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Holiday Tunic

Skill Level: 

Holdiay Tunic
From the moment I resumed sewing garments in 2011, I was obsessed with learning to sew the cute $$$ RTW tops I could never justify buying for myself.

My second blog post was about recreating Milly peasant tops, and thus began my journey leading to The Tunic Bible. My first top, a silk peasant top looked quite homemade, but I was blinded by enthusiasm and after my investment of time and effort, I wore it with great pride. My mother bought the silk in Asia and I wanted to please her as much as myself.

Six years later I see the progress I’ve made but I’m still obsessed with recreating expensive RTW tops, and pay regular visits to the Neiman Marcus website for inspiration.

When Pfaff contacted me about becoming its ambassador I enthusiastically explained all of this to the company representative culminating in my desire to embroider tunics.

Julie Starr and I designed a tunic bodice for The Tunic Bible that would accommodate unlimited neckline variations. After the book was published, we began customizing necklines with purchased appliqués, but at last I have the capability to actually embroider necklines.

So this is my first tunic with a custom embroidered neckline, making this garment a dream come true!

I wouldn’t exactly call the following steps a tutorial just yet, but in case you want to know what I did, here goes…….

1.Download design. I found a website that offers hundreds of neckline designs.

2. Convert design to compatible format with machine. Embroidery Designs converted the files I purchased from Embdesigntube to a format compatible with my machine for free.  (VIP file)

The photo below shows the design loaded onto my machine. The designs are large and require a larger hoop. My hoop is  360×260, but many of the neckline designs require a larger size.

3.  Cut a piece of  fabric slightly larger than the front bodice pattern.

4. Place the design approximately 2″ below the edge of the fabric. This should allow enough space for the pattern piece placement after the embroidery is completed.

5. Embroider the design.

Some of the following photos below feature my practice sample embroidered in a single color just like the pattern download.

6.  Cut a piece of fashion fabric a little larger than your embroidery design. This will be your facing. Stabilize the facing with your preferred method. In the sample I used a layer of organza. For the garment I applied Pellon EK 130 Easy Knit fusible interfacing to the facing.

7. Place the facing over the embroidery design right sides together.

8.  Secure with pins and flip to back of embroidery design. (The color variation in the sample photo below is due to two colors of bobbin thread )


9. Stitch around the inside of the embroidery (this is the neckline). Trim close to stitching.


10. Turn and press.


11. Trim  the facing to a shape similar to that of the embroidery design, and finish the edge by turning under or serging the edge.

You are now ready to cut the front bodice.


For my first embroidered neckline project, I selected an antique piece of silk dupioni embroidered in two embroidery threads, by Coats & Clark – Trilobal Mini King Spool Black and Trilobal Mini King Spool White. The two colors provided great contrast in the design and were striking against the emerald green background.

I received the beautiful dupioni from a longtime family friend. The silk is old and possibly the loveliest dupioni I have seen or touched with its fantastic weight, drape and very few slubs. The vibrant hues shimmer and radiate the varying shades of green and black threads. Its unique colors are gorgeous.

I stabilized the fabric with a soft cut-away stabilizer thinking I didn’t want to place stress on the fabric with a tear-away stabilizer.

Since a companion embroidery design was not available for the sleeves, I found a design from my machine.

I added back darts for a fitted back and a more flattering silhouette, and chose a shorter length just beneath the widest part of the hips (keeping up with the current RTW trend!)…

… and here we have it….. The Holiday Tunic