I have read this question many times and even asked the same question myself when the Xpress pattern released. They are both wonderful athletic tanks to keep you cool in the gym, on a sweaty run, or out and about in the heat during the summer months.
Their details are very different, though, so I am glad you joined me for today's post! Hopefully, by the end, you will know which one meets your needs the best, and maybe, you will even have a favorite!
I can never have enough of either pattern so I was excited to make more for the purposes of comparing the two. I made a total of 4 tank tops for this post (2 pink and 2 red).
Fabric Choice and Amount: The Tie Back Tank requires one yard of fabric, while the Xpress tank requires 7/8 of a yard. The Tie Back Tank calls for knit fabric with at least 50% 4-way stretch, while the Xpress tank requires fabric with at least 50% 2-way stretch.
Sizing: The Xpress Tank includes one additional smaller size than the Tie Back Tank - the 3XS. The Tie Back Tank size chart includes sizes XXS to 3XL. This includes bust sizes 32 to 47, waist 24 to 39, and hips 34 to 50. On the other hand, the Xpress tank includes sizes 3XS to 3XL. This includes busts sizes 31 to 47, waist 23 to 38, and hips 33 to 50. For this comparison post, I made an XS for all 4 tanks.
Pattern Pieces: Both patterns have layers and take 12 pages to print (if you print the pattern without the instructions). The Tie Back Tank has 6 pattern pieces (front, back, neck band, neck binding, arm band, and arm binding). You will need to cut 1 front, 2 mirrored backs, 1 neckline band or binding, and 2 arm bands or bindings). The Xpress tank is only 1 pattern piece to assemble and only 1 piece to cut on the fold!
Time investment: The Xpress tank only takes 30 minutes for me to make. I do not have a cover stitch and use my twin needle to hem on my regular sewing machine. I could probably make one even quicker if I used a coverstitch to hem! I tried to time myself for the Tie Back tank, but since I never have more than an hour to sew, I am guessing it took me about 2 hours from start to finish. You may be faster than me if you have lots of uninterrupted sewing time!
Let's get into some comparison photos of the patterns.
First up, we have a racer back view of the Tie Back tank (on the left) made with bands to finish the arms and neck and the back tie version of the Xpress tank (on the right). Here is the front view.
For these two pink tops, I used a very stretchy medium weight athletic fabric with 125% horizontal stretch and 100% vertical stretch. This pink athletic fabric is a stable knit that does not curl a lot despite the high spandex content. I picked it up in a local fabric warehouse, so I am not quite sure of the content, but my guess is that it is a nice nylon, polyester, spandex blend.
Neckline Options: Both patterns include the option for a high and low neckline. I made the low neckline for all 4 of my tanks. I feel like the Xpress tank low neck is lower than the Tie Back tank low neck. I can easily pull the front of the Xpress tank down to nurse in, while to nurse in my Tie Back, I need to untie the back tie to lift up from the side/bottom.
Side Seam: The Xpess tank does not have a side seam so it fits looser in the underarm than the Tie Back because the Tie Back has bands or binding to bring it in closer to the body.
Back Options: The Tie Back tank has two back options for the upper back: racerback and full back. The full back will cover the bra straps of a regular bra while the racer back exposes a little more of the shoulder blades.The Xpress tank has three different options for the lower back: a pointed back, a round back, or a back tie. In the photo above, I made the racerback Tie Back tank (left) and the Back Tie option on the Xpress tank (right).
Look at how very different the back views are! I like to wear my Xpress tank if I am wearing a bra with fun interest on my upper back (like this Jillian bra pictured here), while I like to wear the Tie Back tank if I am wearing a bra with more interest on the band in the middle. I feel that the Tie Back tank is much more open on my lower and middle back, while the Xpress tank (in the tied version) is much more open on my upper back.
Now, let's look at the two tops that I made in a red burnout jersey. The Tie Back tank is on the left, and the rounded back option of the Xpress tank is on the right. This fabric has 60% horizontal stretch and maybe 35% vertical stretch. It is 100% cotton and lightweight. It is one of my favorite types of fabric for the Xpress tank because it hems very easily.
Both of these tanks have the lower neckline. I used binding on this Xpress tank to finish the neckline and armscye. This Xpress tank is more flowy at the bottom since there is not a back tie to pull it in the back since it is the round back.
Since this jersey is not as stretchy, my back is more exposed on the Tie Back (left photo). This is one of my favorite tops to wear on a hot day or a sweaty work out. It is like built in air conditioning for my back. However, like I pointed out earlier, you can't see all the fun straps on my upper back in this Tie Back tank. The Xpress tank on the right, however, is really letting the Jillian bra straps show through.
The rounded back option on the Xpress is not the best choice for a workout that includes crazy movements because it is much more likely to move around. If you do a hand stand, cartwheel, or a downward-facing dog yoga pose, it will likely come over your face unless you tack it down the cross in the back.
Xpress tank back: This next photo shows the back views on the Xpress tank. On the left is the rounded back, and on the right is the Xpress tank with the back tie option. The Xpress pattern also includes an option for a pointed back that is not pictured.
Tie Back Tank Bindings vs. Bands: Next up, let's look at the options on the Tie Back tank for finishing the armscye and neckline. I made bands on the pink tank, and I used binding for the red tank. I love how nicely the binding lays. I think it also is much smoother at the shoulders. Notice that the Xpress tank does not have either binding or bands. Rather, it is one long hem.
In all the photos, I am wearing Super G Tights made with heavy supplex and a Jillian Tank Bra made with a medium weight supplex. For the Jillian bra, I used the lower neckline included in the pattern and used 4 straps instead of two for some extra straps to cross over at the back.
Construction: The Xpress tank is only sewn at the shoulders and then the rest is all hemmed. This means the neckline, armscyes, back, and hem are all hemmed at one time. On the other hand, the Tie Back tank is constructed like a normal tank top with shoulders and side seams. The only hemming on the Tie Back tank is the back that is open and the bottom hem.
Which is your favorite? The Xpress or the Tie Back? I love them both and can see myself making many more! I love how quick the Xpress is to make when I am pressed for time and how well it shows off my Jillian bra.
I also love how nice the binding looks on the Tie back and how it has a nice defined side seam that makes it easier to see which side is the right side when wearing it out. Yes, I have accidentally worn an Xpress tank all day inside out. It only has the shoulder seams so it was an easy mistake. Ha!
Thanks for reading!
Photo Credit: Aimee Wilson