How to sew a high-low tank top from woven fabric

Hello, everyone! I’m Nichole from Bluebird & The Boy. I’m a new contributor to SewMcCool and happy to share my first post with you. Today I’ll be sharing how to sew a high-low tank top.

The Sunshine Tank is a sweet and breezy high-low sleeveless top. Using a light cotton, it’s the perfect woven top for warm, sunny days!


How to sew a high-low tank top from woven fabrics, by Nichole of Bluebird & the Boy, for


I’ll show you how I drafted my pattern from an existing shirt in my daughter’s wardrobe, and the steps I took to sew the tank up. So let’s begin!




What you’ll need:

*A woven sleeveless shirt
*Paper for drafting your pattern
*1 yard for front piece
*1 yard for back piece
*Single fold bias tape
*Hair elastic tie in coordinating color
*Misc sewing supplies

How to sew a high-low tank top

Let’s begin with the front pattern piece. To draft the front piece of the tank pattern, fold the shirt in half, and lay it onto the drafting paper. The folded side will be against the edge of the paper.



Trace around your existing shirt. Mark the collar at the folded edge and the shoulder. Then fold the shirt back to connect the lines (as seen below).


Finish tracing your top. For the front piece, follow the original hemline from fold to side, making sure the hem is a straight line, and does not curve up.

Using a ruler, add a 1/2″ seam allowance to shoulder line and the side seams of your pattern. Do this by marking intervals along the outline of the shirt front. Use a straight edge to connect these dots and create your seam allowance.



To draft the back of the tank repeat the steps above, with a couple exceptions:
* First, when drafting the back side, extend the line out width-wise (tapering from the armpit, as you would with an A-line garment), so that at the bottom, there is approximately 2″ of extra width. (Mine was less, but I recommend at least 2″ for extra flowy-ness!)
* Second, lengthen the hemline on the fold sided by approximately 4″. This creates the “low” part of the tank. Draw the hemline in a curve (a half ‘u’), sloping it up to meet the original side seam of the back.



Add seam allowances to the back pattern side seam and shoulder, as you did for the front.

Now you’ve got your two main pattern pieces, and you’re ready to cut out your fabric! In addition to cutting out your front and back pieces, cut one rectangle to create a back placket. For a size 9, my rectangle was 2″w x 7″h. (Of course, you can make your placket shorter to suit your needs.)

Time to pull this thing together! We will begin with the back placket construction. Press the placket to create a crease down the length of the middle. Fold the four sides in 1/4″ (wrong sides together) and press. Sew all the edges into place.


With the back tank piece folded in half, press the fold to create a center crease line. Match up the placket crease to the back piece crease, right sides together. (It’s alright if a bit of the placket sits above the collar line. That will be trimmed to fit the collar.)

Pinch your elastic so there is one large loop that will work with the button you have picked out. 1.5″ inches down from the collar edge, pin the loop in place with the large loop facing IN towards the crease. Pin the placket and elastic in place. Starting at the top of the placket, sew down one side of the crease, 1/4″ away from the crease line. Cross over, and come up 1/4″ away from the crease line on the opposite side. Backstitch over the elastic to securely hold it in place. Trim any overhang from the placket to match the collar.

Now, take a scissors and carefully trim down the crease line. DO NOT cut your elastic loop! Push it out of the way as you cut down the line. Stop about 1/4″ before you reach the bottom stitching, and carefully snip towards each corner (creating a ‘y’ shape).



Turn the placket so that the wrong side of the placket is facing the wrong side of the back piece. The elastic loop will be visible. Press into place and top stitch. Placket complete!



Sewing the rest of the tank together is going to be pretty basic! Begin with lining the front shoulders up with the back shoulders, right sides together. Pin into place, and sew using 1/2″ seam allowance.

Line the front side pieces up with the back side pieces, pin and sew together using 1/2″ seam allowance.

*TIP: At this point, if your shoulders have little points where the seams meet, don’t worry! This is a self-drafted pattern, so go ahead and trim them, and re-secure your stitching.

Now make sure you are happy with the high-low hem. Trim (or soften) any angles at the seams as needed, making sure to re-secure your stitching.



Almost done, now! The tank is looking good, right?! Now grab the bias tape, and let’s finish the hem, the collar, and the arms.

*TIP: I used a pre-made, single fold bias tape. Feel free to experiment with contrasting colors here, or even making your own bias tape! A great tutorials can be found here on Sew Outnumbered!

Starting at the collar, use a tailor’s tape measure to get a basic idea of the length of the collar. Add an inch to that number. Beginning at one side of the placket, unfold your bias, and line it up with the collar, leaving 1/2″ hanging over the placket. You can pin it into place, or stitching slowly, hold it in place as you sew along the crease closest to the collar edge. Sew on the fold crease around the collar until you reach the other side of the placket. You should have about a 1/2″ extra on this end, as well.

Now, fold each 1/2″ piece over onto the tape that has been sewn in place. Fold the bias tape over to the inside of the tank, so that it is laying flat along the wrong side of the fabric, with it’s right side facing out. Press the collar for a crisp edge. Stitch the bias tape in place from the top side of the tank.


For the arms, use the tailor’s measuring tape again to figure out how much bias to use on the armhole. Add 1″ onto that number. With right sides together, sew the bias into a circle, using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Now, unfold the bias and line your bias seam up with the side seam of your tank. Attach the bias tape in the same manner as you did for the collar. Repeat for the hemline.

Finish by sewing on the button, and that’s it! You’ve completed your Sunshine Tank! It was easy to sew a high-low tank top, wasn’t it?



Time to slip it on for full day of sunshine and fun!

And if you loved this tutorial – you’ll also enjoy these other tank tutorials as well! Irene, “Mamma Nene” of SergerPepper shared how to sew a pleated tank top with a racerback, and Deanna shared how to draft your own tank top from any t-shirt pattern! (Those are both knit, rather than woven tanks.)

Doesn’t she look so cool and chic?





Nichole blogs at Bluebird & the Boy and is a design contributor for To make sure you don’t miss a fun tutorial, please follow SewMcCool by e-mail (the link is at the top of the right-hand column) or join me on BlogLovin’ – the button is just below the e-mail feed box! :)


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