Wednesday, 14 December 2016

WIP: Sleeveless tunic with clever pockets

This is one of the unfinished objects (UFOs) that I want to include in the virtual sewalong event of the Dressmakers (LDC) group: "UFO: Alter, chuck or finish?".

When I bought YET more fabric a couple of years back, like this one that looks like brushed cotton or similar to denim, I felt that I needed to use the fabric up as quickly as possible and went with what I thought would be easy.

Use my own measurements, copy the pattern pieces off my body block and go with straight princess line seams (going straight up into the shoulder so no convex curves need pinning against concave curves). A yoke for the back to avoid needing to sew over eight layers of fabric, and a side zip.

Unfortunately this did not turn into a quick project because it's STILL not finished. Yup. Bane of my life.

I think the ideas above are not bad - they definitely make sense. It's just that I ran into some problems that I had not anticipated.

1) It is too big: the pins above show where I want to take in the princess seams so I can get at least the impression of a waist. My body block does not have much of a waist and that acts like a sack pulled over my body: it makes it appear even more dumpy than it is. Definitely needing improvement.

There  are quite a few layers of fabric, thanks to the pocket construction.  I don't feel very confident at doing a good job when I finally do take these seams in.

2) I already put the side zip in and quite well too, thanks very much, so I am really loathe to have to unpick it. Particularly as I managed to sew over the pocket layers.  Can I get away with just tightening up the princess seams or do the side seams also need cinching in?  How the heck would I then get the zip back in?

3) The pockets: I am so proud of their construction. The fabric layer that comes down from the shoulder then disapears into the pockets and becomes the inner pocket. The added piece that is the outside of the pocket will then go down to the hem.  Which means that the patterned FQ that's the pocket lining and that first fabric layer (the one running down from the shoulder) do not need to be as long as the hem. I just don't know yet how deep I want my pockets to be so I have not cut the bottom edge of both fabrics. That'll be easy.

The blue side is the right side of the fabric, the black side is the wrong side of the fabric.

4) Unfortunately I the pieces too much for the skirt part - I made these much too wide at the hem. I did not expect the fabric stiffness to turn the middle panel into the shape of a sky jump, from the bust downward: there is no dip - it looks awful. It emphasises my stomach too, horrible. This is actually the worst problem with this garment.

I have to take the flare down a lot. Unfortunately I don't know by how much and I feel anxious about messing up at this point.

5) I made a mess of the back yoke. The back neckline gapes so I just put some darts in and not at all well. I will have to unpick them. I only realised since this project that I have a rounded upper back and need small darts at the back mid shoulder point that will take the fullness out. Unless I try a dart at the centre back?  I'm not sure that this would work though.

6) I don't have a photo of the small of the back but I got that wrong too: I thought I could introduce a swayback adjustment by manipulating the shape of the middle panel of the back. And pinching a wedge out of the side panels before cutting them out. I may not have done enough of that because it hasn't worked.

I wonder if I have enough fabric left to try just the back again?  I may have to research swayback adjustments a lot more because I have the distinct feeling that I don't know enough about them yet to get them right.

So there you have it.

I put a few good ideas into this self-drafted pattern. I ran into some problems where my body block isn't good enough: namely at the waist and also regarding my swayback and my rounded upper back (my body block pattern actually has the darts drawn in - silly me decided to ignore them. Ahem).

I also ran into some problems that confounded me: how can this little bit of flare be too much?  And how do I get rid of it?

I think I would have carried on with this tunic sooner if there had been only a couple of problems. That many really put me off. The most decisive problem though is that I don't think I'll enjoy wearing this even if I do get it done.

On the other hand this tunic is a good practice piece to figure out these kinds of issues so I can use whatever I learn for future projects - I just didn't expect one single project where I get to learn quite so much!  It just all feels a bit too intense.

On the other hand and being brutally honest with myself, I might not have carried on even with just a single issue: I often grind to a halt and find it very difficult to motivate myself into picking it back up.  If I want to wear it then things are a lot easier - but if I don't feel the project, or can't visualise myself in it, then I have a huge sewing mojo problem.

Oh heck.

Trying to make up my mind about "Alter, chuck or finish?", I find myself in the "Finish" camp: I would really learn a lot and I want to see the pocket construction realised in a complete project. Even if I then give the whole thing away to a charity shop - if I don't wear it. Who knows.

I ought to decide which of the above issues I feel like tackling first - that would go a long way towards getting back into the swing of things on this project.


  1. You certainly have a lot of problems with which to wrestle. Do you have anything that fits you well with which you can compare what you have with this unfinished garment so you might get an idea of where you need to add, subtract or otherwise manipulate the cloth to get the fit that you want?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I am still quite keen to give this another go, maybe as part of our 'Finish that UFO!' sewalong. I do think that I'll learn a lot!
    Unfortunately I don't have anything similar that fits well that I could compare this to.
    I have now changed the back darts and the shoulders (lifting the inner corner by a bit for more of a swayback adjustment). The more I think about it the more I am convinced that taking in the side panel/centre piece seams will show me how well this can fit - if I get it right. I want to do at least that (Point 1 above).