So said the fortune which was tucked inside my cookie. What it failed to mention was that I was going to be the one making those new clothes, but otherwise I’d say it was right on target. Well, it seemed only fitting that, with this Chinese dictum, and with my burning desire to use those shell buttons (which kind of give off an exotic aura), I should indulge my attraction to Asian-inspired clothing design, and make this tunic my next sewing project.
I had another reason, too, to choose this tunic pattern. After my last project, the Pierre Cardin silk dress, I was ready for something that did not need to be underlined or lined – and I was ready for something casual and fun. I might add “bright” to that list, too, as the fabric I chose is indeed that!
I had the fabric swatch sitting on my ironing board in my sewing room when I started work on my “Pierre Cardin” dress. The pink silk from that dress complimented this silk check so much that, putting the two together seemed inevitable. I played around with some small scraps, scrunching them around those orange shell buttons, still on their card. What could be more perfect than making the buttonhole loops and details out of the pink fabric, to set off those shell buttons? I was sure that would be much more effective than making the loops and details out of the same checked fabric.
I ordered enough fabric to make a matching obi-type sash, as I thought I might want to wear the tunic “belted” sometimes, too. (In the back of my mind is the knowledge that I have enough of that pink silk left, that I can make a skirt – or blouse – with it. I’m definitely leaning towards skirt…)
First, of course, I set out to make a muslin. When I opened the pattern, the pieces for the dress had been previously used, but not the pieces for the tunic. The collar was universal for all three views. However, in addition to the tissue collar, there was a collar piece cut out of newspaper.
There was nothing written on the instruction sheet or envelope to explain this mystery – and it appeared that the “newspaper” collar was shorter in length than the tissue pattern.
Having no explanation, I just decided to use the tissue pattern – and I figured the muslin would tell me what I needed to know. Did it ever! The collar included with the pattern is too long for the neckline, so this home sewer in the late ‘50s re-cut it to fit her pattern. I decided to take another approach: I kept the tissue collar and widened the neckline enough so it fit perfectly. I also decided to shorten the shoulders a bit, for a more structured fit, and I took the center back seam in a bit at the waistline. I ended up adding long tapered “floating” darts to each side of the back, too, to give it a little more definition to the waistline – but I am getting ahead of myself…
As is my method of approaching a new project, that is, getting a few things constructed before I need them, I decided to make the obi sash first. I just kind of guessed for width and length, making it 4” wide (finished width) and 77” long, so it could go around me twice comfortably with a double knot in front.
Next I made the button loops and details. The pattern didn’t give too much instruction on these pieces, other than the length they should be and the finished width (1/4”). (I should mention here that I decided to put 5 buttons on the tunic, not 4 as is shown on the pattern.) I cut bias strips 1”wide, folded them in half lengthwise, sewed the seam twice and turned them with a bodkin. Nice and easy!
I put flat-felled seams in the sleeves and added interfacing to the front edges even though the pattern did not call for this. The most time-consuming part of the whole thing was hemming the ends of the buttonhole loops and details and then sewing them onto the tunic. But that’s really what the project was about – showcasing those buttons in an appropriate way.
I think it works – what do you think?
One final thought: fortune cookies are a little like potato chips (or chocolate!) – it’s hard to eat just one. Yes, my first cookie was followed by another one – and I was hoping for a similarly enticing fortune.
Imagine my surprise when my second fortune was exactly the same as the first one!