Tuesday 28 April 2015

My first attempt at a simple ladies tunic dress

     Regular readers will note that the majority of my sewing revolves around making children’s clothes, mainly because I find children’s clothes easier. However, after spotting this fantastic bird and foliage print fabric from Regency Rags at a meagre £1.99 per metre I thought I could afford to have a go at making myself something, without losing a fortune in fabric if it all went wrong.
The finished dress with the two side waist ties

      I ordered three metres so I had plenty to work with and then set about making a symmetrical single pattern piece, which as I’ve said before makes aligning seams etc much easier than fitting lots of different pieces together. With summer approaching I thought a simple tie waist shift tunic dress would be great for wearing with leggings and cardigans during the day, thrown over a swimsuit on the beach, or even teaming with a statement necklace and high heels in the evening. Because the fabric is so light and floaty I decided against adding darts and instead simply let the extra-long side waist ties give the garment a loose and relaxed shape.
      I worked out the rough dimensions I needed by comparing my design to clothes I already had and then added a few extra inches to the pattern design for seam allowance. I needed two main body pieces and two very long strips for the tie waist. I also needed to make some facing panels for the arms and neck. I didn’t have any proper interfacing to attach so I just used the fabric on its own, which obviously won’t give such a professional finish but it does still ensure that the edges of the neck and arms look neat and are comfortable against my skin.
Cutting the facings
       Because the pattern is reversible and symmetrical it didn’t matter which side I attached the two waist ties so I didn’t have to plan in advance. However, I did need to find an invisible zip that was a good colour match and luckily I found some cheap 10” cream zips on eBay. After cutting out the fabric the first thing I did was sew the waist ties, a very simply job of folding the strip right side to right side and running a straight stitch all around the edge, followed by a zigzag stitch in the seam allowance to help prevent fraying. I left one end open to turn the ties the right way round afterwards, ready to sew into the side seam. I deliberately made sure the ties were long enough to tie around me twice with extra to hang down.
      As with the ties I used a straight stitch followed by a zigzag on all the seams as the lightweight fabric was very prone to fraying. First I attached the shoulders, before adding the neck and arm facings, finished with a top stitich. Then I picked a side for the waist ties and, with the item on, marked with tailors’ chalk where my natural waist was and pinned the side seam together with both waist ties in place. Once that was attached I had to fit the invisible zip.
Zip prior to fitting
       I had bought a special invisible zip foot so I had high hopes for success. It involved some careful marking and measuring but it was nowhere near as difficult as I first thought it might be and before I knew it the zip was fitted and functional. Once this was in I could sew this side seam together and all that was left was the hem.
Zip once fitted

Zip while being worn - barely visible

       As this was such a lightweight fabric I decided on a simple roll hem with a straight stitch and voila, all done. As you can see it’s not exactly going to set the world of couture on fire, but it is very wearable, comfortable, and it has survived several spins in the washing machine, which is very important. As with all my pattern pieces I’ve kept this one in my file ready to use again. It was very simple, although next time I might try it with a bias binding on the neck and arms rather than the fiddly facing.
Simple and comfortable finished dress

Side seam

I love this pattern!

The very simple roll hem

All blog content and photos are Copyright of Charisse Sayers Proofreader & Copywriter www.charisse-sayers.com I welcome all feedback and would love to know your thoughts so please get in touch, comment, share, like and generally get involved!

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