The Casual Lady Tunic: Sew in One Hour or Maybe Not…

Cheers! Here’s to turning an easy pattern into a difficult one without really trying.


The Casual Lady Tunic/Dress pattern was purchased because the proceeds go to a charitable cause, thanks to Go To Patterns, creator of the Casual Lady. It helped that the pattern was simply stylish!


I saw Heather make the dress in an hour, and I read Melissa’s post about making the tunic in 45 minutes including printing the pattern. That is fast sewing with excellent results. Then I happened upon this pretty version on the Sew Country Chick blog. Everyone should be so well dressed in the countryside, I say.  My own sewing mojo somehow went into the “lets-change-this” mode. I made this top, love it exceedingly but it was not made in an hour or less.  All because of an item pictured in InStyle magazine.

Jason Wu cashmere T pictured in InStyle magazine

 Jason Wu cashmere T pictured in InStyle magazine

 The downfall (not in the finished product, but in instant gratification) was the decision to add a color blocked element in the tunic.  See the inspiration photo above, a Jason Wu t-shirt (if I’m going to be inspired by a t-shirt, it better be a Jason Wu t-shirt). It’s cashmere, of course. The Jason Wu shirt, not my tunic.  If you want to try this, here’s how I did it.

The main fabric is a black and white interlock knit, and the color piece is a strip of lime green cotton interlock knit.  I cut out the main pattern pieces in the black and white stripe, and pinned the front to a dress form to “audition” the color block. My fabric is stable, so I could pin it without stretching out the neck and armholes. Even so, it is a good idea to stay stitch the neck and armholes if you are going to do this. Another option is to lay it flat on a large table to “audition”.

Audition 1

Since the main fabric was striped, it was easy to mark the placement of the lime green piece by placing a pin on a top stripe where you want the color block to begin, and another pin on a lower stripe where you want the color block to end.  This is an important step.  Measure the width of the area pinned vertically, and add ¾” to this measurement to include seam allowances (3/8” on each long side of the strip). Measure the width of your front yoke area, armhole to armhole, where the strip will be added, plus 4 inches, just in case.   Cut a lime green fabric strip using these measurements for the color block stripe.


Press down 3/8” seam allowances on both long sides of the green strip. Pin it on the shirt front following the pin-markings and most importantly following the black stripe.


Turn the front piece to check the evenness and alignment of the green strip and the black/white stripe in main fabric. On the sides  you will have some extra green fabric sticking out. Cut away the extra green fabric from the sides so that the color block follows the armhole shape.

remove extra

Remove green strip and set aside. On main front piece, mark 3/8’ seam allowances below the top pin marking and 3/8″ above the bottom marking which you made earlier. Cut away the portion between the new seam lines. The stripes on the main fabric really come in handy here. If you’re using a solid or print, you should make sure that these markings are even and show prominently while you make the top.

Right sides together, sew one edge of the color strip to the top yoke in a 3/8” seam, Do the same for the bottom. Press seams towards main fabric. You can serge these seams if you want, but I decided not to for fear of bulking up the seams too much.


Color blocking is done!  Now you can follow the pattern and sew up the Casual Lady Tunic or dress as fast as you can. You can use a serger for the entire construction process like Heather did, or complete it on your sewing machine. I used both where appropriate.

The Casual Lady Tunic will probably be my “go to” pattern for some quick sewing this summer. :).  I am thrilled that the proceeds will do some good in the world, thanks to Go To Patterns.

Your turn, readers! Have you turned a quick to make project into a lengthier one? What kind of quick sewing do you do in the summer?  Let’s hear about it in the comments.


6 thoughts on “The Casual Lady Tunic: Sew in One Hour or Maybe Not…

  1. Lovely top and so great that the proceeds go to charity. I popped over the the blog and saw it was for helping kids in sex trafficking, good cause! I would NEVER be able to make a top in 45 m or an hour. I am just a slow sewer. I plan, and plan and read and read before I even begin! 🙂


  2. Justine, thanks! Glad you like it. Am digging around in my fabric stash to make some more. Maybe extend it into a maxi dress. I’m not in the short dress age demographic….


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