Monday, September 26, 2011

Tutorial: Bow & Whimsy Tank Top

You might remember few weeks ago I showed you my "A Bow and Whimsy Tank Top" in another post

Well, that same week I also shared a tutorial for the blouse over at a blog called Sunny Vanilla.

But just in case you missed it, today I thought I'd share the tutorial here at Crafty Critique.  You can follow me after the jump for the how-to.  Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions! :)

Ready to get started?  You will need:
  • 1 yard main fabric (for the bodice)
  • 1 Fat Quarter in coordinating fabric
  • Medium to Heavy Weight Fusible Interfacing
  • Bias tape (enough to finish neck and arm holes)
  • A sleeveless shirt that fits you well (to make your pattern)
  • Sewing paraphernalia 
Step 1: Cutting the Fabric

Part A.

First we’ll cut the bodice.  Begin by folding your main fabric in half with right sides facing together.  Place the shirt you’re using to make your pattern on top of the fabric.  Now we’re going to cut out our main bodice using the shirt as our guide.  Make sure the shirt is laying nice and flat before you start cutting.   As you cut, leave about 2.5 extra inches on the bottom (for the hem) and an extra inch all the way around the other three sides so you have plenty of room for sewing.  It may help to pin your shirt down to the fabric or use fabric weights to keep from sliding around while you’re cutting.  (And be careful not to cut your shirt!)

When you’re done cutting, remove the shirt and you should have two pieces of fabric that look like this:

Now fold both of the pieces in half along the length and trim up the sides as needed so that they match.

Now take just one of your pieces.  Keep it folded along the length and cut out a deeper neckline.  This will be the front of your shirt.

Part B.

Now we’ll cut the fabric and interfacing for our big bow.   From your fat quarter cut 2 rectangles measuring 8.5”x11”.  You can use a piece of printer paper as your pattern if that makes it easier for you.   You’ll also want to cut a piece of interfacing measuring 8.5”x11”.

With the scraps, cut a smaller rectangle that measures 3”X6”.   So all together at this point you’ll have this:

As you can see, I used scrap fabric for my bow and didn’t have quite enough fabric.  That being said, it’s okay if your measurements aren’t exactly the ones I’ve listed here, as long as they’re somewhere close. 

Yay!  We’re done cutting.

Step 2: Sewing the Bodice

Part A.
Now we’re going to sew our shirt together!  Don’t worry.  It’s really easy.  Ready? 

Start by placing your two pieces of main fabric with right sides together.  Pin along the shoulders and sew with a ¼” seam allowance. When you’re finished, open it up and press the seam with your iron.

Again, place the fabric with right sides together and this time pin along the edges.  Sew in place, flip right side out and iron the seams.

So now you should have this:

Now is a good time to try the shirt on and see if it fits.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t.  You can make the adjustments!  I had to cut my neckline a little bit deeper and I even considered adding some darts Once you work out the fit, join me in Part B to finish the edges.

Part B.

Now that your shirt fits, let’s finish off those edges.   We’re going to finish the neck and arm holes by sewing bias tape onto them.  I won’t bother trying to explain how to sew on bias tape because Dana over at MADE already has an amazing tutorial for it hereSo jump over and sew the bias tape to your neck arm holes and then meet me back here.

Back?  Great!  So now we have this:

Now all that’s left to do for the shirt is hem the bottom.  So fold the bottom of your shirt under ¼” and iron, then fold it under another 1”, iron and pin it down.  The reason for the double fold hem is to prevent fraying.

Sew all the way around and you should have this:

Ta-da!  Now you’ve got your shirt base and we can add the embellishment!

Step 3: Making the Bow

Part A.

Let’s start by making the bow.  Iron your interfacing to the wrong side of one of your 8.5”x11” pieces of fabric.

Now take your two pieces of 8.5”x11” fabric and pin them with right sides together.  Sew along three of the edges with ¼” seam allowance.  Be sure to leave one side unsewn so we can flip it right side out.

Snip the corners and flip your fabric right side out.  Poke the corners right side out with a pencil if needed and iron the seams.

Next, fold under the unsewn edge ¼” and iron down.  Pin in place and sew it closed.  I top stitched on the other end, too, to make the two ends look the same.

So now you have this:

Now let’s take that 3”x6” piece of fabric and turn it into a tube.   Fold it in half with right sides together so that it’s a 3”x3” square.  Pin in place and sew down one edge to make a tube.

Flip your tube and iron so that you have this:

Part B.

Let’s get that bow on our shirt!  (Hang in there!  We’re almost done!)

Take the tube you made and fold under the top and bottom raw edges of the tube just a little bit.  Iron.  (NOTE: If you’ve ever made belt loops before, we’re going to use the exact same process!)

 Decide where on your shirt you want your bow.  To do this, I pinched my big rectangle of fabric in the middle (to make it look more like a bow) and held it up to the shirt.  When you’ve decided where you want your bow, mark the center somehow (either with a fabric pen, pins, chalk, etc...I used pins). 

Place your tube at the center point you’ve marked and pin it in place, with the edges that you just ironed under as the “top” and “bottom”.  (Boy, I hope this is making sense…Email me if not!)

Sew along the top and bottom of the tube, but not the sides.  (We’ll be sliding the bow through here later.)  Also be careful that you don’t sew the front of the shirt to the back of the shirt!  This will be through several layers of fabric and may be a bit tricky, but I know you can do it!

When you have the tube sewn down, simply slide your big rectangle through the whole until it is centered.  It might be kind of difficult to get your giant bow through the tiny hole.  It’s easier if you start with just the corner, then gently tug it until it comes through, like this:

When both sides of the bow look even, adjust how it lays until you like the way it looks.  My bow was very tightly in place, so I didn’t need to do anything after this step, but if you want to make sure your bow is nice and secure, consider tacking the corners down to the shirt with a needle and thread.

And you’re all done!  Yay!  You did it!  Here’s your lovely A Bow and Whimsy Tank Top:

Wear it out somewhere and make a big statement!

I hope you enjoyed my tutorial!  I would love to see completed pictures of your project if you used it (you can email them to me or upload them to our Flickr group).  Thanks for reading!

See you again soon.  Happy crafting!



  1. lol love this tutorial! not sure i can pull off that bow!! it looks cute on you though!!!!! thanks for stopping by creative juice!
    we are following your blog now!
    mindy from

  2. @mindy starr cone

    Yes, the bow may be better suited for someone, say, under the age of 12? But I can't help it! I loves me some bows!

    Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate you reading! :)

  3. I love your bow! Looking forward to be a guest poster :-)

  4. Yay! I am so glad you showed the 'how-to' for this! You are so talented!

  5. @Lindsay

    Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. :)

  6. @Sunny Vanilla

    And I can't wait to have you! Thanks for stopping by. :)

  7. You are so talented to work with old fabrics. After reading your blog, I done same work with lots of fabric, also my mother is done. Great to share with us.

  8. @Promosyon

    You're welcome! I enjoyed it. Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by my blog!:)

  9. @Just Jaime

    Thanks! I'm pretty fond of turquoise myself. :)

  10. I love that top. It's so cute!

  11. @Jill

    Thanks! I appreciate your sweet comments. :)

  12. Great top. Thanks for linking to Success U @


Your comments brighten my day, so comment away! (Hey, that rhymes!) As always, thanks for reading. :)

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