Improvisational Mulberry Tunic

** Voting is now closed.  Thanks to everyone who voted for my entry.  The beautiful baptism dress from Conversas De Hermanas took out the prize for most votes.  It is truly stunning!  And this gorgeous Hanami by fellow Belgian Blogger Eva,  received the second most votes overall, and the most votes from a creation using a StraightGrain pattern.  Visit StraightGrain to read more about the other entries**

Sounds like I just did my own thing...well, in a way I did.  

You see I saw a post on Birch Fabrics, by An of the blog 'StraightGrain'.  It showed these really cool textile techniques for Improvisational Pleating.  I know...so cool!  And the method names sucked me in even more - Origami Path and Crooked Bamboo.  On the same day I checked out Willow&Co's new Wanderlust pattern line and fell in love, I just had to sew me up one this week. 

So I decided to have a go at this Improvisational Pleating and see if I could win me some lovely Flight Voile by Jay-Cyn Designs, that stuff is what dreams are made of.  I wanted some for me! And what do you know StraightGrain Blog decided to have a competition and give away three yards of the beautiful voile...Yes PLEASE!  If you like what you see below, please go and vote here for my contribution on the Straight Grain blog.  Voting is between 24-26 May.  I'd be thrilled if you did!   

If you like what you see 'click' on the above picture to go Vote for my contribution to the StraightGrain Improvisational Pleating challenge, please...I'd be so thrilled if you did!

If you like what you see 'click' on the above picture to go Vote for my contribution to the StraightGrain Improvisational Pleating challenge, please...I'd be so thrilled if you did!

So, pleating seems more of a feminine thing, more girly.  An of StraightGrain blog fame showed all three of her examples as girls clothing.   My challenge was to find a pattern that I knew my boys would love; decide which pieces of it to improvisationally (is that a word?) pleat; what method to use; choose a fabric that would show it off to its best; and be something my boys would love wearing - flashy but soft.  

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As I said earleir, around the time I was thinking about all this Willow&Co released their Wanderlust collection. Oh my, some beautiful patterns in there.  And happy days, some cool things for boys.  I chose three patterns and 'ka-chinged' them right onto my PC - pronto!  I thought about doing pants...hmm, all that effort of improvisational pleating on something that is going to be hitting the dirt regularly through play and just typical boy shenanigans...aaaah no.  I spied the Mulberry Tunic - perfect!  

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I love this tunic!  The Mulberry Tunic is a placket front shirt, but a simple one, it's actually more of a button up shirt.  A left and right front upper bodice piece that joins with a button placket, the whole piece is then attached to a lower bodice piece.   It has hood options; short or long sleeves; and an epaulette sleeve finish too.   I kept mine short sleeved, hoping Xman will get wear out of it during our mild winter, with a jacket if required, before he grows out of it.  I did um and ah about the size and I went with a three using the finished measurements as a guide, he's slim and I didn't want it to swamp him.  Yes, he will probably grow out of it quicker than I'd like, but that's the beauty of sewing - when he needs the next size I'll make it.  I should have traced down to the size 4 for the length, it is a little short for him. Next time.

I had so much fun improvisational pleating the front bodice and back yoke.  I used the Crooked Bamboo method and started off rather conservatively and then got carried away with curves and using different coloured threads.  It was fun.  I love, love, love the touches of fluorescent green thread and hood lining on this shirt.

Word of warning though, make sure you measure and read through your sewing instructions before starting.  I forgot that my placket pieces needed to be folded over.  I should have started my improvisational pleating twice as far in - the unpick and I had a lovely long chit chat the first night I started sewing.  Unpicking all those fine grey stitching lines on the grey speckled open weave linen - not fun! 

I used a beautiful open weave black/grey speckled linen for the feature pieces and chose a gorgeous soft dark grey linen for the rest of the shirt.  As I had already gone ahead and used the green thread in the Crooked Bamboo stitching lines, I decided to try and match it with my lining.  I remembered I had this gorgeous piece of rayon knit in fluorescent green.  Hmmm, knit and linen...I knew I could make it work.  I pinned it together, very carfeully, and made sure to use my walking foot and not stretch either fabric at all.  I had heaps of pins holding it all together.  I even topstitched the edge and down the middle of the hood and it all worked out well - phew, I did heave a sigh of relief.  And if IMO it looks pretty good.  In fact, I'd say it's almost my favourite part of the shirt...if that Crooked Bamboo wasn't so cool.

Sewing up the Mulberry Tunic pattern was a breeze. I love the neck bias binding finish and the way those short sleeves are finished is pretty neat too.  It has you do the buttonholes last, after piecing the tunic together, and I had this niggly feeling.  Well, I should have followed my instincts.  My sensor buttonholer did not like going over all those seams for the top and bottom buttonholes.  The unpick and I had a few chats at the couple of attempts I did.  In the end we had an even longer chat when I decided to unpick the top and bottom bodice pieces, so the placket would lie flat.  It worked perfectly and took me no time to sew it all back together.  I was so happy with myself...until I realised I put the placket back the wrong way, the buttonholes were now on the bottom!!!!  Ugh.  I had to unpick the whole thing again - it was a glass of wine that got me through that one.  I will remember my machines pernickety buttonhole nature for next time.

I love everything in this photo - the buttons, the buttonhole colours, the one button sewn on in fluro green thread and those crooked bamboo improvised pleats!  In hindsight, after taking the photos, I think I should have ironed the pleats towards the middle of the shirt instead of in the same direction all the way across.  The right side stands out so much more than the left.

I love everything in this photo - the buttons, the buttonhole colours, the one button sewn on in fluro green thread and those crooked bamboo improvised pleats!  In hindsight, after taking the photos, I think I should have ironed the pleats towards the middle of the shirt instead of in the same direction all the way across.  The right side stands out so much more than the left.

XMan loves his shirt and told me it was the prettiest thing I have ever made him.  Funny how it is mostly grey and yet he still thinks it is pretty.  Well, it is a little, and he wears it well.  Hope I've inspired you to try something new today.

If you dropped by please say Hi!  I love comments.  You can follow me on Bloglovin' to see what crazy or gorgeous things I plan on sewing next.

14 Comments

Deb Cameron

I am a stay at home Mum (SAHM). I have two beautiful boys who are now both at school. This crazy idea has been rattling around in my head since my boys were babes and I learnt all about the power and pleasure of 'nap time'. Oh the things I achieved during those two, sometime three, hour afternoon naps. This is my time to share a dream I have with you and maybe make your nap time a creative powerhouse too! A place where it is handmade with love and unique by you - Welcome!