Friday, July 9, 2010

Tank Dress Tutorial

Here it is finally - the tank dress tutorial I've been promising! Thanks to one of my lovely followers who gave me a little kick in the seat when she asked if I was still planning on posting this! Sorry it took me so long... It's been written for a while.

Also, don't forget to enter the Red Skirt Giveaway!

Anyway, here is the tutorial - enjoy!

What you need:
- 1 yard cotton fabric
- A ribbed tank to pin your size
- 2" wide elastic - enough to fit comfortably around your waist

Step 1: Make the skirt. You can make it really easy (like I did with this blue on) and make a straight forward skirt, or you can make an A-Line shape which isn't much harder but I think gives it a better shape (The pink and brown dress has an a-line skirt). Whichever you want, click on the appropriate link and follow the instructions up the the point where you start the elastic casing, then stop.

Step 2: Try on your tank top and decide where you want it to end and your dress to begin. Mark it, and cut about an inch below that across. Be VERY careful - it will look funny if it's crooked!

Also cut your elastic if you need to - it really depends on what your comfort level is. You might want it a little tighter, or you might want it to barely stretch. Whatever works for you!

Step 3: This is optional. Depending on the length of your elastic and width of your skirt, you may need to gather the skirt. Stretch your elastic as far as it can go. Can it stretch as long as your skirt is wide? If not, you're going to have to gather the skirt a little.

Run a gathering stitch all along your skirt - the end you want to attach to the waistline, not the hemmed edge. Now, gather it so that your elastic reaches all the way around it when stretched.

Step 4: I didn't need to gather mine, so I jumped right to this step. Now, technically you should probably pin the skirt to the elastic. But since you'll have to stretch the elastic while you're sewing it, it would be difficult to pin it in the right spot. I'll leave it up to you; if you don't pin it you'll have to be very careful that you're stretching the elastic the right amount as you sew.

Sew the skirt to the elastic, with the raw edge of the skirt behind the elastic. This shows me sewing it from the back end, but it usually looks better if you flip it over and sew along the elastic. It is harder to make sure your fabric is being attached that way, though.

As you sew, you'll need to stretch the elastic (how much depends on how your skirt matches up to it; this is something you'll need to figure out before hand and approximate). This can be a little tricky at first, because it will try to move around when you do this. Just go slow, hold the elastic firmly in place, and don't get discouraged!

This is how I hold/stretch the elastic to keep it from moving around too much. Holding it taut in the back helps a lot!

As you sew, the elastic will pop back to normal behind you and the skirt will be gathered up.

Step 5: Once you get all the way around, leave a little bit of elastic to overlap the beginning of the elastic. Do a tight zig zag (set your stitch width to a high setting and your length low) down the overlapped elastic to secure it.

Step 5: Next, draw a line on the tank top where you want your elastic to hit. Pin the elastic and skirt carefully to the tanktop so that the seam in the elastic faces the back of your dress. You may need to stretch the tank top or the elastic a little bit, but it shouldn't be nearly as much as the previous step.

Now just sew! It definitely is a good thing to stretch these as your sewing - the top and elastic should still line up in the same place,

You can also add ruffles, pleats, or whatever embellishment you want to the top of the dress using your left over tank top fabric! Here is the one with the A-line skirt:

Any questions? Leave a comment!


  1. Such a cute Idea! I went through a plain tanktop and jeans phase a few summers ago that I am most definitely over. This will be a great way to make over those tanktops!

  2. Great idea! I could do this with those tank-tops that shrink vertically. I hate it when that happens.

  3. So cute, I think Im going to give this a go, and see what I come up with.

  4. It's adorable! I have been wanting to make one of these, thanks for the tutorial!

  5. love the tutorial... how do you cut the fabric to make an a-line skirt?

  6. I just wanted to say Thank you for posting this is was exactly what I needed to convince myself to sit down at my machine again.

  7. Awesome! I saw this dress at the mall yesterday and decided I had to make one. It's funny how I happened to find this post, too. One of the blogs I follow (which is now going to include this blog) featured a site which had links to 52 free dress patterns. One of those listed on the site was your t shirt to dress refashion tutorial. I saw the link within recommendation for this tank dress tutorial. I'm so excited to have found it.

  8. This looks adorable, and seems pretty simple. Going to give this a shot when I get some free time :)


  9. Where did you get that black floral fabric? :D

  10. It's incredible! It seems that it's so easy to make such a dress)))

  11. I am still kind confused about it. But It's so adorbale!

  12. where is the blue fabric from? i have it but do not remember where i got it.

  13. this is great thnx for shareing, One ? where can i get the wide elsastic for waist band,,,thnx

  14. this is an awesome dress!!!

  15. I love this so much I think this will b my first big project.

  16. Do you have a tutorial on the same pattern but with buttons down to the maybe above the waist? And it will have an "overlay" (?)

  17. Do you have a tutorial. on how to add the ruffles using the left over tank top fabric?

    1. I would very much like advices on that too :D (vertical ruffles like on your giveaway tank dress)
      Thanks in advance, I'm caught in a skirt-making project that's a little too ambitious for me (I'm a beginner in sewing) but I would like to try making a simple dress like this before sewing the definite version of my skirt with my expensive fabric ^^'

  18. Really cute idea! I have a couple of embellished tank tops that have stains on them. Now I know what to do with them. And I can find enough fabric for a skirt in the remnants bin!

  19. these were very popular in the 80's with a smaller elastic waist and a nice tie belt over the stitching, and if you use an off the shoulder tee, will turn out similar to "gypsy" style, well done girl xx

  20. Nice Post keep continue your work really appreciating work great post and thanks for sharing informative post.

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