Not sure if it will be that great, but I certainly have put in a considerably amount of effort so far. Here’s hoping! My target is Bryn Walker’s NOA tunic. There are pictures of it all over the internet, and they all look great.

I wanted something similar and started a process of trying to develop a pattern. My first try was simply winging it, based on an analysis of this picture I found.

That didn’t go so well. It was especially disappointing because I had used an expensive linen in a favourite colour. It looked a bit like the image below, flat at back and front with some extraneous bits tacked on at the sides.


I am happy to say that I managed to recut the tunic and rescue the beautiful sea coloured linen I had used, but the result wasn’t the same as a NOA. So I had another go, this time sensibly intending to make a muslin first.

Now what pattern to use? I made a start with Vogue 9188 by Kayla Kennington.

Strangely, this pattern seems to have disappeared without a trace from the Vogue site, although I bought it only recently. Maybe nobody else liked it. I wasn’t that thrilled with it either, but I wanted it because it had an extension on one of the side flares, just like the NOA. However, when cutting out, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t really need to piece the fabric there in any case. Maybe the Noa was done that way because it allowed more economical use of fabric when producing on an industrial scale. But I don’t need to worry about that, on the contrary, I need to use up stash!

My muslin fabric was a little short, so I couldn’t cut the longer side flare as long as the real NOA , but otherwise it’s not bad. Only, if you have a close look, my tunic curves outward a lot lower down than the originals. You can tell if you imagine where the belly button or waist is on the models and then on me, and where the outward curve is in relation to that. So I needed to shorten the pattern halfway between the bottom of the armscyes and the widest part of the flare, otherwise the tunic would turn out too long.

Of course I didn’t realise that, genius that I am, until I had cut into the silk for my real, no-longer-a-muslin tunic, sewn up the shoulder and side seams, tried it on, and found that the lower side came down to my ankle!

It actually looked quite elegant and I could have left it, but I wanted a tunic, not a dress. I wear tunics all the time, dresses less so because I often feel too dressed up for everyday wear to the office and for manhandling my grandkids. Besides, I wanted to develop a TNT pattern for further use, and I need tunics, not a gazillion long dresses!

Shortening at the hem is out of the question with this design, so I recut in the shoulder and bust area, taking it down by 15cm. I also used the opportunity to chicken out of the very wide armscyes and sleeves of the V9188, and substituting the ones from a TNT pattern where I know and like the fit. As I have said many times before, with a lot of volume around the hem you need a tighter fit in the shoulders and bust, or a short and stout person like me risks looking huge all over.

Now to the cutting out process itself: V9188 is cut on the bias, so you get a whole pattern piece for front and back, not just half, because you can’t cut on the fold. I ignored the bias cut and separated the two front and back halves to spread them at the hem, to insert more volume there. I want a lot of swing to my tunics, so I almost always add more volume at CF and CB. This is because I am not as slim as the models, and adding width preserves the proportions.

I laid the tunic on the fabric with one side closer to the selvage than the other, seeing one side flare needed to be longer than the other. To paraphrase for clarity, the middle of the tunic was not on the middle fold of the fabric, but off to the side. I then took both flares right to the selvage. From there you need to cut the longer flare back towards the middle on the diagonal, as you can see very clearly in the picture of the grey NOA. If you don’t do this the flare will just hang there vertically, while making it narrower at the hem than the point forces it into collapsing into itself to make nice folds, which I prefer.

The last step was to cut the hem on the diagonal. I shaped this a bit like in the picture of the white tunic, not straight like the grey.

Then, when I had finished cutting, it suddenly hit me: except for the hem, the shape I had cut was pretty identical to the StyleArc Toni designer dress pattern I had just finished working with and blogged about in my previous post!

Sure enough, when I compared the shapes they were really close! So you could use that pattern instead, much cheaper and easier to get hold of if you live outside the US like me, and much more useful for other garments like pointy dresses. You do need to shorten between shoulder and side ‘point’ as shown below. Of course you also need to make one side longer than the other and cut the diagonal hem.

I used a thin lining silk, very slightly crinkled, and overpainted from a harsh neon green to a more sedate dark green with black streaks. I’m not mad about how the paint job turned out as the green is a little darker than intended, but it’s ok for now. When I did the overpainting last spring it seemed dirge-ey and depressing, but it suits the mood of autumn much better.


This is linked to the German blogger party RUMS