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Girls Knit Tank Top Pattern and Tutorial (size 3 to 16)

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Learn how to sew a Tank Top with this free Girls Tank Top Pattern and tutorial. (sz 3 to 16)

free tank top pattern

Good News!  This Free Tank Top Pattern now goes up to a Girl’s Size 16!

I’m really excited about this new pattern I have for you today!   It’s a super simple and basic tank top pattern for girls in sizes 3 to 16.  Even though this pattern is super simple, so many variations can be sewn with it.  (And yes, I have quite a few of these variations planned!)

The Perfect Patten for Upcycling Old T-Shirts

Recently, I’ve been working on cleaning out my craft room. Part of the process involves clearing out my stash of items to be upcycled and other unused crafting supplies. (It’s so hard to decide what to part with…)  I have a recycling box full of old tops and tees from when a shorter length was in style. I’m a fantastic procrastinator, so instead of working on my craft room clean out, I came up with this little tank top pattern as a way to up-cycle some of my old shirts I wasn’t ready to part with. I absolutely love using old shirts for little girl projects. The best part is that you can often reuse the bottom hem which saves a lot of time in finishing the project. free knit tank top pattern

Why This Knit Tank Top Is So Great To Sew!

I just love these little tank tops. It’s a basic pattern, but can be embellished so many ways.

  • The tank top pattern is just 2 pattern pieces, plus binding, so its super quick to sew.
  • The top is designed to have a not too-fitted silhouette, with a high neckline and non-gaping armholes. Not too risque and so perfect for playtime!

(In the photo above, the floral tank on the left and pink stripe top on the far right were both upcycled from old t-shirts.  The fabric in the middle is a stretchy knit from funkalicious fabrics.) View from the front. (I always loved this pink top striped top, it was just too short for me… but just the right size for my little missy.) View from the back:

Just for fun, I added a banded bottom to the striped top.  (The perfect easy way to finish the bottom of your top if you are afraid to hem knits. This basic tank top is just begging for you to make it your own! It’s super versatile and I have already used it to create a few additional items for my missy.  (Like this Summer Nightgown, Tank Dress and Swing Tank.)

Tips For Sewing With Knits:

  • Use a ballpoint/stretch needle
  • Sew seams with either a serger, stretch stitch,  narrow zig zag or a straight stitch with a longer stitch length and a slightly loosened tension. (Make a couple of practice stitches on your fabric to see what works best.) I also like to use this “lightning bolt” stretch stitch on seams that need strength but a little give. (For my project I used a combination of straight stitch and serger for seams and zig zag on the hems.)
  • Use spray starch when pressing hems.  Sew hems with a zig zag, twin ball point needle, narrow zig zag with a long stitch length or a straight stitch with a long stitch length and a slightly loosened tension or leave raw. (also helps to use a walking foot.)
  • If you find your fabric keeps getting pulled inside the needle plate, place a small piece of tissue underneath the fabric so the feed dogs have something to grip.

Ready to sew one of these tank tops? 

Knit Tank Top Pattern and Tutorial (sz 3 to 16)

Save the sewing instructions by pinning here ==>> 

Knit Tank Top Pattern Info:

  • Enter your name and email to download the pattern. Save it to your PC, open the pdf document in adobe acrobat reader. (Don’t print from directly from google’s online version of adobe reader.  It will sometimes cause the pattern to print to small.)
  • Seam allowance is 1/4 inch with a 1/2 inch bottom.

Fit Chart:

Materials Needed:

  • Stretchy knit fabric (1 yard for the largest size) or an old stretchy t-shirt, rib knits work great.
  • Ribbed knit for binding 
  • Pattern
  • ball point/stretch needle
  • iron
  • basic sewing supplies
  • optional:
    • walking foot
    • double needle for binding

Products used and recommended in this post:

Binding tips:

  • The pattern for the neck binding is designed for a ribbed knit with a minimum of 75% stretch with good recovery (Fabric Fairy has a lot of good quality ribbed knit choices.) If using a binding fabric with less stretch,  Measure the neckline and cut a fabric strip 10% less than the measurement (multiply the neck measurement by .9) 

Sewing Instructions:

(Seam allowances are 1/4 inch unless otherwise specified.)

Step 1: Printing and assembling the pattern.

Step 2: Cut out Pattern Pieces.

Fold the fabric in half, with the stretchy-ness running from side to side. Line up the bodice pattern pieces on the fold and cut one front and one back. Cut out 1 neck binding (on fold) and 2 arm binding (on fold).  Ribbed knit works great as binding.  (If you are concerned that your binding fabric is not stretch enough, you can cut it an inch or two longer and just trim off the excess later.

Step 3:  Assembling the top and attaching the binding.

