Restyle # 20 – Lace Tunic Tee (inc Tutorial)

It’s been some time since I indulged in some refashioning. But here is the first of several that I have coming up over the next few weeks. I’ve been trying some ideas out with jersey. I’ve not sewn with jersey before as I don’t have an overlocker and the last time I tried sewing jersey on my regular machine, it gobbled it up like a hungry posessed thing.  However I was recently forced out of my comfort zone by a certain someone (who shall remain nameless for now. You know who you are!) and challenged to try sewing with jersey. So I gave it another go.  This was my first practice run. As it happens, it’s not so bad. Without any real headaches I managed to come up with this pretty straightforward refashion…..

I started with a maternity tunic that doesn’t fit me, and some georgette that I saved from a damaged vintage dress and has been in my stash for over 3 years…with a little jiggery pokery, I came up with the refashion on the right….

To begin with I used my Sorbetto pattern to draft the top portion with the CF along the folded edge of my paper….

I only wanted the uppermost chest part to be lace so it took all of 30 seconds to trace this piece off…

and square it off from the CF to the side seam. I thought about shaping this “a la Zoe”, but in the end decided to keep it simple for this one…

I repeated the same for the back piece……

So I ended up with a front and back pattern piece like so….

I cut one front and one back piece from my lace…

Et voila….

I stay stitched all armhole and neckline curves since this is delicate stuff…
French seamed the shoulders….

French seamed the side seams…….

Having cut away the top and sleeves from the bottom portion of the tunic, I used the pattern pieces to determine how much fabric I would need to cut from the original garment. I drew a diagonal line which will create a kind of A line/trapeze effect; and cut just ouside of the line to allow a little for seam allowances (this is not very scientific I know. I was “freestyling” a bit at this stage!)

Here’s the new bottom piece pinned and ready for sewing. The original tunic had the longer scooped hem at the back which was a feature I liked and wanted to keep so I pinned the side seams up from the hem upwards in order to preserve this…

I used one of the overlock style stitches on my machine. A kind of zig zag with a straight stitch underneath…

Then trimmed right up close to the stitching to neaten….

I used the same stitch to attach the top and bottom pieces together and pressed the seam allowances down toward the hem….

Then turned right side out, I topstitched a few mm away from the seamline. Understitching would work just as well though….

I’m not convinced with the finish here. It could be better. I could have matched the thread colour a bit more closely. I could have taken my time a bitmore and wobbled a bit less.  But you get the idea….

Turning the garment wrong side out again you can see the seam finish from the inside. The idea was (and it has more or less worked out) that the row of topstitching then encloses the other edch of the zig zag stitch so that it more closely resembles what an overlocker would achieve…(with a few wobbles here and there!)
 I trimmed close to the stitching line again to neaten….
Now all I hat to do was finish the neckline and armholes. I opened up and pressed one of the sleeves. The plan was to make bias strips using a bias tape gadget. Since the purpose of cutting on the bias is to provide a bit of stretch, and jersey already has stretch; I figured I could dispense with actually having to cut on the bias. No need to measure either! Check this out…..I used 1″ wide masking tape to mark out strips….
Top Tip: The masking tape acts as a cutting guide AND stabilises the fabric whilst you are cutting. Preventing it from slipping and stretching and distorting the strips….I cut between the gaps of the masking tape strips…
and ended up with a whole bunch of strips that I then made into bias tape to finish the neckline and armholes….
That’s all there was to it really. Whilst the finish I managed to achieve on jersey with my standard machine was nowhere near as professional as it would have been had I used an overlocker….for clothes I’m only going to be wearing myself, it’s perfectly satisfactory in my view. Which was a pleasant surprise. I admit to having avoided the stuff like the plague up until now. Thinking there was now way I could sew with it on my standard machine. The process was helped by using a walking foot on my machine. It sounds and feels a bit clunky when sewing but it is very good at moving the layers of fabric through the machine evenly, and without stretching. I was also careful not to pull or stretch the jersey out when working with it as this causes the curling effect on the edges, that you’ve no doubt experienced if you have ever worked with jersey before.
All in all, I’m happy with the concept of this refashion and may well incorporate these elements in future projects on both jersey and wovens.
If you’re looking to have a go with jersey for the first time and don’t have an overlocker, then go for it! I’d say it’s doable as long as you take your time and don’t pull or stretch the fabric.
Hope this helps!

