Updated: Jul 13, 2018
DESIGN NAME – Jasmine Tunic Top
DESIGNED BY - Amanda Goldsmith
SKILL LEVEL – Confident Beginner
SUGGESTED FABRICS – Gorgeous in Drapey and slightly firmer fabrics. Try in Linens, Cottons, Satins, Silks and Chiffon with Lace
The prerequisites for working through this ‘Sew Along’ are that you have made and fitted a Bodice Base Template and created and fitted and Working Template with 2” of ease.
The sewing level required is Basic to intermediate, you will need to know how your sewing machine works and be able to thread and knot a needle and have practiced a straight Running Stitch that you will need for the Facings (or you can stitch them by machine).
Ideally you will have reviewed and practiced the following;
Module 4 – Create the Base Template.
Module 5 – Create the Working Template.
Module 6 and practiced extending a bodice.
How to put insertions into a Skirt.
How to draft a Sleeve.
How to draft a Hem.
How to add on Seam Allowances.
How to cut bias binding and practiced sewing on bias binding.
You may also wish to download a copy of the Sample Pattern Record Card and a blank version from the Downloads page, it may give you an indication of how you can use the Pattern Record Card to track details for all of your pattern pieces and construction so the earlier you print out a blank version the quicker you can start noting all of your ideas onto it.
Have a look at this overview process for creating a garment, it is very straight forward and logical and will hopefully you can now see how everything flows and pulls together from what you have learned so far.
A Word about the Design Choice for this Sew – A - Long
I have picked a style of top that I think is a simple shape, easy to draft and sew but will still push your knowledge and skills. This is a very basic tunic top with a shaped or rounded V Neckline in the Front. As it has a full Neck width wider than 24” you will not need a closure to get this garment on.
Have a look at the shape of it. Would a shape like this fit into your wardrobe? It is a highly modifiable Flexible Pattern and adapted into different variations and I think it would fit very nicely in any wardrobe and be something you could make again and again in different ways. It could be made in any fabric, colour or pattern and can be worn as is over jeans, leggings or tights, layered over a dress or skirt or cut longer to wear as a longer tunic or dress or Baby-Doll nightdress or shorter as a swing top layered for the beach or a layering yoga top.
You could either copy what I have done here exactly or you can change it up adding your own preferences and personality to it.
It can be created with or without a Centre Front/Back seam.
The sides in the base could be sewn all the way down or left unsewn to create a split in the side which looks good on a longer tunic
You could change the Neckline
Change the length
It can be sleeveless, with cap or short sleeves or ¾ sleeves or longer (or any other sleeve design).
Using a Flexible Pattern Pack you could add Ruffles or Pockets, or add some applique embellishment or embroidery or beading around the Neckline or just keep it simple and clean with nothing attached or added on.
It can be cut on the Bias or the Straight Grainlines.
I have used the Design Templates Sheet for tops to show how this top can be altered to make different designs that you might like for your Flexible Pattern and there are many more alternatives that you may come up with.
So you have a few variations that you could make and even though this garment can be made in just 2 pattern pieces you could have many more than this if you want to give yourself lots of options in your Flexible Pattern.
Required Fabric and Notions
Your fabric and other requirements will depend on the design choices you have made including your body size, the length of the garment, the Hem and also if you are using Sleeves, facings or cutting bias binding or if you are cutting this garment on a Bias Grainline. You may need 2 1/2 metres or more fabric to create this pattern, you should also add in a factor for fabric shrinkage.
The garment in this sample is around a size 14 with a D Cup Bust. All of the pieces except the Sleeves, including Bodice, Facings and Bias Binding were cut on the Bias Grainline. It has a rounded V Neckline, with just shorter than three quarter sleeves, with Facings on the Base and the Sleeve and a binding on the Neckline, it has been finished with decorative and functional hand stitching on the garment openings around the Base Sleeve and Necklines.
For a 57” wide fabric after washing and shrinkage I used around two and a half meters of fabric. You would use much less if you were not cutting on a Bias Grainline.
The only other requirement was interfacing for the Facings, a cotton or twill tape to help support the seams (optional), thread 1 reel would be sufficient to make the whole garment. I also used a Top Stitch Thread for hand stitch decoration when adding the Facings and Binding.
You will also need muslin and thread for your Test Garment. I made two Test Garments for this Tunic before I was satisfied with my pattern.
You will need all of the usual Drafting and Pattern Making Tools and materials used in previous Modules.
Drafting the Front Bodice
Ensure that you give yourself enough time to work on your drafts, don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to draft and create copies and Test Garments. I expect to spend three to five days doing this depending on the complexity of the pattern. So you really want to go into this owning the pattern and design and knowing that you will be potentially using this pattern for a few garments or that it is a going to be a special garment, because you are investing some time into doing this.
I would recommend that before you start you have a quick read through the rest of the Unit which might help you firm up your design drafting decisions before you start. It is easier if you settle for what you are going to do before you start, changing design mid-flow can be time consuming and costly.
