Adding A Shelf Bra to a Tank

I found my love of the shelf bra this summer. I see no reason to wear a "regular" bra anymore. My body's enjoying it's new freedom as I choose comfort during this pandemic. So what got me started on the shelf bra? Well, the Love Notions Summer Basics! I wrote a blog post on their blog all about what fabrics I used for the shelf bra add-on that came along with the Summer Basics update and size extension. While writing that blog post, I made 3 Summer Basics, all with shelf bras. I've worn those on repeat all summer long and realized I want every tank to have this option now. 

Today I'll be sharing how to add a shelf bra to the free Love Notions Laundry Day Tee, also known as the LDT. The reason I chose the LDT is that I like the swing shape and back coverage of the LDT. The shape differs from the Summer Basics more of a fitted tank or dress. The other main difference is the LDT is finished with bands and the Summer Basics is finished with binding. The LDT is a great pattern to modify and hack because it's free with the code in the Love Notions FB Group and ranges from size XS-5X!

Not only will I be adding a shelf bra to this LDT tank but I'll also be making it a crop length. My idea of a crop is a top or tank that covers the top of my bottoms so it may be longer than you prefer. That's totally fine, you can use the same technique to get a custom length of your choice. 

Creating a Crop Length

To start, take your measuring tape and measure from just below your armpit to the length you want the top to be. My measurement was 12". Make sure to add in the hem allowance now, which for the LDT is 1". On the front bodice pattern piece, measure from the armsyce straight down the total length you just calculated. In this case it's 13" which was exactly to the short/lengthen line. 

Place your straight edge across the width of your top until you get to the side seam. Your straight edge is telling you how far along the side seem you need to cut. Cut to that point. Then slide your pattern or fabric so your cut side seam meets the curved hem. Finish cutting along the hem curve. 

Repeat this process for the back pattern piece. Constructing the crop length is exactly the same as in the tutorial, it'll just be a shorter length. 

Creating a Shelf Bra

Grab the front and back bodice piece of the LDT and shelf bra pattern pieces of the Summer Basics. I always start with the front bodice when making my new pattern pieces. Since I'm working with my projector, I projected and traced the shelf bra pattern piece from the Summer Basics on my tracing paper. Then I projected the LDT front bodice on top of that, lining up the center fold and armysce horizontally. Now trace the LDT on top of the Summer Basics using a different color pen.

Here's where the magic happens. From the armsyce up, you will cut out along the LDT lines. From the armsyce down, along the side seam, you will follow the Summer Basics shelf bra lines. Note: The shelf bra will be narrower than the LDT and that's okay. It needs to be fitted to the bust to function. Label this new pattern piece as the LDT Shelf Bra Front. Repeat the process for the back piece. 

Cut out the elastic according to the Summer Basics pattern. Using the LDT, cut out the front and back bodice in your main fabric along with the neckband and tank bands or binding (your choice). With the newly created LDT shelf bra pattern pieces, cut out a front and back shelf bra with your shelf bra fabric. *I wrote a blog post all about fabric choices for a shelf bra here. For this make, I'm using swim fabric for the shelf bra. If you want a more casual shelf bra, I'd go with Cotton Lycra.

Let's start assembling all the parts. Working with the shelf bra front and back, clip right sides together at the shoulders and side seams. Serge/sew then turn wrong side out. Overlap the elastic 1" and sew together in a box. Then quarter both the elastic and bottom hem of the shelf bra. Align the elastic to the wrong side of the shelf bra, matching up quarter points. Serge/sew stretching elastic to fit the shelf bra hem. Turn elastic towards wrong side and top stitch in place. Set the shelf bra aside. 

With RST, serge/sew the shoulders and side seams of the LDT front and back bodice. With the LDT right side out, slide the shelf bra inside, matching wrong sides together. Clip to hold it in place. Here's a trick that Tami gives and it makes all the difference... Serge the neckline and armsyce together. This makes it easier to attach bands or binding without the two pieces separating. 

Nested WST before serged

After serged

Finish with bands or binding. I chose to use binding since my fabric is slippery and ribbed. Plus I secretly love bands even though I curse them every time I start them. I used my coverstitch to stitch the binding in place. Complete the final hem. 

The fabric I used for this tank is the DTY Rib Solids in Aqua from Mily Mae Fabrics. When selecting fabrics for the LDT I would choose a well draping or slinky fabric. This pattern is designed to flow and hang so you want a looser fabric. That being said, make sure your fabric has recovery or your LDT will grow with wear. The lining I used here was the Kira Tan Glow, also from Mily Mae Fabrics which is a swim knit. 

While this tutorial is showing how to apply it to the LDT, this can be done the same with any tank pattern. You an even use this same tutorial with a racerback tank to add a shelf bra in that style of tank. 

Do you enjoy Love Notions patterns like I do? This week is the last sale of the year on their patterns. Get 40% off all patterns (excluding Glissando's) through Friday October 9th. While I normally reach for knit patterns, their woven patterns are very approachable for any sewing level. 

My posts may feature affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase from these links, I receive a small percentage in compensation at no cost to you. I may have received patterns or products to test or review but the opinions I voice are my own.


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