Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

1 Comment

Tunics – fashionable since Roman times

I was given a vintage pattern for a beach set. I was particularly smitten with the pullover tunic. I bought some natural-coloured, slightly crinkly-textured cotton fabric for this. It’s quite thin and drapes well. It’s a bit plain so I did decide to dye it. I actually found the colour of the tunic on the pattern’s cover an inspiration and went for a similar green colour – I’m going to call it sage green, but it could be described as sludge green!

Style beach set pattern

Unfortunately, I hadn’t noticed that there were some pattern pieces missing before I bought the fabric. I found myself a little stuck with only two pieces of the tunic pattern. But not to be disappointed I decided to draft the pattern anew.

I found that the remaining pieces of the pattern sheets gave me clues to the size of the back neck facing piece. Mysteriously I also had the lower half of the tunic / dress (not sure whether this was the back or the front), but it did allow me to judge the width of the garment. Finally I looked through the instructions. These gave some further helpful ideas about pattern markings and seam allowances. The pattern was size 14, whereas I would tend to create roughly a size 12 for myself, so I made a couple of adjustments to take this into account. I made the front and back pieces slightly narrower and made the neck opening a little smaller. In the end, I was reasonably happy with my drafted pattern.

The sewing itself was quite easy. I’d never sewed a Style pattern before; the instructions were comprehensive and there were no head-scratching moments at all (hurrah!) The fabric though had a loose open weave and was a little delicate. In fact, it was impossible to finish seams with back-stitching. It tended to mangle the fabric. In the end I limited this to only the most vital seams. When a seam was crossed by another seam, for example, I avoided sewing backwards and forwards.

The one area where I did have some problems was the armscye. This was only part of the pattern that I had had to just guess. Largely the problem was that it was too tight for the style of the tunic. I enlarged the armscye, by decreasing the height at the top of side seams by about 3 cm for a more relaxed look.

Tunic - sleeve close-up

I intend to wear this to the beach in the summer, or maybe as a weekend top (I will test out the transparency of it first!)

Mr Steely calls it my slave-girl outfit! The word, tunic, is derived, in fact from the Latin tunica, the basic garment worn by both men and women in Ancient Rome. It was worn by citizens and non-citizens alike; citizens, though, might wear it under the toga, especially at formal occasions. Think I’ll pass on the toga, so perhaps “slave-girl” is an apt description for this garment!

I haven’t finished the hem on the photo below. I feel that will take a couple of hours of TV viewing to finish and I did so want to post something today. I’ve really struggled in the last month with work commitments to keep the blog going. But I’m hoping bank holidays on the way, this month will be full of a productive craft time.