Hi friends! Since starting this blog, I’ve made some sort of knit tank pattern each summer. Last year, I made the Summer Vacation Knit Top which I really enjoyed. This year’s pattern is probably the most beginner friendly tank yet, and it doubles as both a tank and a cover-up. You know how peeps say ladies should all have that “little black dress”? Well, I think I prefer “little black” knit tanks. 😉 While this one is made in black, I know that most folks aren’t as fearful as I am of color. How do you feel about working with black yarn? I loved hearing all of your thoughts on using it over on Instagram. It is no doubt, NOT an easy color to work with in most cases! No worries though, because you can use any color that you’d like for this top. I think it would be cute in a really bright color, like tangerine or aqua even!
**Lion Brand contacted me and has made this pattern into a kit! You may scroll down for the free pattern or purchase the full kit including the yarn from Lion Brand HERE!
It doesn’t get a whole lot easier than this pattern for knitting a shirt. The entire top is done with the beginner knit stitch and it’s worked flat. I love that simply by using large needles with skinny yarn you can get a nice, open meshy look. It’s so easy and it creates a drapey, comfortable fabric. The bottom has some very simple increases, giving the top a flute like shape and making it wider at the hips. If you make it, I’d love to hear what you think! Oh, and the small only takes one skein of yarn for the entire shirt.
Ready to knit?
If you want to see a little video of knitting with big needles and little yarn, I’ve shared one HERE on YOUTUBE:
As usual, you can find an inexpensive, ad-free printable PDF version of this pattern in my Etsy shop HERE – Printable Little Black Tank Pattern. Otherwise, scroll down for the free pattern!
“Little Black” Tank Knitting Pattern
This super cute, cool and airy flute cut top will be a “go-to” for summer! It’s also a very easy knit. Enjoy!
You will need:
US Size 17, 12.0 mm, 36” inch circular knitting needles
(1 Small, 2 Medium, 2 Large) skeins Lion Brand Heartland Yarn in Black Canyon 251 yards/skein and 142 grams, or comparable worsted weight yarn. Size small uses approx. 142 g, Medium uses approx. 169 g, L uses approx. 207 g
**Small size uses entire skein. Consider purchasing a second skein in case of difference in gauge or yarn usage amount.
Tapestry Needle to weave in ends
Skills & Abbreviations:
kfb – knit front and back – Knit into the next stitch but leave it on the needle. Do not yet take the stitch off of the needle. You will then knit into that same stitch through the back and drop it off the left hand needle.
Please follow the key for your size throughout the pattern
(S, M, L)
Just under 2.5 stitches per inch and approximately 4 rows per inch
Each Panel Measures:
Small: Approximately 15” inches cross measurement. 21” inches from top of shirt to bottom of shirt.
Medium: Approximately 17” inches cross measurement. 22” inches from top of shirt to bottom of shirt.
Large: Approximately 20” inches cross measurement. 23” inches from top of shirt to bottom of shirt.
(For XL, cast on approximately 53 stitches and follow the pattern. More yarn will also be required. Work the length indicated for a large.)
Shirt does stretch downward, increasing the length when worn.
With this pattern you will create an easy yet gorgeous mesh tank top or cover-up. It is worked from the top down. The upper portion of the top starts off smaller at the neck and will become wider with increases as it approaches the hips. This creates an open, flattering flute-shaped top. The front and back are each knit separately and then seamed to finish. Fun, fun!
Easy Mesh “Little Black” Tank Pattern:
Cast On (36, 41, 48) stitches
Row 1 Knit across row
Repeat row 1 until your piece measures approximately (7, 8, 9) inches in length. You will now move onto the increase section.
Row 1 Kfb in first stitch of row, knit across row
Row 2 Knit across row
Row 3 Knit across row
Repeat rows 1 – 3 until the entire piece measures (21, 22, 23) inches long
Note: You should have worked (7, 8, 9) inches of garter stitch without increases, and a total of approximately 14 inches of the increase section pattern
For large busted ladies, consider adding extra length to each panel by knitting more rows.
Bind off and weave in ends.
You will repeat this pattern to make a front panel and a back panel of your top.
Block as needed. (Pictured below: panels side by side, soon to be seamed)
Seam Front & Back Panels Together
Place panels one on top of the other (the panels are reversible so there is no right or wrong side). With a length of yarn and your tapestry needle, whip stitch seam the shoulders, working from the outside inward approximately 3” inches on each side. You may make the neck opening smaller or larger to suit your style!
