Trial Tunic

Tunic and apple tree

Before I get into the tunic, I just wanted to say thank you for all the wonderful comments on yesterday’s anniversary post. I’m proud of my husband and our family, and of the way we’ve dealdt with the struggles we’ve gone through to get where we are now (not that we are done with struggling, by any means). My favourite quote about love (though I couldn’t name the source) is that “Love isn’t something you feel, it’s something you do.”

Anyway. Tunics.

I have a bit of an ambivalent relationship with tunics. You may not know this, except, perhaps, by their total absence from my sewing so far. Basically, I have what can charitably be called a “boyish” figure, and I have generally figured that the purpose of clothing should be to emphasize what little I have in the way of curves, rather than skim over them. Also, I’m still recovering from a long-time perception that the tighter, shorter, and skankier an outfit was, the better it looked. So I’ve always tended to give tunics a pass.

But, in their massive popularity over the last few years (possibly in abatement now, but the trends can kiss my ass), I did wind up trying on a few here and there and, to my surprise, discovered that I really liked at least some of them. Who knew?

Anyway, one of my favourites has been a specimen with a wide hip-band, scooped, gathered neckline, flutter sleeves, and a keyhole opening in the upper back. And ever since I worked out my knit sloper over the course of last fall, I’ve been wanting to attempt to immitate it. How hard, after all, could it be?


This is not the ultimate version, by any means. Most egregiously, this version is about three inches too short, so that the hip band falls above my hips rather than at my widest point, especially after several minutes of wearing. I can blame this on nothing but myself, though, as I took the existing length of my knit sloper rather than actually measuring the original tunic. My keyhole opening in the back is quite a bit smaller than the original, too, for much the same reason, although this is less upsetting.

Neckline. Meh.

The hardest part of this entire project was binding the neckline. I have a really hard time producing nice bindings in thin, wriggly knits. I’ve sidestepped (or at least minimized) the issue in the past by using a lot of cowl-necked patterns or other alternative neck finishings for the thinner knits I’ve sewn up, but for this pattern I really needed to bind the gathered neckline. I achieved it, by dint of much fussing, cussing, and the flagrant application of both Steam-a-Seam and Wonder Tape, but it’s not especially pretty or professional-looking. Also keeping my gathering from squooshing under the machine foot was nearly impossible. It’s not perfectly even, but at this point I’m not going to complain. Sadly, I’m not sure I can do a lot better with the equipment at hand.

Back view

Other than that, and a bit of futzing with the back closure (between the neckline and the keyhole), I’d say it’s a reasonably successful first attempt, though. V. 2 should be much more satisfactory, or at least longer. The downside of taking your own photos with the timer is there’s no one to tell you your shirt is hiked up at the back. On the other hand there’s a pretty good chance this is the way it’d look most of the time when worn, anyway.

In Me-Made June news,


today I am wearing theΒ 50s shrug (pattern here), blog post here

Cowl-neck shirt

skinny jeans.


As you may have guessed, it still isn’t really warm, although at least we’re in no (immediate) danger of snow. Still, I shan’t complain—sun and mid to upper teens (C) is decent enough.

It does appear that someone’s been working some arcane rituals in the back yard, however. Maybe that will be more effective in bringing on the nice weather than all my hopeful sewing.

Someone's up to something...



Filed under Sewing

20 responses to “Trial Tunic

  1. Hmm, I went through a witch phase around 9-10 years old. Maybe somebody has been reading some books? In my case, I mixed up tons of useless potions from weeds, flowers, and stuff I found in the bathroom cabinet. I have no idea how my mother survived this (occasionally very gross) experimenting.

    I can’t do tunics — the only curves I have are my thighs and butt, so they fit exactly where I don’t want to draw attention. I like your version of this quite a bit, though, and I’m considering doing a blousy t-shirt for spring. If I ever finish wrestling with some shorts — current project!

    • Hehe, yeah, I guess I am balanced in my un-curviness ;).

      That sounds very, very much like what’s been happening around here lately. At the best we end up with some very yummy dips. At the worst… well, it’s a bit horrifying. Fortunately they’re old enough I can make them clean up at least the bulk of their own messes…

  2. Love the keyhole in back. I can see why you want to replicate it. Knit bindings are the worst. You need a coverstitch machine…

  3. Looks good! This colour is awesome on you. We have similar figures in many ways, and I like tunics too, and always feel good in one with a snug hip band.
    I’ve got a binding tutorial hidden somewhere on my blog, on a white tank top, may or may not help. I reduce the binding by about 1/4, and overlocking over the raw edge of those gathers all together will help them behave while you try to bind them!

    • Yeah, that’s the method I usually use (and used here)… just in these wriggly knits I have a terrible time keeping everything straight and even. Next time I will try overlocking the gathers… I guess it feels so permanent if I mess it up! (my overlocker doesn’t have a differential feed)

  4. Looks great. I love the patterns you make – seems pretty much spot on the first time.

    Mid to upper teens? Gosh, that is a freezing cold day for me and would means loads of layers. I am more used to high temps.

  5. You can turn up the needle tension on your serger and it will gather automatically.

    What a cute little tunic!

  6. I enjoyed reading your posts both today and yesterday. Congrats on your anniversary! It isn’t all roses all the time around here either, so I’m glad to read about another couple who struggles but makes it work. Good for you two!

    I like your tunic a lot. I don’t know why sewing manuals don’t mention cursing as one of the key tools you should have in your “work basket,” because that’s definitely an important part of my arsenal, haha πŸ™‚

    I always thought tunics looked better on thin gals like you. With my broad hips and full bust, I tend to look dumpy in them. It’s funny how we get certain ideas of what looks good on whom.

  7. I totally hear ya with the boyish figure bit. I tend to want to wear fitted clothes because the little curve I do have gets lost in anything else. On most patterns I have to go a couple of sizes up on the waist, and then it makes me realize how straight my figure is! I guess there are benefits to this, like not worrying if gathers are going to make my hips look big or something like that.

  8. See I think tunics are great for girls like you to show of long legs and skinny hips!

  9. Lucy

    I have the opposite problem with tunics – I’m too in-and-out curvy for them to really work. And I’m the same as lazysubculturalgirl in not wanting or needing any attention to be drawn to my bum and hips area, thankyouverymuch!

    Vis-a-vis the slippery knit binding: I am a member the The Sewing Forum, and one of the other members on there advocates spray starch as a solution to taming all slippery/wriggly knits when sewing. I tried it and whaddya know, it works. Certainly in the UK you can just just buy cans in the supermarket for a couple of quid. Way cheaper than a coverstitch machine!

    • I’ve heard of using starch for slippery things like chiffon, but it hadn’t occurred to me to try it for knits. What a good idea! I will definitely have to pick some up.

      … I still want a coverstitch machine, though πŸ˜‰

  10. Sewista Fashionista

    Binding gathered knit can be such a pain. I think the pros use different equipment too. I also like the back detail. Much of what I see in the stores shows ones bra straps, and you have managed the same look but allowing for undergarment coverage.

  11. Pretty! I have some neckline gathers in my near future, too, I think. Hope it’ll work out… The MMJ outfit is lovely!

  12. LittleVigilante

    I think the quote you like so much is from “Love Story”. I could be mistaken though.

    • LittleVigilante

      I am probably wrong but it’s more than just a great quote. I have always thought those words have a lot of meaning that relates to happiness, life, purpose and so much more. And I think the tunic is really great. I’d love to make one!

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