Last summer I wanted to make a strappy tee top with my all time favourite neckline – sweetheart. I was still quite new to sewing when I dreamt this one up, so each version I’ve made is slightly different. The first version (grey) had too much fabric in the upper bodice back, the second (cherry print) was modified into a swimsuit and the third (pink & blue anchor print) was perfect! Then came this non swimsuit cherry print one, a plain black one and a black & alphabet version that I wore to my book launch.
Oh how I love this top! Such a nice shape, with nice wide straps for my big girl bra and it’s a pretty easy make. I feel a bit overexposed in most tanks but I feel like the wide straps somehow make me feel better. I’m really okay with wearing these alone in the summer months but I love them with shrugs and cardigans in the cooler months too.
Since this tank was designed for my rather generous chest, I really wanted to make a test version for someone with different proportions first. But life has been busy and I never did test it in another size. Because I’ve had so many requests for this tutorial, I did it anyway. Finally, more than a year after I shot the pics, here it is! And a big thank you to Mr Ask who had kindly saved these pics when he cleared the camera card!
The best thing about this tank, apart from how cute it looks, is that once you’ve done the maths you can just chalk the ‘pattern’ on to the fabric directly. It’s worth noting that I want the tank to be closely fitting in the bust but can have much more ease in the waist. That is, emphasize my bust but glide (ha!) over my stomach. So both my upper & lower bodice are the same width, yours might not be. I like my tops pretty fitted and rectangles work just fine for me but you can always shape the lower bodice based on a tee you love. Or make the upper bodice front wider than the lower bodice. My apex bust is 7″ smaller than my under bust and because of the cinch, I have plenty of room. Customize at will and make a few until the measurements are right for you! This is just my formula.
To draft the pattern you’ll need your under bust measurement and to work out how long you want the top, measure from under bust, down to your hip (or wherever you want the top to stop). You’ll also need a measurement to ensure the upper front bodice ‘cups’ are deep enough, I have no idea what the technical term is but I will call it the cup depth measurement from now on! Make sure you’re wearing a good bra when you take this. Place the tape measure you would like your to neckline be and measure over the apex down to the very bottom of your bra cup.
For example my measurements for drafting this pattern are:
Underbust 38″ divide 2 plus 1″ SA = 20″
Cup depth 9″ plus 1″ for safety! = 10″
Underbust to hip 16″
You can either mark directly on to your fabric or draw up a pattern. A pattern is handy if you are making a few or if you want to shape the lower bodice. In my version the lower bodice is a rectangle but feel free to use a tshirt you own, lay it over your pattern and trace to add more shape. For the size of the straps & cinch, see graphic above.
Cutting time! You’ll need:
2 X Lower bodice pieces
2 X Front upper bodice pieces
1 X Back upper bodice piece
1 X Cinch strap piece
1 X Shoulder strap pieces
I sew with a 6mm seam allowance throughout and use a stretch stitch (lightning bolt, narrow zig zag or triple stretch stitch). I prefer to construct with a lightning bolt and hem or topstitch with a triple stretch.
Lay the lower bodice pieces right sides together and sew or overlock the side seams together. I like to over lock the bottom hem too but it’s up to you. Set aside.
Make a 6mm hem along the top edge of the back bodice piece. If you are overlocking, overlock the top edge before hemming. Set aside
Fold the strap piece in half hot dog style, with right sides together and sew or overlock into a tube. Turn right sides out and press. Repeat for cinch strap pieces. Cut shoulder strap into two. Set aside.
Lay the upper bodice pieces right sides together and pin the straps to the top edge. Sew or overlock across the top edge, trapping the shoulder straps. Turn out and press. Baste the short edges together and then pleat them until they match the height of the back upper bodice. Depending on your bust depth measurement, you may be able to just gather. Pin the front and back upper bodice pieces together (right sides) and sew or overlock the side seams.
Find centre front on the lower bodice and pin the cinch strap to the centre. Take the upper bodice, turn it inside out and put it over the lower bodice, matching the raw edges. Pin, aligning side seams, centre front and centre back. Sew or overlock the upper bodice to the lower bodice.
Try on your tank and use safety pins to pin the shoulder straps in place. Pull the loose end of the cinch strap to the inside of the tank and pin it to the under bust seam. Adjust until you’re happy with the shape and the amount of cleavage on show. Sew the back of the straps to the upper back bodice with a topstitch, following your previous hem stitching. Machine or hand stitch the cinch strap to the seam allowance and trim. Hem the bottom and you are done!
As you can tell, I freakin love this tank! And there will be more! So cute and easy to layer and a breeze to make. I think I put of making a tutorial because it’s hard to explain but here it is. I just know you are going want to make a bunch of these too. I am so glad I finally go this tutorial done! Happy sewing! And don’t forget, if you have questions, just ask xxxxx