Sunday, August 19, 2012

Garment Clone - tunic top

Sometimes I feel like Goldilocks when it comes to selection of fabric and pattern. Some fabrics are too limp, some fabrics are too bright, and sometimes as Goldilocks found in the story, everything is just right. I just made this tunic top for my mom by copying a tunic top that she bought at Macy's ages ago and has worn many times.  She is one of those people that look really sharp in a bold black and white garment so I was a concerned if a new version could equal the original but she is thrilled with it, and it all comes down to the fabric.

blue tunic front view

Last week I met up with some fellow San Francisco bay area sewing bloggers, a super fun evening. (check out these posts from Shams of Communing with Fabric and Amy of Sew Well).  Even better, I got to meet someone new, Cindy of Cation Designs. I have been reading her blog for a while so it was great to finally talk and hear about her sewing adventures. She made me laugh because I showed a couple of things I have sewn with fabrics purchased at a local thrift store or estate sale. She was amazed at my lucky finds (as am I) and was ready to go shopping with me anytime. While I don't always find something I do get the feeling there is someone who is my shopping doppelganger slowly doling out her donations to the local thrift store I frequent as I now have more than 7 big pieces of yardage waiting to be sewn up.  Everything I have purchased at this thrift store is blue, ranging from dark cobalt to pale sky blue, with a good dollop of turquoise and aqua.  Interesting, huh?  I tell you, my shopping/sewing doppelganger.  Although she is apparently decreasing her stash whereas I am adding to mine.   
Back to the tunic top.  Fabric content is a mystery, it is 60" wide and has a linen-y texture but is super soft and presses beautifully.  Here is the original black and white tunic top which is 100% linen. It looks great but is just a bit heavy. I do like the white outline on the solid black placket etc. but I didn't have any white fabric that seemed the right weight so I skipped that feature on the blue version.  I also skipped the trim on the bottom because visually it seemed to chop off the look in the blue. 

black white tunic RTW
Here is a closer look at the blue fabric. I happened to have the solid blue fabric in my stash, hurrah.
blue tunic fabric close up
I made the paper pattern by copying the original top, which was quite easy as garment clones go, since it is a relatively simple garment and can be laid flat.  I run a contrast line of basting down the center front and back of the top, and then just trace the seam lines of the garment, adding seam allowances later. I laid the sleeves flat, and traced the front half and back half, and then taped them together, truing up the sleeve cap a bit.  Normally I would pleat in the dart as I pinned the tissue on the garment for tracing but I just couldn't get the paper to cooperate so I traced the front almost flat, and then went back and added a bust dart using the slash and pivot technique. Then I trued up the front side seam to the back. I marked the neckline placket and then retraced that section to make the pattern piece.

pattern piece
For the placket I did use a lightweight knit interfacing, stay-stitched the seam allowance all around and then turned and pressed. The neckline placket is sewn inside, right side to wrong side, and then flipped outside and top-stitched, so the right side shows. The RTW top was made this way, easy and not bulky.

blue tunic inside neckline

blue tunic side view
So I gave it to Mom this week and she loves it. another hurrah!  I have enough fabric remaining to make another one - so I might have one as well.  Which might require some pre-event telephoning, to make sure we don't arrive somewhere looking like twins. Could happen :)

Getting back to my thrift store finds, in addition to this tunic top fabric, here are a few other finds which came from the same store.

My McCalls vintage look, made with a blue wool tweed. Still have a good 2 yards remaining, so I am thinking a jacket will be made this winter.  

Blue Vintage dress Front, standing

This one is a crinkled cotton in a tropical orchid and palm leaf print.  I made a summer sundress (what else?)  using Butterick 5351. Another good one for our 100 degree days.

                      Bahama2fabricBahama dress front full
The fabric shown below I found at an estate sale, not my unnamed thrift store, so it is not blue, but one of my other preferred colors - plum or is it purple?  Blog post: Vogue 1117 Michael Kors dress.  Lots of sewing details in that blog post and the previous one if you are interested in this pattern.  

                          Korsdress close upMKdress1

Total investment in these 3 fabrics is less than $ 20.  How I love a fabric bargain and now I feel I must check my local unnamed thrift store weekly in case my shopping doppelganger has made another donation.  You didn't think I was going to drop the name/location of this retail establishment, did you? We couldn't have that, as much as I like you all, dear readers.  Someone might swoop in and take my next piece of blue fabric.

Foxglove purpleSunnygal garden photo in shades of purple to compliment the dress above.
Foxglove, a new plant I tried on a whim and it is a winner, expect to see more of these next year.

Happy Summer sewing, Beth


  1. The new tunic is so fresh and summery looking! You've found some beautiful fabrics at your thrift store. That's for sure!

  2. This tunic is lovely - it looks cool and fresh. Great job.

  3. Lucky Mum to have you whip this top up for her! Looks super.

  4. I love that tunic! Easy, breezy, and just the right colors.

  5. Very pretty tunic, in summery colors. Worn with white pants--gorgeous! You have a wonderful secret store to find fabric. All your dresses are so pretty. Nice work.

  6. I love, love , love your tunic! Your mother must be thrilled! :)

  7. Well, you can tell me since I will not be swooping in on your territory :D A beautiful new tunic and your mother is lucky to have a talented seamstress like yourself for a daughter

  8. Great Collection. I admit I like Them.

  9. I love this tunic. It is such a great style and color. I hope your mother likes it!

  10. Those are all really great finds! Jealous (not that I need any more fabric). How sweet of you to copy your mom's top for her, it looks great!

  11. I think I've just seen this Michael Kors dress on Nurse Jackie (Dr O'Hara, S2E8) just as I was reading the post. How weird! Hers is a more drapey fabric and doesn't look as good as yours :)