The drafting part of the process for making the top is to create the trued pattern pieces and pattern record card and then at least one Test Garment should be made from a Cutting Copy which is fitted. Once the pattern is fitted and altered the Sleeve Pattern is made and sleeve mock ups are added to the final Test Garment for fitting. Once all alterations are written back to the Master Draft all pattern markings are added and the pattern is trued. The Master Flexible Pattern is kept to one side and a copy is taken of all pieces and any Seam Allowances or Hems are added and each piece is trued for a final time. Finally the finished garment is made out of the fashion fabric and the pattern can then be used over and over again being refined every time you use it and perhaps preserved if you really like it just as you did for the Base Template or Working Template although you may have Seam Allowances on a preserved Flexible Pattern.
If you cut this Tunic pattern on the bias then you will want to be as economical with fabric as you can be because a bias cut can be wasteful of fabric. Usually you would fold the fabric and cut 2 of a pattern but this is difficult to do effectively when cutting on the bias so it is easier to cut it in a single layer. To ensure that you have an efficient use of fabric then it makes sense to create copies of your pattern pieces on the reverse side so that you can lay everything out and know that all pattern pieces fit into the fabric and that you have the best layout for reduced waste that you can, it can take a little time to find the right placement and having every piece available is the best option, you are trading off time to create a reverse side copy with wasted fabric and ease of cutting. So something to consider once the pattern is ready.
Start work on the bodice by copying off your appropriate Bodice Working Template. As this pattern has volume I would not use a Stretch Working Template even if you are using a stretch fabric, I would prefer this garment to fit like a woven fabric and just fitted not stretch to fit but that is your choice.
On my copy I drew all darts to the Lower Bust Point for now even though I only intend to use the Side Bust Dart and if it helps you can name your Guidelines and label the Centre Front and Side. Label the draft as the Front Bodice for now.
On my draft I decided on a Neckline Shape by looking in a mirror and trying to work out what I would like and measuring down from the indent in the base of the Neck and measuring the width of the Neckline at that point. You could use some of your Dots on your body to play around with shape and position or drape some yarn on the Neck or body-form to play around with shape. Another way to do this is to rummage through your wardrobe and find a Neckline shape you like and take the measurements off it. You can even fold it down the centre line and lay it onto your draft and draw around it or stick pins into the paper around it to create the shape you want, a neat little trick you can use for lots of pattern pieces.
So back to my draft, I decide on the Shoulder width or the position of the High Shoulder Point, depth of the Neckline and the Neckline shape. I left the Shoulder End Point because I want the option of adding a sleeve to this pattern and would want the sleeve to join on the Shoulder at the Armhole.
To start with I marked the base of the new Neckline at 5” from the Centre Front Neckline and my High Shoulder position at 3” from the Shoulder End Point (I crossed out the Dart as it won’t be used just ignored). I joined up the two points with a straight line for the V Neck then experimented with curving this line to make it softer. You can see the line I decided on drawn in red pen. The position of this did change after a first fitting and I went a little wider with the curve.
I drew in the Breast Radius to see the position of the bust to check if a bust dart was needed and as the position of the Neckline is less than 1 ½” below the top Bust Radius position I decided that a Neckline Dart won’t be needed.
Then I worked out the Back Neck Width calculation to help determine what this should be when drafting the Back, in this case I choose to add on 2/8” as the new High Shoulder Point is not central on the shoulder but a little way towards the Neckline (remember add on ¾ towards the Shoulder End Point, half this at the centre of the Shoulder).
This pattern is fitted on the body down to the Bust Point then it has volume in the bottom part or skirt part much like a Baby Doll Top/Dress has.
This means that insertions need to be added from the Bust Point down and you will need to work out how much volume you want to have in the bottom section. You could have fun and experiment with this with your Test Garment by creating it the largest you think you would like the fullness and then pinning volume out until you get exactly what you want.
In order to get the volume in the lower section only it makes sense to create a Style Line across the Bust Line and cut the lower from the upper section and work with it separately so draw a line squared off from the Centre Front to the Side along the Bust Line and cut along all the way across the line to separate the two pieces. Put the top part to one side for a moment.
You can then add insertions to the bottom section as you would with any Skirt by defining the Insertion points cutting up the lines and spreading the pattern out and filling in the spaces with paper.
I decided to add in two Insertions of 2”, this will be the same in both the Front and the Back Drafts. The Insertion Style lines were placed by measuring two and a half parts along the top (Bust Line) and the bottom (the Base) and joining up the lines with the half part in the first section from the Centre Front (as this will be replicated at the other side of the pattern to even out the Insertions.). Once the Insertions Lines are drawn they are cut to a pivot point at the top. They can then be spread out by the required amount and paper added underneath to fill the gaps, the Base Line can then be redrawn. You can review how to do this in more detail in Module 6 - Create the Flexible Pattern - 5. Drafting Skirts.
You can see the Sideline has then been straightened out as you won’t not need any side shaping, you could also add an extension off the side if you want more volume.
Back to the top part of the Front draft the Armhole Dart has been closed as it is not needed and the Armhole smoothed out across the join.
In this instance I have decided to keep and sew the Bust Dart as this pattern is for a larger Bust and a little shaping should get a better fit and help to make this garment look less tent like if it is fitted over the Bust, the Dart also gives a fitting point if it is needed. It will also give a little interest in a large expanse of fabric.
Now the position of the Dart on the side can be decided on you can see here that I did consider moving it down and did redraw it in but changed my mind and decided to leave it until after the fitting. I did consider that as the side hangs down with the flare and cut on the bias it can be a little tricky to judge this on a flat pattern so decided to wait. In the end I was happy with the position of the Dart as it came out parallel to the floor and did not feel that it needed to be altered.
