DIY: Tank Top Dress

Update: Join our upcycle competition! We need voters and creative upcyclers (is that even a word...)to link up their creations! (9/19) See rules: 

I am not an avid seamstress, and if you ask me, the idea of making my own clothes prior to this little project I would have rolled my eyes and said I am not Laura Ingalls Wilder thank you very much. But, I was in a mood a few weeks ago and like most of my moods, they usually pass, so I waited a few days before I actually took any stock in my crafty mood and sure enough, I was itching to get my sewing machine out and try a few little projects.

I am known to get burnt out on projects, I go hard core and then just stop cold turkey and don't pick up another project for 6 months. This one, however, made me want to attempt this again. I read a lot of tutorials on this kind of dress a la Pinterest, but I really just developed my own little technique. I did use really cheap cloth (broadcloth actually). I didn't want to invest in a tank top I actually liked and fabric that cost a decent amount and have it fail miserably, so I was a pessimist, and opted for a colorful, cheap, solid.


  • Fabric at least 40" wide, enough to wrap around your natural waist 1.5 times. Tip: acually measure your natural waist instead of just wrapping the fabric, it will actually wrap around your hips, the largest part and be much too big! 
  • a tank top that is too short, or one that you don't mind cutting up! 
  • Elastic thread If you haven't noticed, it is the thread, not the band, or anything else, just the thread
  • Thread to match your dress
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine
  • Hook and eye (2 or 3)
  • Needle and thread 

Step 1: Measure and cut your fabric to be able to wrap around your waist 1.5 times. Make sure that you keep the fabric folded from the bolt.

 Step 2: Cut the fabric keeping it folded

 Step 3: Sew the two short sides together to make a big circle (all the while the fabric is still folded) Envision it with me, the folded bottom is now the hem and the two raw edges are the top of your skirt.

 Step 4: Change out your bobbin to the elastic thread. Make sure you read up on your specific machine and the best technique for elastic thread.

Step 5: You will want to practice on a strip of fabric, and mess with your tension some. Your goal is to have the fabric ruffle

Step 6: Sew the two raw edges at the top of your skirt. You are just sewing to create the ruffle, not to close the skirt or anything, you should still be able to step through it when you are done

Step 7: Troubleshoot! Problem - mine wouldn't ruffle! It was a combo of fabric and tension and anywho I read that ironing it will make it ruffle so...

Step 8: it worked! I used the cotton/steam setting and it bunched right up!

Step 9: Cut your tank top giving it about an inch longer than you actually want it

Step 10: With your skirt inside out, slide the tank top (right side out) top down into the top of the skirt. So the top of the tank top should pointing towards the bottom of the skirt with the skirt inside out.

Step 11: Pin the tank top to the skirt (FYI: I made my one seam on the side - you can have it in the back too. I figured if I needed to take it in, the side is the best place)

Step 12: Using the elastic thread still - sew the top to the skirt

Step 13: Try it on and see if it fits! Mine didn't - so I had to take in both sides. Cut the seams so that it lays a little nicer

Step 14: Time for the belt! Pick a 9 inch wide fabric to your desired length and hem the short ends. I picked a more fitted belt. You can certainly end here if you want a belt you can tie, or if you have an actual belt you want to use. Fold it so that the front sides are touching and sew a seam. Cut the seam so that it is about 1/4" and turn it right side out. You should have a snack like item

Step 15: Sew Hooks on one side and eyes on the other by hand. This is going to take some measuring with your dress.

 I added little applique's to mine that are actually from this shower.

The finished product! 

Pretty cute, eh? I was impressed. I am not so thrilled with how it lays, but this is super cheap fabric and not my favorite tank. SOOOOO I am going to try it again, with a much cuter top and MUCH better fabric. I am glad I did it this way so that I could get the hang of it! Any cool new projects y'all are working on?