Tunic Sew Along

Tunic Sew Along: Finish your tunic

Step 6:

Finish your tunic.

Someone in my FaceBook page (Research Dumping Ground), asked “Why do you sew flat felled seams with the flap on the outside?”

Good question.  Initially, when I first started sewing tunics (2003-2004), it was because no one told me any different. Jeans were once sewn with the flap on the outside. Who am I to argue with jeans?

Later it was a combination of “I’ve always done it this way” and to avoid the burble that happens at the bottom of the sleeve where it attaches to the body. See pictures.

At this point if you really want to you can flip the tunic so that the flaps are on the inside and treat the flap-free side as the “outside” of the tunic.  To me, especially if you have a matching-ish thread, the flap side looks cleaner. Add to that, my husband likes to have seam treatment added to his tunics.. so regardless of which side is out it will probably be covered with embellishment. Please yourself.

So now that you’ve figured out which side you want out.. turn the tunic inside-out. 🙂

On this tunic I’m going to do a simple rolled hem on the wrists, hem and neck opening.  If you wanted to get fancy you could do a facing or embroider the seams down, or add a different colored hem/cuffs, but those are topics for a completely different set of blog posts.  These last three seams can be done in any order.  I’ll list them here from easiest to hardest.

I use slip stitch for these.  I like the way it looks.  You could just as easily use a running stitch or a herringbone for a slight decorative measure but I’d worry about them getting snagged on something and if they get pulled out then you lose the thread holding the hem in place as well as the decoration.  As always, suit yourself.

Now (before you start adding pins) would be a great time to have the recipient try on the tunic.  Hopefully it fits.  If the recipient’s arms are shorter than my husband’s then you may need to trim them down.  If your recipient has longer arms then you may need to add a patch to the ends of the sleeves and update your copy of the pattern to note how much length to add or remove for the next time.

Wrist

  1. With the garment inside out (double check to be sure) fold the end of the sleeve and finger crease it about 1/4″ from the cut end of the sleeve.
  2. Fold this back again slightly more than about 1/4″ to form the double fold.  Finger crease this fold.
  3. Pin this in place.
  4. Slip stitch all around.  I tend to start at the seam so that it’s easy to bury the knot and it also makes it easy to see how far you have left to go.
  5. Do the same thing on the other wrist.  Try to keep the double folds somewhat even between the right and left sleeve.

Hem

  1. With the garment inside out (double check to be sure) create a 1/4″ double fold on each of the seam lines (there are six).  
  2. Across the body piece front and back continue the 1/4″ double fold and pin this.  This part is easy since it’s on the straight grain.  
  3. The gores are harder.  Take your time.  Getting this right with pins will make this much easier to sew.  On each of the 4 gores, fold and pin a double fold in the center of the gore between the seam lines.  With one finger on the center-of-the-gore pin and another on a seam pin put some tension along the fold.  The fabric will tell you how it wants to fold.  Finger press the fold and then fold in the extra to make the 1/4″ double fold.  Fuss and fidget with the fabric to extend this double fold so that it goes smoothly from one seam line to the other.  Use a lot of pins.
  4. Once you have it all pinned down, slip stitch all around. I tend to start on a seam and then work my way around.

Neck Opening

  1. With the garment inside out (double check to be sure, no, really, double check.. ’cause that one time you don’t and you hem all around on the wrong side.. well, just believe me and check.) starting on one side of the center front slit, fold a triangle that is ~1/4″ at the top of the slit and decrease to 0 at the bottom of the slit. 
  2. Fold the rest of the neck in to make a smooth double fold.
  3. Slip stitch this down.
  4. Down at the very bottom of the slit do a tiny little double fold or rolled hem just to make sure you don’t have any raw edges exposed.  If you can’t get enough fabric for a double fold or rolled hem then I would do a whipstitch over the bottom little bit just to reinforce a bit.
  5. Recently I’ve also started adding a bar to the bottom of the slit using detached buttonhole (this link notes that the method is Elizabethan but I’ve seen this used on 7th c. Kentish clothing).  Since I know the bottom of the neck opening slit is a weak point I want to add a bit of reinforcement to prevent it from tearing out.  About 1/2″ to 1″ above the bottom of the slit do a long whip stitch between the two sides.  This bar should be quite a few threads.  Pull the two sides to keep each of the treads in the bar even.
  6. Do a button hole stitch over the bar so that the threads are covered with button hole stitches.

Congratulations, you’ve made a tunic. 
Done is beautiful.

As always, if anything is confusing, unclear or wrong, please leave a comment or contact me.

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