I also backed off the Side Dart from the Lower Bust Point by 1 ½”.
Now compare the two pattern pieces the top fitted part and the bottom skirt part, as they need to be re-joined (unless you decide to create a seam here and split the pattern into two). On my version they don’t quite fit together yet and this is to be expected because the flare in the skirt part distorts the top Bust Line.
The aim is to join the two pieces back together and keep the Centre Front as a straight line, but in this instance the two pieces overlap at the side taking up some of the Side length. To rectify this simply measure the overlap and added in this amount back onto the Base at the Side to ensure that the Side Length stays the same.
You will need to redraw the Base and blend the Base Line back into the current Base Line where it fits smoothly. You can also experiment with taking off ¼” on the side seam to help with bias stretch, but on this garment I am going to use a cotton tape to secure the seam so am not going to do a bias flare adjustment.
If you are not using the Side Dart and have closed it up you may not need to add on anything at the side length just check the measurements of the overlap (or gap) and the width of the dart and deal with the Side length accordingly.
Initially I dropped the Armhole by ¾” but later decided that I would add sleeves and to keep the Sleeve a little slimmer at the top to show off the flare more I raised the Armhole back up by 1 ¼” so all in all the Armhole was raised by ½” from the original Working Template. If you were going for a casual look without a sleeve it would have been fine to drop the Armhole, always drop by too little as it is easier to take away fabric in the fitting rather than adding it back on (reason why I ended up making two Test Garments as on the first one I cut away the Seam Allowance and had nothing to work with!).
On my draft I straightened out the Side all the way up to the Armhole as I have a little bump in the side that I felt I wanted to take out and see what the effect was during the fitting. Then the Dart is trued.
You can see here how this straightens up the Side mostly around the Waist area.
This garment is a good one to cut on the bias to draw the fabric down towards the body rather than encouraging it to stick out straight so consider this as another option. With that in mind the Grainline is drawn in.
Drafting the Back Bodice
Then the Back is drafted next so the Working Template for the Back Draft is copied.
The Back Shaping and the Shoulder Dart will just be ignored in the Back so cross these off.
The Centre Back Neckline position is determined I set mine to ¾” lower for a more relaxed look.
The Back Neck Width position is drawn with the measurements that were determined on the Front. The Back Neckline shape is roughly drawn in and the old lines crossed out to avoid any confusion.
You can if you want bring in the Front draft to check the Neckline and Armhole Line positioning to get a smooth transition from Front to Back and you can see how the Neckline gets smoothed out across the two pieces on the Back Draft. I know that my Shoulder Line is going to change later though due to a pronounced sway back alteration which we will get to further down the instruction.
The Back Draft just like the Front is cut into two parts across the Bust Line ready to add the Insertions.
Here you can see that the Insertions are put in.
I extended the Base after doing this as I forgot to do this initially but either way works. The Side is also redrawn straight to the base.
The two pieces for the top section and bottom section are joined back together and any overlap is added onto the Base at the Side and the Base line redrawn as with the Front.
I also redrew the Side Line to connect up to the Armhole which added on a ¼” or so onto the Side with I just ignore for now, this may change during truing and fitting anyway.
Now my draft has extra fabric for a sway back in the Waist Shaping, extra measurement is in this Draft in the Back compared to what was used in the Front for Waist Shaping which was 3/8”.
Unless you altered your Base Template to take into consideration a Sway Back you will not need to consider this next step.
I decided that this may make the garment too long in the Back if I just ignore it as this extra would not be sewn out. It could also push the skirt towards the Front causing the Base to stick out at the Centre Front which is not a flattering look. So I took the decision to rectify this before creating the Test Garment and take out the extra (not all of it, I left the same that was left in for the Front 3/8”) from the Neckline and Shoulder Line, so these were dropped down accordingly.
Now this creates a very strange looking Shoulder on the draft and I am 100% certain that this is not going to work and that I will need to adjust this during the fitting because it just does not look right. But rather than guess at what the shape should be I fight my perfectionist impulse and decide not to sweat a drop over it because I am going to check the Shoulder Seam during fitting and I step away from the line!
Regardless of whether you have done the adjustment above or not the trickiest part of fitting this garment is going to be the Shoulder Seam to get it in the correct position so that the Side Seam hangs straight perpendicular to the floor, whilst at the same time ensuring that there is no gaping along the Neckline Front and Back or gaping around the Armhole. Expect to spend some time over this at point of fitting.
The Grainline is also added to the Draft.
Ensure that you add Notches at the Waist on Front and Back Drafts on both Sides and also on the Cross Front and Back (if using Sleeves) to help you join the pieces when sewing the pieces together. Most importantly ensure you use Double Notches when working on the Back Draft. Also add an Awl Point in the Dart Point. Then true up the draft on the Sides, Shoulder and Armhole across the Front and Back over the Sides, Shoulder and Neckline. Fully label your Front and Back Drafts with the name of the garment client details etc. and how many pieces require cutting and from what fabric.
Creating a Test Garment
When creating a Test Garment for a Flexible Pattern it is entirely up to you which parts of the pattern you want to test, obviously you may wish to test main pieces or even check out the best position for a pocket but you don’t need to add in Facings or other smaller pattern pieces if you don’t want to.
