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Tutorial: How to sew the Homegrown Tank Dress as a top

Liz King


I don't know about the rest of the country, but here in the southeast the summer heat is upon us!  This hot and sticky weather has me getting a little creative, modifying various dress bodices to tops for my little girl.  The versatility of a pattern is a huge consideration when I'm shopping!  Turning a knit dress bodice into a simple top isn't as complicated as you might imagine!  Today, I'll walk you through the steps so you can create your own.

First, you'll need to gather some supplies.  You'll need your pattern of choice,  bodice printed, assembled, and cut to size.  I've used the Homegrown Tank Dress here, but you could use the Hipster Twister, Blue Ribbon, and many other simple knit dresses to the same effect.  You'll need some extra paper, ruler, pencil, scissors, and a t-shirt or top that fits your child well and is the length you like.

To begin, measure your child's top along the side seam, starting right at the underarm point to the hem.  For my daughter, who is 46" tall, her t-shirt measured 10.5".  (You could also measure your child for this step, but 5 year olds are impatient and wiggly so a ready to wear t-shirt was a better choice for me!).  Next consider your hem allowance.  I like to serge, turn under once, and topstitch with a twin needle so I only add .5" for a hem allowance.  You may wish to add more depending on your preference for hemming knits.  But, for my needs I know that the side seam of my pattern piece, under the arm, needs to measure 11".

Align the center front of your pattern piece with the long edge of your paper.  Tape your pattern piece to the paper to secure it.  You don't want it shifting around as you work!  Using your ruler, measure down your desired amount from the underarm point and draw a line.

Now you'll need to draw a new bottom hem.  Make sure your line is level!

Once you've drawn your guide lines, you may wish to add .5" of width at the bottom hem.  This is especially necessary for those little toddler bellies!  Simply measure .5" over from where your side seam and hem intersect and then draw a new diagonal line up to your underarm point.  

Cut out your new pattern pieces and you're ready to go!  (If your chosen pattern has a different back bodice piece repeat the above steps for the back bodice piece as well.)  Follow the tutorial until it comes time to add the skirt and instead just hem your top!  Easy breezy! 

Don't forget to customize your creations too!  Add a bodice ruffle trimmed in some embroidery, curve your hemlines for a unique look, or add your own special touch!  

We'd love to see your creations!  Please join our Facebook group and share your makes with us! Happy sewing!!