Friday, February 12, 2021

Notes on Mentorship- Developing an idea into a garment- Curvy Princess Seam Tunic- AKA The Inauguration Tunic!


The last tunic that I worked on in my 4 month mentorship project is what I am calling the Curvy Princess Seam tunic with a yoke OR more affectionately as my Inauguration Tunic!!

1.   Just a quick recap of how I got here.

2.   Started with a well fitting master pattern of my tunic.

3.   Used a sketch done in Procreate on my iPad to create design I really liked.

4.   Used an approx. ¼ scale pattern to practice the flat pattern work to be done to original pattern to get to new design.

This tunic development started a little differently. I worked in the mirror and decided how wide I wanted my yoke and then drew that on the pattern and then just sort of drew in curvy lines for Princess seams. When I tried to tape these out it was a bit of a mess, so I just went into muslin. However, when I was drawing these curvy lines on the pattern I wanted to accentuate the natural curves of my body so I made sure those were drawn with the thinnest part at the waist and then wanted to make sure the curves were smooth as well as being well defined and very curvy!

Some example drawings that I did on IPad in Procreate app. Playing with different ideas of color blocking and print blocking.

This design was symmetrical so I was able to modify the pattern on the half, I started with my flat pattern changes to get to my new design.

This is what I did:

Front Pattern (most changes)

  • 1.   Kept the shape of the neckline the same

  • 2.   Drew in the yoke

  • 3.   Drew in the curvy princess seam

  • 4.   Added in notches along the seams and cut the pattern pieces apart

  • 5.   Closed the bust darts on the bodice to transfer them to the princess seam.

Back Pattern

  • 6.   Added in back yoke to match the front yoke. Incorporated the back shoulder dart into the yoke seam.

Sleeve pattern – no changes

Once I had these changes made on the pattern paper. I once again pulled out the tracing paper and traced these onto a clean pattern paper and added seam allowances on the muslin.

I made only one muslin for this tunic. I did this for 2 reasons. One I was being a little lazy and 2 I had PLENTY of fabric to make 2 Tunics if I totally botched this one up. Also, seeing that all the changes were in the princess seams I felt pretty confident that I could accommodate changes made in the first muslin. Of course making sure that the princess seams walked and had smooth curves.

Used the muslin to refine both the fitting and the shape/placement of the princess seams.

As you can see in the photos of the muslin I made some changes to the shape of the curvy princess seams and carefully pinned these changes in. When I was happy with how it looked I then transferred the changes to the pattern.

The second question of this tunic was how to give it some punch. I wanted to play with highlighting the seams and adding some pockets. Making sort of a play off of Chanel designs.

The first design consideration that I made was to cut the center panel on the cross grain vs the length of grain. If you look quickly at the garment you may not even notice! However, I think it gives it a nice subtle effect and just gives your eye a change in pattern to highlight this center panel.

Second design consideration was addition of trim. This fabric was perfect for deconstructing and making into a trim. I started with cutting a piece both lengthwise and crosswise to see what it looked like. Pretty apparent which one I wanted to use! I then cut a couple different widths and did some tests with how to create the fringe. I made several long pieces and then just started with pinning them onto the garment and seeing how I wanted to proceed. I did actually pin some down the curvy princess seams but it was just a bit too obnoxious for this garment! LOL!!

After lots of playing around I finally decided on the fringe around the entire yoke seam and then around the sleeves.


Next up was playing with the pockets. I really likes the idea of the double pockets but due to the curvy princess seam I could not quite get the placement to look good in the space that I had to work with. So I went with a single pocket on each side and these were also cut on the cross grain to just get them to subtly stand out as well.

The internal construction of the garment is pretty simple. I wanted this to be a wash and wear garment, so I first serged the cut edges of the yardage and then threw it in the washer and drier.  After I cut out all the pieces I serged around the raw edge of each one, except for all of the yoke pieces which I fused with a soft loft fusible interfacing. I did serge finish the edge that was stitched down with a stitch in the ditch method on the machine.

The trim was placed on the seam lines and machine stitched in place with a zig zag stitch and the hem facing and sleeve hem were both also machine stitched. All of the machine stitching sort of just melts away into the texture and loft of the tweed, and gives me the secure knowledge that I can safely wash this garment on gentle in my machine and hang to dry with no worries about anything coming apart or unraveling.

