Monday, March 2, 2015

Winter Into Spring Wear Tunic

Fabric from FABMO. An unknown taupe wool-tweed blend, with tiny pastel specks.
I picked up this five-yard piece at a sale last year for $20. Bargain.
After weeks of sitting close to 70-degrees (fahrenheit), we suddenly dropped down to freezing and even had a day of blessed rain. The cold spell incentified me into sewing something warm.

At a quick glance, this Vogue pattern looked like any standard tunic. But it is far from a Plain Jane top. I was originally attracted to its design because it had a similar smock feel that I fancy so much from my Japanese pattern books. As I moved through the sewing steps, I started to realize this tunic was filled with many design details seldom found in Very Easy labeled sewing patterns. Don't let the few pattern pieces fool you. I wouldn't recommend this project to a beginner.

I morphed the short sleeve with the collar because I wanted to wear it over blouses and shirts, almost like a light wool jacket.

Wool tweed is often itchy, and this blend was no exception. To combat this, I added some really soft polyester charmeuse that I picked up ages ago at Stone Mountain onto the collar facing, and part of the neck opening. It's a nice contrast if I decide to open the collar.

The fabric was extremely thin and slippery. I used Colette's recommendation by spraying some Sullivan's Fabric Stabilizer to stiffen the facing. You can read her article HERE.

I bought three bottles of Sullivan's for silk projects but have been too scared to use it. I am glad I tested it out on the polyester silk. It worked like a charm. I also fused woven interfacing to add more bulk.

Here's the tunic with an open collar...

The pockets were a bit of a pain to sew, not because they're tricky, but because the fabric was difficult to pre-crease. Creating a mitered corner was challenging. I almost gave up, but glad that I persevered, because the pockets are super cute and useful. The other two design details include the back dart, and the curved hem.

The dart looks so basic, but after it was stitched, I thought it was elegant on such a simple design.

The curved hem could be tricky, and since the front pockets were such a bear to tackle, I feared a smooth hem. The instructions said to do a double fold narrow hem. Instead, I used a technique I learned while sewing the curved Kimono sleeve on my Satsuki Dress from Victory Patterns.

To accomplish a smooth curved hem, it's best to stitch a longer straight stitch halfway between the final hem mark and the edge of the fabric. So if your hem is one inch, then stitch a straight stitch around the curve at half an inch. I tied one end of the stitch and then created a gentle ruffle around the curve. This allowed me to ease the fabric into the curve without any bulk, similar to easing a sleeve into the armhole. It's really a lot faster this way, especially with unruly fabric.

The last bit were the closures for the collar. I think adding a bold decorative button could be used here, but the snap (which were recommended in the instructions) left a cleaner look. I don't know about other sewists but I've always had difficulty making sure the second half of the snap matched up to the first stitched half. I figured out a quick-and-easy method by using tailor's chalk.

1. Stitch the first half of the snap at your preferred location.
2. Then snap the second half of the snap onto your stitched half.
3. Rub some chalk on the second half of the snap, and then carefully close the opening. The chalk mark should now be on the other side of where your other half of the snap should be sewn. See pics...

Rub the chalk generously over the second half of the snap.

Make sure you push down with some pressure to transfer the chalk to the fabric. 
It's not a strong chalk mark, but good enough for placement. It might not work with all fabrics,
so consider using different colors as well. 
Voila! All snapped in for the rest of Winter and hopefully into a lovely wet Spring! Happy sewing!