You can also use your Test Garment to try out different design options to see if your ideas will work so although the Testing is looking at the technical positioning of Seams and other Lines it is also a creative process especially if you are using a draping technique.
While you have your Test Garment on your Body Form have a play with it. Consider where you might add Style Lines, or position applique or embroidery, unpick the Back and add a different draft on. The more time you play with the Test Garment the more options you will come up with and the more useful your pattern is going to be to you. Obviously you would only do this on the patterns you like the best that you think you can reuse. Every time you remake this garment get your Test Garment out, check it for size work out how you are next going to make it up, can you make it up better than you did before. You might need to make another Test Garment if your first one gets mashed up.
I tend not to worry about some of the detail when drafting because I find I get a better view of things when studying the Test Garment during a fitting it can be almost impossible to determine where a line might be positioned on a two dimensional sheet of paper but when you put it on the body it all becomes so much clearer. However I might circle areas to check directly on the Test Garment as I create it to remind me to review that area more closely during the fitting. For instance in this case I know I am going to have to look carefully at the Shoulder Seam position.
The next stage then is to create your Test Garment ready for your fitting.
This is created as all other Test Garments before by copying off a cutting copy from your Master Flexible Pattern. At this stage when creating the Test Garment I do not have Sleeve pattern pieces as I will only draft these once I have made all alterations on the bodice pattern and I am happy with the fit.
A bonus of creating a Test Garment is that you get a good view of how big all of your pattern pieces are and an indication of how much fabric you are going to need to create your garment. A Bias Grainline means that you potentially have lots of wastage of material, so you have a chance to consider what fabric width you would like your fabric to be or indeed if you really are going to use a Bias Grain. On a muslin at 44” wide I would need 3 metres to create my garment and that would not include extra for Bias Binding or Sleeves. If I got a fabric that was wider I may be able to cut 2 pieces next to each other, or if you are a smaller size of course you may require less fabric. It is harder to work out how much fabric you need for a Bias cut garment. If in doubt walk all your pattern pieces down to the fabric shop and remember to add on for any bias binding (your fitted and finished pattern pieces may include your Seam Allowances and you will certainly have your Hems drafted attached or as a separate pattern pieces as Facings).
You would create a Test Garment as before, with your pattern copies traced off you would pin on the required Grainline of the muslin and roughly cut the pattern with around ½” to 1” of Seam Allowance allowed, you would then wax trace the pattern pieces including all Notches and Darts then machine thread trace the fabric as usual.
The Garment can then be constructed and you can start the fitting process.
The construction order is;
Press all thread traced pieces.
Sew the Darts and press.
Sew the Centre Front Seams together and press.
Sew the Centre Back Seams together and press.
Sew the Side Seams and press.
Leave the Shoulder Seams unsewn for now just fold the Front Shoulder Seam onto the Back Shoulder Seam Line and pin in place ready for the fitting.
During fitting this garment for a D cup Bust I made the following alterations (2 Test Garments were made);
Starting at the top, the most obvious alteration that was needed was on the Shoulder Seam so the correct position was defined.
The Armhole needed a little fabric removing around the Armhole as there was a little creasing in the Front. I then decided I would prefer the garment with Sleeves so noted that I would raise the Armhole back up to make a slimmer sleeve at the top of the arm – I also decided at that point that I would make a second Test Garment as I had trimmed away the Seam Allowance during the fitting. What to learn from this – try to confirm the design before drafting and cutting into a Test Garment! Sometimes though you have to let your creativity take over and throw caution to the wind!
The Neckline was reshaped a little wider.
Obvious in the photos the whole garment was extended 2” in length as it was looking a little stocky and cut off the body a little at just below the Lower Hip Line. The Front was extended by a further 1 ½” at the Centre Front going to zero in the Side as the hemline was raising up due to the Bust size in this area making it look shorter on the Front.
Keep going back to your Test Garment especially if you are making this for yourself and review it until you are happy with it. I find it better to take breaks away from it at this stage as I come back to it with fresh eyes and even change my mind about different elements or the way it is fitting. At some stage though you have to say that is enough and stop fitting, and make the decision to forge ahead.
The next stage is to draft a Sleeve if you are going to use one. Be very careful to check that on your Master Pattern Front and Back that you have clearly identified the Armhole Lines that you need to use and measure the Armhole Front and Back – in fact ensure that all of your final lines are very clear on your Master pattern.
Using Module 6 - Create the Flexible Pattern - 4d. Bodice – Sleeves, create a close fitting sleeve to start with, is should feel snug but not tight against the skin, in the end I had about 1 3/8” of ease in the bicep which on a straight sleeve would be a little too snug for me but when you draft the sleeve with a flare then this becomes a little more comfortable.
This straight Sleeve draft was then traced off to secure the Master Sleeve Draft and to create a Cutting Copy and then a Test Sleeve can be made. Once the Sleeve Seam is sewn and pressed I sew it from Notch to Notch to the Test Garment (the bottom part around the Armhole) and pin the Sleeve Head ready for a fitting. This way it is less to unpick and gives you access to the Sleeve head to manipulate it if you need to and you are not sticking the client in the Armpit with pins. Unless of course you have to unpick the whole sleeve and reposition it in which case I would do that then resew from Notch to Notch and do another fitting.
