Monday, September 7, 2009

Mommy's Tank Top into Little Girl's Top/Dress

 If you use this tutorial, I'd love to see your creation! 
Feel free to post it to the Handmade Mommy Tutorials Flickr Pool.

Recently, one of my comfiest tank tops got a couple stains on it that could not be hidden or fixed. I think it was ink or something else mysterious and kid-related that wouldn't budge. Not wanting to just throw out the tank, I decided to remake it into a little smocked top for a dear friend's daughter.

And, just in case it was a success (which, luckily, it was), I took some pictures of the project. So here's a little tutorial from my messy sewing table to yours!

Here's the tank top before I tore it all apart.

And the offending stain...

Besides the fact that the stain was a stain, it happened to be in just the right place for my plans.
I cut the body of the tank straight across, as close the the armhole seams as I could.

Then I cut the straps off so I could reuse them.
I have to say, I am not very experienced at reinventing clothes, and hacking them up still feels somehow illegal to me.
I'm sure I'll get over it soon enough.

Next I folded the top of the tank's torso section over about a half inch (folded toward the wrong side), and stitched it in place with a straight stitch.
If you have a walking foot, it's a lot easier to sew stretchy fabric like what I had to work with here.

Then I set to work on the smocking.
Load your elastic thread in your bobbin. Load your top thread with the color you want to show on the outside (the right side of your fabric).
Starting at one side seam, I simply sewed around and around the tank.
This is what it will look like...

Once you've sewn a wide enough section (about 6 inches worked well for this top), steam it thoroughly with your iron.
Your little tiny gathers will scrunch up and look genuinely "smocked."
I have to say, I love the variegated orange thread against the blue fabric. :)

Next are the straps. Take the straps you cut off and pin them to the top edge of your bodice at the right spacing. To do this, I made my little man model it for me and the pinned while it was on him since he's about the same size as his little friend I'm sending this to. (To salvage his future manhood, I did not take pictures. His Daddy thanked me.)

I found that using 2 rows of stitches really helped to keep it in place, and kept the raw edge of the strap from flipping up and showing itself above the edge of your top.

When you attach the straps, sew with the right side facing up and stitch right along the smocking lines you already made (see the picture below) - this helps them to blend in. I also used thread that matched the fabric (rather than matching the thread I used for smocking) to help it blend even more.

And, there you have it! One very sweet smocked top or dress (depending on how tall your "client" is, and how long your tank top was to begin with. Yeah!

ps: Bree, let me know when you get it! :)
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  1. We love love love that you thought of our Katie. She loves the shirt and is thrilled to have the "special jewels" from Mitch :) Katie sent you a video message thanking you---sorry you didn't get it!!!

    You're the best!

  2. So glad she likes all the goodies we sent! For some reason, I'm not smart enough to retrieve the video msg on my phone...bummer.

  3. Wow. That looks to easy to be true! Thank you so much for sharing such a great refashion!

  4. So innovative and adorable, Kar!


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