For the next Refashion Runway challenge - Tunic - I took inspiration from the traditional tunics of southern Asia, known as "kurtas," which are typically straight cut, loose fitting, collarless shirts that fall somewhere around knee length with slits up the sides. They can be made from a variety of materials, such as luxurious silks for formal occasions, simple cotton or linen for everyday summer wear, or sturdy wool during winter. Rummaging through my refashion closet, I pulled out this skirt and top set in a linen blend, which I brought home from a clothes swap a couple years ago because I loved the pattern and fabric.
Unfortunately, this fabric was a bit thin to be worn by itself, I thought, so I began to ponder my options for a lining. That's when the light bulb went on. REVERSIBLE! Another dive into the stash produced this cotton muumuu with convenient nursing zippers hidden under the front ruffles. This one came from Goodwill a while back for... $3?
I began by removing the belt loops, hook and eye, zipper, and waistband from the skirt. Then I meticulously picked out all the box pleats and pressed out the wrinkles. I cut open a paper bag and drafted a pattern with a slight flare to accommodate my hips, and used it to cut out my front and back panels with the skirt fabric turned sideways.
I removed the yoke from the muumuu so I could lay the body fabric flat and cut another set of front and back panels. I also salvaged the sleeves, buttons, zippers, and upper back panel from the yoke.
Using my self-drafted sleeve pattern, I trimmed the grey sleeves to have a more rounded sleeve cap. Then I disassembled the coral patterned top, removing the ribbon and button and picking out the pleats from the front center panel - the largest single piece of fabric in the shirt. After a quick press, I was able to just barely eek out two sleeves from that center panel.
I serged all the edges of all eight pattern pieces, with the exception of the neck edges. Then I began assembly with the shoulder seams - stitched and pressed!
Next, I added the sleeves by pinning the center of each sleeve at the shoulder seam, then working outward toward the underarms. Each seam then had its turn under the iron.
I wanted my tunic to have a slightly more fitted appearance than a traditional kurta, so I pinned, sewed, and pressed four bust darts, two for each fabric.
Then I stitched down the side seams about 12 inches below the underarms, leaving the rest open for the side slits. When I pressed these seams though, I went ahead and pressed the edges of the slits as well.
With each of my two shirts constructed, it was time to join them. I stuck the right-side-out grey tunic into the inside-out coral tunic and lined up the neck openings. I also lined up and pinned together the points of each bust dart to make sure everything would be centered. Then I marked out my front neck line with a center slit, and trimmed away the extra fabric.
As I sewed around the neckline, I turned 90 degrees at the front center and stitched alongside my vertical pins. I did a few stitches at 45 degree angles to turn the corner before heading back up the other side of the pins.
Then I using my tiny super-sharp scissors to open up the front slit and snip the seam allowances around the curves and corners. Once flipped right-side out, the neck edge got a good press also.
To finish off the bottom hem, I folded the serged edges to the inside and pinned the two layers together. I swapped out my spool of white thread for grey, but kept white on my bobbin.
Then I top-stitched and edge-stitched all the way around, including some reinforcement at the tops of the side slits.
The sleeves got the same treatment, and I also top-stitched (but did not edge-stitch) around the neckline.
I thought I was finished at this point, but when I tried it on, the straight horizontal bottom hem wasn't very flattering. So I decided to give it a rounded hem instead. I trimmed off a curve from the front flap, then used the off-cut to cut the same curve on the back. And I opened up my previous stitching a little to make it blend smoothly.
Again, I folded the edges to the inside, pinned it all in place, and the re-stitched by bottom hem. Much better!
I love the reversibility and the little peak of the other fabric that you get from the slightly longer back flap on the bottom.
I love that I can make a statement with the bright, boldly patterned side or keep it neutral with the grey instead.
But mostly I love the linen and cotton! It's so nice to not be dripping after a 95-degree photo shoot! Glistening, maybe, but not dripping.
Now go check out the other competitors' refashioned tunics at The Renegade Seamstress and cast your vote!