Friday, March 23, 2012

Two tunics, on the cheap

I was inspired by this post on to use an old bed sheet as fabric for making clothes. Sadly, it probably wouldn’t even have occurred to me if I hadn’t seen it done before, despite all the online tutorials for toddler dresses made from pillowcases. I didn’t have any old bed sheets lying around (and if I’d had any and had been willing to part with them, I might I have been so sick of them that I would have refused to actually wear them!), but I found a nice purple flat sheet at the Salvation Army for $2.99. It’s good quality fabric, much cheaper than if I bought it by the yard at a fabric store, and was only a little ripped at the seams on top and had a small tear in the bottom; the rip was easy to fix, and the tear was easy to avoid. It was a single twin sheet, not even a set, and I got two tops out of it.

The first was a Simplicity pattern for a top with a gathered front and small cap sleeves gathered with elastic. I adapted it so that I could use the top band of the sheet as the belt on the top, keeping the shiny ribbon detail from the sheet to embellish the belt. I’m more or less pleased with the result. I like the look of the top, and really what I dislike about it isn’t visible from the outside. You see, the pattern did call for nicely finished seams around the neck and sleeves thanks to the use of bias tape (this is the trick that I reused for my pyjama), but it left other seams looking entirely horrible, mainly the one under the bust (plus a bit of the neckline that just didn’t line up and from which a piece of elastic is visible on one side). I realize that no one but me will see it, and even then, not most of the time, but I feel so much better about the clothes I make when they look properly finished! Anyway, now that summer has started here (well, officially it’s spring, but I’m Canadian, so this is getting warm), I’m sure I’ll have plenty of occasions to wear it.

I used up the leftover fabric to make a simple cotton tunic, from a free tutorial found on A Beautiful Mess. It’s a bit of a paradox, though, because I’ve come to realize that patterns that sound really easy because the directions are vague and super simple often end up being more of a hassle to make. Sure, you don’t have to cut your fabric as precisely as a pattern, and you’ve got more room for error, but that also means that it’s much harder to get a proper fit! I had to try on this top several times and do a lot of adjusting before I was happy with it (whereas a pattern in my size would have been much faster to assemble correctly right away). That being said, the measurements were generous enough that it allowed me to use up the rectangle of fabric that I had left, and once I use a belt to cinch the waist of the tunic, it looks pretty good.

Total cost of both projects together: $2.99 for the fabric, $2.79 for the thread, $0.99 for the Simplicity pattern and maybe $0.25 worth of ¼-inch elastic, for a grand total of just over $7.00 plus taxes. For two tops! I’m now keeping an eye open for old sheets at discount stores.

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