I love wearing tunic tops in the summer. They look great with cropped or ankle length trousers. This pattern was made extra special by the addition of embroidery and as flamingos are everywhere what better to adorn my top with?
The pattern is the Willow Tunic by Serendipity.
The fabric is this beautiful soft Chambray Fabric. Perfect for warm days.
The pattern instructions are comprehensive and a lot of time is spent discussing how to choose the correct pattern size. It states that the pattern has a small amount of ease in the bodice so that it will fit close to the body. The lower part however has a generous amount of ease to allow it to float away from the body and to allow it to be worn with jeans. Unfortunately I didn’t read that bit until after I had cut it out. Even more unfortunate was the fact that I had cut out the longer version, so when I came to try it on for fitting (tacked together not machined luckily) I was horrified at how I looked in it.
Not a pretty sight I can tell you, it fit me like a sack and I’m afraid I went into meltdown.
A cup of tea later and at midnight I re-cut everything making it smaller. I also reduced the length to tunic length. I usually purchase size 12 patterns and they fit me with little or no alterations depending on the style. With this pattern I cut out size Small and I found it too large around the shoulders and massive around the waist and hips. My actual measurements when compared to those on the pattern instructions indicated that I was between a small and a medium. When you come to make this pattern for yourself, and you should because it is lovely, bear that in mind and do a proper fitting before you stitch the seams permanently.
I am very lucky to own a Brother Embroidery machine, which was provided by Jaycotts.co.uk. The machine is the Brother Innov-IS 800E. If you are interested in one then do ring Jaycotts and mention that you read about it on this blog.
Embroidery is so very fashionable at the moment, it is everywhere, and I know there are some fabulous hand embroidered items on the #MCBN. Machine embroidery is not complicated. All you literally need to do is to stabilise your fabric, hoop it, choose your design and away you go. There are some fabulous designs built into the machine but you can also download designs free of charge from Brother and other web sites. I found these flamingos on a couple of web site, including brother, and it took seconds to download them onto a pen drive and put it into the machine. If you want more information on how to do that then please ask me.
So, having chosen my designs I stitched the side front seams and then marked the grain of the fabric so that the embroidery would be straight and I marked where the centre of the design should be. This process is the same for hand embroidery and appliqué.
The embroidery finished I removed the stabiliser and pressed the fabric face down so as not to flatten the embroidery. Then I tacked it together once more and tried it on. Perfect!
The right side has an invisible zip inserted. I find it much easier to insert zips if I reinforce the fabric with some iron-on seam tape. Have you noticed how the zip puckers on some fabrics? This helps to eliminate that problem. I also do not rely on just pinning the zip before machining - I tack it on, away from the teeth, to stop it from moving. I also overlock the seams before inserting the zip, being careful not to cut any of the seam allowance away.
The bodice is lined with the same fabric and the bodice is then attached to the skirt. The instructions are very clear to follow. The only thing I would say is not to mark the centre fronts and backs by snipping into the fabric, it weakens it.  A simple mark with a marker pen or tailors chalk is a much better option. The lining needs under-stitching around the neckline to keep it in place during wear. This is simple to do. Clip into the neckline seam allowance all the way round, press, and stitch the seam allowance to the inside of the bodice. You can also top stitch if you want to, but I didn’t.
The sleeves were inserted after all the seams were neatened. I did feel that they were a little wide and would prove a nuisance if the top needed to be worn under a jacket or coat so I made a pleat in the centre of the pattern before cutting out, reducing the width of the bottom of the sleeve by two inches. Whilst I decided against a band on the bottom of the tunic I did want bands at the end of the sleeves. I therefore cut two pieces of fabric the width of the sleeve and four inches in depth, folded them in half lengthways and stitched them to the bottom of the sleeves.
The hem I over-locked and turned up by half an inch or so and used a twin needle to add a slightly decorative touch. I finished the edge of the sleeve in the same way, top stitching with the twin needle at the edge of the band.
There are several design options on this pattern and despite my initial panic I will be making it again. I love wearing tunics in the summer, they are just so practical.  All I would say to you is to tack the garment together before stitching, ideally we should make a toille, but admit it how many of us do that for every single garment we make? I love this pattern because there are some beautiful photographs of design options included in the pattern envelope and it goes into great detail of how to achieve the look you want.
I would say that the pattern provides a good platform for experimenting with fit, and the ease of making it up is simple enough for a beginner. A more experienced sewist can embellish the tunic or dress with embroidery and appliqué but if you are new to sewing why not choose a Patterned Chambray Fabric? There are a lot of designs to choose from! A small pattern does not require pattern matching but hides a multitude of “learning curves” by the way.
Thank you for reading this post, and thank you to Minerva for the beautiful fabric and for calming me when I had a little panic – which was needless as it was easily solved!