Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Pirate Ruffle Tank :: Tutorial

It is no secret that I *love* ruffles and upcycling's post plays right into these loves. 

This past weekend, Emilia and I spent All Day at my Momma's house- yay!  My sister, mom and I spread out all different crafty projects across Momma's dining room table and even E helped on a project or two. ;-)  My main objective of the day was to sew two t-shirt skirts (which I plan to post about once I finish taking photos!), but they are a super quick and easy project so I ended up with extra time on my hands.  Luckily, my crafty bags were stuffed with other projects waiting to be completed (including a bag of 8-10 tees/tanks just calling out to be ruffled!). 

I found some really cool white shiny fabric (how's that for a technical term) and used some extra scraps from one of my skirts for the ruffles.  I grabbed out a plain grey tank I found on clearance at Target- it is their C9 brand with moisture wicking technology.  I am in love with this line- the clothes are comfy and cute and don't hold sweat like regular tees (TMI?  Maybe..)  Anyway, I have this plan to refashion a handful of these tanks to use on Saipan.  That way I am cool and comfy, but don't always look like I'm going for a run.  So this is what I came up with:


1 tank/tee
Scrap fabric or another tank/tee for the ruffles
Rotary cutter and board
Sewing machine with coordinating thread

I had it in my mind that I wanted to do a layered ruffle along the neckline of my tank, so I started cutting out strips of each fabric.  I cut the grey fabric in 2in strips and the white fabric in 3.5in strips because it was going to be folded over.  I don't have an exact length of fabric needed in each color because this was kind of an "experiment as I go" type of piece, and it will also depend on how ruffled you want your strips.  You can always start out ruffling some fabric and then ruffle more as you need it.

To gather the fabric, I lengthened my stitch as far as I could (I think a 5 on my mom's machine) and loosened the tension a tad.  It is best to practice on a piece you won't be using to make sure your settings will work as you want them to.

For the white fabric, I folded it in half long-ways and stitched along the raw edges.  This fabric was fraying a LOT so I knew I couldn't leave the raw edges exposed on my shirt.  The grey strips were just sewn down the middle.  *Do not back stitch at either end or you won't be able to gather*  Once you finish stitching a strip, gently pull on one of the threads (I think the bottom works easier), shifting the fabric as needed until you create the desired amount of ruffly goodness.

Starting with my white fabric, I pinned it along the top edge of my tank neckline, like so:

(Notice the raw edges are pointing down from the neckline)

(If you do not have long piece of ruffle, as was the case for me, make sure to tuck the ends together when starting a new strip.  This makes it look continuous.)

*Change your machine setting back to normal before sewing your rows on the shirt.*

Sew the first row of ruffles to the tank, along the seam made from gathering, back stitching at the beginning and end.  Be careful not to sew through both layers (this will be important as we continue to add rows).

I really started to notice how badly this fabric was fraying after pinning and sewing this first row.  So I decided to pin the next row of white before adding the middle layer of grey.  That way my grey layer would hopefully keep most of those frayed edges contained.  This white row has the raw edges facing up and overlapping the first white row a little bit.  Pin into place and sew.

Now pin the grey strip between these two white rows.  Sew into place.  (The grey fabric will curl more once it has been washed.)

This is what we have so far!  Originally, this is what I was picturing in my mind...but wasn't in love with it once I put it on.  My mom and sister said they thought it was cute...but who were they trying to kid??  Something looks off, don't you agree? 

Hey, let's add more ruffles!  Following the same steps as before, I ruffled more strips and started adding the next couple rows to the tank.  You can play around with the shape, number of rows, etc. until you come up with something you like.

Tuck the ends of these next rows under the previous layers for a more finished look.
(Make sure your next layer is centered...unless you are going for an off-center look!) ;-)

 I opted for two rows of white as the bottom instead of just one.  I wanted a little extra fluff.

Keep pinning and sewing rows of ruffle until you have a shape/style you like.

And Done.

I still think it has a pirate-y feel to it, but I am OK with that.  We all need a little pirate in our lives, right? ;-)  Have fun working up your own ruffly creation.  I would love to see what you create! (O:

Have a great day! (O:

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