Maris Olsen from Sew Maris joined us recently with a cute backpack tutorial and now she’s back with this pretty sleeveless tank. Learn how easy it is to use stretch lace! Once you’ve tried it you can use stretch lace to make easy skirts, shift dresses and more.
IF you have been avoiding sewing with stretch lace, don’t! It might look like it is difficult to work with, but I have found it to be as easy as any other knit fiber. And with lace all over the runway, why deprive yourself of these pretty, feminine garments?
A good first project for working with stretch lace is a sleeveless tank. There are only two pattern pieces and a small amount of yardage required, so both your time and cost investment will be minimal. If you buy lace that has a “scalloped” or decorative edging along both borders, you will only need the same amount of stretch lace fabric as knit fabric. If your lace has a decorative edge on just one border, you will need to double the knit fabric requirement for the lace yardage requirement. Also keep in mind that the lace should have a similar amount of stretch as your base knit fabric so the entire garment will fit correctly.
I constructed my tank on a serger, but you could just as easily use a sewing machine for the entire project. Follow the easy steps below, and you will have a classic garment you can dress up or down to suit your lifestyle and any occasion. Let’s get started!
- A sleeveless tank pattern of your choice (I used the sleeveless tank from Pamela’s Patterns Versatile Twinset). You can also trace a loose tank you love to make your own pattern.
- Lightweight knit fabric as specified for your pattern and size combination (I used 1 yard of a lightweight rayon/lycra blend).
- The same amount of stretch lace fabric as required for the sleeveless tank IF using lace with scalloped edging along BOTH borders, otherwise twice as much as the knit fabric requirement (I used 1 yard of stretch lace because the fabric had scalloped edging along both selvedges).
- Matching thread
- Fusible bias stay tape, ¼ or 3/8 inch wide
- Sewing machine
- Serger (optional)
Cutting the Sleeveless Tank
1. Using your preferred pattern, cut 1 Tank Front and 1 Tank Back from your knit fabric.
2. Before cutting your stretch lace fabric, you will need to fold the hem edge of your Tank Front and Tank Back pattern pieces up by ¼ inch less than the pattern hem depth. For example, my pattern hem depth was 1 inch, so I folded the hem edge of my Tank Front and Tank Back pattern pieces up by ¾ inch (1 inch hem minus ¼ inch = ¾”). The reason for this is to make the scallops of the lace fall just slightly below the final hemmed edge of your knit fabric tank. Of course you could vary this amount if you prefer.
3. Centering the Tank Front folded hem edge along the scalloped edge of the lace, cut 1 Tank Front from the stretch lace fabric.
4. Centering the Tank Back folded hem edge along the scalloped edge of the lace, cut 1 Tank Back from the stretch lace fabric.
5. You should now have a knit Tank Front and Tank Back, as well as a shorter lace Tank Front and Tank Back. The math and the cutting is finished, so now the hard part is done!
Abbreviations: RS=right side, WS=wrong side
Sleeveless Tank Construction
1. Stay the front and back neck edges. You can find detailed instructions for this here: How to Stay Knit Neck Edges.
2. Place the WS of the stretch lace Tank Back on top of the RS of the knit Tank Back, matching the shoulder seams.
3. Place the RS of the stretch lace Tank Front on top of the RS of the stretch lace Tank Back, matching at the shoulder seams.
4. Place the RS of the knit Tank Front on top of the WS of the stretch lace Tank Front. Note: This is the only seam that joins all four fabric layers.
5. Using the seam allowance specified for your pattern, serge or stitch all four layers of fabric together at the shoulder seam only.
6. Using the knit Tank Front and Tank Back only, place RS together matching both the right and left side seams. Serge or stitch both sides, making sure the lace Tank Front and lace Tank Back are free.
7. Using the stretch lace Tank Front and Tank Back only, place RS together matching both the right and left side seams. Serge or stitch both side seams. Note: At this point you have seamed all four fabric layers at the shoulders, and seamed the knit fabric only at the side seams, and the stretch lace only at the side seams. The lace layer should float on top of the knit layer because both fabrics are only connected at the shoulder seams. Now it is all about hemming!
8. Turn up and machine stitch the hem of the knit fabric only, using the specified hem depth on your pattern.
9. Fold the armhole edges to the WS, keeping both the knit fabric and the stretch lace fabric together. Use the hem turnback (often 3/8 inch) as specified on your pattern for the armholes, and baste in place.
10. Stitch in place by machine, using a “crooked straight stitch” (length=3.0 and width=1.0).
11. Repeat step #10 for the neck.
Your sleeveless lace tank is complete! Press, and enjoy wearing your beautiful new garment!