DESIGN NAME – Jasmine Tunic Top
DESIGNED BY - Amanda Goldsmith
SKILL LEVEL – Confident Beginner
SUGGESTED FABRICS – Gorgeous in Drapey and slightly firmer fabrics. Try in Linens, Cottons, Satins, Silks and Chiffon with Lace
The prerequisites for working through this ‘Sew Along’ are that you have made and fitted a Bodice Base Template and created and fitted and Working Template with 2” of ease.
The sewing level required is Basic to intermediate, you will need to know how your sewing machine works and be able to thread and knot a needle and have practiced a straight Running Stitch that you will need for the Facings (or you can stitch them by machine).
Ideally you will have reviewed and practiced the following;
Module 4 – Create the Base Template.
Module 5 – Create the Working Template.
Module 6 and practiced extending a bodice.
How to put insertions into a Skirt.
How to draft a Sleeve.
How to draft a Hem.
How to add on Seam Allowances.
How to cut bias binding and practiced sewing on bias binding.
You may also wish to download a copy of the Sample Pattern Record Card and a blank version from the Downloads page, it may give you an indication of how you can use the Pattern Record Card to track details for all of your pattern pieces and construction so the earlier you print out a blank version the quicker you can start noting all of your ideas onto it.
Have a look at this overview process for creating a garment, it is very straight forward and logical and will hopefully you can now see how everything flows and pulls together from what you have learned so far.
A Word about the Design Choice for this Sew – A - Long
I have picked a style of top that I think is a simple shape, easy to draft and sew but will still push your knowledge and skills. This is a very basic tunic top with a shaped or rounded V Neckline in the Front. As it has a full Neck width wider than 24” you will not need a closure to get this garment on.
Have a look at the shape of it. Would a shape like this fit into your wardrobe? It is a highly modifiable Flexible Pattern and adapted into different variations and I think it would fit very nicely in any wardrobe and be something you could make again and again in different ways. It could be made in any fabric, colour or pattern and can be worn as is over jeans, leggings or tights, layered over a dress or skirt or cut longer to wear as a longer tunic or dress or Baby-Doll nightdress or shorter as a swing top layered for the beach or a layering yoga top.
You could either copy what I have done here exactly or you can change it up adding your own preferences and personality to it.
It can be created with or without a Centre Front/Back seam.
The sides in the base could be sewn all the way down or left unsewn to create a split in the side which looks good on a longer tunic
You could change the Neckline
Change the length
It can be sleeveless, with cap or short sleeves or ¾ sleeves or longer (or any other sleeve design).
Using a Flexible Pattern Pack you could add Ruffles or Pockets, or add some applique embellishment or embroidery or beading around the Neckline or just keep it simple and clean with nothing attached or added on.
It can be cut on the Bias or the Straight Grainlines.
I have used the Design Templates Sheet for tops to show how this top can be altered to make different designs that you might like for your Flexible Pattern and there are many more alternatives that you may come up with.
So you have a few variations that you could make and even though this garment can be made in just 2 pattern pieces you could have many more than this if you want to give yourself lots of options in your Flexible Pattern.
Required Fabric and Notions
Your fabric and other requirements will depend on the design choices you have made including your body size, the length of the garment, the Hem and also if you are using Sleeves, facings or cutting bias binding or if you are cutting this garment on a Bias Grainline. You may need 2 1/2 metres or more fabric to create this pattern, you should also add in a factor for fabric shrinkage.
The garment in this sample is around a size 14 with a D Cup Bust. All of the pieces except the Sleeves, including Bodice, Facings and Bias Binding were cut on the Bias Grainline. It has a rounded V Neckline, with just shorter than three quarter sleeves, with Facings on the Base and the Sleeve and a binding on the Neckline, it has been finished with decorative and functional hand stitching on the garment openings around the Base Sleeve and Necklines.
For a 57” wide fabric after washing and shrinkage I used around two and a half meters of fabric. You would use much less if you were not cutting on a Bias Grainline.
