Thursday, November 6, 2014

The envelope tunic - a tutorial

As you know now, after my husband died three years ago I took a big long break from sewing and blogging. So long, in fact, that I didn't realize people were still leaving comments on posts and asking questions!

The kind folks at Pattern Review emailed me during this time and asked if they could share my series of posts on how to construct a swimsuit? I said yes, but I wasn't sure I would be able to help much if anyone had questions as I had temporarily forgotten how to sew. They posted them anyway, and I hope they've been helpful to fellow sewers.

Anyway, one of the post comments I got in the midst of all that was a request to show how I made this envelope neckline in a tutorial. Better late than never!

The Envelope Tunic
After twisting my brain into knots to construct jeans without a pattern, I wanted to make something easy and wearable. I pulled out this striped sweater knit I think I bought on the Red Tag table at Joann's and decided a loose tunic was in order. I matched it up with a grey slub knit from for the neckband.

I recommend choosing two fabrics that match in their stretchiness, otherwise you may have to fight one or the other. Both of my fabrics are quite stretchy, as were the two I used in my first version lo those many years ago. I'm happy to report I finally sat back at my "new" Babylock coverstitch machine (purchased three years ago when the boys and I moved into this house and then promptly abandoned) to hem this top and it was so lovely I think I may start using it more. But I digress..
The Envelope Tunic - Supplies and Construction Instructions
  • 2 yards of stripe knit (main body fabric). For my sample, I only had 1.75 yards, so I turned the sleeve sideways, hence the stripe running vertically instead of horizontally. I kind of like it.
  • 6" of contrasting neckband fabric at least 32" wide
  • 8 buttons, mine are quite large but you can play around with sizes and colors
  • A serger. OK, maybe that's not exactly a must but with the fabric I used, I simply can't imagine keeping this thing together on a regular sewing machine unless I used wooly nylon, and my Bernina hates that stuff. If you've sewn stretchy jersey on your machine with no problems, then you could do this top on a regular machine.
Make your own pattern pieces with large crafting paper or freezer paper (or literally cut as you measure, like I did). The dimensions are shown in these photos for my sample, a size Large.

Front pattern piece. See my note below, you may want to cut the neckline 5-6" deep instead of 4".
Back pattern piece, total length is 27" unless you want the back a bit longer than the front, then cut it longer.
Sleeve pattern
After all your pieces are cut, fold the two neckband sections in half, wrong sides together and press with a warm iron.

Neckband sections
With right sides together, pin neckband to front section and then back section.

Serge or stitch the neckband to the front, then repeat this step again for the back. You will have two pieces that look like this:

*Now this is where I pinned the front and back together, pulled it on over my head and checked to see if the neckline fit in the right spot. After wearing it today, I'm convinced the neckline in front should be a least one inch lower than my pattern states, so you may want to cut the front curve deeper after trying on.*

Lay the back over the front so that the neckband overlaps completely but doesn't lap into the body of the shirt, baste to hold in place, leaving 12" opening for pulling on.

Baste the sections together, lapping the back neckband over the front neckband.
With right sides together, attach sleeves in the flat to each side. This step essentially "closes" the envelope for good.

Right sides together, sew side seams and sleeves together.

Sew buttons onto basted neckband. I placed mine 3" apart starting at the opening and working back towards the shoulder. I also considered using mismatched buttons from my grandmother's stash but I decided against it in the end.
Mismatched buttons?
I'm very lucky to have a sewing machine that has a button attachment presser foot, so sewing on 8 buttons takes no time at all.

Hem the bottom and sleeves and wear it!
You see this stash? This is why I should not step foot into a fabric store again.
Cargo skinnies - Cabi
Cowboy boots - Frye Carson
Let me know if you have any questions about the construction or want to share your own version, I would love to see them!

Freezing cold + super strong wind = not a good day for photo shoot.

Very hard to take a selfie of your shoulder!
This top only took a couple hours from start to finish, and I had a lot of fun sifting through my grandma's old buttons. She passed away twelve years ago, and I inherited her sewing supplies and machine (a Bernina). She and I both used to share a fondness for Molnlycke thread. They've since been discontinued, apparently Coats and Clark bought the company and then closed it! Can you believe that? Probably because they had a far superior product. I still use those threads today and after all this time they are still so much better than C+C, which I try never to buy unless I'm desperate.

Metrosene and Gutermann are nice, but I'll probably pine away for Molnlycke for a long time.

Molnlycke thread and my grandma's buttons

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back to the sewing life! Thank you for the tutorial. I love that you used your inheritance on this. My grandmother was a wonderful, creative seamstress whose One True Passion was robbed from her by glaucoma. I always think of her while I sew. She's still alive but sadly, has been blind for about 20 years. On a happier note, she loves my stash, LOL, I'm always talking shop with her and getting her to touch my fabric.