Hey Snugbugs! Look! Look! I made something! For myself! We even took pictures. NON-DRESSFORM pictures! Can you believe it?
Last weekend I found myself a little overwhelmed with B&B events, planning, client work and my very-long to-do list. Jeff, the understanding, loving husband he is, suggested I take a ‘break’ and make something all for myself.
I jumped at the chance… I’ve been wanting to stock up a bit on my winter wardrobe. Lately I’ve been favoriting shorter ‘overdresses’ over longer slips — a silhouette that works well with a girl’s best winter friends — leggings and boots!
My first stop was my thrift shop finds and fabric stash to see what I had. I wanted to finish in a day, which meant that using a thrift shop dress and upcycling for the slip was pretty much a necessity. I had a nice sage shapless tank dress in a flowy rayon that fit the bill. For the overdress, I found a 3.5 yard piece of a nice, heavy linen that went well. Perfect!
Next up was pattern selection. I flipped through what I had on hand, but nothing was quite right for the weight of the linen. Since I usually like Tina Given’s patterns AND they often feature linen (and unfinished edges!) I thought I might find something there. I really prefer the overdress to be button front from neckline to hem, but again… I wanted to finish in a day. Based on historical evidence, a full length button placket adds two to three months to my my finishing time.
Pullover it was.
I turned to Pinterest to see if I could find photos of finished Tina Givens projects — I don’t find the pattern photos that she provides overly helpful for some reason. I found myself very attracted to this finished picture… probably because it’s toile #ihearttoile.
This version is actually just the TOP of the Jane Tunic and when I started my project, my intention was to do the same thing, but, for reasons we’ll get to very shortly, I ended up with a full dress. Errrrr… tunic.
The Jane Tunic from Tina Givens
Here’s the pattern photo of the Jane Tunic from Tina Givens. For those of you new to her, she’s a textile designer who makes some pretty fun and funky high end quilting fabric. She also has a couture line (or had, I can’t remember if she’s still doing that) and a pattern line which features many patterns of pieces in her RTW couture line.
I like the layered, romantic style of the patterns, although they tend to be a bit more, um, roomy, than I really prefer and the actual patterns are not for beginning sewists. They’re written in a sort of a charming stream-of-consciousness style that is more of a guide, less of a pattern. In general, the sizing seems to be a bit funky too – while some elements of the patterns are giant (i.e. the skirt for the Jane Tunic,) I’ve had trouble with other patterns where the sizing ran a bit small — arms and bloomers in particular. In general, though, they make a nice guide and I prefer to start with a guideline versus drafting myself!
I made the largest size to make sure the arms would fit well. This particular tunic is cut all as one by folding the fabric into quarters and cutting with the pattern piece aligned so that the top of the arms are on the fold. Once cut, then you cut the neckline from the middle of the fabric — first by cutting the back neckline, then refolding and cutting the front neckline deeper. This leaves only the side seams that need sewing up. There are two front neckline options — one much deeper than the other, which is what I used and what I assume the style on the pattern photo on her website used, although my neckline and that one look very different!
For the skirt section, you are just instructed to cut two 22″ sections from the fabric, one for the front, one for the back, giving you a skirt that’s 22″ long and as wide as double the width of your fabric. If using garment-sized yardage, this gives you a very, very, very voluminous skirt. There’s also a bit of a quirk, again common to her patterns, where the top is cut quite wide, which, when draping on an actual body creates a strange, sort of pointy shape right at the hips. Once I put together the whole garment, it was way too large and I didn’t love having ‘horns’ on my hips, so I brought back to the cutting table and trimmed off about 5″ from each side using my french curve.
A note on the bust!
There is no bust shaping with this pattern, but as any of you with a larger bustline knows… larger bust = more length and width required. I’m assuming Tina Givens uses a B cup as her basis and as a result, this pattern is almost too short in the bust area for me! I hate when seams hit on the bust rather than underneath. If I make again, I’ll probably add an inch or two to the bottom of the bodice. Originally, I’d thought I’d make just the top, similar to the toile version I found so inspiring on Pinterest. Once I had cut and basted together for fit, the bodice was so short, I thought it would be better to include the full skirt for balance.
