Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Summer floral tunic with My Fabric Designs

Time to show you some unselfish sewing - although modeled by me. I made a tunic top for my mom using a fabric I designed via I think this is my most successful fabric yet, with the caveat that I have two more waiting to be sewn up that are also really great.

The floral might be a bit too much for some, but I was going for a Hawaiian style fabric based on my starting point, which was a photo I took of one of my hibiscus plant blooms.

hibuscus tunic top on me3

We took these photos around 7:00 in the evening, so the colors might not be as bright as in full daylight. But you get the idea!

I have made so many tunic tops using this self-made pattern. I created the pattern by copying a tunic top that my mom has which she bought at Macy's a few years ago. I will put links to the other tunic tops below.

Here's a look at it on the dress form.

hibiscus top on form front

I found the contrast linen fabric at Stone Mountain fabrics in Berkeley. I like to use linen for the contrast placket and sleeve bands on these tops even though I don't ordinarily like linen, but in this instance it gives such a nice crisp finish.

Have you wanted to design your own fabric? I find it a bit challenging as I am not much of an artist but once I got the idea to manipulate photographs then it was more fun. FYI: My Fabric Designs offered me an opportunity to try their fabrics so this fabric was provided to me at no charge.

They have a design tool on their website, but I find it easier to create something in Photoshop and then upload the jpeg. I thought you might like to see some of the versions I went through in order to get this final fabric, so I made a collage of the various files that I had played around with until I got a final version.

fabric development image

I started with a photo of a single hibiscus bloom, which I extracted from the background. Then I played around with the pattern repeat, and tried some of the various filters like colored pencil or cartoon, to manipulate the flower. I thought about extracting the shapes and then coloring it in but that seemed quite difficult. It seemed to need more to the pattern so I added the same flower in different sizes and layers. Once I had a layout of the various flowers I liked then I used the mosaic filter. That looked Ok but seemed to need a different background. So I tried different backgrounds and thought the royal blue was pretty against the pinks of the flowers. Adding back the mosaic filter I then changed the pattern repeat orientation and had my final jpeg to upload to their site.

Here is the fabric before cutting. This is their cotton sateen - which is quite lightweight. Most cotton sateens I buy are much heavier, I find that this fabric is much more similar to a cotton voile. As I mentioned in one of my prior posts about My Fabric Designs, if you are interested I strongly suggest you order the swatch book which is $ 5.00 and has good size swatches of all their fabrics so you can actually see what the fabric feels like and how the colors print on the various fibers.

hibiscus fabric yardage

A closer look at the linen placket. I really love the colors in this fabric. When I first ordered it I only ordered one yard - as I was still figuring out how to use the site, and my mother saw it and said "oh I would love a top in that fabric!". So I ordered more, this time 2 yards so that I would have enough to make the top. The second piece of yardage is the exact same print as the first so that is a nice result. I can use the remainder from her top and then the original 1 yard to make something for myself :)

hibiscus top front detail

hibiscus top on forn front2hibiscus top back on form

I have a piece of silk fabric that I ordered and the more I look at it the more I like it - consequently I am unable to decide how to use it, other than a top. I have 2 yards so plenty for a summer top, or even a long sleeve blouse. Pattern paralysis. Although it is kind of a summery color. I was at Nordstroms yesterday and took a spin around the designer department - I love to do that, inspecting all the high end stuff. In particular petting the Armani Collezioni. Yummy fabrics and soft tailoring. But I say a couple of Rebecca Taylor tops, very similar to the Vogue patterns of her designs, so I'm leaning that way.

As for this fabric - I might just make another tunic top for myself!

hibiscus tunit cop on me1

Here are links to the other items I have made using fabric from My Fabric Designs.

Cotton Poplin summer dress

Cotton knit skirt and top

and here are links to a lot of different tunic tops.
Cotton voile tunic top
Garment clone tunic top - this is the first one I did.
Rayon fabric from Girl Charlee tunic top - scroll to middle of post.
Quilting cotton tunic top

and there are others but those are the ones made from this basic pattern. I wasn't that big of a fan of the tunic top style  - I always thought it looked a bit 70's caftan, and not in a good way. But safe to say I am now a convert, in the right fabric it is a really great wardrobe addition.

More tops coming up on the blog next, as I am trying to make separates after my recent run of dresses. Not that a dress didn't sneak in there - which is a Vogue designer pattern repeat too! I will leave you guessing as to which one.

Stay cool  - I think there is a heat wave just about everywhere in the US. And to prove that the SF Bay Area has a zillion different climate zones, plus further proof that tourists should always pack a jacket I give you my iPhone screen caps from last night at 6pm. My house vs. SF downtown. And I could be there in about 25 minutes so it is not very far (with no traffic - I calculate all distances using the no traffic baseline. Which might explain why I am often late. We are getting like LA around here, the traffic is madness!)

Yes, 102˚F at 6pm. and now today is supposed to be hotter!  After all we console ourselves with the time worn phrase "at least there's no humidity." Hey, I wish for summer so I can't complain. The tomatoes are ripe and my basil is growing like crazy. Last night I made some crispy pizza with basil, yellow tomatoes and goat cheese and then sliced it up and put it in the freezer. Perfect for a quick appetizer one of these warm evenings.

Happy summer sewing, Beth



  1. Wow you did a great job designing this fabric: this is something I would love to do in the future.

  2. I'm in awe of your fabric designing abilities too. I've always wanted too and then became paralyzed with all of the possibilities. The tunic is fabulous and how could you not like linen?!

  3. What a well balanced repeat you've designed; it looks great!

  4. You definitely need one of these for yourself Beth. You'll be weaving your own fabric soon!!

  5. What a wonderful idea to start with a flower from your garden! I love the design and the royal blue is absolutely perfect for the background. Lucky mom!

  6. The fabric is beautiful, as is the top. Your mom's a lucky lady! Does she also sew? :-)

  7. oh my gosh, this is gorgeous! Honestly, I think you could wear this pink yourself more often, it's just lovely with your colouring. You must take after your mother :)

  8. Matching mother daughter tunics :) That would be fun. I love what you have done in designing this fabric. It is so beautiful!

  9. The flowers are so pretty! You are getting very clever at the fabric design.


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