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My own version of the Avery Tank from The Magic Pattern Book, sewn with fabrics from Cloud 9 Collective
I was asked to do a project and write a review for some new fabrics from Cloud 9 Collective. Being the fabric junkie that I am, I couldn't possibly say no! The main fabric used is called "Swaying Floral" and is designed by Elizabeth Olwen for the collection called "Grey Abbey." The second is called "Branch" and is designed by Eloise Renouf for the collection called "First Light." Both fabrics are lightweight wovens made from 100% organic cotton. They're gorgeously soft, and drape so nicely. The weight and colors of the fabric just begged for something springy and fun, so I thought this top would be the perfect project to show them off.

To exactly copy this project, you'll need the Avery tank pattern from The Magic Pattern Book, or another a-line tank pattern that you can alter to fit these instructions. I highly recommend the book though, all of the patterns are simple enough for beginners and make for some really great basic wardrobe pieces.

My version has a keyhole opening in the back in place of the exposed zipper, and a modern hi-low hem to contrast with the vintage-y vibes of the fabric. (I made the keyhole modification when I first got the book a while ago, and I forgot to take pictures of my modding process this time, so I'll do my best to explain it all without.) Ok, here it goes:

Posted by AlterEgo Designs from Cleveland, Ohio, United States • Published See AlterEgo Designs's 22 projects »
  • Step 1

    To make the top from a straight hem into an asymmetrical hem, first trace the front and lower back patterns in the appropriate size onto a new piece of paper, leaving room to add length to the hem on both. Starting with the back, decide how much longer than the original length you want your hem to fall. Add length to the center back first, remembering to account for hem allowance (if you wish for it to be different than on the original pattern. I recommend 1/2”, so you can follow along with my rolled hem directions more easily.) Decide how dramatic of a curve you want on your hem, and use that curve to bring your hem length back towards the original measurement, with the center front ending at the original hem length. Make sure your side seams have the same measurement and follow your curve where the seams will meet. (Ex, if your new side back measurement is 2 1/2” longer than the original length, then your front side seam will also need to be 2 1/2” longer. Make sure that your curves at the center front and center back end at 90 degree angles where the pattern pieces will be laid on the fold, or you'll end up with a point at the center front and back instead of a gentle curve.

  • Step 2

    To convert your upper back from an exposed zipper closure to a keyhole opening, trace your original pattern in the appropriate size onto a new sheet of paper. Decide where on your upper back you want your keyhole to start and end, accounting for (3/8") seam allowances. Mark these places on your new pattern piece. Using a curved object, trace from one marking to the next. This will be your keyhole opening. To allow for your keyhole to overlap at the back neck, you will need to add extra measurement to the pattern. Add this length to the thin strip on top of the keyhole, but not the bottom. If you want to close your keyhole with a thread loop and have the two sides meet at the neck but not overlap, do not add extra measurement.

  • Step 3

    Make sure you have copied notches and other necessary markings to your new pattern pieces. I found that the small gather at the neck created an odd bulge on my first version of this top, so I left it out of this version, but did not alter the front neckline on the pattern at all. If you are a bit busty, you may find it helpful to omit the gather as well, but that's a judgment call you'll have to make for yourself. Other than the alterations stated, (and stitching French seams rather than serging/ trimming, I mainly followed the instructions from the book from this point on. I'll type them in my own words here, but you you may find it helpful to refer to the book if my instructions are confusing at all.

  • Step 4

    Lay your pattern pieces out as desired and cut out your fabric. Transfer notches and markings for darts. To leave out the neck gather, pin pattern directly on the fold instead of 1” away. Keep in mind that this will also make the end garment more fitted, so if you haven't tried this method before I would recommend making a muslin first in case this method is too snug for you.

  • Step 5

    Stay stitch back and front necklines within seam allowances. I also chose to finish all of my hem edges at this stage, since the curves will make this harder to do with the pieces together. I serged each bottom edge at 1/4”, but you can finish however you like. Just make sure it's 1/4” so that the final hemming step will make sense.

  • How to make a tank top. Altered Avery Tank With Cloud 9 Fabrics - Step 6
    Step 6

    With right sides together, pin the two upper back pieces at the center back seam ONLY BELOW THE KEYHOLE. I made a mistake with mine and had to make the seam allowance 1/4”, but yours should be the standard 5/8”. Finish your seam and trim if needed. Finish the edges of the fabric above the keyhole opening as well, but do not sew these closed. If you are planning to overlap the edges, press these edges under just enough to hide your finishing stitches. If you are planning to have your seams meet but not overlap, press these edges under the full measurement of your seam allowance.

