From Inspiration to Garment part 4 – Starting with a block

Dear readers,

At this stage, you may rightfully ask yourself what is going on, well I could tell you that I will explain at the end of this post, but I won’t. I’ll say it right now. I’m moving back to NYC!!! Starting 1st of January, I will change jobs and will relocate in Manhattan. On the one hand, it’s a great news. On the other hand, it means that I’m swamped at work trying to close as many processes as possible, plus organizing my move, searching for an apartment etc. Don’t expect too much sewing or blogging to happen before I’m settled…

However, since I have a significant blogging backlog and I’m never post very often anyway, you may not even notice the difference! Enough about the logistics, let’s talk about sewing! For the 4th post of the serie (see part 1, part 2 and part 3), I gathered some inspiration pictures for simple tunic dresses (all found on Pinterest, as usual) :


If you want to know more about using block patterns, you can read this post of the Fashion-Incubator. Basically, it’s about iterative designs based on an initial pattern that fits well. In the home-sewing world, it’s what we call TNT (Tried and True) patterns. The benefit is that you reduce alterations and depending on cases, can skip the toile stage. I really liked the upper body fit of my chambray dress so I started working on this version almost right afterwards (yes it was a while ago).

Sewing Tidbits - Chambray Tunic-1

Sewing Tidbits - Chambray Tunic-3

For the pattern I simply took the bodice pattern of my previous version and lengthen it. I used french seams for the sides and added pockets. If you wonder about in-seam pockets and french seams, you can check out this tutorial.

My other construction change was to use bias binding as facing. It would have been quick and easy if I had used the self fabric but of course I decided to make things complicated and used some of the silk crepe remnants from my slip dress. It took a little more time but I love the contrast of the cream silk and the blue/grey chambray. I used this fabric before for a pair of Colette Madeleine pajamas. I bought it at Mood NYC back in 2013 and it’s very easy to work with. I used white thread for topstitching.  I stole the pocket pattern from my white shirt.

Sewing Tidbits - Chambray Tunic-5

Sewing Tidbits - Chambray Tunic-4

These days, I try to skip bust darts to simplify the lines for a cleaner/sharper look.  I love those simple straight silhouettes on other people but when it’s time for me to wear them I find them more flattering when belted. I have to apologize about the pictures, unfortunately The Old Man has not completely mastered the focus with my new lens!!

Sewing Tidbits - Chambray Tunic-6

Overall this project has been very cheap since everything came from stash and I made my own pattern. Regarding the fit however, I’m only 75% happy. I wish I had shaped the side seam a little to take in the waist and give more ease at the hips. I did add back darts as an afterthought to remove the excess when belted. Most importantly, I should have worn my previous version of this pattern more before using it as a block. I drafted a square angle under the arm that requires to be clipped. It’s a point of weakness for this design and I had to repair it on each side for the first dress.

Sewing Tidbits - Chambray Tunic-2Sewing Tidbits - Chambray Tunic-7

I believe that it’s the fundamental difference when you draft/drape your own pattern compared to buying patterns or RTW garments. Nobody did the testing for you!! Just like when buying a car, you have to take it for a ride before you commit! Standing straight in front of the mirror or for a 10 minutes photo session in your garden won’t give you all the insights you need to assess the fit, the durability and versatility of your design. Now let’s talk about it! How many times do you make a pattern before it becomes a block/TNT ?

4 thoughts on “From Inspiration to Garment part 4 – Starting with a block

  1. Fabric Tragic November 13, 2015 / 11:43 am

    I think at least 3 times for me – not only is there the need to wear something in for a while, but to also see what difference there is with each different fabric type and weight/drape!

    • Sewing Tidbits November 13, 2015 / 11:44 am

      Your estimate sounds absolutely right to me Sarah!

  2. maryfunt November 14, 2015 / 1:40 pm

    I agree that you need to wear things for awhile before putting it into the TNT category. Good luck on your move and welcome back to NY. Colder weather but probably much easier to shop for fabrics.

    • Sewing Tidbits November 14, 2015 / 2:17 pm

      Thank you Mary! I hope I will not abuse the ease of fabric shopping after 3 years of restrictions…

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