Friday, March 4, 2011

Schoolhouse Tunic Tutorial


Hello again everybody! Are you ready for a new project? Today I present you the "Schoolhouse Tunic" by Sew Liberated. This tunic is one of my favorite garments to make because it is easy and also because it is beautiful! I think it flatters just about any body type. It can be worn by itself, over jeans, leggings and boots, a bathing suit, you name it. You have the option to make it shorter as well and wear it as a blouse. Either way, as the front opening is quite big, you DO need to wear a cami or tank top below. You also have the option of adding elastic to the sleeve hems, but I have not done that. Maybe you can do it!

To see what other sewists have done with this tunic, check the Sew Liberated flickr pool. You'll be amazed to see how many possibilities the Schoolhouse Tunic presents!

Since I am so in love with this tunic, some time ago I asked the pattern creator, Meg, for permission to write a sew-along tutorial for it. She was super nice and said yes! I hope you feel encouraged to make one for yourself. The pattern instructions are super clear. So here we go!


Today we're going to cover steps 1-3 of the pattern instructions. Go ahead and cut your pattern pieces. You should have 10 in total.

I am going to work with a muslin, first because it’s cheaper, and second because I think that a solid light fabric is less distracting and clearer to see than one with a print.

First of all, grab your plackets and finish the raw edge shown here. This edge will be exposed and so I think it should be finished in order to avoid fraying. As you can see I serged it (I LOVE my serger!), but you can use a zigzag stitch with your regular sewing machine.


Now, grab one bodice front and one placket and place them right sides together, as shown.


Sew them together with a 5/8” seam allowance, as shown.


Before you turn this piece inside out, you need to clip the corner and the curve. See below. This is very important because it reduces unwanted bulk. Be careful not to cut through your stitches!


Now turn the piece inside out. Use a pointy object to carefully push out the corner. It should look like this.


Press this piece very well. Now grab your other placket and front bodice piece and repeat this procedure. Your two front pieces are ready!

Next, we’re going to attach the small bias binding piece to the bodice back. This is done to reinforce the neck area of the tunic. I cut my binding piece from a different fabric, with a pattern, so it will be easier for you to see its wrong and right sides. Fold the bias binding and the bodice back to find the middle. Place the bias binding on top of the bodice back, right sides together, at the neck curve, and align the middle points.


Now, start pinning the bias binding to the raw edge of the neck curve. Go to one side first…


…and then to the other side.


Now, sew these pieces together with a 5/8” seam allowance. Take your time doing this as you’re sewing on a curve. When you’re done, it should look like this:


Now you need to trim the seam allowance back to 1/4”. Grab your scissors and cut 1/4” away from your seam, all the way along the neck curve.


It should look like this when you’re done:


Now fold the bias binding UP towards its wrong side, aligning the raw edge with the seam, and press.


It should look like this:


All this time, you have been facing the right side of the bodice piece, right? Now you need to turn it over so that you’re facing its wrong side. You’re going to fold the bias binding up once again, but this time you will enclose the 1/4” seam allowance, as shown. In other words, you will be bringing the bias binding over to the wrong side of the back bodice, enclosing the seam allowance in the process.


Now fold down towards the wrong side, once again.


Pin this in place.


You are going to stitch this neck curve very close to the bottom folded edge. Again, go slow as you’re sewing along a curve. Take your time!


This is what it should look like when you’re done. Judging by the poor quality of my stitches, it’s pretty obvious that I didn’t go slow and I didn’t take my time… oh well, it’s just a mockup anyway! I’ll be much more careful when I make the tunic with “real” fabric. “-)


Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll show how to finish the the bodice. Let me know if you have any questions! Thanks for stopping by!

Quick links:
Schoolhouse tunic - Part 2
Schoolhouse tunic - Part 3
Schoolhouse tunic - Final Part


  1. Very helpful information! I think sewing a muslin first is very helpful. Best wishes!

  2. Thanks so much, Chris! Come visit soon. Love your blog! :)

  3. jerrryyannina@yahoo.comMarch 7, 2011 at 5:58 AM

    Ana, también despues de cortar el margen de la curva del cuello le puedes hacer piquetitos con la tijera a todo lo largo del cuello para que al plancharlo no se mueva y sea más facil coserlo.

  4. Thanks a million for this tutorial. I was lost with the bias binding- thanks to these instructions my neckline looks awesome!

  5. Hi, there. I couldn't get the link to Part 2 to work. Is there another link to it?

    1. Hi Veronicamade! Thanks for letting me know. I fixed the link! It should work now. Sorry about that.

  6. Hi from Italy :-)
    thank you very very much for this great walkthrough !
    PS. do you accept requests for next sewing pattern tutorials?

    1. Ciao Paola! Thank you for your visit and I'm glad this helped you. As far as sewing tutorials, oh well, I wish I had more time to sew!! What did you have in mind?

  7. Hi from Italy :-)
    thank you very very much for this great walkthrough! you accept requests for your next sewing pattern tutorials ?

  8. I just bought this pattern and I was getting a little overwhelmed reading the directions until I found your blog!!! Thank you so much!!!! You don't know how many hours of seam ripping you've saved me.

    1. So happy to know it helped you. Hope you enjoy your tunic and make many more!

  9. I made my mock-up of this yesterday and wish I had seen this tutorial before I tackled it. The visuals would have made it go a lot more smoothly, so thanks for posting it. I will say I that found that the bias strip is too short as designed. I'll be cutting it a bit longer (about 1"-ish) and trimming it to length after I've attached it to the back neck-curve. I thought the gaps at the ends would be covered by attaching the front to the back at the shoulders, but there were still bias raw edges exposed after it was all assembled. For a little flair, I've decided to use a contrasting/coordinating fabric for the bias strip and placket pieces. That way, if my plackets droop down, there will be a little visual surprise.

    1. Hi Jerri, those are great ideas! I will do that too when I make my next tunic :-)

  10. I live in a hot area of Australia and putting a singlet under this would be too hot. Has anyone thought of inserting a piece of material at the top opening so you don't have to wear an extra piece of clothing. If yes, how would I go about doing this?

    1. Not sure how to go about that, but what I would do is attach both front bodice pieces to each other using a slip stitch (so some hand sewing involved...), once you figure out how low you want the opening to be. Let me know if this helps!


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