Seam each side, starting 3” from the bottom, sewing upward, leaving holes for the arms. Tie off and weave in ends. As pictured, the arm holes are 10” inches long, however, you may make them as large or small as you’d like.
Above: Whip stitch seam shoulders and sides, leaving a spaces for the head and arms.
That’s all there is to this easy little shirt or cover-up!
Above: All sewn up and on the hanger!
I hope that you enjoy your new “little black” tank top! What color would you make yours?
Would like to make this as a swim suit cover up for my daughter. She is going on a cruise in August and I think this would make up so fast. Directions look very easy. Do you suggest lengthening the top if used in this manner?
Hi Denise! You certainly can make it longer. I think it would be great a bit longer if she’s going to use it as a swimsuit cover-up. Also, you may hold it up to yourself as you finish the first panel to get an idea of how long it’s going to hang. It definitely stretches downward when worn as it’s a slinky fabric.
Denise Tucker says
Thank you Jessica, my daughter is going on a mother and daughter cruise with my granddaughter. Maybe I will make one for each of them to use as a coverup. Thanks for the great patterns and the feedback on all of our questions.
Debra Ann mennella says
Hi Jessica, I would like to substitute the yarn with lion brands 24/7 cotton yarn. Do you think it would change the shape?
Thanks, Debra Ann
My goodness, that is so cute! I love all the different shades of black, but enjoy being experimentative (what is that word, google keeps saying it’s wrong?!?!). I’m thinking blue or red…
Love your patterns!!!!!!
Blue or red would look super cool for sure. 🙂
Thanks for the kind words about my patterns Jane! Have a great day.
thanks for the pattern.. love it
You’re welcome! So happy you like it.. 🙂
I see your pattern littleblack in youtube, very easy to understand .Thankyou for your kindness.
Fancy Nancy says
You did it again! Simple,stylish and appealing for all ages. I will make one for me (79), my daughter (48) and my granddaughter (18). Everyone will be happy.
I’m so happy to hear that you think this is a winner for all ages. I have to agree – it really can work for just about any age and any shape or body type. Thanks so much for the kind words!!
how would I adjust the pattern to make it shorter?
Simply knit fewer inches in total for each panel. That’s it!
I am embarrassed to ask this question, but here it goes. Can you make this with regular needles or are the circular needles necessary? I am uneasy with circular needles, but I am willing to give it a try. Please advise.
If you have SUPER long straight needles you might be able to make the small. But don’t be scared of circulars! In this case, you use them just the same as straights – the only reason you need them is because you won’t fit all of the stitches on straight needles. 🙂
sylvia waters says
I adore your patterns! They are so uncomplicated and easy to follow, but noticed your jeans are getting pretty ragged (just saying) Thank you for making patterns for people like me, I like the plain knits for myself. Thank you so much!
LOL! My jeans are pretty ragged, aren’t they? Ha! Guess I should get a new pair. 😉
Heidi N says
Just finished! Great simple pattern, forgiving, and easy to make modifications. I’ll post a picture to facebook soon!
Oh, I’d love to see it Heidi! Glad it worked out well!
Jessica, this is beautiful. I love tank tops, last summers i made one for myself but that was not what i wanted to be look like and the one you have made is just what i want for myself. I am very thin and i am sure this looks very beautiful on thiny gals. I am a bi-stitchual. However, crochet will likely always have the edge, because, unlike knitting, I learned crochet as a child. I learned knitting much later, as an adult, and although. I am in the process of crocheting the beautiful Leaves afghan and then going to try this for sure. Will share it once i will be done. Once again thanks for coming up with this post.
Thanks for taking the time to write to me! I think that you’ll find that it’s simple enough for you to knit even though you prefer crochet. And I hear ya! I’m a thin girl too, so I know how it is trying to make something that is flattering to wear. I hope that you enjoy it! And you’re welcome of course.
Ok I love this top, but I only crochet! Any thought should on how to modify for crochet? I know you have some crochet tops but I like this shape so much. I’d have to modify to be more an XXS. This is sooooo pretty!!!
Hi Dee! Well, to get the open look you’d crochet with a large hook and worsted weight yarn. It would be fairly easy to crochet something similar….I’ll have to keep your suggestion in mind in case I can come up with some time to make a crochet version.
Carol Rumak says
loved this top and when Denise said she would make it as a swimsuit cover-up my lightbulb went on!
Just finished sewing up the seams and I love it!! DH likes it too so win-win all around!
Thanks for posting this project and I’m looking forward to starting your blanket sweater pattern for DD’s fall wedding.
