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Custom Tunic

Convert a shirt pattern into a contemporary cowl top.
Threads #201, Feb./March 2019

In my custom-clothing business, I design and produce garments that are classic in style but modern in detail, fabricated in luxurious textiles. Pieces like these can be expensive, but they’re worth the price. Their versatility makes them good-looking staples for any wardrobe.

A perennial favorite garment from my collections is a cowl-neck tunic, which I sew in top-quality white fabrics. It’s a sophisticated update to the traditional white blouse, and it works with skirts, pants, and even under easy-fitting jackets and sweaters. In white, the tunic has a minimalist appeal. Try it in a patterned or colored fabric for a different effect.

You can adapt a basic shirt pattern to make your own version of this tunic. Choose a pattern with some ease and a relatively flat sleeve cap. Avoid princess seams, and opt for side bust darts or no darts at all.

The version shown features a bias-cut collar that drapes beautifully. I add a faced side vent, a deep front pleat that’s topstitched at bust level and released below, and a back yoke and center-back tucks. These provide design interest and ease. They can be modified as desired. The long, straight sleeve can be adapted, too, to include a cuff, or to flare or taper according to your taste.

When you sew the tunic, take your time. Careful stitching and finishing ensure a long-wearing piece that you’ll turn to often. This stylish, polished top will elevate any casual or work ensemble.

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