DIY running tank top/singlet from too large tech t-shirt

Last weekend’s XTERRA volunteering resulted in one very wonderfully fitted and two ridiculously oversized free technical t-shirts. 

Because I’m more a fan of shirts I can run in without feeling like a flappy, swishy kite, I kept the well-fitted t-shirt as-is but decided to improve the others by turning them into racer-back tops. I knew that the stretch was unique enough that I would likely get a strange fit if I tried to mimic a super fitted/stretchy tank top, so instead I decided to pattern my tech tanks after a less fitted Nike 50/50 cotton/rayon tank.

 I folded the tank at its front-center to get one side of the front piece and traced/cut that piece out of the front half of the t-shirt.

  Since I had two shirts to use (blue and yellow), I cut the different colored y-shaped piece out of the opposite t-shirt. I made a mostly blue tank first and plan to make the mostly yellow one once I buy yellow thread.

 Last, I folded over both the tank and shirt at the center-back and traced/cut out the back piece. I’m always a little off when estimation seam allowances since I’m too impatient to use my sewing gauge and just eyeball it – this means the fit of my new garment is always a little off from the original, but it’s not generally a big problem with stretchy garments that I’m only wearing to workout.


I sewed the y-piece and shoulder seams first to check the fit/alignment at the sides, then sewed up the sides, and lastly turned the neck, armholes, and bottom hem under and sewed the edges. I used a straight stitch with mild stretching as I sewed to allow a bit of give in the seams. Zigzag looked a little messy and didn’t work as well on the light fabric – it’d probably be better if using a modern machine with zigzag stitch at the needle instead of trying to use a zigzag presser foot like I did.


Not winning any seam contests but just fine for running

I did a little hem slit at the bottom, not included in the original tank top but necessary with the slightly fitted hip area in this version: 

 The finished product:


This pose is great for showing off IT band bruises ;P


fake running up the stairs, wheeeee!



Mesh running top update!

So, a few posts ago I mentioned that I was planning to sew a mesh running top modeled after the awesome mesh top from Oiselle, which, alas I can’t afford on my current grad stipend 😦

It took a few hours of time over the last couple weeks, but the top is now done!


Here’s a brief look at what went into the final product:

First, I rode my bike over to our local Jo-Ann fabrics.  There was some pretty stellar selection of Power Mesh.  If by ‘stellar’, you mean ‘so gaudy it makes my eyes wince.’  I decided that I wasn’t quite up to running in sequins (although you’d be oh-so visible to cars!) and went with a simple white mesh.


I used one of my favorite running tanks for the pattern by tracing it out on cheap newsprint paper and then patterning the mesh pieces off of that.

Lining up the selvage…


Laying out the pattern…Image

Adding seam allowances (3/4 in)Image

And cutting out the pattern pieces.

I simplified my life somewhat by making my tank pieces identical on the front and back, rather than doing a scoop neck front and racer back.Image

Once the parts were cut out, I did a lot of pinning and basting – the mesh is extremely stretchy so the alignment is tricky.

The (almost) final result?

A decent tank.


The fit is a little more low-cut in the neck than I’d been aiming for, but I like the way the fabric drapes overall.  After seeing how transparent the single layer of mesh is, I’d probably double up next time (at least in the front).  My solution for this particular top is to add some dye, which will hopefully increase the opacity a bit.

Since I don’t have any fabric dye, I’m using acrylic paint.

First step – pick a color!


Next step – dilute about 1 – 1.5 TB of paint in 2 – 3 C water.  Mix thoroughly unless you like paint blobs on your fabric…


Last – dip the top into the paint-dye!


I let the tank sit in the dye for about 10 minutes and ended up with this color:



I like it much better with the color – lend a bit more opacity and some cool color-combining layer effects with the bright sports bra underneath.

Total cost – $27 for fabric (although that turned out to be enough for 3 tank-tops), $4 for paint (again, enough for multiple tops).  So about $11 for the one tank top.  Not high-end, but it’ll do quite well for the price (and the fun in making it) 🙂