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  1. Hearthandmade September 5, 2011

    Wow you did an excellent job! I like the journey we see if your coffee drinking too. I love seeing your sewing xo

  2. Joyce September 5, 2011

    Beautiful! I love the masking tape idea.

  3. Jane September 5, 2011

    Oh that’s fab, you’ve produced a lovely top Portia. Thanks for the jersey tips and the masking tape tip for bias strips – genius! x

  4. Suzie September 5, 2011

    OMG the masking tape was such an inspired idea – well done!!! The refashion is really lovely and very ‘you’ I have to say. Thanks for showing how you sewed it with your regular machine. I just tackled jersey for the first time too, but didn’t do it quite as proficiently as you – I’ll definately be taking your tips in mind next time I give jersey a go.

  5. Nikki September 5, 2011

    What a brilliant job! I made a dress with jersey a few years ago and swore never to sew with it again until I bought in interlocker – but you may have encouraged me to have another go. I’ve not got a walking foot though, is that the best thing to get to help?

    The masking tape idea is brilliant! I’m going to plagiarise that one!

  6. Kestrel September 5, 2011

    Your top is so pretty and the masking tape tip is GENIUS, I love it. My machine won’t do jersey, I might need to invest in one of those walking foots you mentioned.

  7. Elisalex September 5, 2011

    Such a cute top, and how useful is that sorbetto pattern? But I think the star of that project was definitely the masking tape idea! Inspired. x

  8. Anonymous September 6, 2011

    Thank you for the fabulously detailed pics and instructions. The masking tape was a stroke of genius. I am a beginner and this is exactly what I had in mind as first project (not with a woven fabric). Would it be possible to post pictures of the neckline and armhole finishes? I’m nervous that these will be tricky and poor results could ruin the overall look of the garment. Great job and thank you.

  9. Scruffybadger September 6, 2011

    Hurrah What a wonderful refashion and great to try something new! What a brilliant tip on the bias/ masking tape strips. I will have to remember that. 😉

  10. Casey September 6, 2011

    The masking tape tip is genius! 🙂 I always have the worst time cutting out narrow strips from jersey for binding–which is one of the reasons I’ve avoided jersey frequently in the past. Love how your top refashion came out–the last yoke is such a beautiful touch!

  11. A.J.A. September 6, 2011

    I love the masking tape trick too, and your top is comfy and romantic looking. Very pretty! I do have a serger, but I used to have lots of problems with my machine eating fabric. That’s one of the reasons I love the vintage Kenmore I found a while back- prior to that I didn’t have a machine with a straight stitch throat plate, and it does make a world of difference.

  12. dixie September 7, 2011

    awesome awesome awesome! I love the redesign! I love how easy the Sorbetto is to manipulate, too.
    and the masking tape idea is great, too. and I never would have thought of using the walking foot for that application.

  13. Mommy en France September 8, 2011

    WOW, it’s a gorgeous top. I had seen it on Refashion Co-Op and just had to come over and read the whole post. I too have found knits tough to work with and really enjoy reading other people’s success stories with them.

  14. J September 18, 2011

    I am so (sew!) using the masking tape idea – ingenius!!

  15. liz October 3, 2011

    found this post on project restyle’s flikr. awesome job! i do have an overlock/serger and i still dont do very well with knits, so major kudos!

  16. Miss P October 3, 2011

    Liz, that’s so sweet of you to say,thankyou! (I’m still eyeing up an overlocker though, lol!)

  17. Anshu May 5, 2012

    Yep! that masking tape trick is so neat! thanks for sharing.

  18. monica swift January 28, 2013

    This is so pretty, I love the subtle pattern and tones. The masking tape trick is going to be so useful!

  19. Anonymous March 27, 2013

    Did you removed the masking tape before sewing the bias ?

    • Miss P March 27, 2013

      Yes, remove the masking tape before sewing 🙂

  20. DA E October 13, 2013

    love the masking tape idea! thank you for sharing that…i will definitely be using that in the future…love the top too, beautifully done

  21. thank you so much for tutorials

  22. Mags November 1, 2016

    Loved your tutorial. Thanks,

    • Portia Lawrie November 3, 2016

      Thanks Mags! Glad you liked 🙂 Px

  23. suzy moore June 11, 2017

    do you still need to cut jersey on the 45 degree angle or can i do just strips ? great tip

    • Portia Lawrie July 4, 2017

      I’ve cut straight and crossgrain. Both have been fine. Crossgrain will have the stretch inherent in it anyway so 45degree angle not really necessary. 🙂


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