  • How to make a tank top. Altered Avery Tank With Cloud 9 Fabrics - Step 7
    Step 7

    Matching notches, pin upper back to lower back piece. (You might notice my center back has a seam in the pictures. Yours should not. I cut a piece wrong and didn't have enough fabric left over to cut mine on the fold as instructed, so my lower back had to be seamed together.) Finish your seam and press the seam allowance down.

  • How to make a tank top. Altered Avery Tank With Cloud 9 Fabrics - Step 8
    Step 8

    Pin darts in place, making sure to match your edges. Pin lengthwise along your markings rather than perpendicular, with the pins pointing TOWARDS your side seams and AWAY from the point. This makes it easier to pull them out as you sew. I find it helpful to lightly press the fold into my darts before sewing, as it helps the fabric not to slide around as you remove your pins. DO NOT press beyond the point of the darts. Sew from the side seam/raw edge towards the point. When you are a few stitches from the point, adjust your stitch length to the shortest stitch. DO NOT backstitch at the point. Stitch right off the edge, and leave your threads long when you cut them. Knot these threads by hand and trim them off. Using a tailor's ham (or a rolled towel if you don't have a ham), press your darts down (towards your hem) from the right side of your fabric. Use your iron to smooth the point of the darts. I like to hand baste the edges of the darts to the side seam allowance, but this step isn't necessary.

  • How to make a tank top. Altered Avery Tank With Cloud 9 Fabrics - Step 9
    Step 9

    This is where I deviate a bit from the book. Pin your front and back pieces together at the shoulders and side seams, matching notches, with WRONG sides together. Yes, you read that right. The RIGHT sides of your fabric should be on the outside, both the front and the back. This might look wrong for the moment, but just go with me for a minute.

  • How to make a tank top. Altered Avery Tank With Cloud 9 Fabrics - Step 10
    Step 10

    With your fabric RIGHT sides out, stitch along the shoulder and side seams at 3/8”. Press these seams, then trim the seam allowance down to just under 1/4”.

  • How to make a tank top. Altered Avery Tank With Cloud 9 Fabrics - Step 11
    Step 11

    Turn the garment inside out, so that the WRONG sides are now showing, and press your seams again. Stitch a second time along each of these seam lines, at 1/4”. Press your seams one more time, then tun your garment inside out again, so that the RIGHT sides are facing you once more. Congratulations, you've just sewn French seams! Don't they look much nicer? I would've put these on the center back and upper-to-lower back seam as well, and if you are using sheer fabrics I'd recommend doing so, but for this fabric I figured it would add unnecessary bulk to seams that you'll really want to minimize for comfort.

  • How to make a tank top. Altered Avery Tank With Cloud 9 Fabrics - Step 12
    Step 12

    *Note* My photos for this step did NOT come out well at all. I did my best to explain, and I did manage to get a pretty good shot of the finished hem, but please let me know if you get stuck here.

    Next, we're going to do your hem. Fold the hem up once to 1/4”, just below your finishing stitch, and press in place. Fold a second time, so that your finishing stitch is now encased in your hem, and press again. Pin this in place and decide how you want to sew. I topstitched mine with a decorative stitch that went nicely with the fabric I chose, but you can also straight stitch, or use a blind hem to hide your stitching. You can pin your fabric from the WRONG side and baste in place first if you need to, but I tend to skip that step myself.

    For a decorative stitch, pin your hem from the RIGHT side of your fabric. Set your fabric under the presser foot so that your decorative stitch will catch the edge of your rolled hem enough to hold it in place. The stitch I chose is fairly wide, so it overlapped the rolled hem quite a bit without going over the edge of my fabric. How you stitch and stitch placement are entirely up to you, just so long as you keep your hem pressed evenly all the way around. Since this is a hi-low top, the hem will likely be visible from the inside as well as the outside, so keep this in mind while you're sewing. You won't want to choose a stitch that looks nice from the top, but doesn't look very good from the bobbin side.

  • How to make a tank top. Altered Avery Tank With Cloud 9 Fabrics - Step 13
    Step 13

    Next we're going to finish your neck and arm hole edges with bias tape. I used single fold bias binding in a coordinating color, but you can make your own from the same or a contrasting fabric if you wish. First, for the neck edge, you're going to fold over the raw edge of the binding onto itself , keeping the edges even. Pin to the top neck edge with RIGHT sides together, matching the folded edge of the tape to the folded-over (cb) edge of your back neck above the keyhole opening. Making sure that you are pinning along the slightly smaller folded edge of the tape, pin the bias tape all the way around your neck edge, stretching the tape slightly as you pin. When you come to the other edge of your back neck, fold over the end of the bias tape again and pin in place. Stitch along the fold of the tape, or ~ 1/4”.