The only other requirement was interfacing for the Facings, a cotton or twill tape to help support the seams (optional), thread 1 reel would be sufficient to make the whole garment. I also used a Top Stitch Thread for hand stitch decoration when adding the Facings and Binding.
You will also need muslin and thread for your Test Garment. I made two Test Garments for this Tunic before I was satisfied with my pattern.
You will need all of the usual Drafting and Pattern Making Tools and materials used in previous Modules.
Drafting the Front Bodice
Ensure that you give yourself enough time to work on your drafts, don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to draft and create copies and Test Garments. I expect to spend three to five days doing this depending on the complexity of the pattern. So you really want to go into this owning the pattern and design and knowing that you will be potentially using this pattern for a few garments or that it is a going to be a special garment, because you are investing some time into doing this.
I would recommend that before you start you have a quick read through the rest of the Unit which might help you firm up your design drafting decisions before you start. It is easier if you settle for what you are going to do before you start, changing design mid-flow can be time consuming and costly.
The drafting part of the process for making the top is to create the trued pattern pieces and pattern record card and then at least one Test Garment should be made from a Cutting Copy which is fitted. Once the pattern is fitted and altered the Sleeve Pattern is made and sleeve mock ups are added to the final Test Garment for fitting. Once all alterations are written back to the Master Draft all pattern markings are added and the pattern is trued. The Master Flexible Pattern is kept to one side and a copy is taken of all pieces and any Seam Allowances or Hems are added and each piece is trued for a final time. Finally the finished garment is made out of the fashion fabric and the pattern can then be used over and over again being refined every time you use it and perhaps preserved if you really like it just as you did for the Base Template or Working Template although you may have Seam Allowances on a preserved Flexible Pattern.
If you cut this Tunic pattern on the bias then you will want to be as economical with fabric as you can be because a bias cut can be wasteful of fabric. Usually you would fold the fabric and cut 2 of a pattern but this is difficult to do effectively when cutting on the bias so it is easier to cut it in a single layer. To ensure that you have an efficient use of fabric then it makes sense to create copies of your pattern pieces on the reverse side so that you can lay everything out and know that all pattern pieces fit into the fabric and that you have the best layout for reduced waste that you can, it can take a little time to find the right placement and having every piece available is the best option, you are trading off time to create a reverse side copy with wasted fabric and ease of cutting. So something to consider once the pattern is ready.
Start work on the bodice by copying off your appropriate Bodice Working Template. As this pattern has volume I would not use a Stretch Working Template even if you are using a stretch fabric, I would prefer this garment to fit like a woven fabric and just fitted not stretch to fit but that is your choice.
On my copy I drew all darts to the Lower Bust Point for now even though I only intend to use the Side Bust Dart and if it helps you can name your Guidelines and label the Centre Front and Side. Label the draft as the Front Bodice for now.
On my draft I decided on a Neckline Shape by looking in a mirror and trying to work out what I would like and measuring down from the indent in the base of the Neck and measuring the width of the Neckline at that point. You could use some of your Dots on your body to play around with shape and position or drape some yarn on the Neck or body-form to play around with shape. Another way to do this is to rummage through your wardrobe and find a Neckline shape you like and take the measurements off it. You can even fold it down the centre line and lay it onto your draft and draw around it or stick pins into the paper around it to create the shape you want, a neat little trick you can use for lots of pattern pieces.
So back to my draft, I decide on the Shoulder width or the position of the High Shoulder Point, depth of the Neckline and the Neckline shape. I left the Shoulder End Point because I want the option of adding a sleeve to this pattern and would want the sleeve to join on the Shoulder at the Armhole.
To start with I marked the base of the new Neckline at 5” from the Centre Front Neckline and my High Shoulder position at 3” from the Shoulder End Point (I crossed out the Dart as it won’t be used just ignored). I joined up the two points with a straight line for the V Neck then experimented with curving this line to make it softer. You can see the line I decided on drawn in red pen. The position of this did change after a first fitting and I went a little wider with the curve.
