We learn our first real poem around the age of 2 — the ABC Song. Soon, we graduate to nursery rhymes, then rhymes for jumping rope. By the time we reach junior high and high school  we’re reading Epic Poems, like The Odyssey, and reciting Shakespeare in Iambic Pentameter—well sometimes. Songs can be poems set to rhythm. If we’re lucky, perhaps someone has written a love poem or a song—or two—for us.

Poems are rhythmic—they have patterns, beats, stanzas, couplets, and verses. They have been instrumental at critical moments in our history. Witness:


“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We all recognize that as our Declaration of Independence, but did you realize that Thomas Jefferson, a lover of poetry, wrote that first line in Iambic Pentameter?

Later, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, challenged our consciousness to explore further within, changing the course of modern poetry and culture:

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

Langston Hughes was a key figure in what is now known as the “Harlem Renaissance,” and highlighted the lives of working-class African Americans in the 1920’s and 30’s; Allen Ginsberg’s 1956 poem, Howl, a long poem about the decline of the Beats and the increase of materialism in society, shocked many and stirred others to action. Sylvia Plath made popular the confessional style of poetry; Robert Frost served as an explorer of social, societal, and philosophic norms; Amiri Baraka used poetry as a weapon during the Civil Rights Movement and was controversially critical of major leaders, white and black. Many great poets of the last generations have been musicians: Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Joni Mitchell, and Bruce Springsteen.

Poetry is all around us. We respond to the beats, stanzas, and couplets. Inspired by this idea, many years ago, we created the Poetry Stencil.

Embrace poetry everyday by making your own DIY Poetry Tank. The stencil is available on our Maker Supplies and Stencils page. Or choose your favorite book of poems to create your own stencil.

All of the instructions for this top, along with the garment pattern, are available in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. You can find our newest stencil, Poetry, on our Maker Supplies + Stencils page.

DIY POETRY TANK - photo by Robert Rausch


Garment – Fitted Tank from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color outer layer – Natural Dye Medium Indigo (We no longer carry Indigo, but recommend Dusk, Midnight, or any shade of blue you’d prefer for that matter.)
Fabric color inner-layer – Carmine
Stencil – Poetry
Embroidery technique – Reverse appliqué; Cretan stitch used for neckline and armholes both instructions available in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
Airbrush paint – Alabama Red
Button Craft thread – Maroon #41B
Seams – Inside Felled
Knots – Inside

6 comments on “DIY POETRY TANK

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  1. Moni

    Of course, words…… How come I didn’t think of it myself?
    Thank you for inspiring me….. it’s beautiful

    1. carrie

      I think that is an excellent observation and a good question. Wonder what the answer is — ?

  2. Sara Crystal

    it’s early and I am randomly looking around your site. I see poetry tank, and I think, oh a collection of readings of people’s poetry, perhaps they are having a poetry reading event in a building built from an a big old wine tank, like my friend’s house on navarro ridge… seems I needed to finish my coffee. now the brain cells have connected. love sara