Although I rarely purchase any Ready-to-Wear (RTW) clothing, I often find it to be a great source of inspiration and ideas for me. (I have written about this before, twice at least). I know I am not alone as often I will see beautiful products of top-notch fashion sewing inspired by RTW. A few years ago on my Instagram feed, I saw a post by Julie Starr (co-author with Sarah Gunn of The Tunic Bible and Classic Sewing) featuring a lovely blouse which she made as a copy of a Gretchen Scott design. I was very taken with it – it was a traditional casual, collared, button-down-the-front blouse, but with a twist. The elbow length sleeves ended in a graceful ruffle rather than the traditional to-the-wrist buttoned cuff. She had made hers in a petite windowpane blue check. It was so fresh and charming, and I kept thinking about it as the months/years went by. When I found a medium pink, cotton, 1” gingham check this past Spring at Farmhouse Fabrics, I knew the time had come to make my yearning a reality.
I used my go-to, tried and true blouse pattern as the base for my copy/re-creation, making several changes to effect the look I wanted.
- I shortened the point and slope of the collar.
- I added very narrow darts to the front, beginning a couple of inches below the bust and continuing into the hem.
- Obviously I shortened the sleeves to accommodate the ruffle.
- And –
I placed the collar band and the yoke on the bias. This aligned with the bias band I used to cover the seam where the ruffle meets the sleeve, as seen above.
It was fun to have to think through the changes that were needed and to mix up that pattern a bit. If I use a pattern over and over, I find it can get a little B O R I N G. This blouse was not boring. After I finished it, I was, however, a little conflicted about it. I don’t wear a lot of ruffles, even casually, and it took a few wearings of this blouse to feel completely comfortable in it. Now I find it fun to wear.
There is one change I will make should I ever make another blouse of the same design. I think I will taper the vertical seam of the sleeve down to the ruffle gradually by about an inch. It may not be obvious to anyone else, but I think the diameter of the sleeve where the ruffle is attached is just a bit too wide.
Most of my summer wardrobe needs are for casual attire, whether I like it or not! I find this blouse has a bit of flair to it, which steps it up a notch while still being casual and easy-to-wear. I guess you could say this blouse progressed from Ready-to-Wear – to a First Copy – to a Copy of the First Copy – to Easy-to-Wear. Many thanks to Julie Starr for the inspired First Copy.
A Blue, White and Pink Tunic Top
Perhaps many of you are familiar with this famous quote from Edith Head (American costume designer, 1897-1981): “A dress should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to prove you’re a lady.” When it comes to tunic tops, my very inelegant redo of that quote is: “A tunic should be fitted enough to not be baggy and loose enough to be able to get into it.” I find that combination to be a difficult task. Let’s see how I did with this one:
When I saw this pretty fabric on Emma One Socks’s website, I just knew I needed to purchase a length of it. All cotton, it is finely woven and silky soft. Originally, I thought I would make a dress, but when it arrived, I saw it as a tunic top, trimmed in pink, of course. I have a couple of tunic patterns, but I went back to this one because the front opening is longer than most, making it easier to get on and get off.
The interesting thing about this pattern is that there is no fastener/button indicated for that long opening. I’m not sure how one would keep a degree of modesty – or even keep the tunic properly on one’s body – without a button or at least a hook and eye. More about that later.
There are a couple of features of this pattern I like, besides that long opening in the front. It has shoulder darts in the back, which I always find add just a little necessary fitting finesse.
I also like the way the front facing is constructed, and the width of the stand-up collar. However, the pattern lacks slimming darts in the back. My limited experience with sewing tunics has taught me that without long defining fisheye darts in the back, my tunic is going to be baggy and look like a sack. So, I added them.
I also shortened the sleeves, as I prefer a length just below the elbow, and I took out some of the width of the “trumpet.” Even with a narrower sleeve, I knew turning up a hem on it would result in a less than smooth finish. To get around this, I took the pattern piece for the bottom panel for the long sleeve (shown on the pattern), flipped it, narrowed it, and shortened it to give me a facing which would be a perfect fit into the lower curve of the sleeve.
Back to that front opening: when sewing the facing on, I added a loop to the right side so that I could strategically place a button to keep the gap closed. On this fabric, it seems hardly noticeable, but oh my, is it necessary!
One of the beauties of tunics is there are no rules on how trim is applied or placed or even if it is used. I had purchased two widths of Petersham ribbon for use on this garment, fully intending on using two rows to echo the front opening. However, I determined that would be too much. Instead, I used the narrower ribbon on the collar and as the second row around the hem and the side slits. The sleeves seemed to look better with the wider width of ribbon. The ribbon adds a degree of stability to the hem, especially, which helps the tunic to hang properly.
By the way, sewing all that Petersham ribbon on is helped immensely by the use of Dritz WashAway adhesive tape.
Obviously I have not washed this tunic yet, but in its first laundering the tape securing the ribbon will, indeed, wash away. I expect a softer appearance of the ribbon at that point, which seems to have a few waves in it at present.
Pictures often are the best way to check fit on a garment (even after multiple try-ons to fine-tune it), and I was pleased with the final, slightly fitted, non-baggy appearance of this tunic. In other words, it does not look like a sack! It is easy to slip on, less so getting it off, but still very manageable. (Sometimes a side zipper can be – or needs to be – added to help with this task of dressing and undressing. The abbreviated length of this example precluded that option.)
I’m not sure what Edith Head would have thought about tunics, if anything (!), but I am thinking positively about this one.
Filed under Blouses, Fashion commentary, Loops for buttons, Tunics, Uncategorized, Vogue patterns
Tagged as Emma One Sock Fabrics, fashion sewing, sewing, tunic tops