The Perfect Summer Tank Top

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Summer temperatures have officially come to Portland, and I’ve developed a need for clothes that don’t cling to me at all. I don’t like the feeling of snug t-shirts and tops when it’s warm out. I want something that’s airy and breezy so that I feel like I can breathe.

I’ve needed new summer clothes for… 3 years? I like to wear things until they quite literally fall apart. I recently went thru my wardrobe and got rid of anything that that was in sad condition or that I didn’t love. Everyone has staples in their closet that they reach for over and over, and I’ve found that mine tend to be looser fitting garments made of thin fabrics, so that I can layer them.

I’ve seen a lot of Wiksten tanks online, and I really liked the idea of a flowy woven tank top. However, I wanted one that was bit slimmer thru the sides, and that had side bust darts. I needed a pattern that would come in under my bustline ever so slightly, because woven tops that fall straight off of my bust tend to make me look 10 pounds heavier. It’s not really a look I’m in to. I also have narrow shoulders and a prominent back hip line (baby’s got back, y’all), so a sway back adjustment is almost always necessary for me. I knew that if I purchased the pattern, I’d spend the same amount of time making a muslin and adjusting it than I would if I just used my basic 2-dart bodice block to make my own pattern. It didn’t take much time at all, and I’ve been wearing my results nearly every week.


When you’re sewing on your bias tape, don’t forget to adjust your tension back it’s normal settings after hemming a pair of jeans or you’ll have ugly tension on your neckline (duh). Too bad I’m too lazy to unpick it and fix it. No one should be staring at my cleavage anyways.

I chose a lightweight Anna Maria Horner voile from Modern Domestic because I couldn’t resist the fabric print. It’s also nice that I can wash this top, and after putting it out on the clothesline in the sun for about 10 minutes, it’s completely dry….. so I can put it right back on. I made a trip to Bolt and picked up another lovely voile from Amy Butler, and this is now my favorite version.


I kept the curved hem of the original inspiration pattern. This hem is great because it doesn’t have to be quite the circumference of my hips, because the side seam is short enough to rise above the hip line. This also helps so that I could add a bit more shaping to the side seams of the top.Ā Ā The side dart worked perfectly to add a bit of shaping to the front of the shirt.


I have two tiny darts on my pattern back (at the shoulder seams) to accomodate my rounded shoulders. Usually a pattern such as this would have some gaping around the armholes or back neckline because of my shoulders, but I was able to eliminate that because my patterns are made for my body. When I have correct posture, this top also falls down my back well, and I don’t have any fabric pooling above my hips.

Would you be interested in learning more about making patterns for a few simple garments from basic blocks or slopers?

UPDATE: You can find the instructions for making this tank top for yourself here!

  • Kate

    Love it, very flattering. I’d love to learn more about making patterns. I’m being very dumb I’m sure but what are blocks and slopers?

    • Thank you, Kate! You’re not being dumb at all. Slopers patterns ( in this case a bodice, skirt and sleeve) that don’t have any seam allowance added to them. Blocks are basic patterns that include ease and seam allowance, and are usually a very basic style that is easy to manipulate into many different garment variations. For instance, if you have a basic block or pattern for a simple 2-dart bodice (think the top of a sleeveless dress), you can alter that pattern piece in innumerable ways to come up with different bodice or top variations, and make the same top that I did in this post.

      • Guest

        Ooh peacock feathers! Can we be twins please? Because I absolutely love it šŸ™‚

  • Branalyn Dailey

    YES! I am very short, hourglass but with a tummy and big butt, and quite buxom and it is so hard to find clothes that fit and so frustrating to alter patterns! And, incidentally, I love those shirts too and was wanting to make one the other day so I’d love general pattern making how tos AND a how to for this shirt.

    • Alright then, Branalyn! I will put something together and hopefully get it up next week. Altering patterns can be fun when you know some of the tricks of what to look for. Hopefully the posts I’ll put up will be very useful to you!