I drew in the Breast Radius to see the position of the bust to check if a bust dart was needed and as the position of the Neckline is less than 1 ½” below the top Bust Radius position I decided that a Neckline Dart won’t be needed.
Then I worked out the Back Neck Width calculation to help determine what this should be when drafting the Back, in this case I choose to add on 2/8” as the new High Shoulder Point is not central on the shoulder but a little way towards the Neckline (remember add on ¾ towards the Shoulder End Point, half this at the centre of the Shoulder).
This pattern is fitted on the body down to the Bust Point then it has volume in the bottom part or skirt part much like a Baby Doll Top/Dress has.
This means that insertions need to be added from the Bust Point down and you will need to work out how much volume you want to have in the bottom section. You could have fun and experiment with this with your Test Garment by creating it the largest you think you would like the fullness and then pinning volume out until you get exactly what you want.
In order to get the volume in the lower section only it makes sense to create a Style Line across the Bust Line and cut the lower from the upper section and work with it separately so draw a line squared off from the Centre Front to the Side along the Bust Line and cut along all the way across the line to separate the two pieces. Put the top part to one side for a moment.
You can then add insertions to the bottom section as you would with any Skirt by defining the Insertion points cutting up the lines and spreading the pattern out and filling in the spaces with paper.
I decided to add in two Insertions of 2”, this will be the same in both the Front and the Back Drafts. The Insertion Style lines were placed by measuring two and a half parts along the top (Bust Line) and the bottom (the Base) and joining up the lines with the half part in the first section from the Centre Front (as this will be replicated at the other side of the pattern to even out the Insertions.). Once the Insertions Lines are drawn they are cut to a pivot point at the top. They can then be spread out by the required amount and paper added underneath to fill the gaps, the Base Line can then be redrawn. You can review how to do this in more detail in Module 6 - Create the Flexible Pattern - 5. Drafting Skirts.
You can see the Sideline has then been straightened out as you won’t not need any side shaping, you could also add an extension off the side if you want more volume.
Back to the top part of the Front draft the Armhole Dart has been closed as it is not needed and the Armhole smoothed out across the join.
In this instance I have decided to keep and sew the Bust Dart as this pattern is for a larger Bust and a little shaping should get a better fit and help to make this garment look less tent like if it is fitted over the Bust, the Dart also gives a fitting point if it is needed. It will also give a little interest in a large expanse of fabric.
Now the position of the Dart on the side can be decided on you can see here that I did consider moving it down and did redraw it in but changed my mind and decided to leave it until after the fitting. I did consider that as the side hangs down with the flare and cut on the bias it can be a little tricky to judge this on a flat pattern so decided to wait. In the end I was happy with the position of the Dart as it came out parallel to the floor and did not feel that it needed to be altered.
I also backed off the Side Dart from the Lower Bust Point by 1 ½”.
Now compare the two pattern pieces the top fitted part and the bottom skirt part, as they need to be re-joined (unless you decide to create a seam here and split the pattern into two). On my version they don’t quite fit together yet and this is to be expected because the flare in the skirt part distorts the top Bust Line.
The aim is to join the two pieces back together and keep the Centre Front as a straight line, but in this instance the two pieces overlap at the side taking up some of the Side length. To rectify this simply measure the overlap and added in this amount back onto the Base at the Side to ensure that the Side Length stays the same.
You will need to redraw the Base and blend the Base Line back into the current Base Line where it fits smoothly. You can also experiment with taking off ¼” on the side seam to help with bias stretch, but on this garment I am going to use a cotton tape to secure the seam so am not going to do a bias flare adjustment.
If you are not using the Side Dart and have closed it up you may not need to add on anything at the side length just check the measurements of the overlap (or gap) and the width of the dart and deal with the Side length accordingly.
