sewing kindergarten {schoolhouse tunic}

i find the big world of garment sewing downright intimidating.  you see, as i’ve said previously, when it comes to sewing, i’m great at following instructions, but not so great at ad-libbing.  i really admire folks who can alter a pattern to fit their figure and style, and i seriously envy those who can forego the guidance of patterns altogether and make their own.  respect, mad-sewists!  if a lack of experience is at the root of my sewing inferiority complex, the solution must be to broaden my sewing horizons, no?

i’d had my eye on the schoolhouse tunic pattern for a while (it’s by meg mcelwee, a bona-fide member of the league of mad-sewists.  she’s way too talented).  her tunic pattern is both sweet and modern, with just enough forgiveness in the fit to make it a non-intimidating sew.  i made my first tunic in a baby-soft and surprisingly lightweight corduroy by amy butler.  i absolutely adore the slightly exotic feel of the floral pattern.  it lent itself very well to this simple, comfy project, and i was quite chuffed with the results.  i did find it a little too maternity-wearish initially, what with the double-whammy of front and back reverse box pleats, which look really sweet but aren’t terribly figure flattering, so i sewed down the back pleat which helped to minimize the poufiness of the rump area.

for my second schoolhouse tunic, i went a little more summery and used a slightly graphic, slightly romantic cotton from ty pennington.  yes, that ty pennington.  despite his overly caricatured personality, the dude has good taste in fabric design.  because the sewn-down back pleat in tunic number one was still a little bulky, i decided i needed to delete the back pleat entirely.  though it was the babiest of baby-steps, nixing the pleat did involve a tiny alteration of the pattern (what a brave girl!), and i’m pleased to report that it turned out perfectly.  not only am i much happier with the fit and the silhouette, but i’m quite impressed with my not entirely deliberate fabric matching at the back seam – it’s almost spot on.  silly detail, i know, but it’s progress.  i may not be ready for the league of mad-sewists yet, but i’m happily on my way.

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42 Comments

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42 responses to “sewing kindergarten {schoolhouse tunic}

  1. mom

    Hi Karen; love the tunic pattern. Went to the online store and ordered it as well as the Mariposa tee. Thanks for showing the tunic in 2 different fabrics.

    • i think you’ll like it, mom. the grey one is the first project i used the serger on (finally) – the seams are so much nicer on it.
      when you’re doing the sleeves, i found that i didn’t need to gather them at all (despite the directions telling you to). maybe try pinning it before you bother sewing the gathering, you might save some time.

  2. littlepostcards

    Beautiful tunics! I love the fabric. I think I might leave the back pleat out on my next version too.

  3. Gorgeous tunic, I love your choice of fabric from Ty Pennington too x

  4. This looks wonderful, and easy to sew. Now, if I just had space to set up a sewing machine…

  5. Sue

    Oh, welcome to my world. I am actually very impressed with your attention to detail with respect to pattern layout. Not silly at all. It’s a sign of good design and sewing skills! It’s not just the back seam…the front of both garments show careful attention to detail. (Don’t tell me that was an accident.) And how lucky for you to have your own Judy!

    • thanks, sue. matching some of those prints was painful – especially the corduroy, because the print was slightly skewed and didn’t match the line of the cord for the length of the fabric (there was much cursing). it was a good primer on paying attention to details!
      i didn’t know your talent ranged from painting and fine arts to sewing, too! are you a mad-sewist, perhaps? i’d love to see your projects. please!
      do you have a judy? i just got her last month – she was 50% off! i’m hoping she’ll help me sew clothing a bit more confidently. man, she has amazing posture! i’m thinking of calling her grace…

      • Sue

        Textile arts was my original creative outlet. I dabbled in quilting, silk painting, knitting, but sewing was always the backbone. I worked in a fabric store for awhile, but someone it cost me more than my salary, LOL. I shifted to sewing for the home; curtains, cushions, slip covers, after I discovered my love for thrifting clothing. Last year, I got the craving to reintroduce myself to sewing clothing. I think they may have been due to having watched a marathon of Project Runway. I have done a lot of tailoring, and my technical skills are spot on, if I may say so myself. My inattention to detail was in reading the pattern sizes. Good grief! I always remember patterns as fitting on the large size. Nuh uh. If I bought the pattern according to my measurements, I would have been fine. I managed to tweak the shorts enough to fit, but I was never happy enough with the top. It just was too small. Since that first dip back in the pool, I have been okay. My next project that is brewing is the season’s must have printed pants. And yes, I will be making my own pattern based on a perfectly fitting pair of thrifted lovelies hanging in my closet. Wish me luck! I will send you some pics, my dear. I don’t have a judy, but I know they are awesome to have, especially when you get to playing with draping etc. Besides, what a great way to hang yesterday’s clothes! Amazing Grace, LOL.

      • wow! i wish we didn’t live so far apart – it sounds like i could learn a lot from you. you’re one multi-talented girl, that’s for sure (i remember being awed by your paintings so many years ago). maybe we’ll have to plan a meet-up sometime?!

  6. OMG love that tunic! I will add that to my LONG list of things I want to sew!!!!! It is a long list and it is getting longer. I love the color and yours looks very professional!!!

  7. Love that blue damask print! Good job eliminating the pleat out of it (the corduroy itself probably added to some of the bulk in the first one).

  8. This is lovely! My mom just bough this dress’s twin for $148 from french connection. You are deff a pro!

  9. Natalie

    That’s exactly how I feel about the dressmaking! A little intimidated but improving with every go (I hope!!). The tunics are super-dupe! 🙂

  10. I love the style of the tunic and also your choice in fabrics! Funny, but I can sew (for a toddler at least) without a pattern but am all sorts of intimidated by sewing with patterns. In fact, it’s my newest challenge and I’ve got half of a bought pattern traced for sewing a simple shirt for my son this weekend. I always have viewed those that can use patterns as the experienced sewists and myself as the newbie!

    • thank you!
      i think sewing without a pattern is advanced class! i can see how following a pattern could feel awkward if you’re used to freestyling, though. i admire people like you and hope to someday be able to wing it sans pattern!
      good luck with your shirt 🙂

  11. That’s funny, I’m intimidated by sewing patterns but can wing-it fairly well. I would say you’re quite the mad-sewist! Great job; great post 🙂

  12. lol, i totally agree with you. i’m (so far) a pattern-girl all the way. i’d love to take a flat pattern class, but keep putting it off in the hopes of losing those extra 10-15 pounds. sigh. that chocolate bread you posted looks delicious! 😉 anyways, your dresses are very cute! thanks for stopping by my blog!

    • i know – if you take the time to make something, you want to make sure it’s going to fit for a good long time!
      thanks for stopping by (and yes, the chocolate cake is delicious!!) 🙂

  13. Pingback: off the hook {orange crush scarf} | stirandstitch

  14. Kem

    love the tunics, cannot figure which one I like better… btw, Ty Pnnington? Really? I gotta go look up his fabric line…

  15. Nice work, love the fabrics, and the pattern! Fun!

  16. Eelke

    Hi, thanks for liking my post! I will definitely try this tunic project as well! I can’t seem to find tunics that fit my body properly, they always end up to wide on my waist and too tight on my hips! I’ll let you know when I’ve taken up the courage to try 🙂

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