Week 1:: Tank top - simple A-line: drafting

OK, here we go... first week, one day late for this post, but as I started working on this, a couple of must-do projects sprung up - of course - with a deadline - of course - so...

To start this project off, I will be working on a tank top. We all have them, they can be worn almost year round (or really all the time if you live here in Southern California), and there are million variations so they can never be boring (see more here).

I will be making a few tank tops, because they are fun (and because I live in Southern California) and because I can test a few variations (like moving darts around, adding volume, different cuts - this will become more clear as I go more into details) quite easily.

The first tank top will be something like the white top you can see in the second picture above, by Sveta Dresher. It is a simple (but very, very cute one) with no darts (at least I cannot see any) and cut in an A-line with a square neckline.

The starting point is the sloper (by Bunka, read more about it in a last week post). In this particular example we will not modify the sloper, we will use it to trace the new pattern on pattern paper (light brown paper you can see in the picture below). The steps we need to do are (for both front and back):

  1. get rid of the dart;
  2. add length (sloper goes only down to the waist - but you knew that!), and
  3. change the the neck and arm openings.

Darts that need to be removed are drawn in red - the back shoulder dart and the front bust dart. The waist shaping darts are going to be simply ignored - they will stay open and will add the volume for this design.


First, place the front sloper on the paper and mark points A and B as you can see here. You can also trace the sloper onto the paper from point A up along the arm opening, the shoulder seam, around the neck opening and down to the waistline. Mark the waistline because you will need it to add the length later. This is what the beginnings of your pattern will look like:

Now, place the sloper back, put a pin through the bust point and rotate (around the pin, clockwise) the sloper such that point B (on the sloper, which is basically the lower line of the dart) aligns with point A. What this does, is closes the dart and "moves" it to the waistline.

Trace the rest of the arm opening (the lower part) towards the side seam, trace the side seam and mark the waistline again. Now we will add length - I decided on 20 cm, but this is completely arbitrary, depends really on how long you want your top to be. So, add 20 cm from the waistline down from the midline and extend the side seam by 20 cm too (from point C).

Finish the bottom by connecting the side seam and the midline. To help me draw the curve, I draw a horizontal line from the midline, and a line perpendicular to the side seam.

Almost done with the front. All we have to do is redraw the arm and neck openings. I decided I wanted the shoulder seam to be 5.5 cm and I wanted it to be 4.5 cm from the neck. How did I decide this - I put the sloper I made from muslin on the dress form and drew lightly how I wanted the top to look like. Then I measured. So... measure 4.5 cm from the neck (point D) and then 5.5 cm from D to E. Also, measure 3 cm from the neck on the midline - to deepen the neckline. Draw a horizontal line from there and a vertical line down from D. For the slope of the neckline, draw a line 1 cm away from the vertical line towards the midline. The numbers for the neckline are taken from the Garment Design Textbook 3: Blouses and Dresses from Bunka.

Draw in the new arm and neck opening (line in red).


The steps are basically the same. Start with the back sloper, mark points A and B and trace from A counter clockwise along the shoulder seam, neckline and down the midline to the waistline. Mark waistline.

Put the sloper back on, put the pin in the top of the dart and rotate the sloper counter clockwise around the pin until B aligns with A.

Add length by extending the midline and the shoulder seams from the waistline by 20 cm (same as for the front).

To finish, draw in the new shoulder line - rotation moved part of the shoulder line up, making a "broken" shoulder line. Use the same measurements for the new shoulder seam width (5.5 cm) and position from the neck (4.5 cm) and draw points D and E. Measure 1 cm on the midline from the neck to deepen the neck opening. Draw in new neck and arm openings (in red). I draw my curves by hand, if you don't feel comfortable doing this - you will need a french curve or some other curved drafting tool.

OK, done. One more little thing... before we cut out the new pattern, we need to check if the curves defining the neck and arm openings are smooth from front to back across the shoulder seam. Cut the patterns along the blue lines and place them shoulder to shoulder like so:

At this point I decided to move the shoulder seam on the back, along the "old" or "original" shoulder seam, since the "new" shoulder seam falls right after point A. And the neck and arm curves matched very well. So no adjustments are needed at this point and I can cut the pattern out:

And we are ready to try this out!

Week 1:: Tank top - simple A-line: fitting and pattern modification

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