Ahhh! Numero tres! And possibly my favorite Liesl + Co Gallery Tunic. I'm calling this one "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". My first thought when I saw it completed was Bollywood. But now I like to imagine this as something that Maggie Smith's character would wear on a night on the town in Jaipur. Which is just so perfect because most people like to brag that they're really just a kid inside, and I like to brag that I'm really just a 75 year old inside.
For "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", I chose one of my favorite Kaffe Fassett prints: Belle Epoch in Red. Kaffe is a color master, and this shade of tomato red is perfection. I also love the hand of Kaffe fabrics; they're different than most Westminster/Rowan substrates, thinner and softer, and they don't get that chalky appearance that most quilt-weight cottons get after washing or wearing.
After making three times, I can't recommend the Gallery Tunic enough. Working through the pattern, you feel like Liesl is sitting right next to you offering insider advice along the way. The diagrams are clear and easy to understand. Each step is thoroughly explained. And there are lots of variations to achieve your custom outfit. (I always make View A with the collar from View B.)
A few Gallery Tunic keys to success:
1. Fit to your bust and waist
I cut a size 10 for my first two tunics, mostly based on my hip measurements. They fit just fine (so comfortable!) but because my waist is small relative to my hips (it's not as sexy as it sounds... skirts and jeans are impossible) there is a bit of excess fabric around my waist. The great thing about this tunic (Liesl is plain brilliant) is the curved shirttail hem. The way it comes slightly up on the sides makes it so forgiving on the hips. So, for "Best Exotic" I cut out a size 8, fitting the tunic to my bust and natural waist and allowing any hippy-ness (a technical term to describe my body shape and my parents' behavior circa 1975 in Austin) to breathe freely through the curved side hems.
2. Take your time when cutting out and transferring markings
As I always advised my customers and students at CityCraft, be sure to take your time when cutting out the pattern pieces and transferring markings. I like to cut out my pieces one day then start sewing the next day to avoid mental fatigue. Most sewing mistakes I make simply because I'm tired.
Accurate transfer of markings is also essential. There is nothing worse than being right in the middle of sewing and then the directions tell you to sew a line of stitches ending at the dot and you're like, "What dot???" Then you have to pull out the pattern piece you thought you were done with and try and line it up..... and it's just a pain. Am I right? So AVOID THE PAIN!
3. Use the right tools to make your life easier
I avoid the pain of transferring markings by using tools that make it easy. Here are the tools that I like to have on hand while making the Gallery Tunic:
1) Transfer paper and pencil
This stuff is the best and lasts a really long time. My favorite brand is Saral, but there are several other brands that work just as well. The Saral packet comes with five 8.5" x 11" sheets of transfer paper in different colors so you can pick the color that shows up best on your fabric. To use transfer paper with a pattern, simply slide the transfer paper in between the pattern sheet and your fabric with the color side of the transfer paper facing the wrong side of your fabric. Then use a dull pencil to trace firmly over the pattern markings. For pattern pieces cut on the fold, I use a simple trick: fold a small piece of transfer paper in half, color sides facing, and sandwich it around the folded fabric so that when you rub on the pattern markings, it transfers simultaneously to both sides. [I'll update this with photos shortly!]
2) Tracing wheel
For long straight pattern lines, nothing beats using a "tracing wheel". Tracing wheels are inexpensive and make perfectly crisp dotted transfer lines when used with transfer paper. This is the perfect tool for the Gallery Tunic when you need to transfer the cutting and sewing lines onto the wrong side of the placket.
3) Frixion pen
Frixion pens are a bit controversial, but I think they are magic for the right job. Write anywhere on your fabric and then use an iron to make the markings disappear. For real! Apparently the lines reappear if exposed to extreme cold, but I can't remember the last time I stored a piece of clothing in the freezer. (Sounds like midnight ballyhoo in college...) For the purpose of drawing the sewing lines on the front side of the Gallery Tunic placket, my Frixion pen totally fit the bill. Would I ever tell Great Aunt Bessie to use a Frixion pen to draw all over her cream-colored, heirloom quilt that she's giving as a wedding present? Probably not. But then again I don't have a Great Aunt Bessie, either. Take your chances, ladies.
4. Practice deep breathing while hemming
A narrow hem is always tricky, but even trickier on a curve. This is another step that I recommend completing the next day. It's the LAST step, you're SO ready to be finished, and now your head is about to explode because the hem isn't folding up perfectly. For this step, I just take it really slow, use lots of steam, AND I help myself with some fusible tape if I need it.
Just a tiny piece or two in the curves will help keep it in place for final sewing. You can pin it if you would like, but I find that good pressing will keep a hem in place fairly well. If you are still cursing it, take a few snips in the seam allowance around the curve before pressing. This will "ease" the curve into place during the first hem turn.
5. Make a plan if you plan to serge
Normally I sew seams using my sewing machine and then finish the seams with my serger and press to one side. This is all fine and dandy for most of the Gallery Tunic EXCEPT the side seams. Why? Because pressing the side seams to one side will cause a hiccup when you press the hem where the front and back bodice pieces meet at the side seam.
See what I mean? So, in this case you have the choice of serging the edges of the sleeve, front, and back pattern pieces before sewing, or carefully pressing the seams open after sewing and then serging each side of the seam allowance individually. Personally, serging the edges of the pattern pieces seems like a much bigger pain than the alternative. For starters, you will lose your pattern notches unless you go back and cut them again after serging (pain) and you risk rubbing off the transferred pattern markings while fussing it through the serger. So my NEXT tunic will be a product of intelligence (instead of anxious haste) and I will dutifully press my seams open along the side and then serge them off like a champ.
If you haven't added the Gallery Tunic pattern to your stash, then put down your twirling baton, and get one for yourself already. I've already got my next one in mind. One word: SPRING.
GALLERY TUNIC QUESTIONS? Leave them in the comments! Of course, the number one source for all Gallery Tunic info is Liesl herself, but I am happy to offer my "third time's a charm" advice.