Handmade Wardrobe: The Striped Tunic

Happy Monday everyone, and thanks for stopping by Caila-Made! I’m thrilled to say that I have FINALLY entered Made-by-Rae’s Spring Top Sewalong competition, after years and years of watching from the sidelines.

I think I’ve mentioned before (maybe?) that my wardrobe is in an extremely sad state after baby no. 3. You know the drill: I’ve been wearing the same stretchy things for six months now and although I’m slowly making my way down the size-ladder I still don’t fit into those cute clothes in the box labeled “small.”

Now that we’re saving for a house I’ve become a complete miser with money when it comes to spending it on myself. Who wants to buy a bunch of clothes that (hopefully) won’t fit six months from now? Not me. So that leaves me with hardly any clothes to wear, but a HUGE stash of fabric in my sewing bins.

Enter Caila’s new handmade wardrobe.

Wait! Can I call it a “wardrobe” if so far there’s only one new item? Oh well, you get the point. This top, The Striped Tunic, is the first of my new spring wardrobe. All handmade, partially hand-stitched. Man, I’m going to love this spring.

All the binding was hand-stitched according to Natalie Chanin’s instructions in her book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. The book is A-MAZ-ING, the patterns are beautiful, and I’ve already learned a lot of useful techniques.

Until yesterday I absolutely despised stitching by hand, but Natalie has converted me 100%. I had so much fun hand-stitching these seams!

In the above photo you can see a picture of the Cretan stitch I used on the neckline and arms. Below you can see the straight stitch used for the side seams.

(Note: This is my first Alabama Chanin Tunic, so I serged the side and shoulder seams with my machine before hand-stitching the details on the outside. When I make the next shirt/tunic/dress I’ll use higher quality fabric and stitch the whole thing by hand, per Natalie’s instructions).

The top came together in about an hour and the hand stitching took me about three and a half to four hours all together. I know that sounds like a long time, but it was FUN and I got to be with my family the whole time. (Ok, and yes, I caught up on all my favorite shows once everyone else in my family was in bed and I was still sewing).

The pattern is very flattering for many body types. For my next garment, I’ll probably add at least 1/2 an inch to the side seams for a little extra room in the top. The pattern’s not quite accommodating enough for ladies on the busty side (hey, I just had a baby). *wink*

Here are a few photos of my process:

I have a bunch of the patterns I traced from the book hanging in my closet. This is the pattern for the Fitted Tunic.

Here you can see the trace lines on my fabric. I used a disappearing fabric pen. Finding the correct angle for the stripes was an exciting challenge.

Front and back pieces. After I assembled the tunic I realized that the stripes for the front and back probably should have been angled in opposite directions. Oh well, it still looks great.

The front assembled. (I’m working on a skirt from the fushia/purple in the background).

So there you have it: The Striped Alabama Chanin Tunic. Hopefully I’ll have more to share with you soon. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading!


  1. says

    LOVE it Caila! You make me want to sew so badly! I don’t really know how, but convince myself I do. Then I take on way too challenging of projects, which take me way too long, and I end up discouraged. BUT, you totally inspire me! I saw this skirt I want, and I think it might be worth making myself; maybe I’ll send you a pic and you could help me with starting my spring wardrobe 🙂

    • says

      Alicia, my adorable friend! I wish we could sew together! And right now I’m dreaming about your beautiful farm and those yummy chickens you raise. 🙂 Wish we lived closer! Love you!