Lie up the front and back pieces right sides together and sew along ONE shoulders seam, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Line up the front and back necklines with each other to find the center point and mark it with a pin.  (Remember the front neckline is longer/deeper, so the center point will not be the shoulder seam.) Find the center point of the neck binding and mark it.  Line up the edge of the binding with the edge of the tank neckline, right sides together.  Pining them in place at the center marks. I recommend using a stretch stitch to attach the binding to the tank.  (The stitch I used looks like this, but a very narrow zig zag would work too.) My sewing machine kept pulling the fabric into the machine at the first few stitches, so I placed a piece of tissue under the fabric to help get it started. Sew the binding to the tank, stretching the binding as you go. (1/4th inch from the edge.)

Flip the fabric over and press.  Make sure to press the seams toward the top of the top.

(my original photos didn’t show the next step very well, so I recreated it for you on scraps…) Flip the binding over the the wrong side of the fabric enclosing the seam and pin in place.  Be sure to put the pins on the right side of the top.  (I tried not using pins, but it definitively make a neater finish if you take the time to use pins.)


Using a wide, long zig zag, stitch the binding in place.  You will want to sew on the front side so you can see what you are doing.  Remove the pins before they reach the sewing machine foot.  (You could also try using a double needle here.) Flip the top over and carefully trim the excess binding. Line up the other shoulder seam and sew together. Repeat the binding process for the two arm holes. Line up the front and back pieces and sew the front and back together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. For my top, I was able to reuse the shirts original hem, so I’m done.  But if you’re using knit yardage, you can leave the bottom edge raw or fold the hem up 1/2 inch and sew using a long wide zig zag or double needle.  If you leave it raw, you may wish to trim off the extra half inch.  (For the striped top, I added a 2 inch band at the bottom.) You’re done!  Have your little one try on her new top and go take some pictures! If you like this pattern, be sure to save it by Pinning Here==>>

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  1. I can’t find the place to download the pattern. Can’t find any link or anything…

  2. I’ve been sewing for almost 60 years, but I’m stumped with the instructions for the neckline. If you cut the front and back out with the same pattern piece, how does the shoulder seam not sit on the shoulder and the front neckline go lower than the back without cutting the front neckline differently? I don’t see any instructions to do that.

  3. Phillis Green says:

    Where is the pattern/instructions for the top with the bow in the back? It’s adorable. Thank you.

  4. Pattern, please! πŸ™‚

  5. Patron gratuit de gille merci sont super cool

  6. Carol Ann Le Strange says:

    It could also be a difference between the paid and the free versions of Adobe.

  7. Joanne Dozier says:

    Is this suitable for boys as well. My son is very slender.

  8. Elizabeth Chism says:

    Thank you! I have a new granddaughter so I am collecting patterns. I downloaded three today and I know I will get a lot of use out of all of them. Thank you again!

  9. very beautiful and wonderful ❀

  10. I love that your patterns always go up to a size 16! My DD only 10 but wears a 14/16 and is not into the ” teen” look. This keeps her age appropriate. THANK YOU!!

    1. I know what you mean. My little missy is now in a 14/16 too and a lot of the junior / missy stuff is just not quite right style wise.

  11. Nancy May says:

    I’m new to sewing and I can’t thank you enough for these wonderful patterns. With your
    guidance I’ve been able to attempt items I never would have dreamed I could before finding your wonderful site. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  12. Hello Jamie !

    Thank you very much for this lovely pattern !
    Patricia from France

  13. Teena Ray says:

    Hi again, Jamie. I just tried it again, and it took me to a porn site. Imagine my surprise! I typed it in very, very carefully, too. Please help.

  14. Michelle Hiscock says:

    Hi Jamie! Is there a size chart for your patterns? It’s not coming up via search. πŸ™‚

  15. Thanks for this free pattern! I was going to hack a tshirt patten but you saved me the trouble. I sccidentally cut two fronts so i lengthened the neckband accordingly and it turned out fine.

  16. Thank you for the pattern!
    I have a dumb question:
    How can the front neckline be longer/deeper than the back if the pattern is identical for front and back? I made it with the Knit Tank pattern and both neckline are identical.

    Thank you again for your hard work! It is really much appreciated!

    1. They are not identical. There is a front neckline and a back neckline on the pattern piece.

      1. Oh! I see now! I’m sorry! I missed the dash lines.
        Thank you very much!

  17. Hooray! I made a few pairs of leggings for my son and had enough knit leftover that I knew I could make something, but not quite enough for another pair of leggings. I'm starting on some tanks with the leftovers and I'm pretty excited πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  18. Thanks so much for sharing this. I made my daughter a super sweet dress for a bridal shower we are going to. It was exactly what I needed.

