Make It Work: My Weekend Tunic

I was thrilled when Sabra emailed me asking to be a part of her Make It Work series. She had been collecting ugly and out of date patterns from local thrift shops, and wanted to challenge other bloggers to create something – a nice something – with them.
no bag

A couple of days later I opened my mailbox, ripped open the big white envelope, and found this gem:

The challenge? Make It Work.

First, let’s talk a bit about what I had to work with, the good and bad about the pattern:

Considering that the point of Sabra’s challenge for me was to make something good out of a pattern that was, well, not-so-good, I still managed to find some positives to work from with the pattern. With even the ugliest or out of date pattern, you can still find some positives to base your finished product on. What I liked most about this pattern when I first saw it is that there was a tunic option. I’ve decided that tunics and leggings are going to be my mainstay this spring and summer, so I was excited to see View C, with a nice long length. I also like the overall shape of the top, as it is loose and looks like it would be comfortable to wear. In a shorter blouse length, the top looks fairly shapeless and out of date, but transferred into a modern tunic, I knew I could make the shape into a positive.


Where to start?! Just kidding, I was actually surprised when I excitedly opened my envelope from Sabra – maybe I was expecting even worse :). Most importantly, the pattern was sized 18W-24W, which is too large for me. I also knew that I wanted sleeves on my finished product, but not the bell-shaped sleeves that are provided in the pattern. I didn’t like the side bust darts, and the neckline was not appealing to me either :).
Here’s What I Did:
I chose to use View C front and back pieces for my bodice. First off, I had to grade the pattern down to fit my measurements.

Without getting into too much detail (we’ll save that for a post of it’s own sometime), I took my measurements at several critical areas – hips, waist, bust, shoulder, and a few others, and, after adding ease to these measurements, used the original pattern lines to make the pattern fit my measurements.

I first plotted my waist measurement, and worked from there with the other measurements.
Once I had all the basic points plotted onto the pattern, I was able to connect the lines, following the shape of the original pattern.
To really prove that anyone can “Make It Work”, I decided that it would be fun to use a men’s dress shirt rather than using fabric off the bolt. I found this Men’s Gap shirt at DI:
Before I could cut the pattern out of the shirt, I had to take the shirt apart into the pieces I needed. I cut the sleeves off at the shoulder seams and then cut up each side seam of each sleeve:

And cut each side seam apart…

Leaving just the shoulder seams in tact.
At that point the shirt sections were free to lay flat and be cut with my pattern pieces, beginning with the front.
I aligned the center front of the front pattern piece with the buttons (the middle edge of the shirt will cross over the center of the body when buttoned up). I also aligned the shoulder seams – I didn’t leave room for seam allowance on my drafted piece at the shoulder, so I matched the shoulder seam of the shirt with the pattern shoulder.
I cut out that side of the shirt (only up the side seam and arm opening, leaving the shoulder and neck area in tact) and used the same method to cut out the opposite front side. Since the back of the shirt was still one piece, the only changes I made were to fold it in half, matching side edges, prior to pinning the pattern piece, and placing the center back along the fold. I matched the shoulder seams the same way.
I decided I wanted to add some femininity to the sleeves since the shirt fabric itself was quite masculine. I used sleeves from this pattern, but this time I didn’t alter them at all, since I was not using a knit and didn’t have the room to stretch :). If you’re swapping sleeves from one pattern to another, it’s important that the arm opening is similar in both patterns, or you may need to adjust it. The sleeve pattern I used had small gathers in it, which also helps to be forgiving :). I used the sleeves I had taken apart to cut out my new sleeves.
At this point, all the major work had been done, and I was excited to get to put the shirt back together!
I stitched and serged each side seam.

Next, I assembled each sleeve and stitch them right sides together to the arm openings.

It was nice to see it looking like a shirt again ;)… Or a new tunic, to be correct!
I used my seam ripper to remove the pocket.

And the tunic itself was done (I do iron my clothing once in a while, just not before I took this photo…)!

I decided the tunic needed a little something extra to keep things girly, so I made a simple fabric brooch and pinned it on.
I am happy to say that I did Make It Work!
I love that I can wear the tunic loose and casual…
Or I can add a wide belt…
I can even chase a would-be camera thief, if the need arises :).
Thank you, Sabra, for asking me to be a part of this challenge! It was so much fun, and if I can do it, so can you! As part of the series, there’s a contest with fantastic prizes, so hop on over and enter!

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  1. I can’t get over how amazing this is. And it looks amazing on you! Thanks again for playing. You’re going to be a tough act to follow!

  2. Wow!! What a great result. Now I’m sorry I didn’t keep my patterns from the 80’s and 90’s. I usually walk past old patterns in thrift shops. Think I’ll stop for a look from now on. : )

  3. I really liked how it turned out! Excellent job! When I saw the pattern, I laughed out loud! I think my mom used it to make me MC Hammer pants one year for Halloween!!

  4. Ha ha! I loved that last picture. You must use a timer for your pics. Great job!! You really are talented. I love it! P.S. I think you need to do a tutorial on how you do your hair ;) It always looks so fabulous!

  5. Marzy – I don’t usually use a timer, but I learned that if I use a tripod and let Wyatt push the button for me, it keeps his hands out of trouble (ie. pushing the tripod over, etc.). I think he was getting a little too confident with his skills at the moment :).

  6. That is awesome, Abby! It looks great on you! I really love the green gingham too. Thanks for linking up with my little party! :)

  7. This is awesome! I love how thorough you are in your descriptions–you’re a great teacher and I look forward to getting some patterns and changing them for myself!

  8. Umm that is awesome!! i recently took a beginner’s sewing class.. and once i have time i’m going this this one out.

  9. Wow! That looks great Abby! I really like the green checks and the brooch! Very,very cute!


  10. That’s such a cool challenge. I’ll have to check out more posts from the series. I expected a much worse pattern too but you did a great job :)

  11. I have a pile of shirts mostly from relatives that figure I can use them to make little boys clothes. There are 2 or 3 I set aside because I love the fabric or pattern but I had no idea what to do with them. Yay! This is perfect and your directions make it super simple. Thanks so much. I am so tired of tshirts, it will be nice to have a few nice tunics to wear.

  12. That’s lovely tunic!
    I have used mens´ shirts for making skirts and dresses. Maybe I should make a tunic too. :)

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