Monday, July 29, 2013

CRAFT: High-Low Racerback Tunic

This high-low racerback tunic was featured on The Sewing Rabbit as part of our monthly contribution. Here's the full tutorial in case you missed it!

As I was browsing the fabric section of Walmart recently, I came across a small bolt of polyester knit shoved in between two others. It was pink and purple with a floral/palm tree pattern all over it. I think my exact words were, "Ew, weird," and I promptly shoved it back into the depths of the fabric shelf. After browsing some more, I couldn't get that lonely little bolt out of my head, so I pulled it back out again. On second look, I noticed that the fabric had a chevron and triangle pattern on it and my dislike turned to intrigue. Then I noticed the $1.50/yard price tag and had to have it. I quickly texted my sister-in-law and blogging counterpart, Shannon, a picture of the fabric to which she texted back, "Well, it's not terrible." I took that as a sign and snapped up the last 1 1/2 yards to make this racerback tunic - and I'm in love!

Here's what you need to make your own racerback high-low tunic just in time for summer!

SUPPLIES: 2-2 1/2 yards knit fabric (you'll want something with some stretch to it), 1/2 inch wide elastic, shirt to use as a template, disappearing ink marker, rotary cutter and mat, measuring tape, iron and ironing board, sewing machine and basic sewing supplies.

Drafting and Cutting Out Your Pattern and Pieces:


ONE: first, you'll need to make your bodice pattern. Use a pattern your already have, or draft your own by folding a shirt in half and tracing around it (make sure to add 1/2 inch for seam allowance.) Stop tracing about 4 inches under the armpit and draw a line straight across the bottom.
TWO: after I had my front bodice pattern, I modified the pattern piece to make the back bodice racerback-style, as shown in the picture above. You could also trace an existing racerback shirt for this.

THREE: to draft the bottom of my tunic, I simply matched up the edge of my front bodice piece with a piece of paper and taped it down. Then I drew an A-line from the armpit down until it reached the length I wanted (about 37 1/2 inches from shoulder to the bottom of the tunic.)
FOUR: with your fabric folded right sides together (RST) and the stretch going horizontally, place your pattern on the fold and cut with a rotary cutter to create the front of your tunic (make sure you don't cut the fold!).
FIVE: for the back, simply switch out the front bodice pattern with your back bodice pattern and tape to secure. Place pattern on fold and cut as you did for the front.
SIX: you should now have a front piece and back piece cut out.

Making Bias Tape:

Before we move on to the assembly, I want to give a quick lesson on how to make your own bias tape, which you'll use to conceal the raw edges of your fabric. You could always fold over and sew the raw edges of your fabric, but I like the finished look of using bias tape.

ONE: (see steps below that explain how to get the measurements for your bias tape.) Once you have your measurements, cut out strips of fabric on the bias (learn more about that here) 2 inches wide. You should have 3 strips of fabric: one for your neckline, and one piece for each of your arm holes.
TWO: either fold each side of your strips over to meet in the middle and iron or, if you have a bias tape maker like I do (and if not, go get one at your local hobby store!), run it through your bias tape maker and iron.
THREE: finally, fold the strip in half long ways and iron. Done!


ONE: place your  back piece on the floor with the right side (pattern side) facing up. Place your front piece face down on top and pin one of the shoulders.
TWO: sew the one pinned shoulder to join and open your tunic up.

THREE: use your tape measure to measure the length of your neckline from shoulder to shoulder, then use the instructions on how to make bias tape above to make bias tape for your neckline. Encase the raw edges of your neckline in the bias tape you just made. Pin all along the top neckline and topstitch, being sure to catch the other side of your bias tape as you sew.
FOUR: fold your tunic with the front and back facing again and match up the other shoulder of your tunic. Sew to join the other shoulder as you did above. Open your tunic back up, then measure each arm hole and cut bias tape for each. Encase the raw edges of each armhole in bias tape. Pin and sew.
FIVE: with the front and back pieces RST, match up the sides of your tunic and pin from the armholes down. Sew the sides to join and turn right side out.

Making Your Tunic High-Low:

ONE: rotate your side seams so that they are matched up in the middle of your tunic. The front of your tunic will be facing left, and the back of your tunic will be facing the right (see picture above.) Place the tunic on your rotary mat and cut from front to back in a kind of "s" shape as shown along the white guideline in the picture above.
TWO: when you unfold your tunic, it should have the high-low effect. If you need to make any adjustments to the high-low hemline, match up the side seams in the middle again and cut again until you're happy with the outcome. Hem the bottom or leave raw, up to you!

Cinch The Waistline:

You could just stop here if you like your tunic, but I wanted to add some elastic at the waist to make it more flattering.

ONE: try the tunic on and mark right above where your bellybutton is (mine was about 16 inches down from the shoulder.) Turn the tunic inside out, and use your disappearing ink marker to draw a straight line on both the front and back of your tunic to act as a guideline for your elastic.
TWO: measure your waist and subtract an inch, then cut this amount of elastic out (I have a 30-inch waist, so I cut my elastic to be 29 inches long.) Use a zig-zag stitch to join the edges together.
THREE: with your tunic inside out, pin your elastic to either side of your tunic along the guideline you drew.
FOUR: start at one side of your tunic and use a zig-zag stitch to secure the elastic to your tunic along the line you drew, stretching the elastic as you go. Hold the back of the elastic with one hand and pull the other side of the elastic with your other hand as you sew. Turn inside out, and done!

Throw on a pair of leggings and wear your new tunic proudly! In an ideal situation, I would have lined up the front and back to make the pattern continuous, but since I was barely working with 1 1/2 yards, I made do. With such a busy pattern, you don't really notice. At least that's what I tell myself :)

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  1. it's such a pretty project! I love that print & how flattering the cut is.

  2. This is awesome! Not bad for $1.50 a yard!

  3. I love this tunic! I love the fabric. This actually reminds me of a tunic that I have in my closet, but I didn't make it; I bought it from Forever21. Anyhoo, you did a wonderful job!

    Navy Wifey Peters @ Submarine Sunday Link Party

  4. What were the steps that you took to make the racer back shape and did you use a hip/french curve?


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