TUTORIAL and FREE PATTERN: Baby Tanks

by Dana on November 8, 2012

When it comes to sewing with knits we love grabbing the recycled T-shirt or left-over scraps from a previous project.  It’s just so easy and inexpensive. But every so often you want a print that’s super unique, different, and one-of-a-kind.

You’ve heard me mention Spoonflower before here and when I discovered that they carry knit fabrics last month I was overjoyed!  Truly!  I’m a fabric nerd.  And at Spoonflower the prints are endless.  Holy fun.

Now I won’t lie…their knits are pricey.  About $27/yard. Eesh.

So, I created a project that uses only a fat quarter of fabric–the smallest amount that can be ordered (of course you can always use thrifted tees and other knits)  And I narrowed down my favorites to only 3 prints (Love Fiesta, freeform arrows in lipstick, and umbra_star_brown). I love sewing for babies.

Today we’re making:

These are so fun and cute, they’re hard to resist.
I’ll show you THREE different versions.

Let’s get started!

First, download my free pattern HERE.
• Print the 4-page pattern to standard 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper. There is a 1 square-inch measuring box on each page to make sure your pattern has printed to proper size. I recommend selecting the print option “actual size” (or something similar) for best results.
• Cut out all 4 pattern pieces (2 Back pieces, 2 Front pieces). Tape the 2 Front pieces together along the dotted lines. Do not overlap them, but butt them up right next to each other at the dotted lines and tape. Do the same for the Back pieces—match them up at the long dotted lines and tape.
• The pattern size is 6-12 months. If you have an older (or younger) child you can adjust the pattern by extending or reducing in a similar pattern shape. Use one of your child’s current shirts to gauge how wide and how long the tank should be.

SUPPLIES:
• Fat Quarter of fabric – knits or lightweight woven cottons.
• About 1 1/2 yards of 1/4 inch wide, double-fold bias tape (read more about Bias tape HERE on my site)

NOTE on Spoonflower Knits:
Some readers have mentioned that while the cotton woven fabrics on Spoonflower wash wonderfully, the knits tend to fade (especially with dark prints). I haven’t washed mine yet so I can’t weigh-in yet. But I have read this from a few users. Some say that it doesn’t bother them and that it only adds to the fabric’s character. And most users recommend hand-washing your items.

Okay….
The pattern has a front piece and a back piece. Fold-in the ends of your fabric and place each pattern piece on the fold and cut one of each. Then using a fabric pen, place a small dot on the front of the neckline where the marking is shown on the pattern piece. Flip the pattern piece over and place a marking on the other side of the neckline as well. This indicates the gathering area for the front of the tank.

Place the Front and Backs aside and let’s prep the bias tape.

Now don’t let this part scare you. If you’ve never made bias tape or don’t even know what it is, read all about it HERE. And I’ve got good news: we don’t need much bias tape. It doesn’t need to be continuous, it can be cut from scraps, and if you’re using knits you don’t even need to cut it on the bias! (the diagonal).

I’ve found that using knit scraps for the neckline binding is the softest and cutest. But it’s also a bit more demanding to work with. Bias tape made from woven cotton is easier to work with but feels more stiff. If you’re a beginner sewer, I recommend making bias tape from woven cotton first (or buying it at the store) and then moving on to knits after that.

Okay, you’ll be attaching the bias tape binding around the neckline and armholes in separate pieces. So I cut SIX knit strips from an old T-shirt, making each one long enough to cover the neck or armholes, plus extra length for ties at the end. Use a small bias tape maker to help you iron the binding into “double-fold tape”.

Now let’s sew the binding and tank pieces together. With this tank I’ll show the “cheating” method (as outlined in THIS tutorial). If you want more control over the bias tape I’ll show the “proper” method for attached bias tape in the next tank top.

First gather the middle of the tank Front, from marked point to marked point (read more about gathering HERE). Then sandwich your first piece of binding around the Front neckline and pin it in place. Do the same on the Back of the tank.

