Tunic Sew Along

Tunic Sew Along: Construct your tunic

[Late to the conversation?  See all of the tunic sew-along from the beginning]

Step 4:

Construct your tunic.

First things first, thread.
Use whatever thread makes you happy. For the construction of a tunic I like a nice 100% cotton thread or something with a polycore. I’ve been told that 100% silk or poly threads will cut through your fabric fibers and honestly, silk is too spendy for my taste. Lately my main sewing thread is Coats & Clark Machine Quilting and Crafting 100% cotton thread. It comes in giant spools that work splendidly well on my sewing machine. Luckily the same thread works for me for hand sewing as well.
If I have the right color on hand I’ll try and match my fabric color. Sadly the urge to sew usually strikes me late at night and rather than NOT sew I’ll settle for black or white threads, whichever is least obvious. I’m not terribly careful with my thread color. A personal failing I suppose.
In this case I laid my blue thread over the fabric and the blue looked too “shiny” so I’ve opted for black thread.

Second thing second, pins.
Use whatever pins make you happy in whatever way makes you happy. I use multi-color plastic headed fairly short pins. They’re easy to pull out while I’m sewing and hold the fabric together. When a pin is dull or bent THROW IT AWAY. Life’s too short to work with dull pins.
I recommend pinning across the stitch line so it’s easy to pull out the pins as you sew along. As always, suit yourself.

Finally, the sewing. As mentioned elsewhere I sew flat felled seams so that the flap is on the outside of the garment. All descriptions here are written with that in mind. If you plan to put the flaps on the inside of the garment you’ll need to do the mental gymnastics to change the descriptions around to suit yourself. (See also article about how to sew a flat-felled seam)

Sleeves
I start by enclosing the sleeves. I line up the offset so that it will be most comfortable to sew starting at the armpit and ending at the wrist. On the first pass the direction (armpit to wrist) isn’t terribly important. On the second pass, especially if you’re sewing very tight sleeves it’s very important.

1. Setup the sleeve offset so that you’ll be sewing from armpit to wrist.
2. Sew up the first set of stitches.
3. Finger press the seam open and fold the longer seam allowance around the shorter seam allowance. Pin the flap flat being careful to only pin through the seam on the sleeve and not catch the other side of the sleeve while pinning.
4. Flip the sleeve inside out.
5. Sew the second pass on the seam starting at the armpit and ending at the wrist. Go slow. Because the sleeve is fairly narrow you’ll need to bunch the fabric up around the pressure foot.
6. Congratulations you’ve completed one sleeve. Do the same thing and sew up the other.

Attaching the sleeves to the body

1. Fold the sleeve in half so the seam is on one side and the point of the shoulder is on the other finger press the fold.
2. On the wide end of the sleeve (the part that ends up at the shoulder/armpit), place a pin in the fold which will end up at the point of the shoulder.
3. Match up this pin with the triangle on the shoulder of the body piece with the wrong sides together.
4. With the body piece on the bottom (creating the 1/4″ offset) pin the sleeve to the body piece with the wrong sides together.
5. Sew the sleeve to the body with 1/4″ seam allowance.
6. Finger press the seam open and then finger press the flat-felled fold down onto the sleeve and pin it in place.
7. Sew the second set of stitches for the flat felled seam.
8. Now do the same thing to attach the other sleeve to the body.

Gores
The gores are cut with one edge on the bias. If we sewed bias edge to bias edge it would stretch and deform. In order to prevent that I’ll be sewing the bias edges to a stabilizing straight edge and end up sewing straight edge to straight edge on the center side seam of the garment.

When laying out the flat-felled seams I find it easiest to think of the fell rolls as all rolling the same direction around the body. For me this is from right to left.

1. Make sure your body garment is turned right-side out.
2. Arrange the right side of the opening on the side of the garment so that it is laid out with the wrong side of the fabric up. Place one of the gores on top of the body piece. Match up the bias edge of your gore triangle with the body of the garment. The triangle should match up at the hem edge of the garment with the point somewhere in the side seam below the sleeve. Pin the gore to the body garment so that the body garment extends beyond the gore by 1/4″. Flat-fell this seam.
3. Arrange the left side of the opening of the side of the garment so that it is laid out with the right side of the fabric up. Place one of the gores under the body piece. Match up the bias edge of your gore triangle with the body of the garment. The triangle should match up at the hem edge of the garment with the point somewhere in the side seam below the sleeve. Pin the body garment to the gore so that the gore extends beyond the body garment by 1/4″. Flat-fell this seam.
4. Pin the side closed from top to bottom. The right side of the seam should extend beyond the left side of the seam by 1/4″. Flat-fell this seam.
5. Do the same on the other side of the garment.
6. Congratulations, you are done with garment construction.

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