DIY Tutorial: How to Make Your Own Cami Top

Learn how to make this summertime staple!
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DIY cami top: How to make your own cami

Make your own cami to rock all summer long!

Camis to me just scream summer. They are perfect to throw on when you’re feeling lazy but still want to look like you tried. This DIY cami, made using black linen, feels like practically nothing, ideal when the temperature starts soaring. And I'll show you exactly how to make it below.

As always, share your makes on Instagram by tagging @collegefashion, I’d love to see them!

Things you will need:

  • 1/2 yard fabric (I used black linen)
  • Tracing paper
  • Sewing machine
  • Optional: 8 buttons         

Step 1. Trace an old camisole or tank top onto paper, adding about 1/2 inch of seam allowance on each edge. If your cami is stretchy and you’re using a non stretchy fabric then leave a 1 inch or more space on each edge. I also extended the bottom edge out to create a bigger angle which creates a looser fit. I bought a big roll of paper from the dollar store a couple years ago and have been using that same roll ever since but you can even use newspaper in a pinch. It should look something like the second photo below.

Make your own cami using this tutorial to keep cool this summer!

Trace an old cami to make the pattern piece.

Make your own cami using this tutorial to keep cool this summer!

Finished front pattern piece with rolls of washi tape holding it down.

Step 2. Cut out the pattern pieces from your fabric. I wanted to make this a button-up top, hence why I have separated the front, but if you wanted to make this a normal cami then cut out the front on the fold so that the two halves are attached at the middle and follow the rest of the steps in the same way.

You also need to cut something called bias strips. Woven fabric has a grain, which is the direction of the individual threads. The fabric usually has no stretch when pulled along the grain but it does along the bias which makes it ideal for covering curved edges. The bias is the diagonal line in the image below. To make bias strips, cut out inch-wide strips along this diagonal. You will need four of these strips to make the straps and to line the armholes. How long you these strips will be depends on how long you want the straps to be. Mine were about 20 inches long.

You should have (a) front piece(s), a back piece, and the bias strips. For the button up cami you will also need to trace the center of the front pieces and make strips that are 3 inches wide. If you want to make the button up version, do the optional steps at the bottom first, before scrolling back up and following the rest of the steps.

Make your own cami using this tutorial to keep cool this summer!

The bias of the fabric is the diagonal.

Step 4. Hem the bottom of the front and back by turning it up ¼ inch, pressing it down, then turning it up another ¼ inch and sewing it down along the top edge.

Make your own cami using this tutorial to keep cool this summer!

Hem the bottom seams

Step 5. Now sew up the side seams, if your fabric is prone to fraying like mine is, use a zig zag stitch along the raw edge or make a french seam like I’ve done here.

Make your own cami using this tutorial to keep cool this summer!

Sew the bias strip to finish the armhole.

Step 6. Line one bias strip along the armhole and sew. Then fold it up and over so it’s on the wrong side of the fabric. Fold the raw edge under, then sew along the bottom line. Then do the same for the top edges.

Make your own cami using this tutorial to keep cool this summer!

Step 7. To make the straps, sew a piece of yarn to the center of the bias strip. Flip the yarn back onto the bias strip, and stitch the fabric around the yarn. Then cut off the excess fabric. Pull on the end of the yarn to flip the fabric inside out. Cut two lengths of the strap to fit from the front to the back of the cami.

Make your own cami using this tutorial to keep cool this summer!

Sew on the yarn opposite to the fabric strap.

Make your own cami using this tutorial to keep cool this summer!

Fold it over and sew along the strap.

Make your own cami using this tutorial to keep cool this summer!

Pull the yarn to flip the straps right side out.

Step 8. Then sew your strap to the cami, right sides together, before flipping it up and using a needle and thread to secure it the right way up. If you want to tie it at the shoulders which is a style I’ve seen a lot over on Instagram, just make four longer straps.

Make your own cami using this tutorial to keep cool this summer!

The straps are sewn on right sides together.

*Optional*: Step 1a. (Button Up Cami): If you want to make the button up cami, the first step is here! To make the button loops cut out thinner bias strips, about ¾ inch wide. Then follow the same steps you did to make the straps, then cut the strap into 2 inch long sections.

Make your own cami using this tutorial to keep cool this summer!

Cut the tube into 2 inch long pieces to make the button loop.

Step 2a. On one of the front pieces, line up the facing to the center of the front pieces and sew along that edge. Then turn it to the inside and fold in before stitching it down.

Make your own cami using this tutorial to keep cool this summer!

Sew down the facing to create a finished edge.

Step 3a. Fold the tubes of fabric you made earlier in half, then line them up along the edge of the other front piece, then repeat the above step.

Make your own cami using this tutorial to keep cool this summer!

Line up the tubes so they form button loops.

Step 4a. Sew on the buttons so they line up with the loops, then proceed with the steps above!

Make your own cami using this tutorial to keep cool this summer!

There you have it! A pretty cami top that you can wear year round -- by itself in the summer months, and under your favorite jacket or cardigan come fall and winter.

Questions, comments? Tell me below!

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