  19. AWESOME JOB!!!!!

    My little girl wears a 10-12. I've never altered patterns before, but I'm going to try to over size the 8 with a really giving fabric and see if I can make her one to fit. Thanks for this pattern. Wish your girls were the same size as my little Morgan.

    Thanks again.

    Marilyn in MS

  20. Thanks for sharing your pattern for the up cycling. Perfect plan.

  21. This is such a cute pattern and will be perfect for the hot summer months coming up in SoCal. I'll have to make it bigger, but it's a good starting point. Pinned.

  22. super cute! I just made a boy one like this almost using the exact same method a couple of weeks ago. Love the fabric/t-shirts you used for these too… Can I ask what you use to scale your patterns for a few sizes? I usually only just share the pattern in the one size I created, but would be nice to offer a new choices ;o)

  23. Thanks for this free pattern. I hope I have time to do this for my girls this summer. I have plenty of tops that are in the goodwill stack that I'm sure I could upcycle. πŸ™‚ Pinned and shared on g+!
    Gina @ Gina's Craft Corner

  24. This is a comment from Kisha. (I recently started moderating my comments due to spam, and have to click a button to publish any comments. I'm on my phone, so it's a tiny button and I accidentally hit delete on her comment. I wanted to reply, so I am reposting it.)

    Kisha @ 8:23 pm: "The shirt itself was fine, although I made a size 8 and she typically wears a 7, so I can't swear to sizing–she's growing like crazy and she may be outgrowing her 7s anyway. The binding was way off for the stretch in the shirt. I should have cut it longer as suggested but I really just wasn't thinking, so I ended up re-cutting the arm binding after I totally messed up the neck. It's ugly on one side because I did this classy piecing thing, but I wasn't worried about it too much because a) it's dark brown and you really can't see it that well, especially where it's located and b) it was sort of a test project that was mainly intended to make her daddy smile. Total success on that front! πŸ™‚ "

    1. Ugh… my first reply disappeared! I'm having all sorts of trouble tonight. BTW, I appreciate feedback, it helps me improve my patterns/tutorials.

      – It's really hard to say how long to cut binding. There is such a difference in the stretch of fabrics. There is a way to test the amount of stretch to make sure the fabric and or binding being used has enough. I'll look it up and add it to the post soon. In the mean time, I will stress the part about cutting the binding longer and testing it with your fingers.

      This technique take a bit of practice to get right, one of mine were perfect the first time around. My daughter is still wearing a nightgown I made a few years ago that has an inch of binding missing on the back of the neck!

      I hope you try another one and be sure to come back and share your project on my facebook page.

    2. I don't sew with knits much–actually, that is one of my sewing resolutions this year, which is why I wanted a test project before cutting into my good fabric. If I did, I probably would have thought about the binding being so variable. My fault, not yours! πŸ™‚

      Anyway, thanks for the pattern! It actually fits her really well–she has a lot of tank tops but I tend to not love them because I think they show a little too much skin for little girls, especially under the arms/around the shoulders. She wore it to bed and kept it on all day the next day, so it must have been comfy. πŸ™‚

  25. Thanks! I made one of these tonight, using an old shirt of my husband's. (Monty Python and the Holy Grail is appropriate for first graders, right? πŸ™‚ ) She's sleeping in it now. It was a test run before I use the pink striped t-shirt I've been saving for just such a project.

    1. Was the t-shirt fabric stretchy enough? I was concerned that regular t-shirt fabric might not have enough stretch…

  26. Thanks for sharing and all your work for it! Will give it a try soon πŸ™‚

  27. I love knits too – thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚ Pinned to a couple of my boards, too!

  28. Great summertime basic!! I've got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for later this morning that links to your pattern:

  29. you have a very pretty little one .Thanks for sharing these tops they are very cute and just what my little girl will need this summer and in her size too .

    1. Thank you Julie, I hope the pattern helps!

  30. Thank you! I will definitely be making some of these.

  31. Thanks for sharing, can't wait to make one!! Much appreciated πŸ™‚

  32. What a great summer basic pattern! Thanks so much for sharing the free pattern & tutorial. Looks like a top my girls will wear every day πŸ™‚

  33. Thanks for your free pattern and the tutorial. Finally one where the making of the collar comes with a good explanation ! my girls will have some cute tanktops this summer πŸ™‚

  34. You are awesome! Thanks for offering free patterns that fit both my girls. πŸ™‚ That rainbow knit is the best. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Erin! That fabric is adorable isn't it? I am going to try to squeeze some leggings out of it too…

      1. Nazhah Hussain says:

        Hi.. I really love this pattern. I have sew it before for my daughter when she was 4 or 5 yo. Now, she’s 12 and begging me to sew new tanks for her. I already print the 14yo pattern and going to sew it a.s.a.p. Thanks so much for making it free.