If you’re anything like me, the reason you want to learn to sew is to make clothes either for you or your family. Knits have always scared me to pieces but I’m determined to overcome my fears of failure and keep practicing until I nail it. I scoured the internet for some tutorials and finally felt comfortable enough to give some a go.
My boys are 12 and 11 so they are past the kid stage but not quite full teens. It’s so hard finding them printed tank tops that don’t have skulls on them. Even though sewing with knits may scare you, let’s give it a try anyway! After some practice you can crank out tons of these in just one day!
Here are a few things you’ll need:
- Current tank that fits
- white ribbing material (found with knits)
- knit print of your choice
- measuring tape (not pictured)
- marker or pen
First, lay out your knit fabric and gently smooth it out leaving NO ripples. Make sure your knit is placed on your table with the stretch part horizontal. Give it a gentle tug to see which direction it stretches. You want it laid out stretching right-left. Does that make sense?
Place your current tank on top of your knit fabric that’s folded making sure it’s NOT upside down like I did (I fixed it after this picture) — That’s what I get for not having my coffee yet. What was I thinking?!
Trace around your tank adding an inch for seam allowance. Cut out TWO pieces (front and back).
Then place each piece facing one another, right sides together. Pin together the shoulder seams and the side seams like below.
Then head over to your sewing machine. When sewing with knits, you want to use a ZIG ZAG stitch because that allows the garment to stretch without pulling out your threads. Also, make sure you are using a BALL POINT needle in your machine. This allows you to stitch together knits without ruining the fabric. DO NOT use a regular all-purpose needle.
Now stitch where you placed your pins making sure carefully remove them as you go.
Now it’s time to add the ribbing. Ribbing is comes in all different colors but I like using white because it makes the garment “pop” and I’m not spending money on different ribbings. My goal is to save my family money! 🙂 This can get tricky but stay with me and I’ll walk you through it. It’s VERY simple math.
Lay out your garment and using your measuring tape, measure the arm hole from top to bottom. Whatever number you get (I got 10 inches for the arm hole), double that. That give me 20 inches (the entire measurement of the circle of the arm hole). Now subtract 3 inches. That gives me 17 inches. I need 17 inches of ribbing for each arm hole. Now I’ll do the same with the neck hole.
Using a straight edge, I’ll cut out 2 strips of 17 inch ribbing for the two arms AND 1 strip of 11 inch ribbing for the neck.
Now take all 3 strips of ribbing to your sewing machine. Sew each strip into a circle. Simply put your ends together and sew them shut. That’ll create your circle shape. Use a STRAIGHT STITCH to do this.
You will end up with this:
Now this is the tricky part but only because it takes some maneuvering of the ribbing. We are going to add the ribbing to each of the holes.
We want to FOLD each piece in half putting the edges/seams together.
Place that first folded edge into the arm hole at the bottom seam (the seam at the arm pit bottom). Pin edges to edges right sides together like this:
Now take the other side of the ribbing, fold it exactly the same way and pin it to the SHOULDER seam.
Add a few more pins to keep it in place. You’ll notice the ribbing needs to be stretched in order to fit around the hole. THAT IS A GOOD THING! We will stretch the ribbing when we sew it to the garment.
Make sure you’ve switched your machine back to a ZIG ZAG stitch.
Begin to sew around the hole going SLOWLY! Gently stretch the ribbing to meet up with the next pinned place. DO NOT stretch the actual garment…just the ribbing.
Do this for each arm hole and the neck hole. All that’s left now is hemming the bottom! You’re almost there! Simply fold up the bottom of the tank top creating a hem and STRAIGHT stitch around. That’s it! You’re done!!!
Let your kids marvel at your cheap but AWESOME creation. No kidding: my 12 year old is bragging to his friends about these tank tops. That makes this Momma heart feel good and all those hours practicing worth it.
**Disclosure: my extremely talented sister-in-law designed this knit fabric herself.**