During the fitting check that the fit is comfortable around the Armhole and that you can easily move the arm forward and backwards, this movement will get easier once the flare is added so just focus on the fit around the Sleeve Head and the Armhole. If you think it is much too tight you might need to add in a little more ease in the curve of the sleeve head so release a little by unpinning and use your Seam Allowance but try not to increase the height of the Sleeve Head unless you feel it is really necessary. If it feels just a little tight then I would leave it and draft the flared sleeve because things may release up a little then. If there is too much ease then you have the opposite problem and you can remove some of the curve in the Sleeve Head or as a last resort shave off some on the Biceps Line down both Seams. Don’t worry too much about the fit at the Elbow Line and Wrist because the Sleeve is going to change shape.
You can see that there is very little ease and no gathering at the top of the Sleeve, because the pattern for the Sleeve has been made to fit the Armhole and only a small amount of ease is needed. When sewn in there will be no need to create any gathers this ease will simply be sewn into the seam with slow stitching this can be done very easily.
Once all alterations have been made then the Flexible Pattern can be made.
The Sleeve is traced off and for this Sleeve I added three Flare Insertions one along each Quarter Lines and one down the Centre Line.
Simply cut all the way up the lines from the Base a pivot at the top and spread the pattern onto another sheet of paper, much like you did with the Front and Back Bodice. I added 3” of extra space into each Flare Insertion (measured at the Base of the long Sleeve before shortening). I also shortened the Sleeve to around just short of three quarters of the total Sleeve Length and drew in the Base Line.
This new Flared Sleeve Draft is now the Master Draft so ensure that Notches are added at the Elbow and that you have the correct Notch positions Front and Back on the Sleeve Head to match the position of the Cross Front/Back Lines ensuring that you Double Notch all of the Back Notches. Add the Grainline and label the Draft.
This draft is traced off again to give you a Cutting Copy which is then made into a Test Sleeve ready for fitting. This is sewn as before between the Notches and the Sleeve Head is pinned in place.
At this point you may not need to make too many alterations if any at all. Perhaps you want to change the shape at the Base or change the length or you might want to experiment with the Sleeve some more or make more than one option for this Flexible Pattern. Both Sleeves are added to the same Test Garment and can be easily removed if you want to try out anything else.
Here is a view of the Back.
….and the Side.
Drafting, Facing and Seam Allowances
Once your Test Garment with your Sleeve attached if you are using one has been fitted and any alterations written back to your respective Master Drafts and your pattern is trued you can then decide what to do about your Hem and Seam Allowances.
You may not wish to add on a predefined Seam Allowance especially if you are making a more couture garment and are going to thread trace your fabric with pattern markings. In this Sample I decided to add on a predefined Seam Allowance and so copied off every pattern piece and added on Seam Allowances refer to Auxiliary Reference Information - Draft - Seam Allowances and Hems for a refresher on how to do this if you need to.
For this pattern I have added 1/2” Seam Allowance on every Seam including the Base. Also 1/4” to the Neckline ready to add a Bias Binding although you could also use ½” and trim and grade the Seam when sewing on the binding which is especially worthwhile doing if you are working with a thick fabric. If you are adding Bias Binding to the Armhole and not adding a Sleeve you would set this Seam Allowance the same as the Neckline. You will also need to add your Seam Allowance on all of the Facing pieces all the way around each one, I used ½”.
To add your Seam Allowances the cleanest way is to ensure that all Master pattern pieces are all trued, then copy all of the patterns off to make your Flexible Patterns and add the Seam Allowances, then true up all of the Seam Allowances. Ensure all Grainlines are drawn, Notch everything you need to that will help you join everything back up, so all Dart Legs, Seam Allowances, join up points, etc. and Awl Points on the Dart Points. Label each Pattern to identify it, mark on any Fold Lines and how many fabric pieces should be cut and from which fabric and number each piece. All of this detail is logged onto your Pattern Record Card.
Rather than adding a Hem onto the bottom of the pattern I chose to create a separate Hem Facing for both the Front and Back and also for the Sleeves. The main reason for doing this is because the Base of the garment and the Sleeves have a curve to them on my draft and it is easier to keep the shape true for a Hem on a curve with a separate Facing than folding up the Hem. I also feel that because of the Flare on the garment adding a Hem Facing will help to give a little more weight to the Base and pull it in closer to the body, as a Hem Facing has an extra Seam Allowance than a Hem and you can also easily add on an interfacing or if you want to sew on an underlining/sew in Interfacing if you want even more weight.
The Hem Facing is drafted on the pattern by drawing a line from Side to Side on the draft for the width of the Hem Facing you need. I choose to add 1 ¼” Hem Facing on the Sleeve and 2” Hem Facing on the Front and Back Draft. So measuring up from the Base all the way along draw this line and add a Notch somewhere in the centre on the Base Line to help this piece get positioned back together when sewn (use two Notches on the Back). This simple shape then gets traced off as a separate pattern piece as a Hem facing.
You can see on this example how the piece was traced off after a Master Front Bodice Flexible Pattern had been copied off and Seam Allowances added. It is better I think to copy off Facings before Seam Allowances are added to ensure there is no confusion with Seam Allowances but it’s just personal choice.
You can see in this photo the line that was drawn at the bottom of the Front Draft denoting the position of the Facing this area was then traced off to give the Facing piece.