I had this new tunic finished in time to wear for The Inauguration! It felt great to make a garment to celebrate a change of leadership for the good. Even though I was only able to wear this to my parents for a small dinner it was great to have something to celebrate during these difficult times!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Notes on Mentorship- Developing an idea into a garment- Asymmetric Neckline Tunic

 My third tunic is what I am calling my Asymmetric Neckline Tunic.

1.   Just a quick recap of how I got here.

2.   Started with a well fitting master pattern of my tunic.

3.   Used a sketch done in Procreate on my iPad to create design I really liked.

4.   Used an approx. ¼ scale pattern to practice the flat pattern work to be done to original pattern to get to new design.

For the Asymmetric Neckline Tunic, I started a little differently. I started with the fabric. I knew that I wanted to use this cool printed fabric and I wanted to use it very thoughtfully. So, I did the design of the garment around the fabric. Luckily, the design us such that I can use it again or parts of it.

With my design sketched out from the start with the fabric design in mind I used the ¼ scale sketch to roughly tape out a design on my muslin and then transferred this to a clean copy of my master pattern.

With the clean pattern and the front cut as a full pattern, I started with my flat pattern changes to get to my new design.

This is what I did:


Front Pattern (most changes)

1.   Moved the neck line in at left shoulder by a 3/8 inch.

2.   Changed neckline to asymmetric design. With the left side being straight.

3.   Labeled each of the front pieces ABCD, etc along with a description.

4.   Added in pattern matching notches along these lines

5.   Rotated the darts on the left side up into the vertical seam.

6.   Rotated the darts on the right side into the curved line into the armscye.


Back Pattern (minimal to accommodate front neckline changes)

7.   Move neckline on left side in by 3/8 inch

8.   Added in a design lines for a back piece that matched up to the vertical front seam. I was able to rotate the back shoulder dart on that side into the seam line.

Sleeve pattern (changed hem shape- different from sketch)

9.   Changed length to a short sleeve

10.    Added a shaped band to give a slight bell or lantern shape to the short sleeve.

Once I had these changes made on the pattern paper. I once again pulled out the tracing paper and traced these onto a clean pattern paper and added seam allowances.

Then I moved into making a muslin. For my muslin I knew I only needed to make the upper portion of the tunic. To test out the fit of transferring the darts and to test out the viability of the design.

Some questions that I ask myself are:

-      Are the design elements cohesive?

-      Are the different parts and pieces of appropriate size?

-      Does the design convey the feeling that I wanted?

-      Does the design work with the fabric that I want to use?

The important part to remember here is that as I moved through this process I have my fabric picked out and have certain portions of the print in mind for certain areas. I also keep in mind that there is always a chance that I will get to this stage and decide that I do not like the design. I am okay with that! Being okay with that uncertainty allows me a lot of freedom in how I feel and think about the design. It is more about an exploration with the hopes of a good outcome!

I had to make some changes to muslin number one for fit. On the left shoulder I had to add a scant ¼ inch along the neckline due to coming closer to the neck and moving up on the trapezius muscle.

I also had to do a closed wedge on the right side right at the curve of the neckline to close up a small bit of gaping. This a change I was completely expecting to make. I have learned that when you carve out area over breast tissue you will cause some gaping. The absolute best way to fix this is by making a muslin and pinning it out.

With those 2 changes I made an additional muslin to double check the fit and it was perfect!

With the muslin done and the design fitted and me being very happy with it I decided to go back to my iPad and play with the fabric design and placement in Procreate. To do this I took photos of the fabric and played around with cutting and moving things around through layers’ functionality to play with the overall design. You can see the constants of the vertical bars on the left neckline, the red on the left side of the body and the print on the right with the print also being on the sleeves. What I was playing around with was adding/subtracting red on the sleeves as a flat piping insert as well as the upper chest curved piece.

I picked several of my favorites and used my mentor, Sarah Veblen, and ‘phone a friend’ or more like text a friend and sent these to get to get   opinions! Having sewing and design friends is an amazing thing!


