This was a fun project my sister and I did together as one of my birthday presents. I had a difficult time finding a cute Cardinals dress so we decided to make our own.
- Cardinals tank top
- 1 1/2 yards Cardinal print fabric (for a knee length dress)
- 1/4″ elastic, enough to go around your true waist (2″ below belly button), plus a couple of inches
- Thread (red)
- Rotary cutter
- Cutting mat
- Sewing machine
- Prep tank top: Put on your tank top and make a mark just below your true waist (~2″ below belly button where the top of your jeans typically rest). If the tank is not form fitting, pin the sides to the desired fit. Lay tank top flat on cutting mat and cut across the tank top at the mark using a rotary cutter. If the sides need to be brought in, turn tank inside out and sew along pins. Use a serger or zig zag on the edge.
Cut skirt material: Measure your waist. Create two panels – a front and back panel – from the printed fabric. Each panel needs to be the width of your waist. The length depends on the desired length. With 1 1/2 yards of fabric, you can create two panels, each up to ~26 inches long.
- Sew skirt together: With right sides together, sew the front and back skirt panels together at the sides with a 1/2″ inseam. Press seams open. Now you have your skirt.
Create a gather stitch: Using a basting stitch (setting your stitch length to the longest stitch), sew 3/8″ from the top edge of the skirt. Start at one side seam and go all the way around, stopping just short of where you started. Do not back stitch at either end, and leave plenty of thread on both ends. Sew a second line of stitching 5/8″ from the top edge, same as the first. You now have two rows of basting stitches all the way around the top of the skirt. If this is the first time you have made a gathered skirt, you can use this ruffle tutorial.
- Gather skirt: To gather the material, pull on one of the long ends of the thread while scrunching the fabric down gently with your other hand. Continue doing this while attempting to distribute the gathers evenly. Don’t worry about gathering too much, because you’ll finish gathering it in the next steps.
- Line tank top up with skirt: With the tank top right side out and upside down, insert it down into the top of the skirt, which is still inside out. Match up the side seams of the shirt and the skirt and pin at the side seams. At this point your skirt opening will probably be bigger than the shirt opening. If this is the case just gather the material until the opening of the skirt matches the opening of the shirt. (If your skirt is smaller then just widen it until it matches the shirt.) Pin the skirt to the shirt all the way around.
- Sew on elastic: Obtain your 1/4″ elastic. Starting at one side seam, lay it along the line of stitching that you created at 5/8″ (the line of stitching furthest in from the top of the skirt). Make sure your machine is set back to normal stitch length. With a zig zag stitch, sew the elastic to the skirt. In this one step, the tank top is attached to the skirt with a stretchy, elastic waist.
CAUTION: Be sure to pull the elastic a little bit when sewing it on so that it has enough tension. Be sure to sew slowly here and check that the two fabrics maintain alignment while sewing. This is particularly important if the two fabrics you are sewing together are made of different materials.
- Check dress fit and trim excess fabric: Turn dress right side out and try on to check elastic tension. If happy with fit, turn back inside out and cut off the excess fabric at the 3/8″ line of basting stitches. Then finish the seam with a serger or zig zag stitch.
Hem bottom of skirt: Hem the bottom of the skirt to the desired length. Turn the hem under 1/4″ and press, then turn it under another 1/4″ and press again. Edge stitch along the inside fold
Sash: If desired, create a sash to cover the connection between the shirt and skirt. Here’s a sash tutorial.
Here’s the original Tank Dress Tutorial we used as a guide.