A Rosa Tunic for Spring

Daylight savings time was a few weeks ago, which means evenings are brighter a bit later, and it means spring is on the Horizon. Last summer I tried out the Rosa dress from DIBY Club and made a maxi and knee length version. I seem to have so many dresses for someone who doesn’t wear them year round! So I decided to start getting my spring wardrobe ready with another Rosa.

When I first tried this pattern I made a muslin in the shirt length to get a feel for the gathers and construction. Now that I’m on my third, I decided I wanted a length somewhere between shirt and knee length. I decided to create my own tunic length using the other two as guides for the curve. This one is bamboo again from Blended Thread Fabrics in a design called Worn Butter Floral. I’m part of the strike sewist team so this was the design I was lucky enough to be assigned.  I don’t usually wear light colours because I think they make me look washed out, especially in the winter months. However, the warm yellows and oranges,  bright pink and hints of greenery add enough colour to brighten up the colour palette.

The Pattern: The Rosa Tulip Dress and Top
Designer: DIBY: The Do It Better Yourself Club
Size Range: 00 – 36
Difficulty: 2
What I Made: 24 bust graded to 28 waist/hip
Pattern Options: scoop neck, short sleeves,
Personal Fit Adjustments: full bicep adjustment
Personal Style Adjustments: back skirt cut on fold with added dart, tunic length self drafted (see my previous Rosa post for details on how I cut the skirt)

The Rosa is a dolman bodice with a gathered front skirt. Usually I like to simplify gathers by using elastic to create my gathers. But my serger was having none of it! It took two passes to get the fronts gathered properly and attached to the bodice. And then…I realized I’d attached it backwards. Oh geez, cut it off again and took a break. When I came back to the sewing machine, I decided that since the bamboo is very stretchy and I was going to be adding elastic to that seam anyways, I would stretch the top to fit the skirt front. This actually worked out amazing and I ended up applying fold over elastic to encase the waist seam and cut it to fit perfectly. If you use fold over elastic like this, measure a bit tighter than you normally would because the weight of the skirt portion will pull it down, especially in this bouncy bamboo or similar.

The Rosa is a very subtle high-low as well. It’s more noticeable the longer you go. As a tunic, that means I can wear this with leggings for work if I choose, or skinny jeans like I did here. You might also notice that my sleeves are a bit longer than samples on the DIBY Club gallery of photos. A full bicep adjustment is standard for me across the board as my bicep measurement is 18.5″ and 19″ on each each side, which is never what my upper bust size pattern is drafted for. The good news is that a full bicep is extremely easy for dolman sleeves. Extend the sleeve length first. Next, divide your bicep measurement by two and add back a seam allowance. So for 19″, my new sleeve width is 9.5″ + 1/4″ seam allowance = 9.75″. Now redraw your sleeve end point 9.75″ long at whatever length you’d like. You can also add a bit of extra ease depending what you prefer. I usually add an extra 0.5 to 1″ because I don’t like anything too tight on my arms. Especially consider doing this if you are using fabric with high recovery (high spandex/lycra content) as it will feel tighter.  I’m certainly no master digital drafter, but hopefully this picture explains what I mean. I’m trying to learn how to use SketchBook to make graphics and eventually to digitally paint and draw.

Now the other thing I’ve been wanting to talk about is hemming bamboo. I have a serger, sewing machine and cover stitch. But still I’m not happy with the hem I can create. I find it takes away from the beautiful drape of bamboo, double brushed poly, modal and other lightweight jersey type fabrics.  In my post about my Neve Wrap Top (coming up soon, I promise!) I took some great pictures to show just how lovely bamboo hems can be. I’ve also tried leaving them raw but I’m not a fan of that either, it just feels unfinished.  I’ve tried out a number of fusible hem tapes and I keep coming back to the same one. There are a kajillion (literally) hem tapes, interfacings, facings, bonding webs, etc, etc, etc. And they aren’t cheap either! So I’ve tried a few and now I’m committed to this one. I prefer Pellon Wonder Under Stretch Seam Tape. It is a double sided, stretchy, bondable web that comes on a roll. The frustrating thing is that I’ve only been able to source it at my local Fabricland. I can’t find any online retailers that carry it and I’ve even asked two of my favourite Canadian fabric companies who carry other Pellon products if they are able to bring it in. But apparently it’s not available to them! I contacted Pellon directly and they say the product is not discontinued. So I don’t know, in the meantime I’ve hoarded a few rolls just in case it is discontinued. This is what the package looks like:

I’ve also tried Heat n Bond Lite (way too expensive and didn’t fuse well), Pellon Wonder-Under Paper Backed Fusible Web Tape (no stretch), Pellon Wonder-Web Fusible Web Tape (no stretch). Now I do believe that the Wonder-Under Stretch 888P is the same product, but comes on a bolt instead of a roll. Which is what I’ll have to use when I run out and if it’s no longer available. I’ve also tried wash away wonder tape to help hem, but I still don’t get the flowy hem that bamboo deserves. I’ve worn items hemmed with this a number of times and it comes through the laundry intact each time. When applying fusible web it will come with paper backing on one side. Use a hot steamy iron to press on top of the paper onto your hem first. LET IT COOL, then remove the paper backing and fold up your hem, followed by a longer hot steamy press. If you are using a fabric that will mar under an iron, consider using parchment paper, a pressing cloth, or a silicone pressing mat. Also don’t get it on your ironing board, I can guarantee it will NOT come off!

So that’s my Rosa tunic and how I adjust the pattern to fit my body, as well as a tip for hemming bamboo. Any tricky fabric handling suggestions that you have? There’s so much knowledge out there I love learning from other sewists. Have a good week!

*This post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission if you buy a pattern using my link. It helps me pay for website hosting and fabric to make more plus size patterns to share with you! As always, opinions are entirely my own. 

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