It has been a slow start to the new sewing year of 2023. Although I had anticipated the completion of my first project – this black jacket – to be a speedy endeavor, I anticipated incorrectly! (Has anyone ever said fashion sewing can be very humbling?)
I was making this jacket to go specifically with a wool sheath dress I made two years ago – and also, hopefully, to pair with other dresses or skirts which might benefit from the addition of a somewhat dressy black jacket. I had the pattern, and I had the fabric, a very soft light-weight cashmere (which I found a number of months ago at Farmhouse Fabrics.)
I first needed to make a fitting muslin (toile) and I needed to determine what changes I would make to the original pattern. That ended up being three items:
- I changed the neckline to match the neckline of the sheath dress.
- I added a dart to the top of each sleeve, using that method as a substitute for the running stitches normally used to facilitate the insertion of the sleeve into the armscye. I have used this alteration frequently as it seems to fit my shoulder anatomy well.
- I shortened the sleeves from full-length to 7/8 length. I did this as I enjoy wearing bracelets, thus giving them a little “breathing room.”
Before I started making this jacket, I had the perception I would need to tie the sheath dress and the black jacket together in some way. Without a shared element, I wasn’t so sure they would necessarily look like they were made for each other. The only problem was, I had very little yardage remaining from the sheath dress, as I had made it from a limited piece of vintage wool. What to do?
Covered buttons would limit my ability to wear the jacket with other pieces, and besides, I thought they would look stark as the only two small embellishments on a very black jacket. I did not have enough fabric left, even for a small neck scarf, so that idea never had a chance. I’m not sure when it came to me, but in a eureka moment, I thought a fabric flower made from the vintage plaid would be just the thing to make this outfit work.
I knew M & S Schmalberg Custom Fabric Flowers in New York City would be my best bet (or only bet) for having a matching flower made. I wasn’t sure I had enough fabric even for that, but I contacted them, sent pictures and measurements of my scrap of wool, and they made it work!
I chose a 3” camellia option for my flower. Look what they did!
A few other details for the construction of the jacket: (1) I under-stitched the facing to control the front edges and neckline of the jacket.
(2) I used a black crepe de chine lining (and lots of extra light when I was sewing it in!) I should mention that I underlined the jacket with silk organza.
(3) The only bit of whimsy I added to the interior was to cover up the ends of the loops for the two buttons with two small jacquard ribbon pieces appliqued on. No one will ever see these except for me, but I like them.
(4) I covered the required snaps with the lining fabric.
I am so happy to have this jacket completed. Most of my projects seem to take longer than they should, but that makes completing one just that much sweeter.
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