Simple Cocoa Knit Sleeveless Top Pattern


Knit tank top

I have avoided knitting a top because I couldn’t seem to find a pattern that was easy enough for me to follow. Can you relate to me on this? They all seemed to have “shaping”, complicated instructions, or they were just too intimidating for a newbie like me. I looked around the internet and even checked out some knitting books at the library.  I figured there must be a way to make a classic top for summer that was easy enough for me to finish, and so I cast on and tried to design me a shirt. Ha ha! 😉


East Knit Top Pattern Back

Quite honestly, it was a shot in the dark with this top.  At points as I was making it, I was saying to myself…hmmm..ugly, or not ugly. But when it was time to seam up the two sides, and weave in the ends, I was in love!  I am going to be wearing it all summer with a white tank, but it would make a great swimsuit cover up. You could even where it under a blazer or jean jacket to dress it up. Heck, wear it with nothing underneath if you’re crazy like that! 😉

I had the joy of knitting part of this top in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. My daughter and I took a little break to have a walk, and it started pouring rain.  I caught this picture as we were heading for shelter (don’t tell my hubby that I got the camera lens wet – eek!).


Geese on Hike in Rain

Okay, back to the easy knit top…..

Before you get scared off because it’s a top, and not a scarf, let me tell you why this is SO easy ( I do NOT suggest though that this be your FIRST project – you do need some practice):

  • It is knit in two pieces and seamed.

  • You only use knit and purl (it is partly done in stockinette, and partly done in garter stitch).

  • The back is literally a square (you know how to do that).

  • The front is made from the bottom up, and starts as a square.

  • To make the top, you will need to know how to cast off stitches, and knit two together. If you don’t know how to knit two together, just look it up on YouTube. It is the easiest thing ever, and will open you to a whole new world.

  • You seam the two sides together, and done.

  • The pattern is forgiving, and even a mistake (including an extra stitch) here and there isn’t a big deal.

See, not scary at all!

East Knit Top Pattern
This top is basically a square, with two triangles worked on the top, and two looooong rectangles for straps. Easy. 🙂


This is for a size XS – Medium (probably a small medium)  The reason I say it would fit these range of sizes is that it is SUPER stretchy, and loose fitting on me who is a XS or S.

If you want to make it in a size large, I will give you the gauge, and you may be able to figure it out by simple adding stitches when you cast on for either side. It might be helpful for you to look at a shirt that you have that has a nice fit, and match as closely as you can looking at my gauge and sizing information.

It’s a very open fabric because it is worked with a worsted weight yarn, and large size 13 needles. This makes it nice and cool for summer. 🙂

Approximate Gauge: 3 stitches and 3 rows in one inch

Shirt Measurements: Approximately 15.5″ across, and 14 inches from the center top to bottom of shirt. It’s stretchy. 🙂

You will need:

Two skeins worsted weight yarn ( I used Lion Brand Cotton Ease in Taupe ) I found it to have a nice drape and wanted to use a cotton or cotton blend yarn.

US Size 13, 16″ Circular Knitting needles (You can probably use straight needles, it just might not be as easy)

Extra size 13 needles (this is for when you will work on the top and have to slip stitches off onto another needle – don’t worry, it’s easy)


Tapestry Needle

How I Made It “Pattern”

Front Panel:

With your size 13, 16″ circular needles, cast on 46 stitches

Rows 1 – 5 Knit stitch (Garter Stitch)

After you do five rows of garter stitch, begin working in stockinette stitch (stockinette is alternating rows of knit, purl) Complete 10 inches of stockinette stitch.

After you complete 10 inches of stockinette stitch, you will begin to garter stitch.

Garter stitch for 3 3/4 inches or about 17 rows

Begin Making Arm area and creating the upper portion of top:

After you’ve done the 10 inches of stockinette, and 3 3/4 inches of garter stitch (so far you have a square piece of fabric), on the following row, knit cast off the first four stitches at beginning of row. Knit across. Knit cast off 4 stitches at the end of the row. You will have 38 stitches left on your cable needles. (This cast off portion is where your arms go)

You are now going to take the stitches that you have on your needle, and divide them on to two different needles, 19 stitches onto each needle. Leave one side on the cable, and the other on your extra size 13 knitting needle. (**If you’ve ended up with an extra stitch or two, it’s ok, just make sure that you have them divided evenly on each needle. If you need to decrease a side to get the same amount as the other side, do so. Just add or take away your stitch difference for the remainder of the pattern)

From now on, these are two separate knit sides. Don’t worry, it’s easy (see the picture below).

V Neck portion:

Start with one side, either side is fine. You are now making one side of the top, upper portion of shirt. You will be knitting a triangle.

