby she had the cutest romper that I just loved. I liked it so much in fact, that I cut off the bottom of it when she outgrew it and turned it into a tank top. It's one of my favorites for her to wear, so I decided to make some similar ones so she could have more. I think I finally have all the kinks out of the pattern, so I thought I would share it with you now. I made the pattern for a tank top, but I have made dresses with it too, and the original was a shorts romper. is

They are great for playing at the park,

swinging with your friend,

or just having a picnic.

This pattern is for 18months - 2T, but it could easily be enlarged or shrunk to make other sizes too. Just lengthen or shorten the distance in the center of the bodice between the straps, make the straps longer or shorter, and make the rectangles wider or narrower.

To make one, you need:
1/2 yd of fabric
10" of 3/4" elastic (more or less if you are making a different size)
a button or two if you want to have the straps button on

To start, wash, dry and iron your fabric. Then cut out your pattern pieces.

The pattern for the bodice is available here.  Cut out both pieces and tape the strap piece onto the bodice.

For the bodice, you need to cut two so you have a front and a lining. They can both be from your main fabric, or one can be from a solid for the lining. Also, if you don't have a serger, add 1/2 to the bottom of the bodice lining.  If you don't have enough fabric to make the bodice one piece, you can cut the straps out separately, then sew them to the rest.

For the back and the rest of the front, you are going to cut two rectangles.  The front one should be 15" wide and 10" tall and the back should also be 15" wide, but needs to be 12" tall. If you are making a dress, add a few inches, and if you want to have a second fabric as a strip on the bottom, factor that into your measurements. The back piece just needs to be 2" taller than the front piece.

Okay, serge the bottom of the bodice liner and set aside for now. If you do not have a serger, fold under 1/2" and sew a seam along the bottom.

Gather the top of the front rectangle along one of the 15" sides. Do this by machine stitching with a higher tension setting, or sewing a line with a long stitch length and hand gathering it.

Pull and shift the fabric along your gathering stitch until it's as long as the bodice piece and the pleats are where you want them.

With right sides together, pin the bottom of the bodice front to the gathered side of the front piece. Sew using 1/2" seam allowance, then serge the edge or leave raw.

If the gathering stitch is visible from the front, take it out now with a seam ripper. Open and iron out the seam.

Place the bodice lining on top of the bodice front.

With right sides together, pin in place and sew with 1/2" seam allowance. Start 1/4" in from one side under one arm, and continue around straps, ending 1/4" in from the other side (see picture below).

Clip the corners of the straps, and turn bodice right-side out.

Iron flat.

Serge the top (15" side) of the back piece, and fold over 1". If you don't have a serger, fold over 1/4" and then 1". Sew close to the serged edge to make a casing for the elastic.

Hook the end of the elastic onto a safety pin, and slide into the casing. When the back end reaches the raw edge of the opening, sew a line down the end of the elastic to secure it in the opening of the casing. Continue pulling the elastic to the other end of the opening, and sew that side in place as well.

Line up the back piece with the front piece and cut off any excess to make them the same length.

If you are adding a band of fabric on the bottom of the dress or tank top, do that now by sewing one band to the bottom of the front piece (right sides together) and one band to the bottom of the back piece (right sides together).

Place the front piece down with the right side facing up and the lining sticking up at the sides.

Place the back piece on top of that with the right sides together, lining up the top edge of the back piece and the under-arm of the bodice front.

 Fold the bodice lining back over to the wrong side of the back piece so the elastic casing is sandwiched in between the right sides of the bodice front and the bodice lining. Repeat for both sides.

Pin and sew down both sides with 1/2" seam allowance. Serge the seams, or zig zag or leave raw. Flip the bodice liner back over to the inside and iron the side seams.

Hem the bottom by serging and folding 1/2" (or bigger if you like a chunky hem) or folding 1/4" then 1/2". Sew two lines of stitching along bottom.

    - sew liner to the bodice with a topstitch just above the front seam between bodice and skirt.

    - top stitch around the top of bodice and straps.

Now, there are a few ways I have attached the straps on these. You can simply sew the straps to the inside of the elastic casing on the back like the one shown here.

The way I did it for this top is by sewing a button hole at the end of each strap,

then sewing one button in the middle of the back.

This puts both straps on the one button to make a V.

You could also do two buttons on the back. So, check the straps for a good length, and attach them how you want. Then you are done!

We love summer around here (probably because it's ALWAYS summer around here) so sundresses and tank tops are always in the wardrobe!