PARTY TUNIC DRESS
Go for gold this party season with Portia Lawrie’s drapey tunic in luxurious satin, made using just two rectangles of fabric.
YOU WILL NEED
Medium weight drapey fabric: 112cm (44in) width x 2metres (2¼yds).
Basic sewing kit
Rio, an olive crepe-backed satin from www.fabricgodmother.co.uk
Use a 1.5cm ("⁄#in) seam allowance throughout unless otherwise stated.
Step one You will need to take your bust and hip measurements and write them down.
Step two Add 10cm (3in) to your bust measurement. Divide this number by two then add 3cm (1¼in) for a 1.5cm ("⁄#in) seam allowance on either side, then add a further 15cm (6in) to this for the draped shoulder. This will give you the width of your pattern piece. Note: If your hip measurement is substantially larger than your bust, then use your hip measurement instead of your bust measurement to establish the width. This will lead to extra shoulder width, but this will all be absorbed into extra drape, so don’t worry!
We have used 2m length of fabric to make our tunic-style frock. If you’d prefer to sew a longer dress simply buy twice the length of fabric you want your finished dress to be.
Step one Fold your fabric in half from raw edge to raw edge. Measuring across from the selvedge and along the top fold, mark this measurement on your fabric.
Step two Square down from your mark and draw a line the full length of your folded fabric. Cut along this line. You can set the excess aside to make a matching sash.
Step three Cut carefully along the folded edge. Our crepe fabric was quite difficult to press a sharp crease into, but, if you can, this will give you a cleaner cutting line.
Step four You will now have two rectangles. The width should be your measured calculation and the length will be 1m (because you folded and then cut your 2m fabric length in half).
Step one Finish all the raw edges on both fabric pieces. I overlocked mine but you could use a zigzag stitch on your standard machine. Alternatively, if you are using a non-fraying fabric like jersey, you could skip this step altogether. Step two Place the two fabric rectangles right sides (RS) together with the straight edges aligned. From the top right hand corner pin the layers together for 7.5-12.5cm (3-5in). This is the shorter shoulder. We sewed ours at 7.5cm (3in) for a sleeveless look on that side – 12.5cm (5in) will give more of a cap sleeve effect.
Step three Mark the end of your line of pins with a different colour pin, placed perpendicular to the others, as shown.
Step four From this different coloured marker pin measure 28cm (11in) and place another perpendicular pin at that point. This will be the
neckline opening and will not be sewn, so remains unpinned.
Step five Pin the remainder of the top line to the left of this pin. This will be the draped shoulder. Step six Sew along both of the shoulder lines. Reverse stitch at both the perpendicular pins you placed to reinforce the edges of the neckline opening. Press seams open and flat.
Step seven Press and pin the seam allowances into place as shown.
Step eight Topstitch the seam allowances on either side of the seams to secure. The stitching will be seen from the RS of the dress, but this will add a decorative finish.
STITCHINGTHE SIDE SEAMS
Step one Fold the whole dress in half, RS together, with the shoulder/neckline seam shifted forward slightly so it all lays flat.
Step two Mark a point 25cm (10in) down from the shoulder line for the armhole opening on each side.
Step three Pin all the way along the side seams and stitch together.
ADJUSTING THE HEM
Step one Shifting the shoulder seam forward as we did in the previous step makes the back armhole slightly longer than the front. This is technically how it should be to get the shoulder seam to sit correctly (and how the armholes of commercial patterns will be drafted). Doing this however, will have now made your front hemline longer than the back. Re-level the hem by trimming the excess.
HEMMING ONE SLEEVE
Step one Press the side seams open and flat. Continue that pressing line all the way around the armhole/sleeve opening.
Step two Topstitch the sleeve hem of the longer side only.
At this stage I decided I didn’t like the way the shorter shoulder was sitting. Shoulders slopes are usually accounted for with sloped shoulder lines on the front and back pattern pieces. But as this is a patternless project, I have come up with a patternless solution!
Step one Unpick the shoulder seam and the overlocked edge. If you are unpicking (i.e. one stitch at a time) use the sharp point of your seam ripper to get under and behind the stitches. If you intend to “rip” through the seam, face the red ball downwards and push through the stitches with the cutting blade on your ripper. Step two Hem the edges of the armhole opening by finishing the raw edges and turning them under by 1.5cm (!⁄"in) and topstitching.
Step three Overlap the front and back shoulder seams until you find an arrangement that sits smoothly across the neckline and around the armhole. Essentially this is the equivalent of adding a dart. If you find this reduces the size of the armhole too much you can go back and unpick a few stitches at the underarm to give you extra ease there if needs be.
Step four Topstitch the new shoulder in place all the way along the existing stitching line. This is the line that extends from the front neckline onto the shoulder.
Step five Next, work a second line of stitching right at the edge of the overlapped piece. Pull the thread tails through to the wrong side (WS) and secure.
Step one Try the dress on to establish the desired length then cut it 1.5cm (!⁄"in) longer than this. Step two Finish the raw edges then turn them under by 1.5cm (!⁄"in).
Step three Hem your dress either by hand or by topstitching from the RS.