California dreaming…

New tunic!

… on such a winter’s day…

Ok, not really winter. It was raining (again), which in these parts denotes NOT winter about as strongly as anything. Yay, liquid water!

But definitely not as summery as I’d like.

Still, I continue to sew hopefully, so today I plugged away with my gauze 70s tunic, trying not to mutter about how much I prefer nice, heavy coating fabrics. Cotton gauze and voile don’t rate too high on the scale of difficult fabrics, but you have to be so careful about the finishing, especially in white. Things I usually ignore, like how evenly I grade my seam allowances or whether my tail threads are getting eaten by the feed-dogs, stick out like a sore thumb.

McCall's 3838

Now, I was aiming for view C, the left-most on the pattern envelope. Since it was a sleeveless (essentially), un-fitted pattern (and I don’t know how McCall’s patterns fit me yet anyway), I omitted my usual swayback and petiting alterations. Instead, I opted for a square shoulder alteration, which I’ve been pondering on my last few tops.

Front view

And I’m quite happy with the results, although I should probably have lowered the neckline the same 1.5 cm I lowered the centre edge of the shoulders. I did that for the back neckline, but didn’t think to do it for the front. If I make this view again (which isn’t certain, as there’s lots of options) I’ll lower the whole neckline at least an inch, anyway.

After some consultation with mommy dearest, I did some seam-finishing experimentation and settled on the lazy stitcher’s French seams, which is where you serge the edge on your first pass, then press and encase the serged edge within the French seam for the second pass. Basically it adds the serger thread, but saves you the trimming stage. I pretty much blow at trimming seams evenly, so this let me get a much narrower French seam than otherwise, so despite the extra thread I end up with less bulk. Although my serger, despite being serviced just at Christmas, has tension issues when dealing with light-weight fabrics; there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground between ultra-loose and loopy and too-tight-and-ruffling. I’ve discovered that if I leave extra-long tails I can usually work the thread in so the thing lies evenly afterwards, but it’s a bit of a pain nonetheless.

Back view

Yes, it’s time for a new serger. One with all the bells and whistles.


I was really, really scared of the sweetheart neckline. Mostly because I felt the fabrics were too light to interface or reinforce, other than stay-stitching. So I stay-stitched, and handled as little (and as carefully) as I could. It did wind out a smidge stretched out, but… decent. And mostly symmetrical, my other fear. Although I used the lining as my facing for the neckline, for the armscyes I bound with bias-tape made out of the voile, and pressed to the inside. I used my machine’s lone decorative topstitch (OK, the only one I like) to topstitch around the neck and the armscyes. Patty is making me very jealous with her decorative topstitching.

Aside from the shoulder alteration, the only other change I made was to add 13 cm (aka 5 inches, but I’m trying to be a good metric girl these days. The search for a metric gridded ruler continues, and I am consciously teaching my kids to sew in metric.), to the hem, bringing it from a blouse length to a tunic length. Somehow when I was thinking about this pattern, the outfit I conceived of was this tunic-almost-dress worn over cutoffs you almost can’t see are there. Voila. Although maybe for the full illusion I should’ve made the top a couple of inches longer still.

Side view

I’m quite satisfied with the fit—none of that bunching up behind my neck that I often get, so I presume the square-shoulder thing did its work. Other than that there’s not much to fit or not fit ;). Side-bust darts might improve the shape a bit, but aren’t actually necessary.

View C has a self-sash stitched in place at the centre front, and I even cut one out, but then I couldn’t resist trying it with my Japonesque fabric sash, and I love it, so I’m going to leave it changeable for now. We’ll see how it stays in place when I ever get a chance to actually wear it.

But all in all, super happy fun!

There’s a bit of the inevitable pregnant pouf that is going to accompany pretty much any take on this style, but this is a look I’m resigned to, as it’s pretty much my natural figure anyway.

This is “officially” my second piece for the Summer Essentials Sewalong.Β Now, excuse me while I go fantasize about hot, hot sun…*

*I think I should apologize about the amount I whine about the weather. I’m not sure if it’s human nature or a Canadian specialty, or just that I’m a wimp (I am a major weather wimp, especially about the cold). The weather we are getting right now is a kajillion times better than what I was complaining about in, say, March. So really I should STFU.



Filed under Sewing

32 responses to “California dreaming…

  1. Your top looks quite lovely! I really like the sweetheart neckline. :]

  2. Honey – you live amongst the worst weather on the planet. And this summer has sucked across the board. So you feel free to whine. You have a pass. πŸ™‚

  3. square shoulder thing? what did i miss? i think i have this!

    i love that you’re whining about using cotton instead of coat fabric. you are ca-raaaa-zay. but i love your garments. you deserve a top of the line serger For. SURE.

  4. Love the sleeves and the neckline! It does have a summer in the sun vibe. Maybe if you dress for the sun it will come?

  5. You are not making me excited for the trip back home (which, if I’m right about where you live, we have similar – if slightly delayed – weather as you), because it’s absolutely beautiful where I am right now. Of course, that means I burnt my scalp today. I know I know, you feel so sorry for me.

    ANYWAYS, I love the tunic! I think I adore the back view of it, with those great wing-like sleeves. But it almost looks like you tied the belt a little too high? Maybe not. Anywho, it looks like the perfect top for a warm summer day. Hopefully that day will come soon! πŸ˜€

    • Well, from talking to my mother the rain is at least as far as Saskatchewan right now. Although, I’ll take our crummy weather over the Manitoba floods. I did manage to get a bit of a sunburn last Friday…

      The belt is quite high, right under my bust. Something about my combination of rectangular shape and short waist makes belting at my actual waist a Bad Idea.

