Introduction: Upcycling Tank Tops: Ruched Bust Top

I'll be honest...long, loose, flowy tank tops are not my style. I much prefer the look of a fitted crop top (square neckline a bonus.) Unfortunately for me, many big fashion companies seem to think that these type of crop tops are worth upwards of $35. They are definitely not.

In this tutorial, I'll demonstrating how to turn a loosely fitted tank top that you already own into a fashion boutique must-have.


1 Loosely fitted tank top

2 Pieces of thin elastic (1/8 inch recommended)

1 Safety Pin

Sewing machine



Ruler/ tape measure

Step 1: Cut It Out

Locate the side seam. Cut up the side of the top so that the back and front lay flat.

Using a tape measure, measure and mark out 7.5 inches from the bottom of the tank top. Cut it out. You should have a long panel of fabric 7.5 inches in width.

Using the tape measure, cut the panel of fabric to the length of your bust, making sure to leave a seam allowance on both ends. For me, this was 35 inches.

Fold the panel in half.

By the end of this step, you should have a bust panel.

Step 2: Ruching

Pin along the length of the panel to create two channels wide enough to fit an elastic. Sew using a straight stitch.

Pin a safety pin through one end of each elastic, and thread them through each channel. The pieces of elastic should be short enough, so that the panel forms ruching, but long enough so that the panel still covers the bust. My elastics were about 13 inches long.

Using a zigzag stitch, sew the ends so that the elastic doesn't move.

By the end of this step, the bust panel should be ruched.

Step 3: Cut Out the Back

Taking the remaining fabric of your tank top, cut out a new panel 6 inches wide and long enough to properly cover your back. Make sure to consider seam allowance. My new panel was about 14.5 inches in length.

Again, using the remaining fabric, cut another panel as long as the bust panel and as wide as you prefer. Leave an allowance for seams. My new panel was 5 inches wide.

Pin and hem the raw edges using a straight stitch.

By the end of this step, you should have one panel to cover your back and a second panel for the front. Both hemmed.

Step 4: Putting It All Together

Take both front panels and arrange them so that right sides face towards each other and wrong sides face outwards. Make sure to line up the edges. Sew together using a zigzag stitch. Cut off any excess fabric. This is your completed front panel.

Now taking the back panel, arrange it so that the right sides face outwards and the wrong sides face towards each other. Sew both edges using a zigzag stitch. Cut off any excess fabric and hem. This is your completed top.

If your fabric is a cotton-polyester blend, you can stop here. Your material should stretch enough so that you can wear it, and the elastic should be able to prevent the top from falling. The completed look will be a cropped tube top.

If your fabric does not stretch or you prefer to add straps...keep on reading.

Step 5: For Those With Non-Stretchy Fabric (or Just for Fun)

By now, I'm sure you've noticed a problem with your top: You can't put it on, because the fabric doesn't stretch.

Thankfully, I have an easy solution.

Taking the remains of your original tank top, carefully cut off the hems of the fabric. Any place where the fabric forms a noticeable hem is fair game. For me, this was the neckline and arm holes. DO NOT ruin the stitching, but cut as close as you can to the edge. These hems will act as ties for the top. (Quick Tip: Cut atleast 4 ties of equal length. Mine were about 11 inches long.)

Cut up the middle of the back panel. Hem the raw edges. Line the ties up, and sew using a zigzag stitch.

By the end of this step, the top should be completely wearable.

Step 6: The Straps (Optional)

Using any leftover fabric, cut two long strips of fabric. You will be folding these into straps. (Quick Tip: the wider you cut the straps, the easier it is to sew). Fold each strap into thirds and pin in the middle. Sew closed using a straight stitch.

Put on your top and model where you'd like to place the straps. Sew to the front panel using a zigzag stitch.

This next part is totally up to you, since the straps can be put in any configuration you'd like. I decided not to waste any part of my straps, so I criss-crossed them at the back. You do you :)

Step 7: The Final Look

I am so proud of this top and how far it has come. It is absolutely perfect for the summer, and I will no doubt be showing it off when the weather gets warmer.