Friday, November 9, 2012

Knock-Off Tunic

Once upon a time I used to sew most of my clothes. Seriously. Even pants. I once made a fully lined wool maxi-coat (does that date me) complete with bound buttonholes. Then  along came T.J. Maxx and Marshall's. Fabric stores started closing. Then patterns started costing more than a cute sweater at the above mentioned stores. Lately, though,  I've gotten interested in starting to make a few things again. Here we go...
My sewing buddy, Jan, and I decided last weekend to try to copy this cute corduroy tunic...last year's model, from the JJill Store. Retail for the top was around $79. Too much, we decided, to warrant buying this year's model. How hard could it be?
The Simplicity pattern we decided on was on sale for $1.99. The regular price is...are you ready???.....$17.99! What's up with that? It's tissue paper...and they even make you cut on those crazy confusing lines for the size you want. At that price, I think there should be one piece for each size, don't you?     I digress.
Cutting out is not our favorite part, we decided. When we compared the paper pieces to our JJill top we discovered that unless we used stretchy fabric, we were going to have to cut outside the lines as we neared the lower part of the shirt, let's just say! We used a cute hound's tooth flannel that cost us only $7 each with the sale price and end of bolt discount at JoAnn's. Our buttons were a couple of dollars, so the shirts ended up only  costing around $11 each! Yay!
We liked the detail of a seam across the bodice in the front and back of the corduroy shirt. 
It was easy to add the seam by simply cutting the pattern pieces in two and adding seam allowances. We chose to change up the collar on our black and white flannel shirts.
 All in all, I'm pleased with the way my shirt turned out. It fits me more snugly across the shoulders than the JJill shirt, but I don't mind that. This was a big problem for Jan, unfortunately, who is now on the hunt for some lucky person with narrower shoulders than she, who would love a JJill knock off shirt in black and white flannel!
 With one success under my belt (or around my hips), I'm ready to try again. This time around I will be using the Amy Butler 'liverpool' shirt pattern to try to copy this year's version of the corduroy JJill tunic. I'm using a green pinwale that cost me $5 a yard on sale at JoAnn's. I purchased 3 yards. The buttons were half price too so that was only a couple of dollars. The pattern was around $12, I think. (It's been on my To Do list for a couple of years!) So the total cost is around $30 including the pattern, which I can use again, of course.
I'll let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, I'm ready for that cooler weather that's heading my way, I hear!


  1. Your shirt looks fabulous! I think your version fits better than the original! Paper patterns- ugh! I'm old enough to remember when the pieces, even if they were 5 different sizes in the one packet, were at least separate! (ie not all printed on ONE sheet of tissue the size of Australia!)

  2. Shirt looks fabulous. I agree with you the price of patterns is horrendous! I brought a new multi-size tissue pattern recently but decided to save the pattern and extend its multi size use by tracing my size onto Butcher paper. It didn't take long so now I can use the same pattern for my skinny daughter. lol! If you look up pattern cutting on youtube there are lots of videos showing you how to alter a pattern too.

  3. Like you, I used to sew all my own clothes -- yes, even pants (but never a maxi-coat -- No call for one of those in our climate)! I stopped because I was spending a lot of money on fabric, quite a bit of time on sewing and not liking things so much when I finished them! I know now that I should have gone into the stores and tried things on, found what worked and then bought those patterns!

    And I agree, paper patterns are incredibly expensive. I wanted to make a nappy (diaper) bag for my niece's first baby - due in March - and the Butterick pattern was $19.95! For tissue paper! For that price it should come already cut but no -- that certainly hasn't changed!

    You shirt turned out well - wear it with the joy that can only come from knowing you made it yourself!

  4. I'm like you . . .I made all my clothes back in the days. My senior year in high school, I made my wedding dress, my going away dress (boy does that date me), and the 4 bridesmaid dresses. (Oh and I graduated on a Thursday and the wedding was Saturday) That was 42 years ago, happily)
    But I scream when I see $15 and $17 patterns. than goodness I still have shoe boxes of old patterns.
    I occasionally make me something too.
    Your tops are adorable!
    Have a great weekend!

  5. Those shirts looks great! I'm also admiring the quilt on the back of your couch!

  6. Any of us "old time" seamstresses are completely disappointed in the new patterns. The cost is absurd and the fine details do not exist anymore.

    Your tunic looks awesome though and it looks great with the red scarf. Great job.

  7. I tried on that JJill tunic last weekend. It kind of overwhelmed me so it's nice to know I could make one to fit better, if I want.

  8. I had to comment when I saw the photo of the tissue paper all over the floor. been there. I like how your creation turned out.It looks great on you. In the past I have made some clothes but stopped. I found some stores that were carrying plain type clothing. Since that is getting hard for me to find I am thinking of making some clothing myself. I would like to hear your experience with the Amy Butler pattern. They look nice from the packaging. The new patterns Jo Anns carries are so flimsy a lot of the time I rip them.

  9. Really cute tunic! There was a time when I made all my clothes as well. I would stay up all night just to wear my new outfit to work the next day! Too old for that now. LOL

  10. I'll join the chorus and say I used to sew all my own clothing, too & stopped probably about the same time you did. I've been sewing for my grandkids for about the last 12 years and enjoyng that but I fear that'll end soon since the oldest is 12 & seems to like jeans more than anything else. Maybe it's time for myself again!

  11. This is why I have trouble sewing clothes. You invest so much time, energy and money into making a shirt that doesn't fit you! Argh. So sorry for your friend. Yours looks great on you. Well done! I have that Amy Butler shirt pattern, but I've been too chicken to actually make it yet. I need to give it a go. Maybe I will if you will. haha.

  12. Great result!! I know what you mean about expensive patterns and fabric, though. It's mostly not worth it. There have been exceptions, though. Sometimes the fabric store has sales on them but they've had to lock up all the patterns as increased cost means increased theft. Once you find the one you want in the book, you have to ask the never-around sales staff. Someday, I'll get back into it but it's like coupons - You have to watch for deals constantly. :-)

  13. AHHH, Amazing!! I love the shirt. I love the different collar. It is a chic.

  14. Yours is better than the original!