Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

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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.



I’m sewing a skirt – Part 3

Well, this is my skirt. I think in the past I’ve tended to feel a bit self-conscious in skirts as they don’t tend to fit me well. But this one seems just right, thanks to Deby’s instructions! I even used the toile that I made from cotton sheeting as the lining (waste not want not). It does mean that it too has darts rather than pleats in it, but I think that is fine.

I did make a few additions to the basic pattern; I like to give myself a challenge. I added a waistband and belt loops. The reason for this is that I feel more comfortable with the ability to hold the skirt at the waist.

For the waistband this Youtube video from Professor Pincushion helped me out.

I thought just to finish things off to make a matching covered belt. I think this makes the skirt extra smart. I’m hoping to use this for work.
I’ll post something extra for the belt, I think it deserves special attention!

All in all, this was a very satisfying project, with no real upsets or calamities. It certainly has increased my confidence. I felt particularly proud of the fit and my off piste additions!

Finished Skirt

Woman with no waist wearing a me-made skirt

There is one thing that I’m not completely satisfied with. The hem is a little puckered and I think I’ll give it a tidy up when I have a space hour in front of the telly.

Pyjama trousers – success or failure?


I’m writing this after I’ve finished this project. I have been challenged, irritated and disappointed in equal measure, but finally at the end of the project I can say that I have learned heaps.

After cutting out the pattern pieces to a size 10, and starting to sew I discovered that the pyjama trousers were way too narrow. In fact, I had made myself a lovely pair of skin-tight leggings! Strangely, though they were very long. Normally I would say that I am, for a size 10, quite long in the leg, so these strange dimensions rather perplexed me. I also, found that when I started to put the pieces together not all of them lined up properly. For example waistband at the front and the back didn’t appear to line up and the fabric for the bottom border for the trouser legs didn’t seem to be the same width as the width of the pyjamas. Now, this may have been some sort of cutting error on my part, but I checked and checked and couldn’t see what I had done wrong…..  The pyjama trousers are such a simple pattern, it had no notches. If it had, it would have helped to line up the pieces.

To cut a long story short, I gave up using the pattern. After a week, when I couldn’t approach the project without getting annoyed, I looked at it again with fresh eyes and I decided to start from scratch. Fortunately, I am one of those persons who always buy patterns and fabrics way in advance of getting round to projects and I already how a trouser pattern. I traced it onto tracing paper, but making it a size bigger (size 12) as pyjamas should be loose fitting. I also took the darts out as pyjama trousers are elasticated at the waist.

As it turned out, what a stroke of good fortune that I’d bought too much fabric! I still had enough fabric for a new pair!

And hey presto! I constructed this pair of pyjama bottoms and I have a good pattern should I wish to give this another go in the future. I had to ditch the embroidery, much that I liked it, as it was perhaps too busy for the blue checked patterned fabric I was using. However, there is always a next time!


PJs bow