Jamie Powell, Spoonflower team member and independent clothing designer, visits the blog with a new tutorial for sewing up a simple jersey tank-- the perfect addition to your warm weather wardrobe!
Jamie: Every girl needs a go-to basic top for each season-- the thing you can throw on with a pair of jeans and look fabulous without any effort. With summer fast approaching, I give you: my basic scoop neck tank top. This a-line, u-shaped hemline tank is flattering in all the right places, and is so easy to make, you can whip it up in a single sewing session.
tank pattern (available for purchase here on a roll of gift wrap)
1 - 2 yards of a knit fabric in your favorite print (like our new Modern Jersey)
serger or a sewing machine and basic sewing supplies
The basic assembly instructions couldn’t be simpler: cut out one front and back from your fabric in your desired size and lay your fabric pieces out, right sides facing. Pin together at the top of the shoulders, and down the side seams, then sew.
If you’re using a regular machine, use a zig-zag stitch to give your stitches some stretchiness to go with this stretchy fabric. If you’re using a serger, make sure you leave an inch or two of thread when you cut it off from your machine and tie a knot in your threads to secure your stitches.
Because this tank is so basic, I’m going to discuss some ideas to make your own unique variations. This pattern is very easily to alter-- raise or lower the neckline just by drawing out a copy of your pattern piece and before cutting it out, measuring how far up or down you want to move it the neckline’s lowest point. Then, use a french curve ruler to make your new neckline.
Same goes for the length - turn it into a tunic by adding length to the center fold line and side seams, then use a french curve ruler to make your new hemline curve.
Variation 1: Topstitched Trim for Neckline and Armholes
If you wish to create neck and shoulder facings, you can make a “bias tape” from your fabric by cutting 3 pieces of the neckline/armhole facing pattern piece (one for neckline and one for each arm hole, you’ll have a little extra left over).
First, cut out your shirt front and back. Next, serge or sew the facing strip to the edge of the neckline or armhole (before joining the shirt front and back) with the RIGHT side of the facing attached to the WRONG side of the fabric. It sounds backwards, but it’s because we’re going to enclose the seam within the facing when we turn it to the outside of the shirt. Turn the neck facing to the RIGHT side of the shirt, and press under the bottom edge of the neck facing about ¼” to ½”, depending on how wide you want your neckline trim to be. Top stitch along the bottom edge of your facing. Repeat the same steps for the armholes. Finally, assemble the shirt by sewing the shoulder seams and side seams, matching up your edges. (topstitchingdetails.jpg - these images are also saved individually as topstitching1 - 4 if you don’t like the collage)
Variation 2: Standing Trim for Neckline and Armholes (easier than topstitching!)
This variation came out of a class I taught on my raglan shirt pattern (thanks to River from the Spoonflower family for the idea)! Cut the same three copies of the neckline and armhole facing pattern piece and this time start by folding the piece in half along the length (right side out). Next, sew or serge the 2 open edges of your facing piece along the edge of your neckline and armholes, right sides facing each other.
After sewing, press along seam to make neck facing lay flat and “stand up”. This method works best if you stretch your facing fabric piece just a bit as you go - this will keep the neckline or arms from looking droopy or stretched out.
Of course, you can skip the facing and just leave raw edges if you’re using a jersey fabric; the edges will just roll a bit on the edges, but won’t fray. OR, serge your neckline and armholes for a different look-- use contrasting thread and make the stitching part of your design!
Variation 3: Contrasting Fabric Tank
To create a completely different look, you can cut your pattern along the bustline and assemble the tank using two different contrasting or complimentary fabrics. This is a great way to stretch out fabric you might not have very much of!
To create your cutting line:
Pick a point on the side seam of your front pattern piece to mark your where you want to cut across. Next, fold your pattern piece down at the point you marked, lining up the pattern center fold line on the top and bottom layers of the folded pattern piece, and crease along the line the to the point you marked at the side seam. Mark and cut along this line.
For your back pattern piece, use the top piece you cut from your front pattern to measure down the side seam of the back pattern piece. Line up the pieces at the armholes, then mark the point on the back pattern piece side seam where the front piece ends. Again, fold your pattern piece down, lining up the pattern center fold line on the top and bottom layers of the folded pattern piece. Mark and cut along this line. Now you can cut out your fabric and assemble your contrasting fabric top! Make sure to leave seam allowance along the new cut you made for re-assembly.
Whatever direction you take this project, have fun with it and make it your own! The possibilities are endless when you start with a simple, basic pattern. I’ve found in my own designing process that when it comes right down to it, there are only so many basic shapes for each kind of clothing item. It’s the little details and flourishes you decide to add that make it your own creation!
About Our Guest Blogger
In addition to being part of the Spoonflower team, Jamie designs a clothing line, Seven Sages, that produces limited edition runs of women’s clothing with a mission to deliver high quality garments with low environmental impact. When she’s not busy working at Spoonflower and sewing, Jamie enjoys being a thrift store addict, a dog lover, and a pretty good cook.