Create a chic matching tunic and trousers with this easy no-pattern tutorial!
- ### For the tunic: ###
- Fabric: 1.5m in your chosen fabric; plus five contrasting 10cm x 140cm strips
- Bias binding: 4m
- Well-fitting vest top, not too tight
- ### For the trousers: ###
- Fabric: 1.5 metres in your chosen design
- Elastic: 2.5cm wide x your waist
- Loose fitting trousers or jogging bottoms
- This is a cut-to-suit pattern, so you will be able to make it to fit your exact measurements. This guide applies to dress sizes 6-16.
For this project you will create four main pieces: upper and lower front, and upper and lower back. Fold your fabric in half with right sides together. Lay your vest on top of it, adhering to the bias of the fabric (see Sew Smart). Using the vest as a rough template, draw around it onto the fabric using dressmaker’s chalk. Start shaping the template by adding a 1.5cm seam allowance to the sides and bottom edge (the neckline and arms will be bias bound so you needn’t add any seam allowance there).
Continue to shape this template, which will become the back of the top. To ensure that the back piece will fit correctly, add 5cm to your underarm to underarm back measurement and mark it out onto the fabric, shaping the template to fit. Always triple check your measurements before cutting.
Compare the shape you have chalked out to the measurements you took before starting – make sure they line up and adjust accordingly. Cut out the finished back piece, using the symmetrical cutting method explained in the Sew Smart tip above.
Use the newly cut back piece as a template for drawing your two front pieces (upper and lower), making sure to work on the bias as before. First, add 5cm (plus seam allowances) to your front bust measurement and mark this out onto the fabric with chalk, shaping the front panel to fit. Take a different colour of chalk and mark your under bust measurement onto the fabric, again shaping it to match.
Measure from the top of your shoulder to under your bust, and add seam allowances. This will give you the length of the upper front panel of your tunic. Alter the height of the neckline to suit. Once you are happy with the shape of the upper and lower front panels, cut them out as you did for the back. Use the divide between the upper and lower front panels to divide your back panel into two pieces of equal size – upper and lower.
Create darts. To do this, hold the upper front panel up against yourself, wrong side facing outwards. Pin the shoulders of the fabric onto your own shoulders (being careful not to stab yourself) and mark the bust points with pins. Pinch the fabric under the bust points together to make two folded darts, and pin. Mark the darts with chalk on both sides to make a ‘V’, unpin and sew in place using a straight machine stitch.
Add the waistband. Place one of the 10cm x 140cm strips of contrasting fabric right sides together with your upper bust panel, lining up along the long edge. Pin it together. The strip may be too long but can be trimmed once you are happy with the placement.
Take a second 10cm x 140cm panel and align it along the edge of the upper front panel, with its right side facing the wrong side of the panel’s fabric. This will act as a facing. It will drop down and encase the raw edges inside and will reinforce the shape of the top.
Repeat the same process with the back panel and two more 10cm x 140cm strips, then press flat. With right sides together, pin the lower front panel of the tunic to the waistband, repeating for the back. Secure with a straight machine stitch.
Join the front and back panels. Starting at the waistband (this will ensure that your seams line up correctly), pin and sew the side seams up towards the armhole. Once stitched, turn the work around and sew downwards from the band to the bottom edge. Do this on both sides and press.
Turn the tunic inside out. Neaten the inside waistband facing; to do this, pull the tunic to one side and fold the waistband facing piece in half with right sides together. Pin and sew, and repeat for the second side. Fold the raw edge under and press with an iron, then hand stitch the bottom, encasing all the raw seam edges within.
Apply bias binding to the neckline and the hemline. Fold the binding over the edges of the neck and hem, to encase the raw edges. Pin and work a machine top stitch (or if you’d prefer, hand stitch) to secure.
Bind the armholes and ties. Measure and cut a 40cm length of bias binding. Beginning at the top shoulder, pin to the armhole, and bias bind as above. When you reach the armhole, stitch the remaining excess binding together to form ribbon ties. Once you have bound the armhole, measure another 40cm and snip with scissors. Fold the end of the bias in half, right sides together, and stitch to finish. Repeat with the second side.
Hem the top. Fold the bottom edge of the top over to the wrong side by 1.5cm, press, repeat and sew using a straight machine stitch. You can now work decorative stitchwork around the waistband if you wish – our sample features several lines of straight stitch to achieve a belted effect.
Create a tie-waist belt. Take the rest of your fabric strips and join to make a length of fabric roughly 2m. Fold it in half (with right sides together) and stitch along the long open edge. Turn right sides out to form a tube, and fold each short edge back inside the tube to hide the raw edges. Seal each short edge with a few hand stitches.
Lay your fabric out flat with right side facing downwards (do not fold it). Lay a pair of loose-fitting trousers or jogging bottoms down on top (wrong sides out) and study the shape of the pieces they are created from. Draw around the trouser leg, following the lines of the individual fabric piece, for example the curve of the crotch line.
You now have one rough trouser leg template. You will use this to create the first pattern piece – the back leg which will be slightly wider than the front. Neaten the line up once you have the basic shape, and add a 1.5cm seam allowance to all edges.
Using your inside leg measurement as a guide, mark down the required length of the trousers and add an additional 5cm hem allowance at the bottom of the leg. Once satisfied with the shape, cut this piece out.
Flip the piece over so that the right side is facing upwards. Use this as a template for cutting and chalking out your second back leg (with the fabric’s wrong side facing towards you) so that you get a mirrored version of the first leg. Cut this second leg piece out.
Repeat steps 1 - 3 for the two front leg sections, so that you have four finished pattern pieces; two front legs and two back legs. Neaten the edges of your fabric by overlocking or working a zig zag machine stitch around all edges.
Lay the two back leg pieces right sides together and join them at the back of waist to crotch seam with a straight machine stitch, leaving a 1.5cm seam allowance. Repeat for the front, sewing down from navel to crotch. To ensure a smooth gusset curve, use a pair of scissors to clip the seam allowance. Open up the raw edges and press the seams open.
Join the front and back sections along the side seams. Sew them together using a straight machine stitch, being careful to work 3cm of reverse stitch at the beginning and end of each seam to secure. Next, sew the inside leg seams starting at the crotch. Working down one leg, turn the work over, and repeat for the second leg.
Work the waistband. Fold 4cm of fabric around the top of the trousers to the wrong side and pin. Stitch it all the way around with a straight machine stitch, leaving a 4cm gap at one side to thread your elastic through.
Thread your elastic. To do this, attach a safety-pin to one end of the elastic. Take another pin and secure through the other end of the elastic, as well as the opening of the waistband channel. Use the first pin to guide your elastic through the waistband, making sure it doesn’t get twisted.
Once the elastic is all the way through the waistband channel bring both ends together, pin and sew using a straight machine stitch. Release the end, which will disappear neatly into the channel. Close the gap through which the elastic was threaded.
Hem your trousers. Neaten off the hemline if necessary, using sharp dressmaker’s scissors. Fold the bottom edge of each leg over by 5cm and press. Now pin and sew, using either a hem machine stitch or a delicate hand stitch.