wiksten tank dress

IMG_1076roughly 20 years ago when i finished my sorbetto top, i immediately downloaded this pattern and sewed it the next day.  i wrote this post maybe a week later, and it has taken me THIS LONG to photograph it.  it’s ancient history now.  seriously, it took this long for another adult to be present to wield the camera and my hair to be clean at the same time, to give you an idea of an average day around here.  frankly, i was just happy to get some photos of the dress on a body, so please bear with me through the awkward poses.  maybe when the kids are in college i’ll be able to get some pics when it’s not 150 degrees with sun directly in my eyes so i don’t have to crop my crazy squinty face out of every photo.


like this one, where i tripped on burning hot splintery hay in my bare feet.  they mowed my towering weeds, y’all.  but check out what sprouted up across the street in the meantime:

IMG_1107love living in farm country.

anyway, as i’m only just beginning to dabble in women’s patterns, this wiksten tank must obviously be exceedingly popular to have penetrated my kid clothing dominated exposure to all things sewing.  this tank is all over the internet in a million different iterations (this pattern is already two years old and not losing steam), and the consensus seems to be that the tops are both comfortable and flattering with clear instructions.  sounds like a winner to me!


i think it’s common with any new craft to get so consumed with practicing and experimenting, you end up with a lot of products that aren’t necessarily useful or attractive.  i’ve been down that road with kid’s clothes (not like they care!), focusing on simple projects for the sake of skill instead of appearance, with whatever fabric i have laying around.  only now am i starting to feel like my projects are more thoughtfully designed and crafted, and more reflective of my style.



i am *really* making a concerted effort to skip as much of that phase as possible with sewing for myself, and to apply the lessons i’ve learned from all these months of feverish kid sewing.  i am no clothes horse by a long shot…it would be a shame to fill my closet with a bunch of garments i truly won’t ever wear because i was so project driven, i didn’t pay attention to what the end result would mean.  while all of that practice *certainly* serves a purpose, i’m hoping that the basic skills i’ve picked up in children’s clothing will carry over, and i can approach women’s sewing more carefully, focussing on learning more advanced skills and techniques.


this tank is about as simple as they come–far more even than the sorbetto top as it’s so loose fitting it doesn’t even have darts.  there are only two pattern pieces not including the binding!  still, i approached it with great care and really took my time on the few details involved.  first, fabric choice.  this is an anna maria horner voile i fell in love with in the blue variation as soon as i started sewing (she is one of my favorite fabric designers).  it’s from an older line, and after stalking every possible fabric website including etsy, i sort of resolved that i’d never find it in stock.  then suddenly, right around christmas, it popped up at hawthorne threads, my main online fabric resource (for cottons), yards and yards of it in every colorway, and on SALE.  what?!  totally against my minimalist nature, i snapped up several yards in blue and yellow for my stash, knowing that someday, at least some of it would become a garment for me.


the tank pattern has a a dress option, and i love the color, pattern and light feel of the voile so much, i wanted as much of it on my body as possible.  i painstakingly traced the pattern with all markings on freezer paper instead of the crappy paper i use for the kids.  i carefully cut it so the print would match at the side seams (though it doesn’t at the shoulders…is it even possible to do both?!)  i cut a medium (on the cutting table, not my lap) based on my bust measurement as recommended by the pattern, and sewed that baby up with love and affection.  only two seams in the whole thing…you can bet they’re french.  the neck and arm binding technique was new to me, and this is *the* narrowest hem i’ve ever managed to pull off.  it required an extended period of heavy steaming, several burns on my fingers, and some real concentration around the curved hems, but i really enjoyed every minute of it.  i’m spoiled by kids clothing and expect it to go quickly–you know i get a little resentful when people like liesl demand i invest serious time to produce quality garments (imagine that…).  but i have entered into women’s clothing with a broad acceptance that these items will be worn, appreciated, and hopefully lasting–by all means, they deserve the time and thought.


quite pleased with my narrow hems and smooth bindings, i went to try it on.  oh my, TOTAL mumu.  it didn’t come as a complete surprise given the shape of the tank, but it was really unwearable in that state.  i decided to add an elastic waistband at my natural waist, using a bias tape maker for the casing.  i even bound the ends together continuously to keep the inside of the dress totally cleanly finished.  somehow, i managed to twist the elastic, which i have an unfortunate predisposition to no matter how i try to prevent it.  i checked out version two…definitely more shapely, but not quite right.  the top was still very loose, and had so much extra fabric above the new waistline (the skirt looked fine).  it looked like a dress i would be really excited about on the hanger based on the fabric and cut, then would try it on, and david would say “that’s not very flattering on you,” and i would agree.  i always appreciate his honesty, which is important in emotionally driven shopping situations.





