My first official tutorial, whoohoo! Does this ever happen to you: You find a gorgeous tank top on super sale at your favorite store (cough, cough, J. Crew.), but it's seven sizes too big and it's a tank top and you don't need another shirt that you're going to have to wear a cardigan over anyway, but, you could really use a fabulous t shirt? Problem solved! Turn a too big tank top into a t-shirt!
Here's our beginning product:
1. Start by putting on your tank top inside out and pinning it roughly where you'd like to take it in, I took mine in at the top as well as the sides, but you might only need to do the sides.
2. After you take the pinned shirt off, lay it flat and do some measuring of where your pins are on either side. If you did it as roughly as I usually do, you'll probably need to do some adjusting so that your pins are evenly placed on either side. I like to do right on the top seam and bottom seam, so they're not uneven when you sew. Then I like to move down a few inches, using my big quilting ruler and measure in from the sides evening. Like so:
3. Baste your seams, try on the shirt, adjust the fit if needed with more pins and rebasting, then when you're happy with the fit, sew the seams and either zig zag or serge the edges to finish them. Then trim as close to your seam allowance as you can to reserve as much fabric as possible for your sleeves.
4. After you cut your side seams, you should be left with two relatively cap sleeve looking pieces.
5. I tried the shirt on, tucked the sleeves in their place and cut them to the proper length (I left them a little long so I could slightly gather the sleeves). I wasn't super exact, I just cut some roughly sleeve shaped pieces and made sure they were the same as one another (remember that they need to be mirror images of one another). Baste stitch close to the edge, I did about 3/8".
6. Gather the sleeve a little if you want, lay your shirt on a flat surface and pin your sleeves. Take special care that the edges start at the same spot on both sides (I like to measure my start spot from the side seam underneath the armhole). Since I didn't have much fabric to spare, I sewed the sleeve as close to the edges as I could. To give your sleeve a nice taper at the edges I pinned closer to the fold of the sleeve, rather than the raw edge with the baste (I don't know how to explain that, but look at the final picture up close). For this shirt I simply pinned the sleeve in place and top stitched it in place. If you wanted to though, you could pin the right sides together and do a proper seam that you could then serge to finish. My shirt had this weird binding on the edge, so I didn't want to mess with it. 7. Our final product! Yay new t-shirt!
*A couple tips: Try on the shirt you want to buy before you take it home and gather the shirt as best you can to make it fit so you can make sure this tank top will work for the project. This only works with tank tops that have pretty wide set straps that hit pretty close to wear t-shirt seams would normally fall. Also, make sure you have enough fabric for your sleeves. Mine were super skimpy. I bought an XL and I usually wear a small. An XXL would have given me a lot more to work with for sleeves.
Good luck and post any questions you have in the comments!