Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tip Top Tank Top (using FOE) Tutorial

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What could be better for these hot summer days than a breezy, easy tank top?  This is one of my favorite ideas because it's so simple and versatile. The Tip Top Tank Top.  Say that 10 times fast!  I came up with it while I wishing some great cotton prints were knits so I could make simple tops out of them.  Then I realized by using FOE (Fold Over Elastic) for the straps, any fabric could make a fitted tank top.  That's right - that cool car fabric is quilting cotton!

Using colorful FOE gives some great contrast trim, but also adds the all-important ability to slip the shirt on & off without any button/snap flap openings.

It also pairs perfectly with stretch fabrics like this fleece flocked knit terry without needing a serger!

And because of the simple shape, it works for babies, kids and adults and is super quick to make.  Want to make some?  Here's how - 

You'll Need:
- A good-fitting tank top
- 1/2-3/4yd of fabric
- 1 yd of Fold Over Elastic (I get mine from FOE Your Diaper)
- Paper & pencil for tracing
- Ruler 

Step 1 - First you'll want to fold your tank top in half lengthwise with the front side out over your paper:

Step 2 - Place a ruler across the neck hole to the sleeve hole, curving it slightly upward and mark the paper to the left and right of the ruler.  Trace around the remaining armhole curve, side and bottom of shirt.  Add an extra 1/2 - 1 inch on the side for the seam allowance (1/2in for knits, 1in for non-stretch fabrics) and 2 inches to the bottom for folding up the hem. Draw a slightly curved line connecting the ruler marks at the top of the shirt. Refold the shirt back side out and repeat.

Step 3 - Now keeping it folded and without stretching it, straighten the armhole area out and measure.  Add an extra inch for overlap.  This is the armhole+ shoulder strap measurement.

Step 4 - Cut out paper patterns for front & back.  Fold fabric with selvedges meeting in the middle and place each pattern piece on a fold.  Cut fabric to get front & back pieces:

Step 5 - Fold the FOE over the top edge of the front side and sew in place with a wide triple zig-zag stitch (5.0 wide by 2.0 long). Repeat on top back piece:

Step 6 - With right sides facing, sew the sides of the front and back pieces together.  Now cut two pieces of FOE using the armhole+shoulder strap measurement.

Step 7 - Starting at the side seam area, fold elastic around underarm area of front piece upward and all the way around down the edge of the back piece like this (overlapping the ends):

Step 8 - Carefully sew in place with the same triple zig-zag stitch.  Hem the bottom by folding it up an inch and then fold again.  Stitch in place with a straight stitch.

Ta-Da! Looking tip top indeed!

Both the Timeless Treasures Tiny Town Mini Houses & Organic Shipyard Cars fabrics are quilting cotton, so they're lightweight, yet comfy & colorful.

I added an extra 3 inches to the bottom hem and widened the sides out with a ruler to gradually flare them an extra inch at the bottom corners to create this A-line dress variation:

I made a matching pair of bloomers and stretched the FOE at the hem so they have a bubble shape and presto!  Super cute sunsuit.

Ready to make your own Tip Top Tank Tops?  

Sharing this creation with my FAVE LINK PARTIES too so click HERE to check them out!Tickled Pink at 504 MainTip Junkie handmade projects


  1. Thanks for sharing I love this idea!!

  2. LOVE this! I definitely will be trying to make a few of these!!

  3. This is a great idea. I love it! I love FOE too. I just retired from work at a fabric store...we didn't carry great colours like you showed. Very nice.

  4. What a neat idea!!! Now, if only I could sew...

  5. Thanks for sharing, I've been seeing stuff about FOE and want to try it. Question: what exactly do you mean by triple zig-zag stitch?

    Also, I have a different method for tracing armhole/neckhole curves that you might find helpful you can see it here:

  6. Melissa -

    A Triple Zig-zag is a stitch you should have on your machine (it's pretty standard). It's a zig zag, but each "zig" or "zag" is made up of three smaller stitches.

    I've used the pin method for tracing too - it's great when you want something exact. I used the quick & dirty method for this one since it was such a simple shape;)

  7. I like this one, too! Thanks for posting it.

  8. Beatufiul tops and so simple too!!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  9. I can't wait to try this! I would be thrilled if you linked this up to my Tuesday Confessional link party going on now:
    See you soon!

  10. Soo cute! I love me some foldover elastic!! I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:
    (link will go live tonight)


  11. This is super cute. I've never heard of FOE before this post. Awesome!

    Thank you for linking up last week at Sew Woodsy! Please come back tomorrow and link up your most recent project!


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