The Tunic Bible and an Orange Shift Dress

Hey, Vi… look what I got!

The Tunic Bible: One Pattern, Interchangeable Pieces, Ready-to-Wear Results. by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr

Here’s the back-of-the-book blurb:

The only tunic pattern you’ll ever need. Create chic, ready-to-wear tunics with a multi-length, graded pattern and expert construction tips. Choose your style–casual, preppy, boho, or glamorous – with interchangeable sleeves, neck plackets, and collars. Get advice on shopping for fabric and trims, guided by a huge gallery of inspiring tunics.

I can attest to the fact that everything they say in this blurb is true. The instructions are easy peasy to follow, and there are dozens and dozens of pictures of different tunics, along with a description and fabric used.

In the mood to sew, I rummaged around in my stash and came up with this orange stripe quilting cotton by Robert Kaufman.

I don’t know why I bought it, to be honest. What was I thinking?

I remember buying it on a dreary rainy winter day. I remember holding it up to myself and feeling happy. But really, an orange dress???

Well, as my mom said, I could always wear it on Halloween, lol!

Happily, it turned out great! I feel happy in this cheerful pumpkin and cream shift dress. I don’t feel like trick-or-treating at all!

For my first tunic, I chose the  “Outside Facing V-Neck Placket,” and made it a bit longer so I could wear it as a shift dress.

A shift dress is far from the most flattering garment. But it is my absolute favourite for comfort.  I could wear a shift dress every single day, especially during the summer when it gets so bloody hot.

You can MOVE in a shift dress.

With all the orange stripes, I was worried I’d look like an escaped prisoner, so I wanted to do something creative to break up all the vertical lines. Cutting the placket and the bottom band on the horizontal was an easy fix.

The best and most important thing I can say about The Tunic Bible is that this pattern fit me with no alterations. None. Zero. Zip. This is the dress straight off the pattern. I know! That never ever happens. Not to me, anyway.

The only change I would make next time is maybe to raise the bottom of the armscye as it’s a bit low on me. But not dangerously low…no fear of flashing or anything like that. And actually, when it’s really really hot in July and August, that extra ventilation might just be welcome.

I predict many tunics in my future. I want to make the maxi-dress version, and a hip-length one with fabulous trim around the neck. Oh! and the ruffled version! Yummy!

The Tunic Bible gets five stars!

Ta da! The Vintage New Look 6510 Shift Dress Part 2

This is a follow-up post on my second vintage New Look 6510 shift dress.

You can read all about part 1 HERE . And the original shift dress which I sewed out of a sheet and which turned out very nice is posted HERE.

Remember this problem?

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After much un-sewing and re-sewing and internet researching and head scratching…
may I have a Drum Roll Please! ……

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Ta Da!

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Yay! I made another shift dress!

It still didn’t turn out as nice as the first one I made, though. Why? I think that has to do with the fabric I used. This particular fabric is very flimsy and on the verge of unraveling at every step – in fact,  I might have to go back in and re-do the seams after a couple of washings. I think this pattern is better suited to fabric with more body, like the bed sheet I used for the last one. But that’s okay. I only paid $3.00 for this piece of fabric from the thrift store, so it made good practice material.

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Remember this problem from the last post? 010

To fix it, I unpicked & removed the bias tape, raised the shoulders about 2 inches and then re-attached the tape. Then I unpicked the side seams and the bust darts and moved them down.

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Thank goodness the print is so busy because I did not get the bust darts even. One is much lower than the other. More unpicking may ensue…depends on whether or not it affects my comfort wearing it. Because I don’t think it’s noticeable unless you’re really hunting for it. And if anyone is going to be staring that hard at my chest, than they deserve the reward of finding the bad job!

I also unpicked and removed the bias tape on the neckline, and added a facing. The fabric is so flimsy that I feared it would go all wonky after a few wearings. I then sewed the bias tape pack on again (for decoration.) I also added a funky retro button from my button jar.

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Remember this problem from the last post?
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To fix it,  I sewed darts over the shoulder blades to help take in some of the gaping in the neck. It still gapes, but I’m okay with that.