Initially I dropped the Armhole by ¾” but later decided that I would add sleeves and to keep the Sleeve a little slimmer at the top to show off the flare more I raised the Armhole back up by 1 ¼” so all in all the Armhole was raised by ½” from the original Working Template. If you were going for a casual look without a sleeve it would have been fine to drop the Armhole, always drop by too little as it is easier to take away fabric in the fitting rather than adding it back on (reason why I ended up making two Test Garments as on the first one I cut away the Seam Allowance and had nothing to work with!).
On my draft I straightened out the Side all the way up to the Armhole as I have a little bump in the side that I felt I wanted to take out and see what the effect was during the fitting. Then the Dart is trued.
You can see here how this straightens up the Side mostly around the Waist area.
This garment is a good one to cut on the bias to draw the fabric down towards the body rather than encouraging it to stick out straight so consider this as another option. With that in mind the Grainline is drawn in.
Drafting the Back Bodice
Then the Back is drafted next so the Working Template for the Back Draft is copied.
The Back Shaping and the Shoulder Dart will just be ignored in the Back so cross these off.
The Centre Back Neckline position is determined I set mine to ¾” lower for a more relaxed look.
The Back Neck Width position is drawn with the measurements that were determined on the Front. The Back Neckline shape is roughly drawn in and the old lines crossed out to avoid any confusion.
You can if you want bring in the Front draft to check the Neckline and Armhole Line positioning to get a smooth transition from Front to Back and you can see how the Neckline gets smoothed out across the two pieces on the Back Draft. I know that my Shoulder Line is going to change later though due to a pronounced sway back alteration which we will get to further down the instruction.
The Back Draft just like the Front is cut into two parts across the Bust Line ready to add the Insertions.
Here you can see that the Insertions are put in.
I extended the Base after doing this as I forgot to do this initially but either way works. The Side is also redrawn straight to the base.
The two pieces for the top section and bottom section are joined back together and any overlap is added onto the Base at the Side and the Base line redrawn as with the Front.
I also redrew the Side Line to connect up to the Armhole which added on a ¼” or so onto the Side with I just ignore for now, this may change during truing and fitting anyway.
Now my draft has extra fabric for a sway back in the Waist Shaping, extra measurement is in this Draft in the Back compared to what was used in the Front for Waist Shaping which was 3/8”.
Unless you altered your Base Template to take into consideration a Sway Back you will not need to consider this next step.
I decided that this may make the garment too long in the Back if I just ignore it as this extra would not be sewn out. It could also push the skirt towards the Front causing the Base to stick out at the Centre Front which is not a flattering look. So I took the decision to rectify this before creating the Test Garment and take out the extra (not all of it, I left the same that was left in for the Front 3/8”) from the Neckline and Shoulder Line, so these were dropped down accordingly.
Now this creates a very strange looking Shoulder on the draft and I am 100% certain that this is not going to work and that I will need to adjust this during the fitting because it just does not look right. But rather than guess at what the shape should be I fight my perfectionist impulse and decide not to sweat a drop over it because I am going to check the Shoulder Seam during fitting and I step away from the line!
Regardless of whether you have done the adjustment above or not the trickiest part of fitting this garment is going to be the Shoulder Seam to get it in the correct position so that the Side Seam hangs straight perpendicular to the floor, whilst at the same time ensuring that there is no gaping along the Neckline Front and Back or gaping around the Armhole. Expect to spend some time over this at point of fitting.
The Grainline is also added to the Draft.
Ensure that you add Notches at the Waist on Front and Back Drafts on both Sides and also on the Cross Front and Back (if using Sleeves) to help you join the pieces when sewing the pieces together. Most importantly ensure you use Double Notches when working on the Back Draft. Also add an Awl Point in the Dart Point. Then true up the draft on the Sides, Shoulder and Armhole across the Front and Back over the Sides, Shoulder and Neckline. Fully label your Front and Back Drafts with the name of the garment client details etc. and how many pieces require cutting and from what fabric.
Creating a Test Garment
When creating a Test Garment for a Flexible Pattern it is entirely up to you which parts of the pattern you want to test, obviously you may wish to test main pieces or even check out the best position for a pocket but you don’t need to add in Facings or other smaller pattern pieces if you don’t want to.
