Knit Tank Top Pattern and Tutorial (sz 3 to 16)
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.
- 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)
- 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.
- Stretchy knit fabric (1 yard for the largest size) or an old stretchy t-shirt, rib knits work great.
- Ribbed knit for binding
- ball point/stretch needle
- basic sewing supplies
- walking foot
- double needle for binding
- My Sewing Machine: SINGER 9960 Quantum Stylist (600-Stitch Machine with Extension Table, Bonus Accessories and Hard Cover)
- My Serger: Brother 1034D 3 or 4 Thread Serger or you can just use Pinking Shears
- Rotary Cutter
- I love my large ruler and large cutting mat, but you may prefer to start of with a smaller Cutting set
- Dritz Dual Purpose Marking Pen and Fray Check
- Wonder clips (I didn’t use these in the post, but they are just awesome!
- Ball Point/stretch needles
- Ball point/stretch double needle
- Singer walking foot or universal walking foot
- Knit fabric suppliers: Funkalicous Fabrics and Fabric.com
(Seam allowances are 1/4 inch unless otherwise specified.)
Step 1: Printing and assembling the pattern.
Once you have downloaded the pattern to your desktop and opened it in the free adobe reader program, there’s a new printing option for you. You can now print only the size needed. (this pattern only, I’ll slowly go back and start updating the older patterns.) This function is super handy and makes it much less confusing when cutting the pattern, plus I love that it enables me to print in black and white. (that color ink can be pricey!)
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!