Also grainlines are added and Labels.
Here you can see the same two pieces and the Facing is laid on top of the Front draft to show where it would be sewn obviously it would sit behind the garment in reality.
Here you can see the Sleeve Facing piece with Seam Allowances Added.
As the whole garment is made out of the same fabric including the Bias Binding for the Neckline and the Facings and everything is being cut on the bias I need to be as economical with my fabric as possible because cutting on the bias can waste fabric if you are not careful. To help me decide on my pattern layout I have create reverse copies of all of my patterns. To do this I simply traced off a copy of each pattern and flipped it over to the reverse side.
None of my pieces are going to be cut on the fold I am going to layout my fabric and cut each piece out of a single layer. This means that I need a large area to layout my fabric so that I can play around with the positioning of the pieces, a dining room table may work or just use the floor.
Before you start ensure you have prewashed your fabric to help eliminate any shrinkage or review your care instructions for your fabric or get advice from where you purchased it.
The fabric I am using is a medium weight linen that has some imperfections, you do find that a natural product will have this which gives it a unique appearance and texture. However there are a few imperfections in the weave that I can’t live with so I have decided to layout my pattern pieces to avoid the worst of them.
Can you spot the obvious here?
After ironing the fabric flat and making sure that all pattern pieces are flat also (you can iron those too but be careful) the pattern is laid onto the fabric. Here is a photo of the first layout I choose, as I started pinning out on the Grainline I did change this a little. Have a play around to see the least possible waste you can make, we could have a competition for that!
After all pieces are pinned, stand back and check it all. Now is the moment when you realise that the time taken to copy out your reverse side patterns was all worthwhile because you know without a doubt that you can fit all of your pieces onto the fabric. If you didn’t do this then you risk not getting everything on unless you bought a little excess fabric just in case.
Here you can see that I shifted the pieces around a little to get around an imperfection that I had missed, so it does help to lay your fabric out good side or patterned side facing upwards so you can check out all the areas as you position your pieces.
As the fabric is laid on a large surface I roughly cut it all out with scissors then transferred all of the pieces to the cutting table to tidy them up.
Waste not want not, here you can see what I then do with all of the scraps. I have three piles.
One pile is the larger pieces that I can use for bags or larger projects this goes into stacking baskets (colour coded, mmmmm). I do hold back a few bits to test my interfacing on and also to test stitches on.
The pile of smaller strips that are less than 1 ½” in width I place in my scraps box, this goes to a local school for artwork, used for weaving or spinning or anything else I want to play around with.
The middle pile I will cut up now rather than giving myself a job to do later. I cut out any strips or squares of 1 ½”, 2 ½” or 3 ½”, or 5 ½”.
I store them in these little stacking boxes and they can be used for a rainy day or teaching, quilting for bags or cushions or whatever for projects down the line. These can also be bagged up and swapped with quilting friends to help you mix up your own stash colours a bit. The bits left over are thrown into the small scraps box.
Back to the job in hand now……
All Flexible Pattern pieces have fabric cut out, and you could cut out your bias binding strips at this stage also, although I like to wait till the end to confirm the width that I would like to use so I leave this for now.
You now get a better feel for the fabric now it is cut I think you can see how it’s going to hold together and wear, you can make decisions about support that you may not have made earlier. I notice when cutting all of my strips that this linen has a very big stretch to it on the bias even though there is no other fibre in the mix. All my pattern pieces are cut on the bias so I am going to safeguard all of my seams because the weight of the fabric could start to stretch out the shape. There are two ways I can do this by Stay stitching or by placing a stay along the seams using a cotton binding or twill tape. I also use the selvage edge of a fabric silk organza sometimes as it is a good one to use to stabilise any fabric. This is a good way to use up some of the useful strips sitting in the scraps box if you want to pull out some other selvage edges, even though they are scraps they still cost money and can be used just as well as any manufactured tapes.
If you are using Stay Tape then you don’t need to Stay Stitch but I decided on a combination of both depending on the seam.
To apply the tape you would cut the tape to the length of the seam and then stitch the centre of the tape onto the Stitch Line while the fabric pattern is still not sewn to anything else. You would only do this on one side of the Seam, usually on the Back pieces. I will do this instead of Stay Stitching on one side and then stay stitch the other side of the seam.
I am going to add the Stay Tape to the Shoulder seam, the Side Seams, the Centre Back/Front Seams and also the Neckline. Construction then just carries on as normal as if the tape were not there.
Because of the stretch I am going to use a small stitch in the Stay Stitching to give it extra support say a 2mm stitch length.
My fabric does have a high fray quotient so I am also going to overlock all of the edges of each piece also but because of the stretch I am going to add the tape and stay stitch first to ensure that by overlocking I don’t stretch out any of the seams. So each piece is going to be stitched twice all the way around one stay stitch and one overlock. It seams like a lot of sewing but if we are aiming for longevity on this garment then there are things that you can do initially to help.
At this point it is a good idea if you have not done so already to make some notes on your Pattern Record Card regarding your order of construction for your garment, especially useful if you plan to make this again in the future. By doing this you will be running through in your mind how you want the final detail to look and what is the best order to do this in. You can find my completed Pattern Record Card on the Downloads Page which you might want to use as a starting point.
Starting with the Facing pieces here you can see that tailor tacks have been added to the Notches at the Base of the Facing pieces.