*For the first row of the V-neck portion, knit (garter stitch) across row

The next row, you need to knit the first two together, knit across row, knit the last two together.*

Repeat from * to * until you have 11 stitches left on your needle ( You are alternating, knitting across row, then knitting two together at beginning and end of the next row)

When you have 11 stitches left on your needle, you will do this on your final row of the triangle: knit three together at beginning of row, then knit two together ACROSS ROW so that you have 5 stitches left on your needle.

Your strap is beginning with these five stitches. (If you’re off a stitch, just note it so that you can make the other side the exact same. For instance, if you end up somehow with 6 stitches, it’s ok. Your strap will be a bit wider than mine, but it’s not the end of the world) Now for the really easy part. 🙂

Easy Knit Tank Top Portion
Here I have a square, and I have slid half of the stitches off onto my extra size 13 needle. Each side will be worked separately now.


You will now knit each row (garter stitch)

Garter stitch until your strap (slightly stretched) is about 12 inches long, or about 34 rows

Cast off stitches. Weave in all ends.

You will attach this strap to the back side when you assemble the shirt!

Repeat the V-Neck Portion instructions from above for the other side of the FRONT of the shirt. Complete the strap the same way as well. Now your front panel is complete.  It looks kind of funny before you seam it together, don’t worry.  It is shaped so that your arm has space to move around!

Back Panel:

The back panel is started exactly the same as the front panel. It is simply a square.

With your size 13 circular needles, cast on 46 stitches

Rows 1 – 5 Knit stitch (garter stitch)

After you do five rows of garter stitch, begin working in stockinette stitch (stockinette is alternating rows of knit, purl) Complete 10 inches of stockinette stitch.

After you complete 10 inches of stockinette stitch, you will begin to garter stitch.

Garter stitch for 3 3/4 inches or about 17 rows, cast off, tie off, weave in ends.

East Knit Top Pattern Back
See the back? It is a square, and the straps are brought over from the front and seamed onto the back.


Connect straps to back panel, and seam. Tie off, weave in ends.

With right sides together, whip stitch from top down just the garter stitch portions on each side of top. Tie off and weave in ends.

Turn right sides out.

Use the mattress stitch to stitch down the stockinette portions. If you’ve never used the matress stitch seam, you can look it up on YouTube to see how it is done. With this seam, you will not even know there is a seam in your stockinette.

I hope you have fun trying out this knit top, cover-up, tank, sweater, whatever you want to call it. 🙂

As always, please let me know if there is anything that I can clarify or improve in my instructions.

What do you think, would you attempt this top? Have you found any easy patterns for shirts? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

Easy Knit Tank - Free Pattern


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  1. It’s beautiful and something I’d love to try, but I’m not yet confident enough to manage figuring out multiples in order to upsize a garment, and if I tried to put the amount of stretch needed into an XS for my figure, I’d end up wearing a choker, not a top. I’m leaving a comment in case someone else is confident with upsizing and can give me some numbers, because I’d really like to give this a go. 🙂 Looks lovely on you!

    1. Hi Graceann!
      I sure wish I was better at figuring out sizing and doing the math as well. I just don’t feel confident enough to tell exact stitch number vertically and horizontally. I thought about making my best guess by looking up large size standard shirt sizes, but without me being experienced I am worried it could be off, and I don’t want to cause someone to knit something that doesn’t fit right. As I get better, I hope to be able to do better sizing information. I so often have this issue of sizing too as often times size smalls are not small enough…it’s such a bummer when you want to make something and sizing isn’t a match. I’m sorry, and in the future will try to get better about figuring more sizes. With this being my first shirt, it was kind of an experiment. Thanks for letting me know, and maybe someone out there could help.

  2. The key is to know your guage – how many stitches are in an inch when you knit. With size 13 needles and worsted yarn, probably 4 to 6 stitches to the inch. To find out, use the needles and the yarn you intend ot use, and knit a square 4 inches by 4 inches. Then you will know how the yarn behaves as well as be able to count how many stitches you get to the inch (horizontaly) and how many rows to the inch (vertically). Then measure yourself – bust, under bust, length from under-arm to hem, from back neck to hem, etc. Then you know how many inches you need to knit to have it fit you. With more complicated patterns, this method will not work because shaping is complicated, but with a simple straight, square pattern such as this, it should be fairly easy to add an inch or drop an inch just by knowing how many inches of knit you need to fit your body.

    1. Thank you so much Evalyn for your help! I did write the gauge measurement above in the post, so hopefully that will assist anyone trying to figure out how many stitches to cast on and work with for their particular size. Thanks for your great explanation.

