After a glorious, glowing autumn to date, there’s a definite change in the air today. Leaves are flying from the tree outside and flailing into the ClothSpot window with an insistent north-easterly behind them. Our idea of a warm, lined winter wool tunic seemed a little premature just a few days ago in the face of blue skies and warm sunshine. Now we can’t wait to grab it off the mannequin and wear it.
Choosing our wool tunic pattern
Having researched and found a wealth of pattern possibilities for our ‘When is a tunic a tunic’ blog post, we had quite a dither over our pattern choice. In the end we went with Vogue Pattern 9048, opting to go with both the collar and sleeves from the perspective of style and warmth, respectively.
We also thought the lining would be a practical choice since the ClothSpot workroom can be a tad parky first thing in the morning while the stove fires up. We assumed that since it had a zipped fastening, it would have some degree of fitting, even though the design clearly wasn’t a closely-fitted one. Since we were using a wool and a lining, we didn’t want a pull-on design as we were concerned that our fabric didn’t have quite enough drape to carry off that kind of design with elegance.
We decided to go with our ‘Saltmarsh’ grey and gold wool twill fabric for the main body of our fabric. However partly to provide some contrast as well as to minimise the amount of wool that we used (can’t go using up all the stock at once…) we went for our ‘Capsule classic’ charcoal stretch suiting fabric for the collar and sleeves.
We love the drape of this British-produced, 100% wool fabric – and we’re also just a little bit in love with the green-gold yarn mixed in with the more sober grey and chestnut colours. It works with other fabrics on the basis of the individual colours as well as the overall appearance of the fabric. On the lining front, we decided that a stretch satin lining would be both comfortable to wear, but would also have just a little give in it. This, we thought, would be a good response to the stretch in the sleeves as well as the natural ease in our wool twill fabric. Once we’d seen our Dark olive stretch satin fabric with the wool, it seemed silly to consider anything else. So we didn’t.
Making our winter wool tunic
We can’t count the number of times we’ve embarked on a ClothSpot make with the intention that it’ll be quick and easy – and done in no time. Then of course real life takes over – with distractions, unpickings and the need to take time over the fiddly bits… Our wool tunic was no exception and although cutting out was a relatively quick process, the rot set in as we had to go back and cut another piece of the bottom part of the tunic having omitted to notice the ‘Cut 2‘ instruction. Hmm.
On the up side, the fabrics were all stable to lay out and cut; the spandex in the lining providing that satin with some additional body. We tend to be a little old-school here – pins and shears are our tools of choice. Although we know that weights can make things quicker, we’re not full-time makers and we like the time to think and check that comes with taking time to pin our pattern pieces. The same with marking up – it’s tailor’s tacks most of the way for us. We do like using coloured chalk paper and a tracing wheel for darts and some lines – but you should know that as with lots of more textured fabrics, the chalk doesn’t ‘take’ so well on this wool and you’ll definitely need a needle and basting thread to mark up.
It’s been a while since we sewed up a Vogue pattern. We usually assume we’re in good hands with their instructions so we tend to try and resist the temptation to follow our noses while putting one of their designs together. This was one occasion when we might have diverted without causing any difficulty. The zip instructions were a little opaque – not because the method was strange (basically, sew up the seam and place the zip on the seam line, just like you might have been taught at school) but the wording made a bit of a meal of it.
The only thing approaching a hitch came about as a result of our decision to go with both the collared neckline and sleeves. Our logical brain expected instructions with an ‘if adding a collar, do this, if not, then do that’ element to it – but no. Each of the two views (one with collar no sleeves, the other vice versa) has its own specific set of instructions and you’ll have to watch that you don’t take a step too far and sew up your sleeves (and even clip the seams – doh!) before realising that you overshot and should have skipped to the instructions for View B…
We liked the simple styling of the design – and we think it’s one which benefits from time taken to press and hand finish. As far as sizing is concerned, our measurements spanned two sizes. Ideally we’d have done a toile but there isn’t always time. Based on the fact that the waist measurement was the one that would have taken us up a size, and that this isn’t a closely-fitted design on the waist, we opted to come down a size in order to obtain a good fit on the shoulders and hips. That was the right decision as it turned out – it left just enough ease for the lining and a nice sense of movement without being swamped by what could have been an overly boxy shape.
What we liked most
The collar on our winter wool tunic is a deceptively simple design. Straight-edged, the temptation is to try and press it into a fold once fitted. Don’t! Just let it fold over and that’ll give you a lovely angled line from the centre front up along the side of the neck and down again at the back.
Furthermore, clever understitching on the outside edge means that the undercollar is pulled underneath, allowing it to sit nicely as we hope you’ll agree. It saves having to trim around the undercollar piece to achieve the same effect.
Finally, lining our tunic was definitely a good call. However lovely our wool is (and it is!) it would need a slip to allow movement against the body. The lining adds a lovely feel and enhances the drape.
What we liked least
Truth be told, we were a little disappointed that our wool tunic wasn’t just a little more fitted. We knew that there weren’t any waist darts but we’d hoped that the side seams and back seam might have incorporated just a little more shaping.
As mentioned, keep a close eye on the pattern instructions – you might want to scribble a reminder to yourself if you’re combining collar and sleeves as we were.
Finally we were a little bamboozled with the sleeve cuff finishing. The instructions suggest understitching the lining (which is attached at the cuff after the sleeve seams are sewn). If anyone wants to let us know how we might have achieved this, and neatly to boot, then we’d be genuinely thrilled to know how. Also we think we’d have left off the top-stitching at the cuffs, and settled for a good press instead. We think the top-stitching cheapens the finish, frankly – but we’re not about to unpick it.
Fabric amounts & cost calculations
By using an alternative fabric for our sleeves and collar, we kept our costs down while still having the style and quality of 100% wool for the majority of our winter wool tunic. For a Size 14 on the Vogue sizing chart we used:
‘Saltmarsh’ grey and gold wool twill fabric – 1.5m @ £17.95pm = £26.93
‘Classic capsule’ charcoal stretch suiting fabric – 0.8m @ £8.50pm = £6.80
Dark olive stretch satin fabric – 1.9m @ £5.95pm £11.30
1 x 22″ grey dress zip – £2.20
2 x threads (1 to match collar and sleeves, 1 to match fabric & lining) @ £1.70 ea. = £3.40
(We used just a small offcut of medium-weight interfacing for the collar.)
(That’s about 30% of the cost of our original inspiration on the High Street. Just saying…)
We like tunics! And this won’t be the last wool tunic we make or wear this AW16 – we’re eyeing up a couple of others still. However we think we’re going to have a go at a less structured style, perhaps with a little more fit and drape as an alternative to this more formal design. We’ll let you know what we come up with.
Meanwhile let us know if you’ve any winter tunic plans – and don’t forget to have a flick through our Tunics board on Pinterest – it’s still growing and we’ll carry on updating it.