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!
Pleated in Pink: The Sweetest Tank
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).
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″
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!).
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.
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!
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!)
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!
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!)
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.
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!
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!
When you’re done with the honeycomb topstitch, trim the exceeding binding in the inside of the tank (knit won’t fray!).
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.
Reduce seam allowances, then press them toward the back of the garment: this will leave the pleated hem hanging from the garment.
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.
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!
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.
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