  • How to make a tank top. Altered Avery Tank With Cloud 9 Fabrics - Step 14
    Step 14

    Press the seam towards the bias tape. Fold the tape over to encase this seam. Pin so that the bottom of the tape just covers the seam on the WRONG side of your fabric, and pin in place all the way back around. Stitch in the ditch or edge stitch as close as possible to your first seam to secure the bias tape, making sure to catch the edge of the tape on the inside of your fabric.

    This is what your seam should now look like from the RIGHT side (except your stitching should be neater. I rushed this a bit since I was planning on covering my stitches with the decorative stitch later, but you should go slow and make your stitches as even as possible).

  • How to make a tank top. Altered Avery Tank With Cloud 9 Fabrics - Step 15
    Step 15

    And this is what it should look like from the WRONG side (although, again, it should be neater. Ignore my wonky stitches here ;) ).

  • How to make a tank top. Altered Avery Tank With Cloud 9 Fabrics - Step 16
    Step 16

    Bind the arm holes the same way, but rather than folding over the edge of the bias tape, overlap the end of your tape ~1”. When folding the tape to the inside, wrap the outer tape along that 1” to enclose the overlap. Keep your overlap near the under arm side seam, on the back side of your garment so it will be less noticeable. You can fold under the edge of the tape if you want, I just prefer not to because, again, it creates extra bulk where you really don't want it.

  • Step 17

    Bind the keyhole opening the same way you bound the neck, with the edges of the tape folded under so there are no raw edges exposed, with the edges of the tape matched to the edges of the keyhole.

  • Step 18

    The final step is adding your button closure above the keyhole opening. If you have chosen to overlap your back neck edge, lay your button onto the side that will be on top. Mark the length of your button, adding an extra 3/16”. If you have a buttonhole foot on your machine, use this to sew your buttonhole where you have just made your markings. If you do not, carefully cut your buttonhole opening with sharp scissors, stopping just short of the edges of your marks. Using a hand whipstitch, bind the raw edges of your fabric so that they won't fray, sewing all the way along your markings. Sew a bar tack at each end of your buttonhole.

  • How to make a tank top. Altered Avery Tank With Cloud 9 Fabrics - Step 19
    Step 19

    To open your buttonhole, place a pin in your fabric just inside the edge to stop you from accidentally ripping too far, and use your seam ripper to carefully open the buttonhole from the middle. Repeat this step on the other side. Check that your button slides freely in and out of the hole.

  • Step 20

    If you are omitting the buttonhole and are planning to use a thread loop instead, thread a needle with a heavy-gauge thread, making a knot at one end. Slide the needle under the fold at the top of your keyhole, poking through the fabric right at the fold, where your fabric meets your neck binding. Make a thread loop long enough to easily slide over your button, and secure in place, hiding your end knots inside that fabric fold.

  • How to make a tank top. Altered Avery Tank With Cloud 9 Fabrics - Step 21
    Step 21

    Mark where your button will attach to your fabric on the other side of your back neck edge, and stitch in place. Check again that your button fits through your loop or buttonhole, and that your garment fits comfortably with the button closure fastened. Adjust your button position as needed.

  • How to make a tank top. Altered Avery Tank With Cloud 9 Fabrics - Step 22
    Step 22

    That's it! Hopefully this made sense, but if not please feel free to message me any questions you might have.

  • Step 23


    I thoroughly enjoyed this project, even if I did make a few mistakes along the way. The fabrics from Cloud 9 were an absolute joy to work with. The cotton is very soft, and I have no doubt the top will be VERY comfortable to wear. Soft as they are, the fabrics were still very “crisp” and easy to sew with, and showed very little sign of wrinkling throughout all of the handling and sewing process. The colors are gorgeous and vibrant, and the designs have a fun retro vibe that fits great with my personal style. (I usually can't stand floral prints of any kind, but these were so kitschy and fun I just HAD to have them!) They really are all-around gorgeous fabrics, and I can definitely see myself tracking down more from this company in the future. I just found out that some of Cloud 9's fabrics are being carried at JoAnn Fabrics stores, so I'll be keeping an eye out for them from now on!

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