      • Branalyn Dailey

        Reading your reply I now realize I was quite over-enthusiastic in my original response, though the idea does excite me! Also, I forgot to mention that I am jealous of this whole “summer temperatures starting to hit” thing because here in Texas it has been hot as blazes for months. Except for the past few days when it has been inexplicably rainy and cool.

        • Haha- oh you’re fine. Why can’t you be excited about learning to make clothes that fit your body? šŸ˜‰ It’s no wonder that you’re tired of Texas temperatures. I could never handle that kind of heat!

  • Belinda Briggs

    Love it! You have me intrigued with the personalize sloper. You’ve also reinforced all I am hearing about making a muslln!

    • Muslins are the key to getting the fit you want and saving your fabric until your garment is perfect. I’ll put together a few posts on the topic and hopefully we’ll get started on some pattern making next week!

      • Belinda Briggs

        Looking forward to it!!

  • Tiffany Jennings

    Ooh peacock feathers! Can we be twins please? Because I absolutely l love it šŸ™‚

    • Of course we can be twins! šŸ™‚ That fabric is available in a turquoise and brownish color as well- just look up Anna Maria Horner Field Study Fine Feathered Voile, and buy about a yard and a half.

  • Karentm

    YES!!! I am taking your seger course right now. Living in AZ I would love to learn how to make something like this. Thanks

    • Great! There seems to be excitement about it, so I’ll be putting something together for this next week. šŸ™‚ I’m sure these tops would be perfect for the Arizona heat!

  • I absolutely love these prints, and the fit is spot on! This definitely inspires me to make my own summer tops. My wardrobe needs a refresher for sure. Love it!

    • Thank you, my dear! You could make one of these in no time, but it’s not allowed to be grey. šŸ˜‰

  • Ledys

    The tops are beautiful and they look great on you! I think the hemline is so flattering, and I love both prints. I would *love* to learn more about slopers!!

    • Thank you, thank you! I love them so much! I’ll get to work on posts for making them!

  • angie

    Oh Amy, I am so excited to see this- ….I have great difficulty putting any adjustments that I make on a top, back on the paper pattern so that the next one will be a simple cut-out-and-sew-job. (And my adjustments are a plenty.. ..I’m full busted, have a swayback, not much of a waist and I’m a shortie…)
    Your tops are EXACTLY what I’m trying to make. I’ve used princess seams and maybe I’m making too much trouble for myself.
    Please do something more on this, it encouraged me no end.
    Thanks Amy!

    • Of course, Angie! I’d love to help! It can be challenging to know exactly where to adjust a pattern for a full bust and a swayback- I know! I’ll put together some tips in a post sometime next week so that you can make much easier patterns. šŸ˜‰

  • angie

    Oh Amy, I am so excited to see this- ….I have great difficulty putting any adjustments that I make on a top, back on the paper pattern so that the next one will be a simple cut-out-and-sew-job. (And my adjustments are a plenty.. ..I’m full busted, have a swayback, not much of a waist and I’m a shortie…)
    Your tops are EXACTLY what I’m trying to make. I’ve used princess seams and maybe I’m making too much trouble for myself.
    Please do something more on this, it encouraged me no end.
    Thanks Amy!

  • AmmaJamma

    What cute tops you made! I am so intimidated with fitting patterns/muslins and any suggestions would be wonderful to have.

    • Thank you! I’m planning to start posting about it next week, because people seem excited to learn about it.

  • Dyann Mecham-Wilson Cox

    Would love to learn about making patterns! Are you maybe going to have a class on that? Your tops fit you great and I love your fabric choices šŸ™‚

    • Great, and thank you! šŸ™‚ I teach a class on patternmaking in-person a few times a year, but I don’t teach it online. I’m a big proponent of fitting patterns to your body using a combination of both flat pattern and draping, so teaching my methods online would be difficult. I’ll do my best to help thru blog posts though!

