One month ago I wrote this tutorial (with a side of FREE pattern) for a High-low Racerback Tank, with a pleated detail (made using a lazy-woman technique), all made using my sponsor Wholeport’s fabrics!

Enjoy it!

Pleated in Pink: The Sweetest Tank

Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern

It’s a fashionable racerback tank, featuring Hi-Lo hem and a contrasting decorative pleated detail.

It’s the perfect swimcover for those hot summer days spent lounging on the seaside (that I hope to see soon), but you can also layer it over leggings or shorts for last days of school or summer camp: practical but feminine!

Would you like to sew it with me? Let’s go!

What you need:

– some nice interlock or medium weight jersey (I have used this one, in pink!): a scant yard is more than enough!

– contrasting or complementary woven fabric (I used this one) for the decorative pleats (strips are 100″ by  2 3/4″ in total, but you can cut them shorter and join them to reach desired length).

– your free pattern (grab it here on Craftsy – no account yet? Follow my instructions here – it’s free!). It’s a size 5 years (chest girth 23 1/4”)

Let’s go creating!

Print out the pattern pieces and tape them together.

Cut front and back pieces on fold (put stretchiest direction horizontally), following each pattern piece’s silhouette, using the knit fabric.

From the knit fabric cut also 4 strips (put the longer measurement in the sense of major stretch) with these measurements (determined using Deanna’s method, using the 85% formula):

neckline: 16 1/2″ by 1 1/2″

hem: 24 1/2″ by 1 1/2″

armholes (cut 2): 13 1/2″ by 1 1/2″

 

Now, for the woven pleated accent!

Cut two stripes on grain, using these measurements:

neckline: 31″ by 2 3/4″

hem: 67″ by 2 3/4″

 

Ready? Go!

Fist of all I’d suggest you to create the pleated strip around the neckline.

Be warned: the following method is far from being professional or perfect, but it saves you tons of headaches and math, often coming with pleats: I love using this empiric method every single time I have a busy-enough-fabric to be pleated… and I pleat it as I go, just eyeballing distances!

Here’s my how-to:

Press in half the neckline strip, wrong sides together. Mark the center of the long side of this strip, so you can match it to the center front of the tank (more or less!).

Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern - create the pleats

Stick around your iron board, so you can press in place your pleated decoration! Just align the raw edges of the neckline and the woven strip and start pleating this last one, starting from one shoulder.
Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern - pleating the neckline

Steam press every single pleat and put a pin on each one, going after the rounded shape of the neckline.

Remember: you need to match the center front with the middle of the strip’s length: I’ve seen that pleating about 1/4″ is the perfect distance to create a not-too-rich (and stiff) decoration!

Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern - pin the pleats

Once you reach the center front, create an inverted pleat and go on following the neckline but inverting pleats direction (does it makes sense? Look at that picture carefully… you’ll see what I mean, I hope!)
Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern - baste the pleats
When you’re done, give a last nice press and baste by machine inside your 3/8″ seam allowance, just to keep in place.

Now, let’s sew back to front pieces on side seams and shoulders: just lay them one on top of the other, aligning shoulders (pin!) and side seams (pin again!), then sew using either a sewing machine or a serger.

Tip: use a ballpoint needle, to avoid holes in your fabrics!
Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern - side and shoulders seams
When it’s all sewn together, I’d suggest you to press side seams toward the back (maybe using a sausage roll like mine, which is handmade by me!)
Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern - press to the back

Add the pleated detail to the hem

Let’s do that exactly as for the neckline, pressing it in half lengthwise, but start pinning it to the hem 1″ from one of the side seams (you’ll see why in a minute). Go on creating the pleats and steam pressing plus pinning them in place, following the  Hi-Lo shaped hem.

When you reach the start point, you’ll need to join the strip to the other end. To do that, unfold the first crease you pressed, align short raw edges, right sides together, and pin.
Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern - finish the pleated hem1

Sew with a straight stitch, backstitching on each end, then press seam open, to reduce the bulk.
Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern - finish the pleated hem2

Now recreate the fold, matching raw edges wrong sides facing and create the last pleats, adjusting the fabric to have a good-looking smooth transition where the join is.
Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern - finish the pleated hem3

Note: depending on your pleats width, it could be that you arrive at the start point with too much length exceeding: just cut it out! In the worst scenario you’ll end the fabric before you reach the start point: as you may guess this is not good and you can either add a new piece to the strip or undo the pleats, press the strip flat and re-do everything… I would choose the first one!

If you’re a math mind, you’ll be thinking that it would be easier to exactly calculate the length of the strip and make every single pleat perfectly matching to a set number but… I really love to eyeball, sometimes is part of the fun, for me! Just go freehand and you could also end with improved sewing skills!

Much more relaxing, I think, and I love the result, don’t you?

Now, for the fun part:

I was planning to finish armholes with tiny cuffs but I felt in love with Deanna’s method for binding knits in round and I HAD to merge it into this project, with a little twist (you’ll see – it’s so versatile her method, you can finish any edge style want with it! And it works perfectly using only your sewing machine and a single needle – no serger or twin needle required!)

Take the four knit strips we’ve cut in the beginning.

Sew together short sides of each strip, right sides together, using 3/8″ seam allowances, to end up with 4 ring.

Note: As you will notice from my photos, I love to work in batches: sew all the bindings, then press and pin them all to be ready for topstitch, then topstitch them all in one time. This is my time-saver method but you can always complete each binding separately!

Armholes:

Exactly as Deanna explains, switching to a decorative (yet elastic) honeycomb stitch (a simple zig-zag will do the trick, just like a double needle or, if you’re so lucky to have one, use a coverstitch!).

I would suggest you match the binding seam to the side seam (at the armpit); mark the opposite middle point of the armhole that, being a racerback tank, won’t fall at the shoulder seam but somewhere in the back!
Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern - half shoulder girth
When you’re done with the honeycomb topstitch, trim the exceeding binding in the inside of the tank (knit won’t fray!).
Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern - armhole binding

Hem:

Sandwich your pleated accent between the tank and the binding, adding on top of the decorative strip your binding ring, right sides together;sew together those 3 layers.
Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern - sandwich the hem
Reduce seam allowances, then press them toward the back of the garment: this will leave the pleated hem hanging from the garment.
Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern - sandwich the hem2

Neckline:

Here too you have to sandwich your pleated decorative accent, sewing the knit strip sewn in round with the right side of the knit together with the right side of the pleated detail!

Now reduce seam allowances and press them flat (not to the back of the garment) then fold the binding to the back, leaving a nice knit border exposed, wrapped around the seam allowances: this will give you a different (but complimentary) look from the hem.
Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern - neckline

Pin and sew, using the same stitch you used for finishing armholes and hem.

 

That’s it, you only need to take your princess out in the barnyard and take some shoots… I’ll show you only some of mine, since every single time I try to take “some” shoots from my LilPotato, I end up with 500… at least!
Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern

 

Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern

Serger Pepper - Pleated in Pink - The Sweetest Tank - FREE pattern

That’s all for today!
Let me know if you like this one and if you decide to sew it, please share some pics on Serger Pepper’s shared board on Flickr.

 

Stay tuned!
More goodies coming on Serger Pepper: never lose anything (and get some exclusive free patterns) by signing up for our Monday’s newsletter:

[mc4wp_form]