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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

How To Sew A Lined Tank Top

Sewing Success Blog - Sewing Blog

Hi Sewing Friends:

The college grandkids are here for the summer. WOW! They surely have a lot of "stuff". I think I'm the only grandmother in the world with a surf board under her bed. My sewing room is temporarily my grandson's bedroom. What sacrifices we make for grandchildren!

Needless to say, I'm a little behind on things sewing related. I'm busy cooking and doing laundry. But, I'm still thinking about all the sewing things I want to share with you.

One of the things on my list was "How To Sew A Lined Tank Top". I've had several requests for this sewing technique.

I don't particularly like the technique where the final step is joining the shoulders together. It always looks "lumpy" and unprofessional to me. Besides, that's exactly where everyone's eye goes when they "look you over". I much prefer to sew the shoulders first and work around everything else.

So, here are 2 methods you might try.

Let me know how you like them. Share some of your ideas . Comment here on my blog.

To Your Sewing Success,



How To Sew A Lined Tank Top

- by Marian Lewis

©2006 Marian Lewis - All Rights Reserved

1st Step To Sewing Success


Sewing projects like this one can be so much fun and save you so much money. Here are two different sewing methods on how to sew a lined tank top.

Reversible tank tops are so versatile. They are perfect to take when you travel. You get a 2 for 1 top if you use another color for the lining. You can even get 4 for 1 by using 4 different color fabrics. . . 2 colors for the 2 fronts and 2 colors for the 2 backs. This works great under suit jackets since only the front shows when you wear it. Test for show through first. It's a great way to use up a lot of your stash!

The necklines can even be different front and back if you like. Try sewing a v-neck front and a scoop neck back. If you have no darts for the bust, you can wear the top backwards for a different look.

Try both sewing techniques to see which one you like best.

Method I - Sew a Binding on The Neckline and Armholes

Directionally staystitch the necklines and armholes to help keep them from stretching.

That is, stitch 1/2" from the edge through a single layer of fabric from the shoulder to the center front and center back on the neckline.

Staystitch from the shoulder to the underarm on the armholes.

Staystitch the bottom edge of the tank 1/4" from the edge front and back on both layers.

Join Shoulder Seams

Lay a front and a back with 2 right sides together.

Stitch the shoulder seams from the neckline to the armhole.

Repeat for the lining layer.

Sandwich press the shoulder seams.

Press the seams open.

Trim the lining shoulder seams to 1/4"

Stitch Side Seams

Stitch the side seams from the bottom to the underarm on both layers.

Sandwich press the seams.

Press the seams open.

Trim the lining side seams to 1/4".

Try On To Check Fit

Before you sew the two layers together, try on the tank top to see if the neckline or the armholes gap. If they do, now is the time to fix it either with darts, easing or other neckline or armhole adjustments too involved to address here.

Sewing Tip: Use a fusible stay tape on necklines and armholes to help eliminate the gaposis problem.

Once you get the top to fit your body, make the same adjustments to the lining.

Put Tank Top and Lining Together

Lay the 2 wrong sides of the tank top and lining together.

Pin the shoulder seams one on top of the other to hold in place at the neckline and the shoulder point.

Line up and pin together at the underarms.

Pin center fronts and center backs together at the neckline

Pin the armholes together

Beginning at a shoulder seam, stitch the neckline 5/8" to 3/4" from the edge.

Trim off the seam allowance close to the stitching. This edge will be bound and will be the finished edge of the garment.

Stitch the armhole seams 5/8" to 3/4". Trim off the seam allowance close to the stitching.

Now the neckline and armhole edges are ready for binding.

Sewing Tip: You might like to try serging the edges with a decorative thread or look for a decorative purchased trim to bind them. You are the designer.

Cut Fabric Binding

For a fabric binding, cut matching or contrasting bias binding to go around the neckline and both armholes 4 times wider than you want the finished binding to be.

That is, if you want 3/8" finished binding, cut the bias 1-1/2" wide and the length you need it to be.

Test the width of bias on scraps of your garment and lining fabric (double layer) to make sure you have enough width for the "turn of the cloth".

Sew Binding

Sewing Tip: Use fusible thread in the bobbin of your sewing machine to sew the binding to the neckline and armholes.

Lay the right side of the binding against the right side of the tank top with the raw edges together.

At the beginning of the binding, fold back the raw end. Place this fold at one of the shoulder seams for the neckline. You may start the binding at the center back if you prefer, however, if you plan to wear the tank backwards, it may look better to have the binding end at one shoulder.

Place the fold to start the binding at the underarm for the armholes.

Stitch the binding as deep as you want it to be when finished. Example: 3/8". Slightly stretch the binding as you stitch a curve.

Overlap where you started the binding and trim off the excess. The folded edge of the binding will show when the binding is finished.

Turn the bias up over the garment edge, fold under and pin. Lightly press to fuse the binding to hold it in place. Either slipstitch the edge of the binding so the stitches won't show from either side or "stitch in the ditch" or "well stitch" on the right side with the stitches showing on the lining side.

Note: The fusible thread is not enough to hold the binding permanently. You must stitch it.

If you aren't going to wear the tank top inside out, just leave the raw edge of the binding on the inside and "stitch in the ditch". It eliminates bulk. Since it is bias, it won't fray.

Hemming Options:

Hem the two layers separately. Hem the outside layer first. Let it hang a while. Try on the garment and mark where the lining should be hemmed. Then hem the lining layer so that it doesn't show.

Note: If the garment is not reversible, hem the lining a little shorter than the garment. If the garment is reversible, you want both layers the same length.