i wasn’t ready to scrap the dress, remembering my promise to create things i really would wear, so i debated between trying to create some sort of dart to take in the sides, keeping the skirt and armholes the same width, but altering the ribcage.  that sounded very complicated and risky, so i decided perhaps it only needed a belt.  it was already late at night, so the next morning, i searched for my single belt.  and searched, and searched.  i had the kids scouting the house…under furniture, the bottom of the closet, anywhere a belt might mysteriously lurk off to.  after hours of looking, we finally did find it, only to realize it’s not designed for a natural waist, and was too big for that purpose.  not to be deterred, we piled into the car to target, where we found a suitable alternative.



this belt too went missing for a week (bean dropped it in the store after we bought it and it required some detective work to retrieve it), which didn’t help with the timeliness of this post.  but, here it is!  final consensus… the belt is pretty wide, so i can sort of tuck some of the extra fabric in, though it still poofs in the back (see above).  the whole ensemble looks better with a cardigan, but  it’s over 100 degrees in these photos, so sorry friends…you’ll have to imagine what a cardigan would look like.


i wore this dress at least two full days already in the attempt to snap photos, so it’s definitely wearable and comfortable.  BUT, am i getting old, or is this thing way too short?!  i feel like i’m wearing a man’s dress shirt as an outfit and not pulling it off.  definitely not conducive to chasing toddlers.  while it might make a great tunic over jeans in 5 months when it’s cool enough to wear jeans again, that would require me putting together a whole outfit, and i’m not sure how that would go with the belt.  and do i really want to be tucking my shirt into my belt all day?  i also wasn’t aware until i saw these photos the degree of sheerness of the fabric.  not too hard to spot my underoos…and again, i have worn this dress two full days in public, nice.  it seems that if i’m going to successfully sew for myself, i’m either going to have to elevate the standards of my personal style, or start sewing a lot more jersey.  what do you guys think?  should i throw the towel in on this one?  yay or nay?

anyhow, next time i’ll stick to the tank length and cut the size small.  in the meantime, i’ve got another personal sewing project calling my name from the sewing room, so within the year there should be a post on that one, too.

11 thoughts on “wiksten tank dress

  1. I think it is all part of the learning curve. When I started sewing for myself I tried a pair of dress pants (a simplicity pattern). I measured the pattern in ever-which direction to make sure I got the right size, and when I sewed them together I used the seem allowance recommended, but still ended up with clown pants. I took out seems cut fabric off and put them back together so many times that I had to go buy a second spool of thread just for this one pair of pants. I think it really takes time/practice to figure out how to get from patterns to correct fit. Don’t get discouraged. Now you know: How short is too short. How thin is too thin (without lining). How hot is too hot for a photo shoot. And a better Idea of how the pattern fits you.
    It is still a beautiful dress and looks great in the pictures!
    Keep up the good work and try not to make the same mistakes too many times.
    I’m sure it’s not your sense of style in question here.

    • ha! i have been petrified of big name patterns for that reason. the patterns from the indie designers are far more expensive, but the instructions are more explicit and approachable. of course, i still managed to mess up the *easiest* women’s pattern ever. BUT, you are right that it’s all a part of the learning experience, and it’s important for me to remember that even loose garments need proper fitting. as for repeating mistakes…ask me how many times i’ve sewn something to itself while working on a cuff or a binding. i can’t tell you, because it’s TOO MANY TO COUNT. i did that yesterday and actually stabbed my seam ripper into my sewing table in fury. there’s a hole and everything! now i have to learn how to refinish a table.

  2. I have this pattern too and I made a top and it didn’t fit me quite right. 😦 I think this pattern in particular, if left unaltered, is more flattering for a specific body shape (definitely not mine). I think you did a FABULOUS job! It’s not you… it’s the pattern. Starting off with something basic such as this is perfect, you’re getting a better understanding about your body and what techniques or alterations would work best on future patterns. You’re gettin’ it!!! I say, KEEP THE DRESS!

    The dress looks 100xs better with the elastic waist and a belt. The sheerness of it, isn’t so bad based on the pics. AND I can totally see this dress paired with a cardigan and boots. Length, not bad, but I agree… not a tot chaser outfit.

    Keep up the awesome sewing! 🙂

    • ironically, a lot of looser clothing looks best on thin and curveless women, while more tailored (if tailored properly) things look better when curves can be flaunted in flattering ways. i’m not ready to give up on this one–have to see how the small fits (and i think in jersey, the drape will improve the appearance also, not so poofy), and maybe a little waist shaping on non drapey fabrics?

  3. this is lovely! I really like the curved hem, and that fabric is so gorgeous! I’ve been using the Grainline tank pattern (similar to the Wiksten) and am planning a dress version at the moment, but without the elastic so as to accomodate a pregnancy bump!

    • thanks, kathryn! i have also seen the grainline pattern around. i can’t decide if they’re totally repetitive or not, but both are very cute. congrats on the pregnancy!

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