Cloning Designer Garments, couture sewing, creating designer trim, Drafting Patterns, Fabric Shopping, Uncategorized

The Chanel Style Tunic

For the backyard wedding, I wanted something easy, yet elegant. When you’re the resident dress designer/maker, showing up in something not of your own creation doesn’t work! I had my hands full with the bride, mother of bride, bridesmaids, etc. but managed to crank out a tunic style dress with Coco (and Karl) in mind.

My starting point was fabric from the Haute Couture section of Mendel Goldberg Fabrics. I chose a wonderful French boucle highlighted with tiny sequins woven into the fabric. With careful planning, the dress required only one yard of fabric; here is what was left over.

Boucle scraps

I used my basic pattern block and made the following adjustments. If you start with another tunic style pattern, and want to get this look, make sure your pattern has a high, jewel neckline. If your pattern has a lower neckline, the collar might be too large and will stand away from the neck.

Basic Sloper combine darts

Close the armhole and shoulder darts, combining them into the underarm dart. Angle the new underarm dart towards the lower edge.

Final Pattern

I chose to eliminate the front fisheye darts and transfer some of the dart shaping to the side seam. The bib placket drops from just outside the neck edge to the bust line. I played with shaping the bib wider at the top and tapering slightly but that design created a problem with trim placement. Having the bib placket the same width from top to bottom allowed the trim rows to be evenly spaced. The back was used as is with fisheye darts. The shoulder dart will be eased. The skirt was pegged about 3/4 inch from low hip line to hem.

Next I drafted a collar and stand. Some drafting books suggest curving the collar stand about 1/2 inch but I find the stand will hug the back neck better if more shaping is used. I’ll increase the curvature of the stand by shaping with a steam iron.

Collar patterns Stand pattern Collar offset curve-runner.jpg

All collar pieced are cut from cardboard which will help when pressing. I’ve also cut a collar lining pattern 1/8 inch smaller to keep the undercollar out of sight. The Curve Runner makes measuring curved edges easy; very helpful when drafting collars to fit the neck.

The cardboard helps when pressing seam allowances under and ensures the collar is perfectly symmetrical. Fell stitch the under collar to upper collar.

collar-cardboard.jpg under-collar-cardboard.jpg


Pressing over cardboard also helps shape the collar stand. I used satin faced organza to line the collar, stand and as a base fabric for the bib. This organza is more opaque and stiffer than regular silk organza and is harder to shape into a smooth curve.

Collar band

Collar 1 Collar 2

Designing trims for the placket was the most fun part. I used the same satin faced organza as a base fabric and applied multiple layers of ribbons and braids. Most were sewn on by hand to maintain a soft, couture feel.

Designing front placket Front trim

I had some leftover tweed from Linton. I save my scraps of tweeds and boucles as there is often wonderful trim hiding in the fabric. Linton fabrics are woven with continuous strands so un-weaving produces a long continuous length of trim. I also used the fringed selvedges from the French boucle.  Also found great buttons!!!

Linton tweed Front buttonholes

Hem trim Hem 1

I had just enough scraps to cut bias strips for a hem fringe. Two layers of cotton batting padded the center. A blunt tapestry needle helps to un-weave the edges.

Finished tunic

Finished! Here’s a glimpse of the inside. Silk crepe de chine fell stitched to armseyes and placket. Side zip makes it easy to get into.

Inside view Side zip

Chanel Tunic full length

Next post will detail the design and construction of the bride’s outfit.




37 thoughts on “The Chanel Style Tunic”

  1. This is beautiful, Mary! I love everything about it (those buttons!), and the hem fringe is genius. The dress would not the same without it. I am so looking forward to hearing about the bride’s dress.

    1. Thank you Karen. The buttons were definitely a great find and perfect. The hem was a solution to no fabric to turn up a traditional hem but it worked great.

  2. Mary, Everything about this outfit is perfection. I so enjoy all the details that you share with us and as I am soon to relocate and will be living just about an hours drive from Linton, I am already daydreaming about my first sewing project, once the sewing room is set up!

    I love your attention to the tiniest of details and making something truly Couture.

    Looking forward to the next instalment.

    1. How lucky to live that close to Linton. I was there right after the flood that destroyed the shop but have seen photos of the newly rebuilt store. You will have such fun! I’m sure they have so many more selections when you shop in person rather than on the website. Thanks for commenting.

  3. My goodness, that’s just gorgeous. I love reading about your couture creations. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise.

  4. What a beautiful dress, I love how it turned out. The tip about finding trim hiding in boucle scraps is great!

    1. I think finding trim is the most difficult part. Most of what’s available is way too stiff and bulky. Having had my hands on several couture garments, I’m impressed by the lightness and softness of the trims. Making my own solves the problem. Thanks for reading.

  5. First of all, another fantastic blog full of construction techniques that cannot be found anywhere else, the result being another beautiful garment. I hate to get all construction geeky, but I noticed the perfect buttonholes on the placket, can you explain your process for getting such a tight and pucker-free buttonhole?

    1. Thanks John. This blog is meant to be construction geeky and I’m always happy to answer questions. The buttonholes needed to be perfect and I’m always afraid of my regular buttonhole foot slipping. I used embroidery software to create an evenly spaced line of buttonholes. Then hooped sturdy muslin, stitched a placement line and trimmed away the muslin underneath where the buttonholes would be stitched. Next pinned the placket in place using the placement stitches as a guide. Stitched around the placket with tack down stitches. Stitched buttonholes using very fine thread. I find using Mettler or Gütermann overlock thread produces a much neater buttonhole than regular sewing thread.

  6. I always look forward to your construction details, something new every time. Thank you for sharing in detail.

  7. I drool over your planning steps..if folks put more time into that stage, their clothes might look better. You have such great photos, step-by-step instructions and fabric selections that are the best. You give us permission to take apart fabrics to harvest cool threads…love the buttons too! It is a lovely dress that can be worn over and over, not just for weddings. Brava!

    1. I do spend loads of time on the planning stage and sometimes try out many variations until the right technique/trim comes. I love working with luxury fabrics which is motivation not to mess up.

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