  • dana

    i’d love more information. i’ve made a few wiksten tanks and they’re always WAY too gape-y in the shoulders and don’t fit quite right in the bust. yours fits how i wish mine did šŸ™‚

    • We’ll get it all sorted out, Dana! I’ll start working on a post (or maybe a few!) to help you sort out your fit issues.

  • madeonthecouch

    This would be AMAZING. I have literally spent all of last summer and a large chunk of this winter (down here in Australia) trying to get a good fit from the Grainline’s Tiny Pocket Tank (very similar to the Wiksten tank). I can’t get rid of pulling across my upper bust, even if I do things like full bust adjustments, sizing up, sizing down with a bigger full bust adjustment… It’s such a simple pattern, but for the life of me I don’t know how to make one off a block (or how to make my own block, for that matter) and yours looks so wonderful…. I would literally bequeath to you my first born child if you would show us how!!

    • Hm… I don’t know if I’d take a child as payment. Maybe a lifetime supply of chocolate though? šŸ˜‰ I’m happy to write something up for everyone. I know that it can be really frustrating to try to make muslin adjustments on your own.

  • Laurel Lee

    Yes, I would Amy!

  • Ooh, yes please! I drafted myself a sloper over the winter, but I haven’t used it since!

    • I’m working on the details, but it probably won’t be posted until next week. It’s so much fun to learn to make your own patterns from a sloper! šŸ™‚

  • I love how simple and versatile this top is. I also went through my wardrobe recently and I realized how much of the same that I wear, which includes loose fitting tops. In the caption of one of your photos you said to adjust the tension back to its normal setting after sewing the binding. I didn’t know you were supposed to change the setting when attaching bias binding. Can you tell me more about this?

    • Hi, Maddie! Thank you! I’ve been taking a step back and reviewing my closet a bit more closely to find the shapes and pieces I really love, and this tank top has become one of the top contenders.

      In that photo caption, yes, I mentioned turning the tension back to it’s original setting. What I meant was that I had increased my tension because I had sewn a jean hem before stitching up the tank top. My needle thread tension was still very tight (it gives you correct tension on denim with thick jean thread), and I completely forgot to turn it back to the standard setting, hence a not-very-smooth neckline. There are times when it’s helpful to adjust your tension for sewing on bias binding, but this was not one of them. Perhaps I’ll write a post about bias binding settings in the future!

      • Amy,

        Thanks for your reply! Call me a geek but I’ve been stalking your page to see if you answered.

        Now I get what you meant in your caption. Sorry that I was confused! But a post about changing the tension on bias binding would be amazing! I never knew you were supposed to or why.

        As a side note, I’ve been meaning to sign up for your Crafsty class on serging. I want to purchase a serger in the next coming months (I use the industrial servers at work for my personal projects) but it’s become too inconvenient. Plus, I want all those decorative edge stitches!

        • I’m sorry to keep you waiting, dear! It’s been quite busy around here, but know that I always respond to comments. šŸ™‚ I’ll add the bias-binding topic to my list of “get on that” blog posts.

          Let me know when you get your serger! I’d be happy to pass along a free link to the class for you, as well as one for you to giveaway, if you’re interested. You would have so much fun using decorative threads on lingerie! The soft stretch nylon thread is a dream on bras and knickers.

          • I didn’t doubt you would reply. I was just excited to learn a new trick!

            You are so sweet to offer a free class for me and do a giveaway on my blog. Yes and yes! May I email you for more details as well as questions about sergers?

          • Yes, email any time! I’m happy to give you a list of things to look for in a machine and to pass along the class links.

  • Gay Lee

    yes, Need to learn the same solutions as you. 70 yr old grandma with one hip higher than the other.

    • I’m working on the post (I’m about halfway done), so it will be posted soon!

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  • Regina Roza

    your haircut is adorable!!

    • Thank you! I am quite a fan of short hair. šŸ™‚

  • jen


  • Mandy NZ

    Just love the tops and going to get cracking on a few ready for the Kiwi Summer this December, so got lots of time to sew dozens lol

    • Thanks, Mandy! They are really wonderful and sooo comfortable. I can’t stop making them! I will have the pattern back part posted soon.

