pattern block

Easy ways to modify a tank pattern to get exactly what you want: Sprint Muscle Shirt to the Rescue!

Mar 18, 2021 | Sprint | 0 comments

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What’s better than one tried and true pattern you can sew over and over again? How about a tried and true pattern block that you can modify over and over again with success?

Happy Friday, LN friends! Rachel here today, excited to share a mod that I stumbled on last summer and have used a TON since then. I’ve been waiting for spring (or at least impending spring!) to share this tutorial and it’s close enough – no more waiting!

Modifications for Sprint Tank

Miss P asked for a drop armhole tank and I had the Sprint Tank sitting on my cutting table when she asked. There are so many cute tanks out there for inspiration, we’ve seen fun open side or drop armhole tanks at Athleta, Old Navy, and Lululemon among others. I took a pencil and scissors to my pattern pieces, and it was the easiest hack ever – I didn’t even cut new armbands since I was using a rayon spandex fabric for her tank and liked the drape with the open, loose look that I got from hemming the armscyes.

I couldn’t stop there! For this week’s Feature Friday I decided to modify the hemline in two different ways as well. Easy mods and a few very different finished looks are our jam over here – not a lot of time for fussing with fit, especially for a tween who seems to grow inches overnight.

You must start with a great basic pattern block

The Sprint Tank is a great basic block with a perfect fit – not too slim, not too boxy – which is what you want to look for when you’re making modifications. I always recommend making sure you’ve got the fit sorted out for your intended recipient before you start hacking by making one basic version as shown, and then have fun with it! 

How to use your pattern block to create a drop armhole

Let’s start with the drop armhole. I decided to drop the opening by 3 inches for a very open armscye. Not using armbands (which was our choice – I just hemmed the opening with a coverstitch) will open it even a little further, since the pattern is drafted with armbands. (If you modify the armscye and want to use armbands? Make new ones by measuring the new armscye and calculating approximately 85% of that opening for a new armband length.

Depending on the stretch percentage of your armband fabric, you may end up anywhere between 80-90% but 85% is a good place to start.) You can freehand sketch or use a french curve to draw in your new armhole curve. I like to scoop a little more out in the back, but less in the front for chest coverage. Make sure to keep the side seams the same length, and don’t scoop into the shoulder seams or they won’t match up when you go to sew up your tank! 

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Construction order for pattern modifications

The construction order changes a little in this case; I like to sew the shoulder seams and then press and hem the armhole openings. I make a memory press for the hem, but sew up the side seams and then sew the hem. Add the neckband and you’re done!

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Modifying the hemline for Sprint Tank

Now, modifying the hemline took a little more time but is worth the effort! Miss P has a ready-to-wear tank with a dramatic rounded hemline that we thought would be a cute mod for the Sprint Tank pattern.

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For this one, I marked the side seams for how high I wanted the curve to end and sketched the curve from center front (and center back) to the side seam mark. Again, make sure that the side seams remain the same length so they match up when sewing the front and back together. When cutting my fabric, I made a little snip into the fabric at that point on each side seam as well. This little snip helped me know where to start and end my hemline, since the curve is blended up into the side seam. For the construction of this tank, I started again with the shoulder seams but then pressed and hemmed the armscyes AND the hems – I hemmed the front and back separately because of the dramatic curve, and then sewed the side seams last, making sure to tuck in my serger tails at both the top and bottom of each side seam. 

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Sprint Tank as a Flouncy Cropped Tank

Lastly, we wanted to use the Sprint Tank as a base for a cute flouncy cropped tank.

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For this one, I measured from the center front down to the hem to determine how long I wanted the finished tank to be. Make sure to add in your hem allowance before you cut your pattern piece! (Miss P is 5 feet tall and has a long torso, and we cut 14” from the front neckline for reference.) Now line up your side seams to make sure they match, and cut the hemline to the same length as the front. Since the Sprint tank is a straight fit, I used the slash-and-spread method to add flounce without altering the armscyes or the neckline. I cut from the hemline up to the top of the pattern piece, leaving the tiniest bit attached to act as the hinge. I spread the pieces out evenly and traced the outline onto a new piece of paper. I used those tracings as my new pattern pieces. For the construction, I again sewed the shoulder seams first. Then, I pressed and hemmed the armscyes, sewed the side seams, and hemmed the top. It was as simple as that! 

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Fabric always plays a role when you modify your patterns

As is the case with most knit patterns, fabric choice will play a role in the drape and fit of the final garment. I used a cotton jersey with 2-way stretch for the smiley face tank, a drapey poly midweight (180gsm) athletic knit for the curved hem tank, and a double brushed poly for the cropped flounce tank. There are lots of great options that would work for a versatile pattern like this one, and you can check out *this* post for some of our favorite online fabric shops if you need some inspiration. 

More Patterns with Potential as YOUR Pattern Blocks

One final note – for this tutorial I used the Sprint Tank which is only available in kids’ sizes, but there are plenty of great options in the LN pattern catalog if you’d like to try this fun hack for yourself! The LDT tank is always a part of my summer wardrobe, as is the Tidal Tank and Dress. The Hip-Hop Tank has been retired and doesn’t receive the same updates or have the same size range as the current catalog, but it would work well for this hack as well. You could even use the Classic Tee and just modify the shoulder and armscye for a tank view – so many options! Want to pair with a cute pair of shorts? Try the Jam Jam Sleepwear shorts for kids and this tutorial for another fun mod, or the recently updated Allegros for you!

Please make sure to join us over in the LN Pattern Support Group on Facebook and show us what you’ve been working on; we love hearing from you and seeing LN patterns in action!


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