Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Tank Top Top (part 1)

Remember when I was stranded at Target during a snowstorm a couple of weeks ago?  Well, while I was there, just sort of wandering around, I saw some fun tank top shirt things (I have no idea what to call them--obviously) in the juniors section.  They looked more or less like THIS.  That isn't the cutest one I saw there, but it's the closest thing I've been able to find online.  Anyway, it gives you the general idea of where my idea for this top came from.  So, a big thanks to Target for not only giving me a place to go to the bathroom in the middle of the snowstorm, but for providing me with some project inspiration.  Thanks and credit given, let's move on to the goods.  Here's my version of what I so intelligently call...

The Tank Top Top
It's fun, it's easy.  It's light, it's breezy.  
It's just what you need for summer and spring!

Part 1 --Today in Part 1 we'll cover materials, measurements, and steps for constructing a tidy little hem.

Here's what you'll need:

-a tank top
(I got mine at Target on sale in the pajama section, so it has one of those funky "built-in-bras."  Don't let that throw you off in the pictures.  You certainly don't need to have this kind of tank top.  A regular one will do just fine.)
-1 yard of fabric for the "skirt" of the top
-1/4 yard of coordinating fabric for your hem
-general sewing supplies

All seam allowances are "lined up with the edge of my presser foot" (i.e. between 1/4" and 3/8") unless otherwise stated.

My fabric came from Cherry Lane Textiles.  I really love both prints, but I just have to say that the gray fabric with the flowers is so soft.  Like, I really don't know if I've ever had regular cotton fabric feel so wonderful and soft.  And right now it's on sale!  Anyway...

Let's get started!


First, put your tank top on.  Mark (in the center of your tank top) where you want the "skirt" of your top to start. 

 Now that you've decided where you want your skirt to start, decide how long you want your skirt to be.  The bottom part of my tank top that I cut off was about 14".  But I wanted my finished top to be a little longer than that.  How do you know?

Do a rough measurement from the bottom of your bust line (or wherever your skirt is going to start) to wherever it is you'd like your finished top to reach.  My rough estimate was for the skirt to be about 20" long, but, in the end, I made mine a little shorter than that--closer to 18" long.

Next, measure the width of your tank top.  To do this I folded my tank top in half lengthwise and lined up the center fold with a line on my cutting mat.  Then I could get an accurate measurement across (going by where I had already put my pin).

Multiply the width of your tank top by 1.5 to figure out how wide to cut your fabric.  (For example, my tank top measured 16" across, so I knew that I would need to cut my fabric pieces to be 24" wide, plus 1" for seam allowance for a total of 25" wide.)

Now that you have your measurements, you're ready to begin cutting! 

Cut two rectangles by the measurements you decided on.  (Mine were 18" long and 25" wide.)

Then cut two strips of your coordinating fabric to be 2" long and as wide as your other fabric pieces.  (Mine were 2" long and 25" wide.)

Next, cut your tank top a half an inch below the place where you decided you want your skirt to start.

We're finally ready to begin construction!  Line up one strip of your coordinating fabric on the bottom edge of one of your skirt pieces, right sides together.

Pin as needed.

Sew skirt piece to coordinating fabric.

Press seam open.  I find it's easiest to first press it open with my fingers and then with the iron.

Now, press both seam allowances toward the bottom (yellow fabric), so that the skirt seam allowance (gray with flowers) is on top.

I know what you're all thinking.  You're thinking that I'm crazy.  "Didn't she just tell me to press the seam open?  Now she's telling me to press it closed again?"  Yes, yes I am.  Pressing the seam open first will make it so you have nice and crisp edges when you turn your fabric right side out and will prevent your seams from turning in on themselves.  Just trust me on this one.

Your piece should now look like this (from the back).

To form the hem, fold the bottom edge of your coordinating fabric up to the edge of your seam allowance.  Iron (with steam) in place so your fold will stay put.
Turn your newly folded edge up so that the edge of your fold rests just above the seam line.

Iron your new fold (using steam) so that your fold will stay in place.

It should look like this.

With the right side of your fabric facing up you are now going to "stitch in the ditch."  What that means is you'll line your needle up with your existing seam and stitch a line as close to (but not on) your coordinating fabric as possible.

When you're done it should look like this on the front, with your row of stitching just barely showing above your hem.

This is what it will look like from the back side.  Since you folded your fabric just over the seam, when you "stitched in the ditch" you caught your hem on the back.  Nifty, huh?

Now, press your hem so it's nice and neat.

Repeat these steps with your remaining skirt and hem piece and we'll move on to gathers tomorrow.

See you then!

If you're ready to move ahead, you can move on to Part 2 and Part 3.  Happy sewing!


Lisa Lou said...

Holy moly!! Super super cute! I LOVE the gray flowered print. I just might have to buy some and then we can be matchy matchy!

Marae said...

mmm, ver ver cute! love the fabrics. and i like how the tank looks like a training bra when you cut it off. and, you should make a matching onesie dress for olivia. because i might need a tutorial for something like that in case i have a baby in the next four months. and, did you notice that you are looking exceedingly skinny?

Holly York said...

I Love it Katie!!!!! Good Job!!!!!!!

Kathy Haynie said...

Oooh, you could make a matchy outfit for Olivia with a white onesie and a little ruffly skirt thingie like Dorothy made for Elsie!

Patricia said...

So cute, Katie! And I agree with
Marae, you are looking super skinny.
Way to go!

Patricia said...

So cute, Katie! And I agree with
Marae, you are looking super skinny.
Way to go!

ali said...

oooooooh SUPER SUPER cute!! and you could extend the shirt thing and even make it into a dress maybe?
maybe i will give you some money and time and you can make me one??? :) :)

Lily said...

Katie, this is so cute! great job!

tank top dress