A simple, well-fitting grey tunic can be hard to come by (either that or I’m incredibly fussy) so I decided to make my own, based on a striped tunic I already own. Despite being a newbie sewist, never having created my own pattern before and coming across a few hurdles along the way, I’m pretty pleased with how the garment turned out.
I’ve only been sewing for just over two years, and have made slow but steady progress religiously following sewing patterns. I wanted a really simple shape for this tunic, so thought I’d try my hand at creating my own pattern. My friend Jenny has been doing this for years, so I asked her for a few tips.
Making your own pattern
- Definitely make your own paper pattern on some tracing paper or baking parchment, and don’t forget to add your own seam allowances.
- Choose the right fabric! If you choose a non-stretchy fabric you may need to make some bust darts.
- Look at details like where the seams are and the openings, and how you can do the neckline – a facing might be easier than bias binding but it’s all up to you which makes it more fun!
… and remember, measure twice and cut once!
What I did
Materials required to make size 10 tunic
- 1m grey sweatshirt fabric
- grey thread
How I made it
I started by tracing the outline of the pieces of my tunic onto some pattern paper (there’s a great tutorial here) and added a 2cm seam allowance. Advice online generally seems to suggest being generous with measurements when using a thicker sweatshirt fabric, to account for the extra material on the folds. I then pinned the pattern to my fabric and cut out the pieces.
Tracing the tunic to make a pattern
As the fabric was slightly stretchy, I added some stay stitching to the neckline to make sure it kept its shape.
Stay stitching to keep the shape of the neckline
With rights sides together, I attached the front and back pieces at the shoulders and pressed the seams open. Then, I tackled the neckline. As the fabric is quite thick, I decided I didn’t need a facing so simply turned folded the fabric over and pressed it, snipping out little triangles (known as clipping) to avoid any ugly stretches, and stitched in place.
The next step was to add the side seams. I decide to tack this first (something I usually can’t stand) to make sure the fit was right. I’m pleased I did as even sticking to my 2cm seam allowance made it too big! Sewed and pressed seams open – important as fabric is quite bulky.
Then came the sleeves. I sewed the ends first (which actually proved to be a bad idea – which I’ll explain later) and then the main seam. I didn’t tack these but I probably would if using a less stretchy material or making something with a tighter fit.
To fit the sleeves into the arm holes, you need to turn the sleeve the right way out and fit it inside the body of the tunic. As a beginner who has never sewn sleeves before this seemed a little confusing (not to mention really fiddly!) but I put my faith into the Internet and went with it. To avoid any unwanted ‘pleats’ you have to ease the sleeve fabric round – it’s hard to explain unless you’re actually doing it. The thing that helped me was remembering that the sleeve is 3D, not a flat line like a regular seam.
Sleeved pinned into the arm hole
Unfortunately I ended up with one fold on the first sleeve, but as it was at the back, I’ve left it in. Repeat for the second sleeve and you’re almost there!
While trying it on to figure out how long I wanted it to be, I noticed that the sleeves were far too long, which had the added effect of making the whole tunic seem far too big and baggy. I turned the sleeves up by a whole 5cm and in the process realised that hemming the sleeves after seeing the seam actually gives a much neater finish. Another lesson learned!
The final step wasto secure the hem. As the material didn’t seem to be fraying, I simply measured, turned up the hem, pressed and sewed. Voila!
The next time I make this tunic, I think I’ll use lighter weight fabric – the sweatshirt material is a little stiff – and try to make the neckline a little higher. Having said that, I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. A welcome addition to the sea of grey in my wardrobe.