I couldn’t get this square neck tank idea out of my head and thought I could use an existing pattern to work from. It worked out well for me so I thought I would share my experience! In this tutorial I’ll be sharing my process on how to use an existing tank pattern and hack a square neck using facings and adding thin straps.
I happen to be using the Laurence Top, a tried and true pattern for me and borrowed the armholes and side seam shape. I haven’t tried this hack with a different tank pattern, but I would think the same techniques can be applied. The Laurence Top pattern has an a-line shape with some ease in the bust and body of the top that I think was helpful to have. Let me know if you try this with a different tank pattern!
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Some Things You’ll Need
- Existing pattern to trace
- Paper to trace onto – I like this thicker weight paper to trace onto
- Ruler – this is my favorite quilting ruler
- Rotary cutter or fabric scissors
- Cutting mat – a must have if using a rotary cutter
- Loop turner – this is used for making the straps
- Fabric – Use the amount of fabric recommend in the pattern you’re tracing from (I used 1 yard for my example)
I’m wearing the square neck tank with my favorite handmade Worship Jeans – I have a whole article about How To Sew Jeans with tips for every step!
A couple of tips and thoughts before we jump into the tutorial:
- Making a test, or toile is recommended. I made a toile first in some scrap fabric to see what modifications I needed to make in order for the top to fit how I intended.
- Remember to transfer any markings from your toile to your pattern pieces and even make a second toile to test out any changes.
- This hack uses an existing pattern that I know works for me so choosing a pattern you’re comfortable with will be helpful for you.
- This is just my experience and it may work totally different for you! I hope that sharing my experience can at least give you a starting point.
Make the pattern pieces
Trace out Front and back pattern pieces
I had tried on an already made top to figure out roughly where I wanted the neckline to sit and drew a straight line across the top making sure to include seam allowance (I’m using 1/4″ at the neckline).
First you want to trace out your pattern pieces starting with the Front. I laid my existing top pattern on top of my paper to trace on – I like to use this kraft brown paper because it’s not flimsy to work with and pretty inexpensive for a roll.
I kept the same bust width at first, cut out just the front piece and held it up to my body. I eyeballed the center of my chest and marked that on the pattern – You may need to take out some from the center so that the neckline lays flat and won’t gap. I ended up taking out 1″ out of the middle front and then applied the same change to the middle back.
Now would be a good time to make a quick toile now to check the fit. This was also when I figure out where I wanted to straps to lay on my shoulders and I marked that on my toile. I cut strips from scrap fabric to act as my straps to check their position and to see if they were balanced nicely.
The front and back were gaping a little so I scooped out a little at the top of the armhole and this helped the front/back necklines to lay flat. This was also where I wanted the straps to sit.
Transfer any markings from your toile onto your Front and Back pattern pieces. I also made a note of the seam allowances and wrote those down. I used the same seam allowances as the tank pattern I was tracing – 1/2″ at sides and 1/4″ at neckline and armholes.
Trace Facing pieces
Once you have your Front and Back pieces fitting how you want them, it’s time to make the Facing pattern pieces. Facings can be intimidating but they’re really not so bad and I like the clean finish they make. Once I learned how to draft my own they made a lot more sense to me.
Take your Front pattern piece that you just made and trace around the top at the neck, armhole and sides.
Decide how wide you want your facings -I made my facings about 1 1/4″ wide. Make dashed lines down from the top at this measurement to follow the shape that you traced in the previous step. Then connect the dotted lines and your Front Facing is done.
Make sure to label which facing it is, Front or Back, and mark the center front where it will be cut on the fold. Repeat these steps to make the Back Facing (or the Front, depending on which one you traced first).
Trace Strap pieces
For the straps I measured out a rectangle 18 1/2″ long x 1 1/8″ wide which was enough for me to make two straps from (this may be different for you depending on your personal preference for strap length/body measurements).
Cut out the pattern
Double check that you have all the markings noted on your pattern pieces, like which edges are being placed on the fold, dart placement and the grainline marked. Cut out your Front and Back bodice, the Front and Back Facings and the Strap piece in your desired fabric. Make another toile now, if you want to double check the fit with the Facings.
Sew your top together
Front and Back pieces
Start with sewing the bust darts (if including) and press down towards the bottom. Sew Front and Back right sides together at the side seams (I sewed a 1/2″ seam allowance) and finish the seams with your preferred method.
Sew the Front and Back Facings right sides together at the side seams with 1/2″ seam allowance (make sure your seam allowance is the same as the bodice side seams).
Finish the bottom edge of the facing with your desired method. You could alternatively press the bottom edge under towards the wrong side and later topstitch to secure the facing to the bodice. So far the facings on the version I’ve made have stayed down pretty well but it can depend on what fabric you’re chose to use – some may bunch up more than others.
Fold the straps in half longways right sides together and sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Trim off the seam allowance and turn through with a loop turner. Cut the length in half to make two straps.
Sew straps to front neckline
Place straps on the front bodice, lined up at the neckline and 1/4″ from each edge. You can either baste in place or leave pinned. If you want, you can try on the top now and plan the strap length by pinning the other end to the back and mark how long you want the straps. However, leave the straps unpinned at the back for the next step.
Sew the facing
Place right side of Facing against right side of top, matching side seams. Pin at the front neckline and armholes but leave the back neckline open for now. Starting at the top of the right back, sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance all around the top until you reach the left back, and stop there.
Sew the straps to back neckline
Now you will probably notice my fabric has changed – this is because I found an easier way of attaching the back straps when I was making my dress version of this tank (I also added back ties so you will notice those as well in the photos).
With the top inside out and the back facing up, bring the other end of the straps up towards the Front and under the Facing. Pin 1/4″ from edge. This is another good time to try your top on and check the strap length. Once you have the length decided, you can baste the straps on or keep them pinned.
Sew the Back Facing to the neckline
With right sides together, sew the back neckline edge that you left open. Double check the strap length – it’s pretty easy to unpick the straps and readjust if you need to. If you plan on sewing the facing down, then now is a good time finalize the strap length.
Understitch the facing
Press the seams all around the top edge up towards facing. Understitch facing as close to corners as you can, at necklines and underarms. Press from the right side and double check that everything looks ok and fits how you want.
At the sides I secured the facing to the side seam by stitching in the ditch (stitch right along the side seam) from the right side – this helps to keep the facing from riding up at the armholes.
The last step is the hem the top to your desired length and then you’re done! I’ve made a couple of these tanks and I’m looking forward to wearing them all summer.
If you want to see how I added a gathered skirt to make a dress, check out my tutorial for the Square Neck Tank Dress. I also walk you through the steps for adding ties to the back for a fun detail.
Hope that this tutorial was inspiring and helpful! Happy sewing 🙂