{tiptoe tunic: a tutorial}

This is a very basic tutorial for a basic spring/summer tunic. I started with a boy's tee, added some materials on hand, and ended up with a sweet, swingy shirt with pops of springtime color! The great thing about this tunic is that the embellishment possibilities are endless! Want to make your own? Great, let's get to it! 

Tee Shirt a few sizes larger than your girl's current size
I found a boy's tee on clearance for $2.50. (Wal*Mart...I know, I know. But fabric's fabric, right?) It was a boy's size 10-12, and my daughter is in a size 5, so I knew there would be lots of wiggle room for her in the boy's shirt. Right now is actually the prefect time to scour out those winter long sleeve tees that are now on clearance. 
Elastic thread
Regular thread
Coordinating scrap fabrics 
Fold Over Elastic (optional...but if you're interested, I got mine here)
Chalk/Fabric Marking Pen

*A quick note about sizing: Using a tee shirt of my daughter's that fits well, I laid it on top of the tee I cut into to. There was a total of four inches extra room (8 inches around), and it shirred up for a perfect fit for my girl. 

Cut the tee shirt from side to side, right under the armpit, so you have a tube. Lay aside the top piece, as you may use it later. 

Use your fabric marker to mark  your shirring lines. The first line I measured an inch down from the top, to create the ruffle. Each consecutive line I drew a .5" down, for a total of 8 lines altogether. I did this on both sides of the shirt.

There are several tutorials on using elastic thread, if you've never done so before. I used this tutorial on my old Singer (after failing to get it to work with a drop in bobbin on my new Brother! Grr.)

Once you're threaded and your bobbin's loaded, start sewing on each line, all the way around the shirt. Get excited...the fun part's coming up! 

When you've finished sewing on top of your lines, spray your shirred part with a mist of water, and run an iron over it. Watch it shrink up into a professional looking shirr! My favorite part!! 

As far as strap placement goes, your best bet is to put the tunic onto your girl, and mark with pins where you want the straps to start. You can see below, I marked the starting points on the front and the back of the tunic with the heads of my pins while the tunic was on her, so it was marked appropriately when stretched for wear. 

On my tunic, I used my fold over elastic to create simple, colorful straps. However, if you don't have any on hand, and don't want to wait for any, you can use the discarded sleeves of your upper shirt piece to create your own straps. 

*A quick note about sizing: I measured the desired length of my daughter's straps by running a measuring tap from pin head in the front to pin head in the back while the tunic was on her, and added my desired seam allowance. I ended up with 10" for my daughter's personal fit.  

Take one sleeve and trim the bottom off, to make straight rectangle. You are going to use the fold at the top to create length on your straps.

With the fold still at the top of the remaining sleeve, trim off the hemmed sleeve edge and discard. Cut two more pieces, each 1.5" in width.

Now you can trim them to your desired strap length.

Use a gentle iron to press the straps, right sides together lengthwise. Then sew up the side of the strap, using a 1/8" seam allowance. If you feel this is too small for you, adjust to your comfort.

Turn your straps right side out. If you are having trouble with using a safety pin to do so, you can find a good tutorial on turning skinny straps here.

Or, you can simply cut your fold over elastic to your desired length, and get right on to attaching them.

Using your pre-placed pin heads as guides, pin your straps to the inside front of the tunic. Attach them with your machine, making sure to sew on top of the shirred lines, to avoid a messy looking, thread filled front.

Repeat these steps for attaching the straps to the back.

Now, onto the tulip pockets! I am always looking for an excuse to use my Silhouette, so I cut my tulips using the fabric interfacing and a tulip head. However, this step can easily be achieved by hand, using your preferred interfacing (or other pocket method). I cut two sizes of two different fabrics. Once you have the look you desire, lay your pockets out on your tunic, pin into position, and attach using your favorite stitch.

Now to hem your tunic...wait! No need! Your tunic is already pre-hemmed, hurray! You're finished with  your Tiptoe Tunic! Easy, right?!

Of course, you can always add additional embellishments, such as a ruffle around the hem, or buttons on the pockets, or a bow in the front center where the shirring ends. The (embellishment) world is your oyster!

And just look at those handy pockets in action, perfect for shoving your "magic wand" into! 

Thanks for dropping by! I appreciate any and all comments, and would love to hear how it goes if you give this tunic a shot!

Thank you! 

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  1. This is so cute! I love the pockets, the whole tunic screams spring. And your instructions are perfect!! Where do I get G's hair?

  2. What an adorable little tunic! I have never been able to get elastic thread to work for me. I'm wondering if I wind the bobbin wrong? I'm pretty sure I have my settings right? Anyway- i hope to figure it out soon to make cute things like this! Thanks for sharing!

  3. cute!! pinning so i don't lose the idea :)

  4. darling! Love the tulip pockets!


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