I found a nice looking pattern at Sew Liberated called the Schoolhouse Tunic pattern. The front is really nice for a great layered look and the back has a nice flow to it.
Electronic patterns are a bit cheaper than traditional patterns. Living in Canada, the cost for this pattern for me was $18.57 CAD (converted from $13.95 USD @ 1.331182 ). I really wanted to make something with this kind of different neckline, so I eventually bought it.
Preparing the Pattern
After the pages and the pattern pieces were printed, I decided it was time to get some tracing paper. With the tracing paper on top, I traced out my size and put away the bulky paper pattern. I had been hesitating on the tracing paper because, well, I just thought it added another, possibly unnecessary, step to sewing. Now, I’m actually glad I finally decided to use tracing paper – it was much easier to cut out the actual fabric – perhaps because the weights held the pattern down better?
For my first Schoolhouse tunic, I used a fabric I had in my stash. It was a little heavier than called for but I like my clothes to have a bit of weight. I re-folded the selvages edges to get the most out of the material (still following the grain-line). I noticed that the fabric was really fraying a lot. I read a blog about the tunic (site is no longer active) where the sewer serged all the raw edges of the cut pattern pieces! I hadn’t heard of that before, but decided to give it a try for the bodice pieces. Incroyable! It worked really well and even helped me keep the top stitching straight.
A few weeks ago I adjusted the tension and foot pressure on my serger for a fabric I was practicing on. I haven’t been able to adjust it back to the regular serger stitch and I have big loose loops. Until I can get it tweaked back, I can’t use it much. I miss using the serger 🙁
So, as this was a test run of sorts, I was very careful with constructing the bodice. The pattern suggested some top stitching as an option and with the serged edges it wasn’t too bad. Overall, I really liked the construction of the top bodice. The bias binding across the back of the neckline gave a great finished look and I even got to do some actual hand stitching to finish off the shoulder seams.
On to the skirt. I didn’t serge as my fiddling had made the stitches even worse and I figured the bodice was the most important. Well, I could not line up the skirt – there was too much fabric even with the pleats. The fraying was getting worse and I noticed that it was coming out of the seams. I was going to have to go back and serge it after all. I put it that aside for now until the serger is ready.
Tunic # 2
I really liked the fit of the pattern though and I did have a kind of light flannel in my fabric stash too. I could get away without any serging necessary – right?
I did much the same but without the serged edges, I decided not to do all the top stitching around the collar but just the side seam. I also finished the inside shoulder seams a bit better this time. I still seemed to have so much extra material in the skirt part so I created a second pleat in the front for a total of four. Since the fabric was a kind of plaid, the extra pleat looked really nice I thought. I love the way this tunic sits in the back too.
I wore the dress length with a red shell underneath and leggings to our Thursday night dart league. It was so comfortable. I realized that the length was actually quite long and wondered if a shorter one might be nice too. The sleeves came out about 3/4 length on me which was great.
I like this pattern a lot and so on to a third try. I used a fabric with a bit of stretch, not quite a stretch fabric, but more a woven made from stretchy fibres. I’m not sure because again I raided my stash and I’m just not that good at fabric classification yet. This fabric was the lightest of all them so far and I almost added some interfacing to the bodice. Since I’m still in testing mode, I continued without it though. There really was no need to serge the edges either as it was quite stable.
For variation, I made it considerably shorter in length and made the sleeves full length. Also, I discovered the source of my “extra material” problem in the skirt. When I had traced out the the pattern piece for the back skirt, I cut the top bottom and one side only. I didn’t cut the fourth edge out. This ended up adding about 4 inches, or at least 8 inches of extra fabric from the fold.
I cut out the proper size this time and everything lined up perfectly with the front pleats falling right under the front side seams.
This time I wore a light black shell under the tunic which was also longer that the skirt. It looked really nice but pushed the boundaries of casual wear I think. I would be more comfortable with this version as an office outfit. Since I did feel a little over-dressed at our regular Saturday night poker game, I added a black and white infinity scarf with a skull pattern on it to strike fear into my opponents.
I highly recommend this pattern – a very fast and satisfying sew with good instructions and options. The fit and flow of the finished garment is flattering and I love the unique neckline. Will definitely be making more and I have to go back and finish Tunic #1 too!