  6. I caught that comment about a new serger, with all the bells and whistles. I’ve got one and what I can tell you is, don’t get one. If you need a new serger, get a new serger but a simple one. I assure you that you will be able to adjust the stitch easier and get the best stitch from a basic serger like a juki. Now, if you want a coverstich, get a dedicated coversitch like the babylock that has the attachments for the binding. My experience is that putting a computer in a serger does nothing for it, and having to spend time converting your machine from a coverstich to a overlock is a pain in the a$$. And you can get both machines for the cost of one computerized machine!

    • LOL! I’ve heard that before about the combo serger-coverstitches. I think you overestimate what I mean by “bells & whistles” though… I’m talking like, oh, differential feed and rolled hems! Maybe even (gasp) a four threads option!)

      • Babylock are da bomb. We demonstrate them by overlocking the edge of a single layer of tissue (kleenex) and immediately running through a double layer of denim. It works like a dream, no tensions to fiddle with. Of course, the price reflects it.

        I think our weather must be much the same at the moment. Funny, I’m breaking out too-thick sweaters and scarflets and touques, and you’re running around in gauze and cut offs. hehe. Make hay while the sun shines? Something along those lines.

  7. Love this top! It’s such a good shape… I want to make one just like it.

  8. Hey cute top! Maybe weather is simply a state of mind. Whip yourself up a pineapple daiquiri decorated with a tiny umbrella and see if that helps.

  9. Oh my goodness… I love it!!! Wonderful work, and as always, lovely styling!!

  10. Well, I would say that smock looks pretty fine. I have a bit of nice white cotton, and I do appreciate your finishing tips. I have a super basic serger too and lust for more options.

  11. Cute top πŸ™‚ I don’t think you have a pregnancy pooch–you’ve got one of the flattest stomachs out there! (we all suck in for photos)

    I’ve heard really good things about the Babylock 1034 serger, and it’s affordable. I have a similar Babylock and it’s greatl. No auto tension, but test on scraps and keep track of tension w/ various fabrics and it’s nbd.

  12. Joy

    Very nice! Perfect for that elusive summer!

    Doing a square shoulder has done wonders for me.

    I guess it won’t do me any good to look in Canada for a gridded, see-through metric ruler? I’d also like to find a metric metal multi-sided seam guage thingie.

    • I have not had any luck so far; a lot have metric on one side, but the gridded part is still imperial. Though I haven’t checked all the hard-core quilter stores yet. I am afraid I we may have to look to Europe or Japan.

      I do have a 15-cm gridded ruler from an old geometry kit, which I use constantly, but it’s a bit short for many tasks, obviously.

  13. Ah, such a cute top and no sun to flaunt it in. I feel for you. And we Dutch people are just as well known for our constant talking about the weather, so I’ll chat along with you if you’d like. Here we had a lot of rain these days too. But I can’t complain really, because we’ve had a magnificent spring time already. These days it feels like fall though, I hope we just didn’t skip all summer this year :S

    Anyway, love your last pose. Did you do some ballet when you were young?

  14. Very cute, I really like the ruffly cap-sleeves. πŸ™‚ Also, it looks lovely with the sash.

  15. I don’t live in Canada, but I am about as close as you can get and still be in the U.S., and I have been whining like CRAZY about the weather. In fact today as my friend and I were whining about the 55 degree weather I said “how do people in Canada stand it, it has to be worse there than it is here!) Anyway I think the top is super cute and looks great on you maybe you will get one week in July to wear it before “autumn” starts in August.

    • How do Canadians survive the weather? Well, 90% live within a 200-km radius of the American border. A majority actually live BELOW the 49th parallel (over in the Great Lakes region.)

      Also, it lets us feel proud and macho (when we’re not whining). Kinda like natural childbirth, really. Awesome to brag about once it’s over.

  16. He, He, I loved telling people that I lived North of Canadians when I lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
    Your outfit looks very summery, sure to attract some sun.

    I have a see through gridded ruler and a very large gridded cutting mat in metric, bought for me by my husband from a woodworking site (he is such a nice man)
    It is in Australia, and made here, so the shipping would be horrendous, but maybe there is a Canadian woodworking shop that has a similar thing?Possibly Lee Valley? Quilters only seem to work in Imperial, even in metric countries, but woodworkers seem to like metric.

  17. Such a cute little top and looks totally adorable with the cut-off jeans/shorts!
    I’m sure you will get some great summery weather soon. If it makes you feel any better, I am a far worse weather wuss. I guess everyone here is. If we get lows of 5C Perthies feel like they’re dying.

  18. Zena

    I frequently do French seams and I never trim them – it’s much too hard to trim evenly. (And frankly, I have no idea why official instructions tell you to do it that way. It’s like they want you to get frustrated.) Instead, I sew my first pass close to the edge – I think it ends up being a little more than 1/8″ and less than 2/8, a.k.a. ΒΌ”. The fabric only touches the feed dogs on the left side.

    Good pressing helps give you precise seams. First press the seam as is (so the stitches sink into the fabric). Then press the miniature seam open. Then flip around so the raw edges are hidden, and press again.

    I then stitch as narrow a SA as I can, while being sure that the raw edges are enclosed. (This ends up being a smidge less than 3/8″ on my machine.)

    On a thin fabric, the two sets of SA seems to work out to about 5/8″.

    • Yeah, I do some this way (although I usually end up with whiskers if I don’t trim). When I was doing up my samples, though, the 3/8 (or 1cm) French seam was bigger/bulkier than I wanted for this fabric.

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