Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Schoolhouse Tunic Makeover!

We all love the Schoolhouse Tunic from Sew Liberated. It's pretty easy to sew, it lends itself to many different types of fabric, Sew Liberated was one of the first indie pattern companies, and it's EASY TO ALTER! This tutorial is great if you have already taken our Schoolhouse Tunic class or if you are sewing at the intermediate level.

I personally need a little bit of shaping at the waist, even if it's a garment that I want to pull on over my head. So I added waist darts to my first try... and quickly realized that I wanted to close up the front so I didn't have to wear a camisole all the time.

Here's an EASY method for closing up the front of your Schoolhouse - you can add waist darts or not - if you do, make sure it still goes over your head easily by sewing a muslin first from your altered bodice pattern!

You'll need a pencil, your clear ruler and your pattern - just cut around the front bodice pieces and the placket to separate them, don't cut your size out yet. If you are working from a pattern that has already been cut, you may need to add a bit of tissue to the bottom edge if you are adding a waist dart.

First, draw in the seam allowance (5/8") on the center front of the bodice AND the placket. Then, decide how deep you'd like your vee to go by holding the pattern piece up to you - I chose 4 1/2". Make a mark that amount down from the neckline curve for whichever size you are making (middle arrow). Then, decide how wide you'd like your vee. I marked 3/8" in from my pencil mark which will double to make a vee that is 3/4" wide because this will be cut on the fold. I wouldn't go much past 5/8" on either side (1 1/4" wide) because you'd start to lose the pointy-ness. 

If you would like to add a waist dart, first locate your bust point by holding the pattern up to your body. Mark a bullseye! Then, draw a line from the bust point to the waist seam that is parallel to your grainline (this balances the dart, so it doesn't pull weirdly in one direction or the other). Mark 1" down from the bust point - this will be the apex of your dart. For the legs, mark anywhere from 1/4" - 3/8"  (1/4" for a smaller bust up to 3/8" for a larger) on either side of your center line and create your dart by drawing in the legs.

Fold the legs of the dart together like it would be if sewn (I like my darts pressed towards the side seam) and smooth out the bottom edge. If you don't have a curved ruler, you can use any curved object (plate, yogurt container lid, coffee can...) to smooth it out.

While still folded, poke through all layers to create your dart extension, then draw it in with your pencil:

To cut your pattern, highlight your size and cut all around, cutting on your new dart extension and along your pencil line at the center front of the bodice AND the placket (this is important!). If you think you'd still like to make your tunic someday with the front separated, you can just fold these edges in for now. Place both the front bodice and the placket on the fold to pin & cut. MARK arrows with chalk on the wrong sides of both pieces and draw in your vee with your ruler and chalk.

Pin the placket to the bodice, right sides together, matching shoulders, neckline curve and pinning along your vee to match the bodice and placket lines. You can also mark your pivot points on the top of your vee - 5/8" down from the top edge of the fabric.

Starting at the shoulder, sew the neckline curve and pivot when you get to the first mark for your vee. Sew down the leg to the apex, TAKE ONE STITCH ACROSS THE APEX, then sew up the other leg, pivot and sew up the other side of the neckline. DO NOT sew up the shoulder seams!

Cut from the neckline right down to the apex, taking care not to cut your thread. Trim the corners, then GRADE and CLIP the neckline curve. 

Turn the placket around to the inside, use a point turner to poke out the corners on the top of the vee, finger press the apex and around the neckline curve, then press everything flat with your iron!

I also decided to narrow the placket a bit, and I finished the edges with an overcast 3-step zig-zag. The blue sharpie line shows where I cut it:

All of the above steps replaces step 2 in your instructions. The rest of the construction is the same as in the instructions, except for the part in step 5a where she has you stitching the placket edges right to the bodice. You can do this if you like, but it's not necessary!

CUTE! ------->

If you need to do a bust adjustment, like Haley, it's pretty easy to see by the flap of fabric on the side of the bodice. Click here for our full bust adjustment tutorial!

To get the look pictured to the right, I made the above changes, cut a size larger for the skirt, and gathered the front & back instead of pleating the skirt like in the original instructions. 

I have made a few summer Schoolhouse tunics with short sleeves, but now it's time to make some winter ones with the original long sleeves. Here's my first fabric pick - a brand new Kayo Horaguchi double gauze border print!


kathena said...

That Kayo Horaguchi preint is amazing! Where can you buy it?

Unknown said...

Hi Kathena! We have it in the shop, and it was just put up on our website - check our 'new fabric' section here:

I really love this fabric too - I cut my tunic tonight and am going to sew it tomorrow!