Friday, May 25, 2012

Altered Tank Top for Summer!

I am continually frustrated when shopping for shirts these days.  The shirt is either too low-cut so that I have to wear a tank top for modesty on top, OR, it's not long enough and I have to wear a tank top for modesty on bottom!  And summer is just too hot to be wearing multiple layers of clothing.

A few years ago, I saw some cute altered tank tops at a craft fair and thought I should try making one.  If I made my own shirt, I could make sure it covered everything! 

I went through a few trial-and-error phases where I got very aquainted with my seam ripper but, in the end, I got it to work and I produced a shirt that I could actually wear in public. I'd never had a sewing lesson in my life, so if I could do this, so can you!  Here's a tutorial so you can give it a try.

Step 1: Go buy a tank top and two chunks of coordinating material. I went to Walmart where I got the tank on clearance for $4 and 1/2 yard of two kinds of clearance material for $1 each. Plus thread. (Total of $6 + the thread which I still have bunches of for another use.)
Step 2: Cut the tank top into strips. I put my tank on, and used a disappearing ink fabric marker to mark where I wanted to make my first cut. Then I cut the middle part of the tank into two rings that are 3 inches high. I was totally making this up as I went, by the way.
Step 3: Cut your fabrics to size. You'll need a front and a back panel of the same size. (I used the floral print for this part, but you could mix it up with multiple patterns if you want.) The panels ended up being 18 inches long (because I bought 1/2 yard of fabric) and slightly less wide than my tank top. Then you'll need two side panels of the other fabric. (I used the pink circle print for this but, again, you could go crazy with additional patterns here.) These you cut into a trapezoid shape that is 18" long. Mine were 3" wide at the top and 11" wide at the bottom. I made these measurements up. The top measurement was enough to make sure that, once I had sewn all 4 panels together, it would be the same size around as the tank top. The bottom measurement was a lot wider because I have big hips and this shirt has to fit over them.
Step 4: Sew the 4 panels together. Basic stuff - right sides together, straight seams. You end up with a long strip of fabric.
Step 5: Deal with the ruffle. I found working with the tank top material to be quite challenging because it was stretchy. But I took my two rings cut from the original tank top, cut one seam off from each and then sewed it all together to make one big long skinny strip of material. Then I hemmed one side up to make the finished bottom edge of the ruffle. (This was a major pain because of the stretchiness.) Once you get your long strip with a finished edge, you attach it to that strip of panels that you made in Step 4. Because the ruffle strip is longer than the middle-of-the-shirt part, you make little gathers in the ruffle strip as you pin it on, right sides together. Then sew it on. Sorry I forgot to take a picture at this point, because my instructions are probably not making sense.

Step 6: Take your middle panels with the ruffle sewed on, fold it in half with right sides together, and sew that seam. Now it looks like a skirt with no waistband.
Step 7: Attach this to the tank top. It took me a while to figure out how to put the right sides together to be able to do this part, so that the seam would end up inside the shirt. Hopefully the picture will be explanatory. Also, take care that you don't sew the thing closed at this point.

Step 8: Put on your new shirt!