Thursday, March 3, 2016
Okay, so technically it's Tunic B from Simplicity Pattern 1620, but I can never remember that. I finally was able to connect the dots (using my former American history teacher brain) that the Pilgrims sailed to America on the Mayflower in 1620, and from then on, this top has always been the Mayflower Tunic for me.
I've said before that I rarely make the same project twice, but I've found that, when it comes to clothes, you really have to make an item at least twice to get it the way you want it. This is my fourth time making this pattern, and I feel like I've finally figured out what works for me. Here's what I learned:
1. Use the right fabric. In my experience, nothing works like rayon. It hangs, feels, and looks like a store bought garment -- in the best sense, I mean. I made my first two tops using quilting cotton, but it just doesn't quite work for clothing. My last two tunics were made with Cotton + Steel rayon, and it's phenomenal. I'm sold for life.
2. Better to go big than go small. I'm such a novice when it comes to clothes making, but I can tell you one thing: it's a lot easier to fix a garment that's too big than one that's too small. If you're not sure about measurements, go big. You can always take it in later if the fit isn't right. Being both tall and plus sized, it took me a lot of experimentation to get the right width and length for this garment, but when I finally hit the right numbers, I was in love with the outcome.
3. Finished seams wear best. Seeing the ragged state of my seams after earlier garments went through the wash, pushed me to do French seams on this last tunic (do an online search if you don't know what these are). Wow, does it make a difference. This top is going to stand up to washing much better than the others did.
4. Get help. If you're new to clothes making, as I certainly am, sometimes you need a little more guidance when it comes to some techniques. There's a ton of free information at your fingertips online, even video tutorials that show you exactly what to do. Don't hesitate to take advice when you need it.
5. Give yourself grace. Every time I look at this top, I notice that the front print is just slightly off center, which both drives me crazy and reminds me to chill out. Do my skills have room for improvement? Sure. Is this garment wearable in public? Absolutely. Stop beating yourself up where you fall short and be thrilled that you're getting better every time you try again.
I have to do a quick shout-out to my friend Kim who makes these darling magnetic pin bowls and sells them here on Etsy. This bowl was such a fabulous tool to have on hand while I was pinning and cutting fabric!
For years I was terrified to attempt clothes, but I've been inching out of my comfort zone one step at a time. I'm planning to add a new tunic to my wardrobe at least once a month this year, and it's making me -- and my closet -- very happy.