I used my ruffler foot set to 6 (one tuck every six stitches) for the collar, skirt and to gather the top of the pocket. The hem and collar are finished with a zig zag and left unhemmed. I washed when completely constructed and trimmed off all the hanging strings.
The sleeves, top of pocket and neckline are finished with binding. The binding pattern pieces for the sleeves were too short by nearly 50% (see also tiny sleeve pattern pieces mentioned above) but it was easy to fix. The pattern called for serious sleeve gathering into the binding strip. I just cut a longer binding strip and didn’t gather. For the neckline, I attached the binding on the outside, turned in, pressed the hell out of it and stitched down under the collar with my machine. For the few inches of neckline not covered by the collar, I tacked down the binding strip with a hand stitching. On the pocket I attached the binding to the inside and turned out, pressed, and finished with three lines of wavy topstitching. I attached the pocket using a zig-zag on the edge to mimic the zig zag on the skirt and collar hem.
In general, I like the finished garment. I wish I had made a 2nd pocket, because I keep trying to stick my right hand in a pocket that doesn’t exist! It’s still a bit bigger and swoopy than I’m used to.
The Upcycled Thrifted Slip
To finish up the outfit, I did a bit of primping to a boring, shapeless tank dress I had in my stash. This is made from the kind of rayon that one can iron and iron and never really get smooth. It’s lacking in any shape — I don’t even think it has darts! It has strangely giant armholes that dip below my braline (hotttttt….. baby) goes all the way down to my ankles (ladies, I’m 5’9″ tall. that’s LONG) and has some fetching side slits.
So basically, before altering, I looked like a crinkled, lumpy sea creature while wearing it. With inappropriately exposed undergarments.
Clearly, this will never make for a good standalone garment, but with a bit of pinching and stitching, I got the hemline to a decent length and a big more fun.
I made the adjustments while wearing the slip and Jane tunic, as it’s hard for me to gauge hem length when I try to do something like this on the dress form!
I put on the slip and Jane Tunic and started grabbing and folding up bits of the skirt. I did two ‘folds’ on the front and two on the back. I gathered three 2-inch folds of fabric accordian-style and pinned into place, making sure the original hem was pointing toward my body. This shortened the dress by about six inches. Once I had those sections folded up, it looked pretty good, but the four points on the side were flapping around a bit strangely, so I folded those points to the inside of the dress and pinned into place — this gives the side a sort of scalloped look because of the slits that had already been cut into the dress. I slipped out of the slip (hahah) and then secured all the folds with a few inches of zigzagging back and forth where I had placed the pins.
Voila! A quick and easy slip for layering for $4.50 and a bit of thread!
Total Fabric used… about three yards of linen, some thread and the slip.
Total cost… $18 for the linen, $4.50 for the slip and $12.95 for the pattern, $1.00 thread. Total $36.45
Total time… I was running my hours timer that I use on client work and spent just under nine hours on the project. There was, of course, lots of time taken for lolligagging, snacking and coffee refills that was part of the nine hours!
Pattern rating…3 of 5… like I said, Tina Givens has fun designs, but her patterns are difficult to work with. Plus, her website is the absolute WORST, so that costs half a star off the top!
Curvy girl rating…3 of 5… this is totally personal and subjective! I love the layered, free, prairie look… but this pattern is a bit too roomy for my taste, plus the whole issue with the teeny arms! Also, as I said the bodice almost too short for a larger bust!
Liklihood to make again… pretty high, with a few adjustments. It’s a fun, easy pattern. A little smaller across, a bit longer in the bodice… maybe I’ll even try with a full length button placket next time!!
Other random facts… totally awesome laceup boots from Torrid. Looks like they are gone now, but there’s a pretty decent pair of black combat boots, although with superflous straps. Cashmere sleeves are literally cashmere sleeves cut off a cashmere sweater – it was COLD out during the photo shoot. And hair-do the result of my ongoing #hairgoal of Winnie Sandersoning it up #hocuspocus