Friday, 6 September 2013


Lady Skater Pattern Hack: Go Sleeveless

Lady Skater Tank

I know, what better way to celebrate autumn than to post the long-overdue Lady Skater Sleeveless hack!    Southern hemis, this one's for you.  Northern hemis, bookmark or pin for later.  All hemis, ignore the fact that my photos aren't technically even a Lady Skater Dress.  I'm demonstrating how easy it is to extend the bodice to make t-shirts.

LS Sleeveless Collage

So you want to make your Lady Skater sleeveless? You might remember that Cindy from Siestas and Sewing made a sleeveless skater for the tour as illustrated by the picture on the right.  If you do nothing to the bodice armhole except add trim as she did, the tank becomes a mini cap sleeve that is in no way displeasing, but if you prefer a more traditional tank-like appearance you have to change your armhole:

front skater bodice to tank

The main difference is to reduce the shoulder width.  The sleeved Lady Skaters are designed for the sleeve seam to hit right on the shoulder cap so removing the sleeve and adding trim means that the shoulder seam will extend over the shoulder cap.  If you want a skinnier shoulder, remove the greatest width at the top.  The red line shows the revised armhole- it's closer to vertical at the top, scooped out along the armhole curve, and tapered to nothing at the armpit.  The reason why I taper to nothing at the armpit is that I am very particular about my bra  band showing.  My short torso / big bust combo means that my bra bands hit very high up and it's my personal preference for a very close fitting sleeveless armhole.  If you prefer a looser armhole, feel free to scoop it out there too!  The purpose of scooping out along the curve is to compensate for the width of the band, but also to remove the pooling of excess fabric that can happen above the bust.

Lady Skater tank hack back bodice

After you've amended the front bodice, to amend the back bodice first ensure the shoulder width is the same as you're using for the front.  The back armhole is less curved than the front and pooling is less of an issue so you don't have to scoop into the curve, just remove a more-or-less uniform amount to account for the trim.  If you remove too much from the back armhole you risk the bra strap showing.  Make sure also that if you scooped into the armpit in the front bodice that you do the same to the back bodice so the side seams are still the same length.

 front skater bodice to tank band calc

Once you have revised your armhole for both the front and the back, you'll need to determine the length of band you will use to trim.  To do so measure the new armhole (less the shoulder seam allowance) and multiply it by .85 for the length.  This percentage works for fabric that has some elastane / lycra / spandex but if your fabric has less stretch and recovery (for example interlock) you might find .9 works better.  For the height I personally tend to use 4cm (so 2cm on the fold) as it results in a trim rather than band appearance but feel free to increase the height if you want.  Remember that the more you increase your trim height, the more you need to remove from the armhole curve.

front skater bodice to tank armpit

To sew on the band I follow the same process as the neckband in that I sew it on flat rather than in the round.  This is because I like to sew my side seams last so I can adjust any fitting problems then.  It is worth saying that if you're busty like me that you might find the extra wedge added to the front bodice piece needs to be removed in your sleeveless version.  With sleeves, this wedge reduces pulling across the chest and allows freer range of motion through the sleeve.  However, in a sleeveless version you might find that you need to pull the front bodice tighter at the armpit and sew the side seam closer (effectively pulling the band in and ) so that it hugs the curve of the bust without gaping.

Go forth and sleeveless!


  1. Yay! Thanks for posting! I will definitely be making a more traditional tank with the LSD pattern next year. btw, K's peplum top got lots of compliments from random high school girls when she wore it to school.;)

    1. You're welcome! Hope you don't mind me stealing that close up of your bust :) So glad K got compliments for her LS peplum, it *did* look fantastic.

  2. Thanks for giving nice info.....Find Women Dresses Uk at ShopStyle UK based company, is the place to get womens fashion clothing. We provide evening party dress.

  3. I was totally going to thanks for giving nice info AND give a link to provide evening party dress, but Rex James beat me to it. Again!

    I assume you just used your lengthen line to make it top length? I'm still fiddling with the perfect amount (if any) to adjust the bodice for my dress version.

  4. Haha, Lynn! Good ol' Rex James. I'm not even going to delete it because then your perfect comment loses it's context.

    To make a t-shirt I don't use the lengthen line because I need to add extra width below the high waist for my low waist and hips. So basically what I did is to reshape the side seam from the armpit down to add a little extra ease and then it curves out for my hips. I can do a tute if you want :)

    1. I thought about how silly my comment would sound if you moderated Rex right out of there. He does have a very handsome, almost chiseled, profile pic I have to say.

      If you were feeling like doing a t-shirt tute I would definitely be one of those happily sewing along with it. Or if that makes me too greedy I would even suggest you could come up with a cute top pattern and sell it. Why not, right?

  5. Thank you for this tutorial. I made this dress and it's so comfortable and flattering that I want to make a thousand in different versions!

  6. Thanks for this. I've just finished my first (there will be more) lady skater dress and, when my daughter was trying on the bodice for fitting, we thought it would make a great t-shirt if longer and now you've showed me how!