Hand sew a small "swing tack" at the bottom of the side seams to keep both layers together.

Optional: You can stitch both layers together at the bottom and bind it, too.

Another Option: Or, bring the 2 right sides of the bottom of the garment and lining together and stitch leaving about a 4" opening near a side seam to turn the tank right side out. Slipstitch or fuse the opening closed.

Method II - Create a Center Back Seam For More Choices

This is another favorite sewing technique for sewing a lined tank top. This method requires either a center front or center back seam in the garment. It is the same technique often used for a reversible or lined vest.

If you don't want a plain seam line down the center of your tank, then turn it into a pleat or tucks or some other design element on the garment. Be sure to allow extra fabric for the center seam plus the pleat, pintucks, etc.

How To Add For An Inverted Pleat

Here is an example of how to add for an inverted pleat. This pleat folds toward the seam line and helps to hide it. You can add decorative or top stitching or trim, etc. to the pleat if desired. You are the designer. Do whatever suits your fancy. Get ideas from ready-to-wear.

For a 1" inverted pleat down the center back or center front of a tank top, you need to add double the pleat (2") plus a seam allowance (5/8"). That adds up to 2-5/8" total that you need to add to the center front or center back fold line in order to make a 5/8" seam and have a 1" pleat.

You might also like the seam exposed as the focal point of a box pleat and run a row of trim or buttons down the seam line. Just fold the pleat to create a box pleat instead of an inverted pleat.

How To Sew The Tank Top

Directionally staystitch the necklines and armholes on both layers to prevent stretching as specified in Method I.

Stitch the shoulder seams on both layers. Press and trim as in Method I.

Do NOT make the center seam. For our example, we will use a center back seam.

Put the 2 right sides together of the tank and the lining together

Stitch the armholes, trim and understitch. Use short stitches (18-20 per inch); trim to 1/8" and understitch.

For the neckline, beginning on the back about 2" before the shoulder seam, stitch around the neckline and stop 2" beyond the other shoulder seam.

Trim seam and understitch. Use short stitches to stitch a curve (18-20 per inch); trim to 1/8" and understitch.

Leave the back neckline unstitched until after you make the seam and pleat in the center back. It is fine for now.

Turn Right Side Out

Now, pull the split unstitched right and left backs through each shoulder to turn right side out.

Press the stitched neckline and armholes well with understitching up at the board.

Stitch Center Seam

Stitch the center seam at 5/8". Sandwich press. Press seam open.

Mark Pleat

With the face side up, mark fold lines 2" away from either side of the seam line. Bring those lines over to the seam line and press the pleat in place.

You can stitch 1" from the marked fold if desired.

Repeat for the lining.

Finish Back Neckline

Now, finish the back neckline. Stitch with short stitches, trim, understitch, press.

Shoulders, neckline, and armholes are finished.

Sew Side Seams

Lay the right sides together for both the garment and the lining.

Pin the underarm seams one on top of the other matching exactly.

Start at the bottom of the garment and stitch in a continuous seam up to the armhole, stop, walk your sewing machine over the pin, and keep stitching down the lining side seam.

Sandwich press the seam.

Press the seam open.

Do not trim this lining seam in case you need to let the garment out.

Turn the lining layer down inside the garment.

Finish The Bottom

Finish the bottom as described above with either separate hems, or. . .
Stitch the two layers together leaving an opening near a side seam and turn right side out.

Design Your Own Tank Style Garments

Change your necklines, add slits to the side, or lengthen the tank top pattern for tunic, knee length, or floor length. Just make sure to allow room for hip width plus ease.

Perfect the fit on your tank top sewing pattern. Use it to sew blouses, dresses, beach cover-ups, night gowns, vests and sleeveless jackets.

Sew a whole wardrobe using different fabrics like silk, lace, fleece, leather, suede, denim, upholstery fabrics, sheers, cottons, knits, quilted fabric, whatever you want.

Add decorative stitching, appliques, embroidery, fabric manipulation; try out all your sewing techniques, paints, etc.

Have fun designing your own unique tank wardrobe. They are quick and easy sewing projects.

It just makes sense!


End Of Article


PS: If you enjoyed this article or have a comment, please do so here on my Sewing Blog.

Actually, you can check out most of my articles here. You might find something that interests you. I welcome your feedback :-)


If you have sewing related questions that you would like to have answered, ask them here or at:


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Marian Lewis is a sewing instructor, author and creator of an amazing new fitting method for hard-to-fit sewing folks who want great fitting skirts and pants. In her mini-course ebook, she teaches step-by-step common sense techniques how to find out WHAT you really need, WHERE you really need it and HOW to apply that to a commercial sewing pattern.

Marian is also the author of many articles and other mini-course ebooks related to sewing highlighting, "It Doesn't LOOK Homemade"Sewing Techniques.

Copy and paste the link now to check out her website at:


Discover Fitting And Sewing SecretsTo Achieve Sewing Success

For information on the mini-course ebook:

"Common Sense Fitting Method For Hard-To-Fit Sewing Folks Who Want Great Fitting Skirts And Pants"

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For information on the mini-course ebook:

"Sew A Tee Pee And Accessories For Your Tribe Of Kids"

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For information on the mini-course ebook:

"Classy Designer Straight Skirt"

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Anonymous Ronna said...

Marian, you are AMAZING! The instructions are really good and *useful*. I am an intermediate sewer, so I am at the point where I want to know how to do something *better*. The zipper articles were great.

7:59 PM  

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