Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Miss Veronica Drafts on Potential: Brazos Tunic

Brazos Tunic - Liberty Carline - Idle Fancy -1

Hello there, kittens! After six weeks without blogging, thanks to various travels and a shoulder injury that made sewing hazardous, I have things to show you. Prepare for a barrage of Idle Fancy posts, in the coming weeks. My riding jacket is finished, McCall's 7357 has made a dent in my Liberty stash, and there is a gingham shirtdress half-sewn on my work table. However, first, we must talk about quests.

My family is big on quests. It's not enough to settle for the readily available thing. No, instead we tend to search and hunt and plot and strive for the platonic version of everything. As a child, this meant visiting every McDonald's until I found the Hawaiian Fun Barbie toy and scouring antique stores for blue spine Nancy Drew books with their original covers. As an adult, I've tempered this impulse a bit. It's not actually productive to require perfection in everything, after all. Who knew?

And, yet, I do find myself on the odd quest. Whether it's sewing the perfect shirtdress or finding the most hydrating lipstick, my orientation to the world leans toward persnickety and goal-oriented. This spring, that impulse turned its eye toward tunic topics. March hit and, suddenly, I required the perfect woven blouse to pair with jeans. Something loose, but with shaping. Something swingy, but not tent-like. Something, it turned out, that only existed in my mind. 

Brazos Tunic - Liberty Carline - Idle Fancy -5-2

In my brain, the ideal woven top had a list of non-negotiable attributes:
  1. Curved, split hemline. As anyone blessed with generous hips knows, woven blouses can be hell to move in. They might fit well while we're standing up, sure, but try to sit down or bend over or dance a jig! That way unsightly creases and pulling lie. A split hemline allows freedom of movement, without tent-like proportions. 
  2. Loose, but with shaping. Most tunic patterns out there are dartless rectangles, aiming to cover us in yards of flowing fabric. I love the ease of those patterns, and the look of tunics in general, but my body is easily lost in such garments. Waist shaping and bust darts allow me to recognize my shape, but keep the ease of design. 
  3. Opportunities for fabric mixing. Mixing prints and solids FTW! My ideal blouse allows for natural use of multiple fabrics, with separate yoke pieces and interesting design details. 
  4. Lower neckline. When wearing a loose top, especially, I can't stand a high neckline. Give me a peek of collarbone and cleavage to liven things up, please.
  5. Multiple cup-sizes. All the better, if this dream pattern makes allowances for larger busts. While I am quite comfortable with FBAs, I still prefer not having to fuss with a pattern for hours before actually using it. This also rules out any pattern that would require me to grade up substantially. 
Spoiler alert: this pattern doesn't actually exist. Vogue 9109, with its multiple cup sizes and swingy silhouette, is as close as it comes. I almost sprung for it, but started tallying the pattern changes in my head. The neckline needed to come down, back shaping had to be added, and opportunities for fabric matching were slim. Add in an additional FBA and why the hell was I paying Vogue prices for a simple tunic top? 

This, dear ones, is why slopers exist!

With my lackluster drawing skills, I drew up a plan. Using my oft-ignored bodice sloper, I would create my perfect woven top. Made to my specifications, it would fit beautifully and have just the right amount of swish. French curves were unearthed and inspirational questing music was turned up to 11. 

Two muslins and way too many feet of bee paper later, we have the Brazos Tunic.*

Let's take a closer look, shall we? The front of the blouse is fairly simple. I elongated my sloper to mid-hip length and swung out from the bust line to a floating, curved hem. Shaping is added through side bust darts and a subtly cinched side seam. To avoid it becoming super basic, I opted for a more interesting notched neckline.

On the back of the tunic, the waistline is nipped in by twin fish-eye darts and a yoke gives opportunities for mixing fabrics, in the future. The back hemline dips slightly lower than the front and there's a split at the side seam, where the two meet. 

*If I'm going to the trouble of drafting something, you better believe it's getting a name!

The fun thing about drafting my own pattern is that construction is also on my own terms. As someone with Opinions on everything, this suits me well. The finish out of this blouse ended up having a lot of my favorite techniques, which made the sewing process all the more fun. 

Both armscyes are enclosed with exposed bias tape, while the neckline was turned with a facing to allow more precision with that front v-neck. On the back, I top-stitched the facing in place to secure it firmly and add a bit more interest. All the major seams are also top-stitched, which is such an underutilized method of seam finishing, but one I love. Once the seam is sewn, I fold each side under, then stitch along the fold from the outside to secure them. The resulting finish is both sturdy and super clean. Thanks for the suggestion, vintage sewing books!

For this particular tunic, I used leftover Liberty of London cotton poplin in my favorite print, Carline. If I'm breaking out the roses, you know it's true pattern love. Next time, I am going to add a bit more stability to the neckline, which will allow that V to lie symmetrically on the body. It didn't register to me in real life, but I definitely notice its tendency to cave inward in pictures. 

All in all, though, I totally dig this tunic. It's simple, yes, but it's also exactly what I wanted. I'm wearing jeans fairly often, these days, and feel most comfortable when they're paired with swingy cotton blouses. The skinnies + tunic silhouette may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is absolutely mine. All the better that this particular tunic suits both my curves and my need to sew all the prints!

Quest status: victorious. 

Brazos Tunic - Liberty Carline - Idle Fancy -10

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