Since I was basically fussy cutting this design out of my limited fabric I cut the pieces that were most important to me first. These were the bars or stripes that ran along one side of the fabric. I wanted them to be on the vertical neckline piece, the hem bands and on portion for the upper back. With those cut out I moved onto the large front piece and carefully played with the design elements of the print and where they would fall. For every piece that I cut out of the print fabric for this tunic, I made sure to have some element of RED on the piece. To me this just helped to make it more cohesive. Hopefully for you, you would not even notice!! Which means I did my job well. Sometimes these things will tend to stick out or make themselves noticed when it just looks wrong or non-cohesive.


It was fun to cut out all the pieces and lay them flat prior to construction. I always find the shapes to be so interesting and how they transform from these flat pieces into a beautiful three dimensional garment!

Since this tunic is meant to be a wash a wear. I sewed down the hem facings and sleeve bands with machine stitching and on the front curves I did my clipping and then carefully serger finished these edges while keeping the curved shape so that the clips splayed out and overlapped under the overlocking appropriately. Doing it this way meant that I could keep my full seam allowances keeping a nice finished seam.


I understand that to some people this may seem like some crazy amount of work for a single tunic! And one that is admittedly not going to be to everyone’s liking. I hope that you can appreciate the exploration of design, form, cut and color that I went through. This project was not laborious at all! In all honesty it was quite fun and joyful and even a bit calming to just see where my ideas can lead me when I let them. 

Happy Sewing!!

 Trying something new- here is a video of me in the top.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Happy 2021!!! and a recap of Holiday sewing

 Happy 2021!

I have arrived into 2021 feeling renewed and full of personal hope. I am so very glad to have sewing and creativity in my life, having this stability to fall back on has been a wonderful thing for me. A place where I can go to be happy and calm and express my creativity which helps to make me a better person overall.

My life has calmed down a bit since the end of 2020... Like many people "stuff" has been going on and the 2 big P's- Pandemic and Politics have not made anything easier. We sure are living through quite a bit of history. I truly hope that when we, as a collective, emerge from the other side, we are stronger and better!

I wanted to share a couple pictures of some Christmas Sewing that I did for 2020.

Since Christmas was being spent quite differently this year I decided to make special lounge outfits for my daughter, granddaughter, myslef and for Arya! We had a fun time taking silly pictures! All day was spent lounging in our coordinating outfits while we watched movies and played games and ate food on the couch!

The fabric is all from Natures Fabrics and are dyed with eco friendly dyes The pants and cardigans are made from the Cotton Velour which is so lovely to work with!! 80% cotton and 20% poly. Washes and sews lovely!! The T-shirt watercolor rainbow hearts fabric is also an eco friendly cotton jersey that is also so lovely!

All the pants were made from True Bias Hudson Pants pattern, with the cuffs and pocket detail in the knit tee fabric. The adult tank tops are from Cashmerette Saybrook Tank and the Cardigan is the Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan. The kids T-shirt is Misusu Pattern's Rowan Tee and the Cardigan is Ellie & Mac The Chapman Cardigan.

The doggy tee shirt and sweater are part rubb offed from an existing sweater and part self drafted.

And no worries anyone... we were at a complete halt on Lake Shore Drive for about 15 minutes when we took this!!

I also sewed fun pillowcases for my brother and his family in the Netherlands and then some dinosaur ones for my granddaughter.

Plus I did some hand crafting (great for those times when I really need to just rest) and made 2 birds. One for my Nephew and his wife who are expecting a baby girl at the end of April and one for my sister to enjoy. :)

I did do one large sewing related project to start off the year. I purged my fabric collection! This has been something I have been meaning to do and now just felt like the right time! We all have those fabrics in our collection or stash that just dont suit us. Either our tastes have changed or maybe it is a beautiful fabric that you would never wear or perhaps it was given to you or picked up in a swap or trade. I decided that I needed to get rid of those fabrics that my hands always pass over in favoor of something more appealing. SO I got rid of quite a bit! It was also easier to do since I was giving the fabric to a wonderful young woman who is starting her journey in fashion design. She is a person that really deserves all the good that the world can give her!

Happy Sewing!!

WIshing everyone peace, health and happiness as we navigate our way through another historic year!