Then after some testing with Interfacing to see how the fabric feels and looks after Interfacing they were all interfaced with an iron on Interfacing. Interfacing is cut to size using the same pattern pieces and for the rest follow the manufacturers instructions for ironing on. A little tip is to have a seperate ironing cloth to deal with all iron on interfacings that way you don't get any glue stuck on your usual ironing cloth (I use an overlocked piece of silk organza as an ironing cloth).
I did not overlock these Facing pieces as all of the raw edges are going to be enclosed and won’t be seen and I think the interfacing is enough to hold everything on the inside. When you overlock you do add a little bulk to seams so I don’t use it when I don’t need to. I also did not Stay Stitch these pieces although you could, the reason why I didn’t is because I actually cut my interfacing on the straight grain because I preferred this effect on this fabric it controls the stretch. You could of course cut your Interfacing on the bias. Because of the stretch in the fabric cut on the bias I wanted to control this a little using the Interfacing. But it is all personal preference and a little testing will help you work out your preference.
On the Front Bodice pattern pieces, tailor tacks have been placed for all of the Notches and Awl Points.
All seams have been Stay Stitched at a 2mm stitch length in the Seam Allowance, I moved my needle two degrees away from the Seam Line to sew the Stay Stitching.
The Centre of the Stay Tape has been stitched to the Neckline Seam and the Centre Front Seam on one of the Front pieces.
The Darts were also sewn.
Lastly all edges run through the overlocker to finish them off (this also helps to hold the Dart in place).
The fabric I have chosen is fraying as the pieces are manipulated so on this fabric it is important to stop this as early as possible before the pieces fall apart. I don’t always finish seam edges before construction and I don’t always overlock either.
Before construction I would also press each piece because overlocking can distort the seam edges a little, this will help to smooth the piece flat again but be careful not to stretch the garment out.
On the Back Bodice pattern pieces, tailor tacks have been placed for all of the Notches. As Stay Tape is going to be stitched to most seams you would only need to Stay Stitch the Armhole and one of the Centre Back Seams.
I did Stay Stitch the Back Neckline because I added the Stay Tape after the Centre Back Seam was stitched in order to get the Stay Tape across in one piece. The edges have also been overlocked.
Here is the Back, the Stay Tape in the Centre Back Seam is hidden as the Seam has been pressed open.
On the Sleeves I Tailor Tacked all Notches.
Then Stay Stitched all Seams and Overlocked all sides before smoothing out the edges and pressing.
The Bodice is sewn at the Front and Back Side Seams to join the two pieces together, then pressed.
Here is the Seam from the anterior side.
Then the Shoulder seams are sewn and pressed.
Here is the seam pressed open.
Although with this seam you could shift both Seam Allowances to the Back, but I like to share the load and the bulk usually.
The Sleeve Seams are then pinned, sewn and pressed.
As I did make a Test Garment and checked my Sleeves before confirming my pattern I know that the Facings will fit on beautifully so I will attach the Facings on now before the Sleeves get sewn to the bodice. You can do it after you have sewn the Sleeve to the garment and I might not have done this with a simple Hem, you get a second chance to get it a Hem level if you leave it till last, but I find sewing Facings on easier prior to sewing on the Sleeve and I won’t be making any adjustments to this it’s just a simple attachment.
So ensuring that you have the correct Facing for the Sleeve as one is in reverse (now you can see the importance of the Double Notch for the back), press down the Seam Allowance along the top edge (the opposite side to where you have Notched). This is going to help when you come to secure the Facing at the top later. It is easier to do this while the Facing is a flat piece.
Sew and press the Seam for the Facing.
Here is the other side once it is pressed.
Then the facing Seam is stitched and pressed.
Here is the anterior side.
Here the Seam Allowance is pressed back down.
The Facing is pinned onto the Sleeve Anterior Sides Facing, matching up the Seams with a Fork pin if you have them. I think matching seams is my secret pleasure but don’t tell anyone!
Match and pin the Notches. Then pin the rest all the way around.
Here are the Notches for the Back of the Sleeve (then you know you have the right Facing for the right Sleeve).
Here is the whole Facing pinned on.
Here it is sewn.
The Notch thread is removed and the Facing is pressed up. If you want to you can Under Stitch the Facing to secure the Seam Allowances to it, but I only did this to the Neck Binding for this garment.
The Facing is then folded to the posterior of the garment and pressed favouring the garment, so that you can’t see the Facing from the anterior side.
Here’s what it looks like with all of the Facing in place and pressed.
I did consider hand stitching the Facing in place in order to break up the mass of the plain colour and perhaps use either a running stitch or some other decorative stitching. I decided on hand stitching rather than machine stitching to make the stitch stand out a little more. The Facing was pinned in place ready for stitching.
For the bodice Facing the Front and Back Facing pieces are sewn together at Centre Front/Back. Also as before press down the top Seam Allowance.
The Front and Back Facing are then attached at the Side Seams to create a Facing loop. You can be confident that this loop will fit into the garment as you drafted it, if you cut carefully and stitched accurately. Again you can see the importance of Double Notches in the Back as you now know which way around this Facing loop is to go into the garment.
The Facing then gets pinned onto the garment anterior sides facing.