Well…no, I’m not, actually. But I don’t know what else I can do about it at this point. And besides, when my hair is down you won’t be able to see it. Right?

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Remember the bunching at the back? Well, I fixed that by sewing fish-eye darts down either side of the back seam. YES! FISH EYE DARTS!!! I consulted the Google-gods about what to do about the excess fabric pooling at my lower back and fish-eye darts was the answer I was given. (Fish eye darts are vertical tear-drop shaped darts. So why don’t they call them tear-drop darts?) Amazing!

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Lalala! I am feeling so clever!

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So there you go. It isn’t perfect. But it’s light and airy and I think I am presentable enough to run into town or to the grocery store in it.

And it is a very thrifty dress, costing me a total of $3.25 to make.

What did I learn?

  • Sitting with the seam ripper and unpicking seam after seam can actually be a kind of peaceful zen experience.
  • Darts are marvelous things if you put them in right.
  • I need to learn how to adjust the tissue pattern before I cut out my fabric.
  • I really like shift dresses, but I need to find a better designed pattern.
  • I am ready to move on to something a little more complicated than just sewing a front piece and a back piece together (though you wouldn’t know it judging by the trouble I’ve had!)
  • I can learn to do anything!

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I think I’m finished with the New Look 6510, though. Too much fiddling and in two attempts it still has major problems. Time to move on to something else!

Or….maybe I will be stubborn and MAKE THIS PATTERN WORK on one more, last attempt!

What would you do?

another stab at the shift dress: WTF?

Welcome to my adventures in sewing-a-dress-land!

Riding high on my success with the last dress, I decided to make the vintage New Look 6510 again, but hopefully without all the mistakes I made the first time. Remember I had cut it too big and then had to take in all my seams? This time I cut the size 16 instead of the size 18 to save myself the trouble of sewing all the seams twice. (’cause I’m such a smart cookie!)

Riding high on an excess of self-confidence, I decided to not only finish the seams, but to also try a new technique: edging with bias binding (because I had so obviously successfully mastered neck and armhole facings, sigh.) I went ahead and bound all the edges with double-fold bias tape before trying the dress on!!!!  Eee gads, here I am actually admitting that to you!

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Of course, I then discovered a few things…

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Discovery #1:
The dress obviously does not fit me at all! I feel like I am wearing my grandmother’s oldest apron!

Discovery #2:
The pattern does not match my body! My shoulders are too sloped. My back is too narrow. (no wait! Actually, my shoulders and my back are perfect. The pattern is wrong. There! That’s said better!).  The pattern does work better width-wise (a bit loose so I could probably cut the 14 instead of the 16 next time, but it’s very hot outside and I want this dress to be light and airy and non-constricting.) And I am a sort of an apple shape…so extra fabric in the tummy area is a good thing.

Discovery #3
The pattern appears to be designed for someone with a much longer torso than I have. I need to cut the shoulder height down by at least 2 inches! (Hummmm…..maybe this is where that lengthen/shorten marking on the tissue pattern comes in…I will have to investigate that for try #3)
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Discovery #4:
The bust darts are still too high! So that means they are too high on the pattern itself, and the problem I had last time wasn’t my fault after all! Yay!

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Look at the gaping in the back neck!
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These arm holes are waaaay to big!
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I graded and sewed in the side seams to bring in the arm holes, but then discovered that that made the bust too tight.  Argh. Much unpicking ensued.

I am going to unpick the side seams around the bust darts and the darts themselves and then reposition them. Then I am going to draw the correct position onto the tissue pattern so I don’t have to go through this again. Because I actually like this dress. Or I will, anyway.

I am going to unpick and completely remove the bias binding around the armholes, raise the shoulders, and then replace the bias binding. Because I like the look of it with the contrast edging.

I am going to make back darts to take up some of the extra fabric around the shoulder blade area if raising the shoulders alone isn’t adequate.

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I don’t know what to do about the bunching around the lower back. I’ll see what the dress looks like after I’ve done all the above. And then, when I am all done, I will hem. At least I did something right (in that I didn’t hem it first, lol! Because I considered it!)

All I can say is WTF? This dress does not look anything like my last effort…

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Not yet, anyway. Stay tuned!