Using matching thread color, sew the binding around the neckline. It’s easiest to leave an overhang of binding on each side so you have more control over the fabric when sewing to the ends. Remember not to tug your fabric as you go but let the machine feed it naturally. When the bindings are sewn, fold the Front (and Back) in half and trim off the excess binding ends.

Then in similar fashion, sandwich bindings around the armholes, leaving long ends so you can tie the bindings at the shoulders. Sew the armhole bindings in place.

Place right sides of the tank top together, pin them together and sew down the side seams using a 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch seam allowance (I prefer 1/4 inch). Iron out your seams and if you like, finish off your seams with a zigzag stitch or serger….or just leave them as they are! Knits don’t fray so you can leave the edges raw and they’re just fine. Around the bottom of each armhole, however, sew the seam open so it lays flat and is not irritating to your baby’s arm (sew right over the binding and just go back and forth a few times). Then tie the binding ends together at the shoulders. You can tie them in bows or knots. Then trim any excess.

We’re almost done! Iron the bottom of the tank under about 1/2 inch and sew your hem in place. I always sew a 2nd parallel line next to my first line to make it look more polished.


And you’ve got a cute little tank! (with a personalized MADE label on the front).

Now let’s try it with a single bow on the shoulder and the proper method for attaching the binding.

Cut your pattern pieces as outlined above. For this tank I created 1/4 inch bias tape from woven cotton (rather than knits).

To attach the binding….first, unfold the bias tape and pin the right side of the tape to the wrong side of the fabric. That will feel weird at first, but trust! Sew it to the neckline, sewing right along the ironed fold (about 1/4 inch from the fabric edge). Then fold the binding over the neckline and pin it in place on the right side of the fabric. Then sew it in place. This ensures that the binding is perfectly sewn to both sides of the fabric.

Please NOTE: I found that using this method for the Front gathered neckline was not as effective as it was on the rest of the tank because I had less control over the front gathers (some of the gathers folded over each other under the binding). So, for the Front neckline I recommend the sandwiching method we used above.

Now, sew the armhole bindings using the same “proper” method. We’re going to sew one of the armholes as separate pieces, and one of the armholes together. So…lay the Front and Back of the tank top head to head and only sew bindings to the Right armholes first. For the left armhole, we’ll attach it as one big piece, so that the Front and Back are attached in the same binding. Use the proper method above to sew it to the armhole.

Then tie the tank together at the shoulder and you’re done!

Okay, one final look. I just couldn’t pass on the Love Fiesta print. I want to drape it in my baby’s room it’s just too cute!

For this tank I sewed both armholes closed (no ties) and used knit scraps for the binding. After trying many of these tanks on baby Clara, I realized that they fit fine without needing to open at the shoulder. So, attach and sew each armhole as outlined above.

One more baby tank!

The only thing cuter is a perfect diaper cover to go along (detailed info and free pattern in the link)

Then comes my favorite part, mixing and matching.

I love making and buying separates for my kids. If I sew my daughter a skirt, I often buy her a basic Tee to go with it. Or if I make the shirt, a simple pair of leggings and jeggings are perfect. Now Clara has a 6-part ensemble to play with:




or just bum around…..

I’ll be making these by the dozen for baby gifts.
Happy Sewing!

For other baby project, check out the Celebrate BABY archives HERE.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Palak November 8, 2012 at 1:20 pm

I saw this the first time, and it still so cute! Although– Clara’s blue eyes do steal the show!

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2 Hannah November 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Love this Dana!

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3 Cara November 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Your. baby. is. adorable. And those blue eyes *totally* steal the show! That being said — fab tutorial, I can’t wait to make some too :)!

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4 Kristen November 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Such a great pattern! Thanks for sharing it. And little Clara is such a doll! :)

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5 dawn November 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm

oooohhhh I love your baby!
those prints are so beautiful and the tank looks great

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6 jennifer November 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm

love these. amazing fabric/color combos! And I am so glad to see how to make knit bias tape. I wasn’t sure if you could run it through a bias tape maker. And I’ve had awful luck trying to just fold it under and wing it.

