The Little Tank that Could

my perfect silk tank

Hoo-ah, this week Austin was really heating up! Seems like about this time every year I come up with gads of strategies to keep me cool and feeling healthy and refreshed (#1: must drink more water). Usually by the end of July I start feeling pickled and strategize all over again. The last three summers I’ve been a bit obsessed with finding the perfect tank top pattern. I really love drapey tank tops and especially woven ones in silk.

Coming up with a perfect tank is a bit like trying to define the perfect t-shirt. I’ve made several different patterns and clearly obsessed about this a bit, but was never completely happy with the fit or style of my previous attempts. My perfect has somewhat narrow straps, a narrow neckline, and a slight racer back. It’s a little bit slouchy and drapes softly just around my hips. This time, I drafted one using my own bodice sloper, something I finally got around to fitting over the winter.

floral silk tank

And I think I finally got there! Sometimes the long road is the better one. Drafting my own block taught me some great things about my body lengths and widths and has really been helping me to fit myself better. For example, I’ve used it to adjust my bust length and fullness on this Style Arc shift dress and this Vogue top. I finally feel like fitting myself is starting to click!

Please excuse my rumpled appearance. I’m having a bad hair month (I’m growing out my bangs–argh) and this outfit has been through two hot and busy days (I wore this outfit twice, don’t tell anyone!).

me and my rumpled tank

silk tank back

This is a silk crepe I bought almost four years ago from Tessuti. I had it in mind for a sleeveless top back then but feared cutting into it because I just didn’t have the pattern right. And now I do. The print looks like paint splatters but these are actually large pop art flowers that seem to jump out of black negative space. I wish I had more for a drapey maxi dress–because that would really show off their scale.

My favorite, favorite finish for these kind of tanks is an all-in-one neck and armhole facing.


It looks so clean and pretty and turns out miles better than my bias bound finishes. And my favorite tutorial for sewing (and drafting) an all-in-one facing is by Sherry at Pattern Scissors Cloth. She hasn’t been active on her blog for awhile, but don’t go missing out on a goldmine of tips from a patternmaker!


Speaking of which, I’m also a big fan of her method for rolled (aka handkerchief aka baby) hems. My mom asked me about rolled hems recently, so I thought I’d mention my favorite! I think this method is quite easy and ends up less wonky-looking than using a rolled hem foot especially on those evil bias hems, and with every top my hems are getting better and better looking. Alternatively, Jen at Grainline published a roll-hem method which involves sewing a line that you can follow as you roll, until you get used to rolling by eye and learning how to keep slippery fabric from unrolling. (My tip: wet your fingers, roll, stitch a few inches, repeat. It’s weird but it works!)

Floral silk crepe: Tessuti
Pattern: self-drafted
Earrings: Native Clutter (by Stephanie at Makes the Things – just had to mention because I love her jewelry!)
Jeans: old and much loved


  1. Mariann says:

    Nice Amy. I love it. The rolled hem – I guess I use that technique too but I’ve been hand stitching the first fold. I’ll give this a try.

  2. Janette says:

    Love this. I have been looking for a tank pattern that is somewhat fitted but still flows over the hips. Everything out there is dated or boxy/tent-like. If only it was a pattern available! Have you thought of doing a tutorial? Anyway , great tank.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Janette, thanks! Would a tutorial on how I used my bodice sloper to draft this be helpful? I’m making another one (or two) of these for the summer and perhaps I could share the process of how I worked out the fit.

      • Rachel W. says:

        Hi, Amy! I just found this blog post after Googling something like ‘draft ing silk tank,’ and I would be ecstatic to see such a tutorial. This is such a clean, lovely pattern! I’m trying to alter my fitted bodice block into something similar, so anything you could share about how you went from sloper to tank would be amazingly helpful!

        And lastly, thank you for linking to Sherry’s all-in-one facing. I can’t wait to try it out!

  3. Kelly says:

    It looks really good, the fit is fantastic…I am wondering if I might achieve something similar using Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt tank pattern, I’ll have to give it a try! I’ve bookmarked the page for the facings too, that looks great!!

    • Amy says:

      Thanks! It does look close to the Eucalypt pattern, a similar kind a-line shape with a bit less of a racer back.Good luck on fitting yours! If I hadn’t been so dead set on drafting my own for once, I probably would’ve tried her pattern, too. 🙂

  4. Heather Lou says:

    I think you’re right about this being the perfect pattern – it’s pretty great. Especially with that silk, my god. And those jeans! I went and looked at your beta tanks and almost died when i saw those salmon coloured pants – you got good pants duder. I have so many things I need to perfect pattenrs for (thirts, jeans, tanks, slopers) and I keep putting them off because I know it takes forever to get it right. So I just keep pumping out dresses I wear once or twice. Or swimsuits. God, so many swimsuits. Thanks for the links to Patterns, Scissors cloth…. I subscribe but she hasn’t updated in a while so i forgot what a good resource she is.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks dear. Maybe it’s time we conquered pants. Although I’m definitely in the mood for dresses right now since it’s so hot. I know once I get on that pants-sewing train I probably won’t get off. Like everything else I do!

  5. Jen says:

    Awesome fabric and the tank looks great! Love the back especially, like a regular/racerback hybrid. Yum.

  6. Gail says:

    Great new tank top. As a Sydneysider, I think it’s very global that a woman in Austin Texas is purchasing fabric and pattern from Australia.

  7. Katherine says:

    My journey to the perfect t-shirt and perfect tank pattern has been a long one and it is not over yet…good to hear that I am not the only one obsessing over this 🙂

    So, I feel your joy at sewing a simple tank, in gorgeous fabric, that fits and drapes beautifully.

    I’m off to check that rolled hem link…

  8. lakaribane says:

    Your perseverance is really inspiring me because I need to make fitting alterations to a pattern and I am feeling quite lazy.

    But what I really want to know is if you made these pants or not, LOL! Because they looks so good!

  9. Kazz says:

    Look at those colours, the fabric is divine perfect union of fabric and cut I think and the silk crepe just sits and drapes perfectly.

    I like this rolled hem technique too. I recently bought a rolled hemming foot for my machine, it sure is taking a while to master.

  10. maddie says:

    Isn’t having a block great? I use it all the time to draft new patterns and compare my current patterns.

    Great top. During summer, it’s all about keep things simple and unfussy. Nothing worse that sticky, uncomfortable clothing.

  11. Stephanie says:

    Thanks so much for the shout-out! I’m glad you’re enjoying those earrings. They’re some of my favorites. (And will be restocked this week… finally)

    That top is perfection. It does take a while to figure out favorite finishes and techniques. I have a beautiful silk tank that I wish I would’ve finished with a facing. The bias armholes are not going so well.

    A sloper is high on my to-do list. I think it makes all of the difference.

  12. Jane says:

    I love your top. I have the same fabric! Mine has also been languishing as a UFO but is now half sewn in an almost identical top to yours. Your styling looks great. Sherry is an amazing resource, I wish she would come back to blog land soon.

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