  • Dianne

    How do we get to the pattern?

  • Jay D

    I just came across your page and OMG I love your Summer Tank Tops. Would you happen to have a video tutorial on how you made them? Thank you

    • Thanks, Jay! I am still wearing these all of the time. In fact, I have three more cut out and ready to go. It’s a great summer pattern to have in your stash!

      I don’t have a video tutorial on how to make them. However, I do have instructions on this site for making your own pattern for them and then instructions for sewing them up. I hope you find it helpful!

      • Jay D

        Hello Amy Alan,

        So kind of you to respond so promptly. Thank you

        I did see the instructions after sending you the message. Only 1 problem…I was totally confused. Lol. I am new to sewing.
        (I make cute little square/rectangle bags) šŸ™‚ So when you mention muslin and dart I got nervous. Haha. But I wasn’t scared away. I am totally going to attack this project over the weekend.

        • I hope you’re successful, Jay! Remember to take your time and make a muslin (first-draft) using inexpensive material. That way if you don’t like the results, it’s not a big deal to start again. You can do it!

          • Jay D

            Ahhh Amy Alan,

            You are too too kind. I am super excited. I will begin shortly. Thank you for teaching me a new word…Muslin. haha.

            Here is my successful jean draw string bag I made for my husband yesterday. Haha. I love sewing, for fun as you can see. I cannot wait to make a shirt. OMG. I will keep you posted or CRY for help. Hahah

          • Nice bag! I’m sure you’ll do just fine with the shirt. If making your own pattern feels too daunting, Grainline Studio has a great tank top pattern like this one called the Tiny Pocket Tank.

          • Jay D

            Hello Amy Alan,

            So here are my results. I am pretty psyched OR PSYCHO because this drove me crazy. hahah

            It came out pretty nice enough to wear to work today but there are some imperfections, of course, that need to be taken cared of. haha It’s ok to laugh. hahah

          • Whaaaat?! I think you did a great job! It looks really nice. Way to go! Are you going to make more of them? They are a staple in my closet now.

          • Jay D

            Amy Alan,

            Thank you kindly. I think I was crying while making it. It was soooo difficult. So many instructions and it all sounds gibberish to me. šŸ™ I would LOVE to make a million more though. Haha. But one of my many issues was that the shirt had extra material in the back. I am trying to find out what I did in order to correct it. Here is a picture of what I am talking about. Please help me.

          • Jay D

            Perhaps the darts messed it up?

          • Hi Jay! I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. Kudos for marching ahead and finishing the top when you’d never done something like this before and it felt overwhelming!

            It appears to me that you need more ease overall in your top, especially since these tank tops are made of woven fabric with no stretch to them. You have a “sway back”, which is very common. I have this as well. Your top will fit better if you add material to the side seam of your back bodice piece. I would recommend that you add 1/2″ to the armhole, and up to 1.5″ to the hem, so that the tank will flow more.

            If you wanted the tank to be more fitted, you could look online for a “sway back adjustment”, and this will allow you to take the extra fabric out of the back bodice and keep the fitted look of the top. However, if a woven is very fitted, you will need to add a closure such as a zipper in order to put it on and take it off easily.

          • Jay D

            Hello Amy Alan,

            No worries. Thank you again for that information. I made another shirt since, I don’t have a picture on me to post at the moment, but instead of the 3 pieces I made it with 2 (Front and Back). It came out nice. The only problem (Always a problem haha) is getting the neck and arm to fold over nicely and evenly. I have to practice on spare material. That’s such a challenge.

          • I always put the back on the fold so that I don’t have a seam down the center back. I would only put a seam there if I was putting in a back closure.

            When you talk about getting the neck and arm to fold over nicely, are you talking about sewing on the bias tape? Or are you simply folding in material and stitching it down?

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