Easy Tank Dress Tutorial.

Lately I’ve been wanting to wear skirts and dresses over shorts or pants.  When the weather is hot, a dress or skirt seems to be more comfortable to me.  I’ve been challenging myself to make more of my clothing myself, and skirts and dresses are an easy project.  I’ve noticed so many women wearing tank dresses, and I always think “How easy would that be to make?”  Turns out, pretty easy, so I put together an easy tank dress tutorial!


Materials needed:

  • tank top
  • about 1 1/2 yards of fabric for a knee length dress, more for a maxi dress.
  • 1/4″ elastic, enough to go around your true waist (right above your belly button), plus a couple of inches.

Step one:  Hold the tank top up to yourself and make a mark just below your true waist.  Fold the tank top in half and lay it flat.  Cut across the tank top at your mark.  A rotary cutter and cutting mat really comes in handy here, as it does in many situations… I highly recommend having these tools in your possession!


Step two:  Measure your waist and jot down that number.  You are going to need to create two panels from your fabric, a front panel and a back panel.  

Each panel will need to be as wide as your waist measurement.  The length depends on how long you want it to be.  1 1/2 yards of fabric will allow you to create a two panels, each up to about 26 inches long.  If you want to make a maxi dress, you will need more yardage.


Step three:  Right sides together, sew the front and back skirt panels together at the sides with a 1/2″ inseam.  Press seams open.  Now you have a tube… your skirt!




Step four:  Now you are going to create a gather at the top of your skirt.  Using a basting stitch (setting your stitch length to the longest stitch), sew 3/8″ from the top raw edge of the skirt.  Start at one side seam and go all the way around, stopping just short of where you started.  Do not back stitch at either end, and leave plenty of thread on both ends.  

Sew a second line of stitching at 5/8″ from the top edge, same as the first.  You now have two rows of basting stitches all the way around the top of the skirt.  If this is the first time you have made a gathered skirt, you might find my ruffle tutorial helpful.  It’s basically the same thing.  



Step five:  To gather the material, pull on one of the long ends of the thread while scrunching the fabric down gently with your other hand.  Continue doing this while attempting to distribute the gathers evenly.  This can take a little bit of time, but it’s not tricky.  You don’t need to gather it too much, because you’ll finish gathering it in the next steps.



Step six:  Now to attach the tank top to the skirt.  With the tank top right side out and upside down, insert it down into the top of the skirt, which is still inside out.  Match up the side seams of the shirt and the skirt and pin at the side seams.  At this point your skirt opening will probably be bigger than the shirt opening.  If this is the case just gather the material until the opening of the skirt matches the opening of the shirt.  (If your skirt is smaller then just widen it until it matches the shirt.)

Step seven:  Using lots of pins, pin the skirt to the shirt all the way around.



Step eight:  Get your 1/4″ elastic.  Starting at one side seam, lay it along the line of stitching that you created at 5/8″ (the line of stitching furthest in from the top of the skirt).  Make sure your machine is set back to normal stitch length.  With a zig zag stitch sew the elastic to the skirt.  In one fell swoop you will be attaching the tank top to the skirt and creating a bit of an elastic waist, not too much stretch, but a little give to help get it over your head.



Cut off the excess fabric at the 3/8″ line of basting stitches, then finish the seam with a serger or using a zig zag stitch.

Step nine:  Hem the bottom of the skirt to the length you like.  Turn the hem under 1/4″ and press, then turn it under another 1/4″ and press again.  (That fabric at the top of the photo is the ironing board cover).  Edge stitch along the inside fold.



The finished tank dress!


I made a simple sash for the waist.
With a cardigan over it you can wear it right into fall.


This tank dress is so easy to make, you’ll want to make at least a couple of them.  You can keep it casual or dress it up with high heels and cute accessories!  Definitely a “go to” summer (or fall) dress.  

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