Tag Archives: tunic tops

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. 

Yes, I needed to shorten it to be a tunic top rather than a dress, but that’s an easy thing to do.

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 love these diagrams which give so much information about the pattern. The shoulder darts are clearly indicated here.

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.  

There are darts there!

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.  

The “trumpet” design of the sleeve is evident here.
Here is the facing piece I cut from the pattern.
And here it is pinned in place.
The seam connecting the sleeve to the facing is visible here. I turned up a scant 1/4″ of the unfinished edge of the facing and machine sewed it in place. The pink thread you see is from the attachment of the trim.

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.) 

If I make this pattern again, I may make the darts a little bit deeper for more definition.

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

Thinking Time

There is one more Summer Dress in my head, begging to be made. However, this one needed some thinking time before I could start it, to help me decipher the correct pattern (or patterns) to use. The fabric is pretty special, so I don’t want to make a mistake. What to do to fill up this time I was spending thinking? It seemed the perfect opportunity to do some really simple sewing, as in “Easy Tunic Top”.

Last summer, while in JoAnn’s for one of my frequent thread or zipper trips, I stumbled onto some pretty linen/cotton blends – and on a whim, purchased two lengths.   One I made up immediately into a tunic dress; the other one has just sat around, keeping company with other lengths of fabric folded neatly on my “linen” storage shelf. After finding (in an Etsy shop) this classic tunic top pattern, now out-of-print, I decided this might be a good time to use that second piece of “whim” fabric.

View A is the top I like best...

View A is the top I like best…

No matching necessary on this "whim" fabric.

No matching necessary on this “whim” fabric.

I really did not want to go to the trouble to make a muslin, when I could look at the pattern and make a good guess as to its fit on me. It is loose, as tunics are – so all I did in preparation was to transfer the lines and markings from the tissue pattern onto a sturdier pattern paper.  I decided to line the body (not the sleeves) of the tunic, as the fabric is lightweight, and in the sunlight it could be “revealing”. I used a very lightweight rayon voile, which I get at Dharma Trading. I finished the seams with Hug Snug binding tape, which is just so easy to use and makes such a nice finish. The more I use it, the more I wonder how any dressmaker can live without it!

This shows both the seams finished with Snug Hug and the white voile lining.

This shows both the seams finished with Hug Snug and the white voile lining.

Because I was making the front placket out of the same material as the rest of the top, I knew I would need to do something to differentiate it, so I used a nice, low-profile cotton lace around the edge.

Thinking time - lace

I decided to make the sleeves three-quarter length, which is my favorite sleeve length. At first I wasn’t going to put any lace on the edges of the sleeves, but then it just didn’t look quite right without anything, so I added it.

I attached the lace with the straight edge at the bottom of the sleeve, with a narrow margin of fabric showing,

I attached the lace with the straight edge at the bottom of the sleeve, with a narrow margin of fabric showing.

Thinking time

DSC_1324Thinking time

Now come the True Confessions . . . I’m not sure this top is quite “me”. I think I would like it better in a navy blue and white print. I would also take it in a little bit if I make this pattern again – as I think it looks a bit baggy. (However, since the only way into it is over the head, it can’t be too tight!) I have also decided that I am happiest sewing something that is more of a challenge. I’ll remind myself that I actually said this next time I am in a project that tests my sewing mettle!   That may be soon, as the “thinking time” for my final Summer Season dress is now turning into “doing time”. Here is a hint as to what I will be working on:

Thinking time - tagAny guesses, anyone?


Filed under Blouses, Linen, Uncategorized