Last Thursday I went to a “Sip and sew” party at my friend Ashley’s, alongside a handful of other Mama friends that I have been getting to know in Danville. A Mama needs her Mama friends, and I am so happy to get to know such a great group of women and engage in creative projects with them. So needless to say when I got the invite to make a tank dress I was not sure what I was most excited about… the sipping (just coffee folks) … the sewing (how exactly do you sew?!) or the camaraderie (yay friends!). Initially I felt a little out of my element, but with some gentle guidance and a whole lot of laughter I was soon sewing like a champ.
Not long after arriving the fabric was a flyin’, the Singer’s were a motorin’, and the chatter was a happenin’.
We put the pedal to the metal… (ballet flat, wedge, and Chuck style)…
And pretty soon, what started out as one yard of fabric, a simple tank top, a 1.5 inch piece of elastic the size of your waist, and a spool of thread, began to take on the shape of a cute summer tank dress.
By mid-morning, riding the caffeine buzz, we were a slew of concentrated worker bees in full swing…
In addition to our efforts there was many breakfast desserts/coffee (highly recommended) and an array of children in and out. The morning eventually led into ordering take-out and the need for a lunch break before we finished.
Then eventually… ta-da! Using a variety of colors and patterns, we produced these dresses. So cute, right?!
If you want to make your own tank dress (DO try this at home!) using the list of materials underlined above here is a list of steps compiled by Ashley Wales, mastermind and host:
1. Cut two pieces of fabric about 5 inches larger than half of your hip circumference. Example: If your hip circumference is 36 inches, cut 23 inches. The desired length of your dress will depend on how high you attach your skirt to your tank, but this decision can wait until later.
2. With patterned sides of the fabric facing in, sew down both sides to make a tube.
3. Fold over about 1/2 inch of the waistband and iron a crisp edge, then fold over about 2 more inches and iron another crisp edge.
4. Sew the top of the fold about 1/2 inch from top, then sew the bottom fold. When sewing the bottom fold be sure to grab your first fold.
5. Use a seam ripper to make a hole to feed the elastic around the waist. Hint: use a safety-pin to make it easier to get the elastic through the gap and do not forget to hold both ends of elastic.
6. Put the skirt and your tank on (tucking the tank into the skirt) and decide how high up on your waist you want it. Then pin or mark where on the tank you will attach skirt. Tighten elastic to get the desired amount of gathering (should be a little smaller than your waist). Pin the elastic where you want the skirt. Then before taking off the skirt, decide on the length and pin to mark.
7. Take off skirt/tank and sew the elastic together as. Then sew up the hole to complete your waistband.
8. Hem your skirt where marked. If you like a wide hem fold over 1/2 inch to iron, then fold another 2 or 3 inches to iron. If you want a smaller hem then iron as desired.
9. Next, sew at the bottom of the fold being sure to catch your first fold.
10. Attach skirt to tank and sew together where you marked the tank. This part is tricky because you will have to sew over the bunches. Take your time and make sure you are sewing through equal amounts of bunches all the way around the waist, otherwise they will all be bunched up at the end.
11. Turn skirt inside out and cut off excess tank.
12. Try on dress and start planning your next summer party!
Thank you to Ashley for writing out the steps. When I initially tried to recall the process my instructions sort of looked like this (1) buy pretty fabric (2) cut it in two (3) ask somebody who knows what they are doing to help you (4) make some stitches (5) iron at some point (6) make some more stitches (7) ask somebody else (Sarah? Jessica?) who knows what they are doing to help you (8) foul up the bobbin-thing-a-majigger as much as possible (9) rip out a few stitches using a seam ripper (aka my new best friend) and try again (10) beg somebody to finish sewing your dress for you and (11) pray that it fits.
Ok, maybe I wasn’t that bad, but as a beginner I did make a few mistakes. Luckily, thanks to my friends, I was able to fix a few areas gone wrong and still complete my dress. Who knew I could sew?! I even learned what a zig-zag stitch and a presser foot are. My mom would be so proud, especially because now I have inspiration to learn more and do another project. Purses or pillows anyone?
Taking the time to make this dress with friends was one for the ages and oh SEW much fun. Added bonus: I only spent $12.82 on materials. Now THAT is a bargain. Both time and money well spent!
Off to frolic in my tank dress,
The (Sewing) Banter Lady