You can also use your Test Garment to try out different design options to see if your ideas will work so although the Testing is looking at the technical positioning of Seams and other Lines it is also a creative process especially if you are using a draping technique.
While you have your Test Garment on your Body Form have a play with it. Consider where you might add Style Lines, or position applique or embroidery, unpick the Back and add a different draft on. The more time you play with the Test Garment the more options you will come up with and the more useful your pattern is going to be to you. Obviously you would only do this on the patterns you like the best that you think you can reuse. Every time you remake this garment get your Test Garment out, check it for size work out how you are next going to make it up, can you make it up better than you did before. You might need to make another Test Garment if your first one gets mashed up.
I tend not to worry about some of the detail when drafting because I find I get a better view of things when studying the Test Garment during a fitting it can be almost impossible to determine where a line might be positioned on a two dimensional sheet of paper but when you put it on the body it all becomes so much clearer. However I might circle areas to check directly on the Test Garment as I create it to remind me to review that area more closely during the fitting. For instance in this case I know I am going to have to look carefully at the Shoulder Seam position.
The next stage then is to create your Test Garment ready for your fitting.
This is created as all other Test Garments before by copying off a cutting copy from your Master Flexible Pattern. At this stage when creating the Test Garment I do not have Sleeve pattern pieces as I will only draft these once I have made all alterations on the bodice pattern and I am happy with the fit.
A bonus of creating a Test Garment is that you get a good view of how big all of your pattern pieces are and an indication of how much fabric you are going to need to create your garment. A Bias Grainline means that you potentially have lots of wastage of material, so you have a chance to consider what fabric width you would like your fabric to be or indeed if you really are going to use a Bias Grain. On a muslin at 44” wide I would need 3 metres to create my garment and that would not include extra for Bias Binding or Sleeves. If I got a fabric that was wider I may be able to cut 2 pieces next to each other, or if you are a smaller size of course you may require less fabric. It is harder to work out how much fabric you need for a Bias cut garment. If in doubt walk all your pattern pieces down to the fabric shop and remember to add on for any bias binding (your fitted and finished pattern pieces may include your Seam Allowances and you will certainly have your Hems drafted attached or as a separate pattern pieces as Facings).
You would create a Test Garment as before, with your pattern copies traced off you would pin on the required Grainline of the muslin and roughly cut the pattern with around ½” to 1” of Seam Allowance allowed, you would then wax trace the pattern pieces including all Notches and Darts then machine thread trace the fabric as usual.
The Garment can then be constructed and you can start the fitting process.
The construction order is;
Press all thread traced pieces.
Sew the Darts and press.
Sew the Centre Front Seams together and press.
Sew the Centre Back Seams together and press.
Sew the Side Seams and press.
Leave the Shoulder Seams unsewn for now just fold the Front Shoulder Seam onto the Back Shoulder Seam Line and pin in place ready for the fitting.
During fitting this garment for a D cup Bust I made the following alterations (2 Test Garments were made);
Starting at the top, the most obvious alteration that was needed was on the Shoulder Seam so the correct position was defined.
The Armhole needed a little fabric removing around the Armhole as there was a little creasing in the Front. I then decided I would prefer the garment with Sleeves so noted that I would raise the Armhole back up to make a slimmer sleeve at the top of the arm – I also decided at that point that I would make a second Test Garment as I had trimmed away the Seam Allowance during the fitting. What to learn from this – try to confirm the design before drafting and cutting into a Test Garment! Sometimes though you have to let your creativity take over and throw caution to the wind!
The Neckline was reshaped a little wider.
Obvious in the photos the whole garment was extended 2” in length as it was looking a little stocky and cut off the body a little at just below the Lower Hip Line. The Front was extended by a further 1 ½” at the Centre Front going to zero in the Side as the hemline was raising up due to the Bust size in this area making it look shorter on the Front.
Keep going back to your Test Garment