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7 Claudia Cerrato November 8, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I love reading your blog especially because of all of your great tutorials…I’ve used many of them! But also because that chubby baby of yours is just darn cute!!

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8 Annalia November 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm

So cute! …now who do I know with a baby?

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9 Bron November 8, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I love the arrow print so much but not as much as Claras little chubby cheeks x

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10 rachael November 8, 2012 at 8:48 pm

I LOVE it! So cute. I’ll need to get making these. They are darling. That Clara is the perfect baby model!!

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11 Jennifer F. November 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Oh. My. That last picture of Clara is just too much. These clothes are so sweet. I wish I was sewing when my daughter was this little. It would have been so much fun – and I would have actually had time to do it.

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12 Alvina castro November 8, 2012 at 9:19 pm

I love the fiesta print! You have such an adorable litle one!

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13 Kera November 8, 2012 at 9:31 pm

I just found spoonflower when I googled gnome & mushroom material……no matter the searching I always came back to spoonflower!! I found 2 great prints and can’t wait to see them!! Ummmm super cute baby!!!

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14 Leigh Anne November 8, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Fantastic, Dana! Your tutorial makes it look sooooo easy! I have been scared of knit bias tape, but I should just go for it! And Clara is a doll ;)

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15 Marytha November 8, 2012 at 10:16 pm

These are just too cute!! and your daughter just adorable!! love those cheeks!!

http://www.facebook.com/SparklyChic

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16 Whitney November 8, 2012 at 11:14 pm

So darling! Can I ask where her cute pink headband is from? I have been looking for some plain lacy headbands like this one for my 8 month old.

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17 Rebecca November 9, 2012 at 6:19 am

These are gorgeous. I guess you could lengthen the tops and turn them into sundresses too.

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18 this is lemonade November 9, 2012 at 6:58 am

Gorgeous! I have a stack of old t-shirts waiting to be repurposed, and I just keep reading tutorials lol. Beautiful striking blue eyes your Clara’s got too. Lovely :)

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19 Shannon November 9, 2012 at 8:00 am

Such a cute project! Love that it takes such a small amount of material :)

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20 Emily November 9, 2012 at 11:20 am

Forget the tanks…. I’ll take the baby! Clara is just the sweetest thing!

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21 Lynet Witty November 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm

you are truly creative and gifted! love it! baby C is too cute.

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22 Jackie November 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Loved this the first time around. So cute!

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23 Sarah K. November 10, 2012 at 1:17 am

Darling!

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24 Cass Can Sew (@cass_can) November 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm

These are adorable! Summer has just hit us here in Australia, so this is perfect timing for me. Thank you Dana x

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25 Monica November 12, 2012 at 11:19 pm

I love browsing your blog. I’ve sewn for years and lost the interest for awhile. After my sister showed me your blog I feel like creativity has been reinvented! You’ve got great ideas and I love the thrifty upcycling.

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26 KC November 14, 2012 at 2:19 am

I love your tutorials! I always learn something new.

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27 Ferren November 19, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Adorable tanks AND baby!! Did you just use a straight stitch for the hem and sewing on the bias tape? If so, does it affect the stretch?

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28 Jennifer P November 20, 2012 at 1:12 am

A papel picado print? you’ve got to be kidding! LOVE LOVE LOVE!

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29 roshimah.mustapha January 24, 2013 at 11:38 am

i love it..very cute

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30 Lucia April 1, 2014 at 5:07 pm

I think I will transform it into a dress. It is so cute! And it seems easy to do.. at least, it seems easy when it’s you that sew it!
I saw this tutorial long time ago, but now I’m an aunt, and it’s time to give it a try!

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31 Stephanie April 6, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Thank you for the awesome tutorial, here’s my first of many to come! http://imgur.com/DsAZLiR

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32 Dana April 7, 2014 at 1:24 pm

very cute! Love it!

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