  3. Thank you so much, everyone, for your help! I’m still learning how gauge works, but with this assistance I might be able to figure out my own size. I’m really pleased to find such nice, helpful people. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Beth,
      It may have stretched slightly, but not enough that I even noticed. It fits me very loosely as it is, so a little stretching wouldn’t matter or be too noticeable to me. I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions. 🙂

  4. Hi Jessica, love the top and want to knit it for my daughter. It appears to be see-through – is that right? Would you have to wear something underneath? A general question…… is cotton a “throw in the washing machine” kind of wool? Thanks and well done!

    1. Hi Ellsie,
      You’re welcome! Yes, it’s definitely a loose stitch, so you need to wear something underneath. I wear a white tank top or it works as a swim suit cover up. I made this in a cotton blend and I would wash delicate in cold water and lay flat to dry. Definitely follow what the yarn care instructions say on the label of whichever yarn you choose to use. It is a delicate type top though, so I’d be careful just throwing it in the normal wash cycle. Hope you enjoy making it if you give it a try! 🙂

  5. Hi there. ..love the tank and casted on the 46 stitches. Is it a misprint? Doesn’t seem like enough for the front or back. Please let me know I’d love to try and make it . I am using a 13 needle and worsted weight yarn …4 ply

    1. Hi Deb,
      The 46 stitches is correct. It looks pretty small when you start, but with the big needles it makes it just wide enough for a front or back. It is indeed a small top – sized for a small or extra small person. Remember that the fabric is stretchy because you’re using those large needles. If I were you, I might try to knit several rows and see if you think it looks like it could work before you give up on it right away. It looks small, but once you seam the front and back, while small, it is a great fitting top. 🙂 Hope this helps.

  6. Is it possible that the gauge numbers are reversed (ie. 10 rows and 14 stitches to 4 inches). The reason I ask is based on the numbers 14 rows and 10 stitches for 4 inch gauge, you would have 2.5 stitches per inch, which would make the finished garment at 46 stitches closer to to 18 inches across instead of the 15.5 you have. Or, did you measure your gauge after washing and drying, because cotton can pull up tighter after drying.

    1. Hi Dawn,
      Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I usually don’t even make anything where gauge is important, and was very approximate in my measuring. While it’s indeed close to 2.5 inches per stitch, it may be closer to 3 when I just measured again. I will correct the gauge above to be a bit more accurate. The good thing with this top is that it’s very forgiving because it is very stretchy and loose fitting.

  7. Love the simplicity. Really want to give this a try! Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  8. Thank you for this simple pattern,am a beginer in this work and my english is not so good but am trying and trying.Have a nice day with greatings from Slovenia

    1. Hi Melly,
      Oh how I’d love to visit Slovenia. My husband is from Poland, so a little closer to you than we are here in Colorado. I’m glad that you like the pattern, thanks so much for letting me know! Best to you from Colorado!

  9. I love this pattern! I am bookmarking this one along with the others I have found that I must try. It is nice to get simple patterns from another person who is new to knitting & understands that us newbies sometimes have a hard time with difficult patterns. I’m still working on going through all the patterns you have posted. Based on what I’ve seen, I’ll be bookmarking more patterns to come back to try. Thanks so much!

    1. I’m so glad that you find the patterns useful for us newbies, Sue! Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know. I try, but am not always sure if I’m explaining everything the best that I can. 🙂 It made my day that you like my “stuff” that you’ve seen. Have a great day!!

  10. I absolutely love this tank top, and I’m happy that you take gorgeous projects and show us how easy they are to make. I look forward to trying my hand at this.

  11. Thank you for this pattern. I’m a newby at knitting and want to graduate to tops. I am a little concerned at the armholes but I’m going for it. I may reach out to you when I get there.

    1. Oh, you won’t have any trouble! But feel free to ask me any questions. The arm holes are simply created by leaving that section open when you seam up the sides. Good luck on your knit top!

  12. Hi, can you please provide the measurements, like especially the bust, length and circumference around the bottom?

  13. I’m going to try to figure out how to make this in-the-round. LOVE the pattern, i’ve looked and looked for a knit or crochet tank top pattern and keep coming back to this one. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Donna, hope you and yours are all healthy and safe
      I was wondering how you made out making this pattern in the round, did you use same cast on amount & pattern as is
      Very interested in any and all advice you can offer
      Thank you

  14. Hi – have just knit this pattern up… as a larger lady with a large bust I used 80 sts CO for the front and adjusted the shaping at the top so that I was decreasing every row instead of every other row. Because I was short of yarn, I only CO 66 sts at the back – although I probably could have got away with 60. The top was a slightly loose fit but on my shape looks great. It’s all in knowing your gauge according to which yarn and needles you use. I used Mondial Bio Soft and 8mm needles. Loving your simple patterns – thank you for sharing them.

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