This is a wide piece to pin on so pin the seams with the Fork pins then pin the Notches, then pin in the middle of the Notches and seams matching the fabric length on both sides, then pin in the middle of those pins, then pin in the middle of those pins. When pinning ‘pinning in the middle’ is the mantra!
This then gets stitched and presses as before.
The Facing is turned to the inside and pressed favouring the garment side.
All Facings are pinned into position.
The facing can them be stitched to the bodice and the Sleeve either by using a herringbone or invisible hem stitch or by machine or by hand with a decorative stitch.
I experimented with a few stitches first on a scrap piece.
Here you can see I hand stitched the Facing using a running stitch with a thicker thread doubled to enable the stitches to stand out a little. Needless to say you need to stitch as neatly as you can when you are hand stitching a decorative stitch.
Here is a closer look
Here is the Base of the garment with the Facing stitched.
Here is a closer look.
Here is a peek inside.
To insert the Sleeve the garment is turned inside out and the sleeve is slotted into the sleeve hole with anterior sides facing and the Armholes seams together. Pin the Armhole seam and the other Notches. Ensure that you have the right sleeve while you do this and the Back Notches and the Front Notches are correct and pinned.
Then pin the rest in place, if you have any ease spread it into the Sleeve Head between the Notches.
It does help to fold the sleeve with the sleeve side over the fingers of the left hand to sort of bend it around something and to help with any ease pinning.
When you pin you are pinning on the sewing line (this is true for any seam pinning), at that position the fabric is doing different things to what the fabric is doing at the edge of the fabric.
Sometimes it looks like the ease won’t go in but keep the focus on the sewing line and it will all settle into place. You know it fits because you made a Test Garment. Now if you have lots of ease you could gather the sleeve head with a gather stitch but you should not need to do this.
You can if it helps snip into the seams which will relax the fabric and help you pin in place. If possible I will leave snipping until after sewing to ensure that snips are not made past the sewing area.
Check the stitching, sometimes because of the curve and the ease you can catch the fabric over onto itself. Stitching with a walking foot can help but to put this right snip the stitches and take out two to three stitches either side and ease the fabric back together and restitch. If you don’t do this you will see this little pucker on the other side and it’s unsightly.
When snipping the Armhole Seams I snip up to the Stay stitching and not beyond (unless it’s not sitting how I would like it to especially with a thicker fabric, and then I might snip up to the sewing line). So the position of the Stay Stitching is very important on an Armhole, too far away and you will have to clip up to it, and if your Seam Stitching Line slips you will see the Stay Stitching on the anterior side.
Then on the opposing seam I will snip between the other snips, I think this helps to even out the seams bulk wise around the sleeve, and this is more true with a thicker fabric. It is always a good idea to check that you put the right sleeve on the right side before you start snipping away!
Both sleeves are inserted in the same way. Press the Armhole with seams to the Sleeve side. I have usually use a pressing ham for this not my sleeve shaped one in this photo to get a better curve on it.
The Binding for the Neck needs to be attached. Ensure that the bias Binding has been cut and all lengths are attached together, I didn’t want any joins so I cut it in one piece. I wanted my binding to be ¾” wide and with 2 x ¼” Seam Allowance in total the width is 1 ¼”. The binding is going to be stitched so that none of it shows on the front of the garment and I made it out of the fashion fabric. I wanted the binding to be wide because I decided to hand stitch the bottom of it using the same technique as the facings. I left cutting the binding until last when I could be sure that I wanted to continue with this idea. The length of the binding is the Neckline length all the way around plus some for turnover and also a little extra just in case I needed it, I added on 4” to the length of the Neckline which should be more than enough.
Here you can see I wanted to check the width of the binding as the hand stitching will frame the Neckline. So I placed a little thread on the garment to see what I would prefer on the Shoulder as this is the thinnest part of the Neckline.
Being careful not to stretch the binding it is pressed with a ¼” Seam Allowance along both lengths.
Here is a closer look.
With a little over hang pin the binding anterior sides together onto the garment Neckline at the Centre Front on the sewing line. Carry on pinning all the way around the neckline until you come back around to the front and the opposite side gets pinned to the same point on the V and also has an overhang. As you pin you can pull a little on the binding to help keep the Neckline from gaping but as we have already added Stay Tape to the Neckline you dont have to be as vigilant as you would do otherwise, you don't want to create crinkle lines on the Neckline.
If it helps you can also tack the binding down before you machine sew it.
Here it is pinned all the way around.
Stitch all the way around from the point on the V and back around to the front, ensure that you are really accurate with the stitching at the front (if it helps thread a needle and get closer on both sides to the point by hand).
Snip into the Seam Allowance at Centre front on the garment as close as you dare to the point of the V.
Fold the binding up and Under Stitch the seam allowance to the binding.
Turn the binding to the back and press favouring the garment, and pin it in place.
You may need to snip into the seam allowance to help curve the binding especially on a wide binding to help it fit the neckline. The other option is to cut a facing from the pattern which will fit better.
At the front one end will fold around and tuck under the other so trim the under edge so you can’t see it and fold over the longer end and tuck it under the other and pin it all down.
I hand stitched the edge of my binding to match the Facings.
One final press and Ta Dah!!!! One finished Fitted Tunic Top.
Well done for getting this far - I hope you love what you have made. If you want to share your final picture then please add it to the Members Gallery for us all to be inspired!
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