Saturday, 22 October 2016

Tunics - What a super garment!

Back in May I pre-ordered a book called The Tunic Bible written by one of my favourite sewing bloggers, Sarah Gunn [Goodbye Valentino] and her colleague Julie Starr. It arrived last week a day after my visit to Goldhawk Road. I did buy some fabric whilst we were there with a tunic in mind knowing the arrival was imminent. Since I requested the book nearly six months ago I've noticed a distinct growing trend in this versatile garment both in the shops and with pattern makers so I couldn't wait to join in.


My excitement grew as the publishing date arrived and several bloggers were asked to give their opinion on the book. They were nearly all very favourable and I waited in keen anticipation for the postman to deliver my copy. One slightly negative but honest comment I read was that it may not be a book for absolute beginners due to the lack of step-by-step instructions despite the design being simple and straightforward. Having now made my first attempt [actually it was second if you count the muslin] I totally agree with what had been said. However I think the benefit of this book is the inspiration for mixing and matching necklines, sleeves, collars, hem lengths and trims to create a totally unique top each time. It is crammed full of ideas and examples along with the basic pattern but the design belongs to you, the creator.

I decided on a lilac cotton lace with a scalloped border which brought about its own challenges. Firstly, with no hems to the body or sleeves I had to work out the lengths exactly so that the scallops were at the correct position - no room for error.

After tracing off the pattern I made adjustments to the dart position by inserting a 3cm strip above the bustline [on back and front] which then also put my waistline into the correct place. I made a muslin out of an old sheet and it fitted me fine just pulling it over my head without the need for a side zip which is a suggested option in the book. Having pre-washed the lace fabric I cut out and then started to make up the finished tunic. I began with the neckline and trim, then I made and joined the collar. All fine so far. 

Then I added the first sleeve successfully so used my overlocker to serge the seam and then took a closer look to inspect my work. I couldn't believe what I found - a large flaw right in the centre of the sleeve. There was no way round this other than to remove the sleeve and start again. Luckily I just had enough fabric left over to cut another sleeve but then had to sew it in with the back and front armscye having already been trimmed by the serging!

Yet another challenge was adding the ribbon which had to be added to the 'V' neckline in two pieces so that the little hearts were both pointing in the same direction. Just a small detail but these are the things that make it more professional. I then added ribbon to the side slits to match the neckline and collar and I'm pleased with the result. 

I do think that I might add a bit more ease across my back shoulders next time though as it is quite snug there which didn't seem apparent in the muslin.


A tunic is a brilliant shape as it suits all figure types and covers many an issue whilst still being flattering and feminine. I can quite understand why it has gained so much popularity.





 So here it is, my finished tunic but not my last. I have plans for one or two more so watch out for the blogs. However I will inspect the fabric more closely next time before cutting out - Another lesson learned!!

I have made many mistakes on my sewing journey and I always get annoyed at having to undo bits after construction but finding a fault in the fabric was a bitter blow and I nearly threw the whole thing in the bin.

Let me know if this has ever happened to you, I'd love to know I'm not the only one.

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