Leaves and Lace

Gentle afternoon light... but maybe not the best photos... I apologize for not having a decent photo of myself wearing this creation I've sewn recently. This tunic top was meant to be a new little lovely to wear to Mass for Easter, but it was too cold to wear this--even with a long-sleeved top under it. But happy to say I've worn it a few times now... still with a top underneath. And this tunic top needs a top worn underneath no matter the season! For in truth, this top does not fit me perfectly, and is a bit too big around the neckline and sleeves--so a top underneath helps. This tunic really ended up being a somewhat-wearable muslin.

This tunic is largely based on the popular Dottie Angel Frock/Dress pattern created by Tif Fussell--crafter/textile designer of Dottie Angel fame (A great podcast of Tif can be found at Woolful--a podcast/blog for fiberfolk.) 

Anyway... much as I fell in love with the sort of retro style of the Dottie Angel Frock, and itched to buy the pattern, once I had the pattern to work with, I found the pattern VERY confusing at times. Some of the construction steps and techniques just seemed strange to me. Quickly I realized that the dress option was NOT going to look good on me, and even the tunic option in the pattern was not working out well. So I did some improvising. I like the tucks on the bodice! But I don't like the ties. The "skirt" of the tunic is a bit much, and tied in the back it feels like there's too much of a swath of fabric going around me. I didn't like the bias tape method in which a lot of the seams where handled, so I changed that. I also created a facing for the neckline, which worked better for me. The "sleeves"  don't seem like sleeves to me, and really don't offer much coverage of the upper arm. With this tunic I really need to have a top under it! I want to reshape the sleeves and try this tunic again. There is potential here! I have other ideas to tweak this top too--hopefully--fit and suit me better. What I LOVE are the French seams along the sides of the tunic--love French seaming! To make this tunic took about 2 yards/meters of fabric. I can't find a link to this fabric. It is an old Moda print cotton from some years back that's been in my stash a while.

The very neutral color/print of the top almost disappears into the wallpaper--ha! Here's a close up of the delicate floral/leaf-like print in beige tones and white... and a little froth of lace for hem trim.

P.S. Next on the "chopping block" is this a piece of natural linen which I'll be using to make some new bread bags for the kitchen.


  1. Beautifully photographed and of course, even more lovely knowing you've made this. I really love the soft colors and patterns of the material and the graceful pleats and cut. wishing you a warm day.

  2. Oh Tracy, what a lovely blouse. Everything you create is just so beautiful. Oh how I wish I was thin enough to be able to wear something so pretty as this. Love and hugs dear friend. xoxo

  3. This is lovely. Too bad about the neck but I'm confident that you have the skills to modify the pattern and get it right in the long run for you. I love the tucks and that fabric is simply lovely -- looks so fresh! Can't wait to see more of your bread bags. I love mine! (Which reminds me, a partial loaf of Rick's bread is sitting in one now, waiting for me to make toast!)

  4. Your sewing is lovely! Great detail in the lace.

  5. I really like the fabric! I'm sorry it is only sort of wearable--I'm sure with some modifications, you could really love it! I would suggest raising the back neckline 2 1/2" or more (I cut mine at the height of the XL and raised it several inches besides, otherwise I get gaping in the front and it is awkward in the back--I think the back neck line was drafted sloppily) As for as better sleeve coverage, I find about 9" from neck to sleeve end is about the right amount for decent upper arm coverage. (so extend the sleeve at the shoulder seam out to 9").

    I'm also a fan of cut-on sleeves rather than kimono because you get better range of motion with your arms, and they are easier to finish than a kimono sleeve. Decide how much sleeve opening you need (I like about 9-9 1/2"), then draw a straight line down from the shoulder edge that much, then draw a short curved line to connect your "sleeve" to the bodice. Repeat for the back piece to make sure they match. When you sew up your side seams, sew one long seam from the sleeve edge to the hem, curving the seam to match the lines, and then clip the inner curves a bit to make sure the sleeve has good motion. Finish the edges of the sleeve with bias (I like non-visible bias finish, personally, but occasionally I do a visible bias finish). Easy-peasy.

    I also thought the length of the dress is shorter than my preference, so I added 1 1/2" to the total length and have been pretty happy with that. I sometimes add a bit more, but not less. (I did a couple at pattern length that are just a bit shorter than I like, but I'm wearing them anyway). :)

    I think the French seams and the extra bias on the shoulder seams is too fussy, and I only did it on the first one I made, just to follow the instructions. I do occasionally do French seams on the shoulder seams, but I always just pink my edges and iron the seams out flat on the sides. (I pink all my seams anyway, and add zig-zag stitch to the edges if it seems like it might be fray-prone, like rayon or linen).

    Hope that helps you a bit anyway! I should probably just cut and paste this comment into a proper blog post!!

  6. Juliana--thank you so much for stopping by, and for you detailed ideas on how to makes changes to the Dottie Angel Frock! This really gave me good food for thought. And, yes, I'd love to see a blog post at your place--perhaps even a tutorial, especially on your sleeve modifications! Thank you for the help! :)

  7. Hi Tracy, Somehow I missed this post! so sorry!!! I see my friend Juliana (she sews a lot!) has some great things to say. I do like the Dottie Frock pattern, though I have never sewn clothes. You are very talented!!! I am hoping to get back to sewing soon... so much delays me it seems!!! I have a hard time getting clothes to fit right as well.... and often wear things under... etc. Love to see about your bread bags! I so want to bake bread again. I was baking bread more when I was first married. I can't seem to get organized enough now to do all I wish to do, plus this Lent has been sickness central! Love your blog! do post again soon, I enjoy it so! :)

  8. Tracy, that is quite simply gorgeous! I love it and can imagine how very pretty you look in it! Oh how I wish I had your petite figure! Love and hugs! xoxo


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