Hi Carol! Thanks for taking the time to let me know that you’ve enjoyed making this and it worked out for you. Love the idea of it as a cover up! You’re welcome for the project. It’s so fun for me to make these and share. Have a great weekend!
Has anyone actually tried this with long straight needles?
As I said earlier Jess, Michael’s mraked down this yarn and won’t be carrying it. I stopped in at Hobby Lobby and they too marked it to clearance. ( makes me think Lion Brand is maybe discontinuing it?) anyway I was able to grab the last two black they had so I get to make at least one! Thanks again for this easy Peazy pattern.( oh course I mean easy Peazy for us, not for you!) I know how much work goes into the trial and error of making a pattern, writing it up, editing it for errors and then all your photos! Whew!! I know I couldn’t do but then I don’t have cause I got you! Lol will post when I can get to this, who knows when haha, but at least I have the yarn
Yay! Kathy! I’m so happy to hear that you were able to get your hands on some – and on clearance after all! I hope that this pattern turns out for you and you’re happy with it (like you were with the last tank top that you made from my pattern). 🙂 No matter how many times I review my patterns and test, I still get nervous for people to make them. So much love and energy goes into knitting when you make something and I want it to turn out well for you. Let me know! And thank you so much for your sweet and kind words about the time it takes to put up these patterns. It is true, it does take a lot of time and effort, but it has been such a blessing to me in SO MANY ways! XO
I am surprised that there is not an increase on the last stitch on Row 1. Am I missing something?
Since it’s worked flat, it turns out that the increases are even on both sides even though there isn’t any increase in the last stitch of row 1. 🙂
I am having trouble conceptualizing this as well…the piece really doesn’t end up looking lopsided?
One reader tried to make it the way you’d think it should be made, and it did turn out lopsided. So be sure to follow the pattern!
Hi Jessica! Which size is best for a 36 inch bust? I am concerned the medium would be to snug and the large too tight. Or, does it stretch in the width with blocking? I am using the Lion Brand yarn recommended in the pattern instructions. Thanks.
Hi Hildy! I wish I could give you a straight answer, but it’s hard to say. What I can tell you is that the fabric is very stretchy and loose, so it is forgiving. However, I am one to always make a larger size if I’m unsure. To me it’s better to have it a bit large than too small. I hope you are happy with whichever you believe to be best!
Hi Jessica, love your patterns. I also thought is was in error not to increase both ends of row 1. So I increased both ends and planned on Emailing u as soon as I could. Needless to say it was to wide my bad. I will rib out and finish correctly.
I also ordered the beach cover up kit. keep up the good work luv ur patterns
Oh wow – that’s too bad you have to pull out your knitting. Ugh – it is confusing to think about just increasing that one time, in fact I had to think about it quite few times while initially writing the pattern. Wait, will that work out right?! Lol! Aww, I hope you enjoy the beach cover-up kit. Thanks so much for your support and kind words Jean. 🙂
I’m trying to figure out what size to make. Do your “cross measurements” reflect the width at the TOP of the tank top – i.e., at the shoulders? And then the waist and hip “cross measurements” would be wider than that, due to the row increases? Thank you.
Yes, you’re right! The hips are wider and the cross measurement is the top/bust.
I really like this tank and plan to make it with a variegated yarn, but really like the idea of possibly adding sleeves to it for another look and for Fall wear. Time to go into research mode to find out how to add sleeves 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration!
Vanessa McKibben says
I love this pattern! Thanks so much for sharing it. Btw I love your jeans. I had a pair when I was younger, in the 80s. I ended up writing little things on them with a black sharply. They were so comfy and my favorite jeans. Aww, brings back great memories. This top would have been so cool with those. I think I will make 2, one for a top and one for a cover-up. Thanks again!
Hehe…thanks Vanessa! Happy to hear from someone else who has had similar jeans. 😉 And I’m so glad you like the top as well! Thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂
Jen Creevy says
I’ve been looking for a pattern like this for ages! I live in the South, so I’d like to make this with a lighter weight yarn. Do you have any suggestions on differences in the pattern if I make it with cotton, or linen?
You can keep the pattern the same as long as you buy worsted weight cotton or linen
Racheal B says
I was wondering if I used a smaller needle if i could make it so it’s not mesh, for a workout top? Or would it not work?
It would work, but you’d need to add more stitches to make the size come out correctly, otherwise it will be teeny tiny!
Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful patterns. I love them all. They are easy for beginners. Cindy
Catherine Hall says
hi, I am a new knitter and just a touch confused. do you only increase in the Row 1. ? not in row 2 or 3. or increase in all three. Making this for a gift for xmas in July for a dear friend. thanks.