Sunday, January 02, 2005

T-Tunics for Dummies

Things needed: Fabric 2-3 yards of natural material, fabric tape or string, something to mark the fabric: chalk, pins, or other, scissors to cut the fabric, and a means of sewing: either needle and thread or a sewing machine with thread. Optional: a straight stick, and something to write the measurements down upon and with.

Determine how long you want your tunic by dropping the string or tape measure from the shoulder. Tunics usually fall between mid thigh and ground length, depending on gender, place and time. The “average” tunic is just above the knee.

Add an inch to that measurement. Now fold the fabric into quarters, and make sure the folded fabric is at least that length. Cut off the excess. Lay fabric flat.

Measure the chest at its widest point. If you used string, fold it into fourths and add an inch. If you used a tape measure divide by 4 and add an inch. Lay on the fabric, perpendicular to the length fold, and mark this.

If you have a stick, put it under your arm. Use the string to measure from one side of where the stick pokes out to the other side. Fold that in half (or divide by two) and add two inches. This is your arm measurement.

If you don’t have a stick, measure your arm at its widest point. Fold that in half (or divide by two) and add two inches. This is your arm measurement.

Lay the arm measurement perpendicular to the width fold. Mark this. Look at your two marks, and figure out where they can meet. This will be your armpit. You will also want to mark the chest measurement about a handspan (8” or so) down, and this will help define a waist for you. From the waist point, you can mark a line to the four loose corners of the fabric. From the armpit, you can mark a line either straight out along the width, or angled down to the four loose corners- depending on if you want angel wings. Note: angel wings should have extra sleeves underneath.

Go ahead and cut along the line you marked.

For a neckline: measure down the length three inches, and across the width by four inches. Cut off this triangle. You may make it curved.

Unfold the fabric and try it on. If you can’t get it on your head, cut a slit on one of the lengths. A partner should be able to reach under your arms and hold the fabric together where it will meet. Take it off.

Fold it so the sides that need to be sewn together can be sewn – in half along the width. Sew ¼ to 3/8” away from the edge on both sides. Then turn inside out. Sew ½ to 5/8” away from the edge, tucking in all the loose ends. This is called a French Seam, and will prevent your tunic from unraveling.

The hem is next. Pick a 6” or so section. Fold the fabric close to ½” and then fold it again, so it looks rolled. All raw fabric edge should be completely enclosed. Sew as close to the last fold as possible. Keep rolling the fabric as you sew, until the hem is completely sewn. The tricky bits are when you encounter another seam. These will need to be folded in to the hem to cover all raw edges.

For the neckline: when I am machine sewing, I pick a decorative stretch stitch and just fold over the top once and sew. Sometimes this decorative stitch is enough decoration to where trim isn’t needed. When I hand sew it, I roll like the hem, only very tiny- about 1/8” to ¼” instead of the ½” of the hem. It is easier to whipstitch like a button hole.

It isn’t necessary to finish the edges of the sleeves, but they look better with trim or matching decorative stretch stitch or even a smaller trolled hem.

To make a second t-tunic, fold the fabric in quarters and lay flat. Fold an already finished tunic in half lengthwise and lay on top of the folded fabric. Then mark the cutting line an inch in from the edge of the finished tunic.

Note: These were simple instructions for a class handout. I do not mind redistribution of this article provided I get credit. Also, this article is not claiming to make T-Tunics in a period fashion- just quickly and easily in a way most people can manage.

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