A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Denim Gallery Tunic

Denim tunic made from the Liesl and Co. Gallery Tunic sewing pattern.

Before we packed up in Virginia, I paired three cuts of fabric with patterns and put them into clear zippered bags (the kind sheets come in) along with notions and thread. The idea was that they would be the first projects I would work on when I arrived in Colombia.

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Predictably, all that fell apart when I actually got here.  But the orange skirt I made in early February was actually one of the three fabric/pattern combinations I had organized for myself, and finishing it inspired me to grab another one.  Enter, chambray Gallery Tunic from Liesl & Co.

Back view of a denim tunic made from the Liesl and Co. Gallery Tunic sewing pattern.

I've made this tunic twice before (link to my first one here). While neither one is perfect, I do still wear them regularly, if not frequently.  I had hoped to fix that with this third version (spoiler alert - this version didn't fix anything, and the strange shape of the back hemline is a clue as to why).

I made a few changes to the pattern.  As I did on my second Gallery Tunic, I added a back yoke which I sewed using the burrito method.  I lengthened the yoke 1.5" from the last time, and turned the inverted back pleat from the pattern into a box pleat.  I also lengthened the front placket 4" total (vice 1.5" on my first one) and put a pocket on the front.  I had planned to put a couple of buttons in the bottom of the placket, but in the end decided I preferred the look without buttons and ended up hand-stitching about 2" of the placket closed. The opening of the placket hits below my bra, but it stays closed very nicely all by itself. I really like the placket this length.

Close-up of a denim tunic made from the Liesl and Co. Gallery Tunic sewing pattern.

Like my other two Galleries, this is a size 8 with a big ol' FBA and 1.5" full bicep adjustment. Which still isn't big enough (my measurements are 41-33-43 with a 14" bicep). I noted in the post about my first Gallery Tunic that I needed to adjust the sleeve a little wider, but then I never did it.  I also didn't adequately mark my adjusted pattern pieces.  So I used the same pattern piece I've been using, and the sleeve is still a little tight in the bicep. Ugh.

I also think that perhaps the 3/4" forward shoulder adjustment I made on the shirt is too big.  The seam is not centered on my shoulder and the collar slides backwards.  Ugh. Since writing this, I have finally cracked open my copy of The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting (affiliate link - this is a really invaluable book that I highly recommend), and realized that my problem is actually likely to be a high round back (aka dowager's hump ... which makes me feel just a bit grizzled not too long after a milestone birthday). Looking at the photo of the back hemline, which is oddly raised in the middle, you can see that I need a good amount more fabric just around my neck to make the back hemline hang straight.

The book says to measure the distance between the garment neck seamline and your actual neck seamline (delineated by where the chain of a necklace sits in the back) before you do this adjustment.  I did this on my finished garment, so, too little, too late. I found that there is a whopping 1.75" difference.  Look at these two photos - on the left, I've pulled the back collar up to sit where it should, and on the right, a few minutes later, showing where the neckline where it prefers to hang out.

Side view of a denim tunic made from the Liesl and Co. Gallery Tunic sewing pattern.

Blerg.  So basically I fixed none of the problems that plague my other two Galleries (sliding back neckline and slightly-too-tight bicep). I never had any idea that I needed a high round back adjustment, but this explains why my ubiquitous forward shoulder adjustments never seem to work properly.  I actually needed a different adjustment.  I may attempt a fourth Gallery Tunic (with a muslin this time), though I have another project I'd like to tackle first.

Denim tunic made from the Liesl and Co. Gallery Tunic sewing pattern.

The fabric is really nice to wear. It's a modal denim that I bought at Joann's a year ago to make a pair of Calyer Pants but then ended up using other fabric.  It's drapey and has a beautiful sheen, and while it is a relatively light fabric, it has a little bit of heft to it.  I had 2.25 yards and I used all but about a 20" square scrap (so, not enough to cut new sleeves when I realized that mine were a tiny bit tight).

denim tunic made from the Liesl and Co. Gallery Tunic sewing pattern.

Although I'm annoyed that I've made this shirt three times and it still has a pretty significant fit issue, I still really like the top and have worn it several times since completing it. Ever since I bought the fabric for my olive green Gingers (which I'm also wearing in this post), I had planned to make a denim or chambray shirt to go with them. And hopefully, the fourth time will be the charm for me and this pattern.

As always, thanks for reading, and see you next time!


  1. Great job persisting to solve the fitting ptoblem!

  2. Love the sheen and placket! Glad you figured out what to do next.

  3. After studying the fit for real people book, I concluded that I have a high round back too! My Liesl Classic Shirt does the same thing on me that your Gallery Tunic does on you - yanks away from the front of my neck and chokes me a bit. I am going to try actually slashing and spreading on my next make. It makes sense to me that a forward shoulder would not quite address this because you need more fabric on the middle back. But it took me a while to come to this conclusion. ANYHOO! I actually really love the looks of this on you and I am sorry it's not more comfortable to actually wear!

    1. I feel like we have a lot of the same fitting adjustments. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with. It does feel like an epiphany to realize exactly why the forward shoulder adjustments haven't been working!

  4. I am sorry you are having fitting issues but it is a very nice looking shirt.

  5. I first of all have to tell you it looks fabulous.
    I am so happy that I ran across your blog a few years ago. I enjoy every thing that you share with us, I look forward to seeing that you have posted something new. You are a beautiful person and a beautiful seamstressseamstress, keep up the great work. I've been sewing for about 40 years now and I'm so glad to see how many women are making there own clothing. I have to say another thing that I really enjoy about your blog is that you write about the fails also and I think that it's great and realistic and more sewing bloggers need to do that. So again Thank you for sharing your AMAZING talent with us it makes my day to read. Have a beautiful day.😊Cheri in Washington state.

    1. You are very sweet! I'm glad you're enjoying my blog.

  6. Masha, you have made a super nice shirt! Yes, figuring out our fitting issues takes time and patience - and they change over the years as well! As I approach my 5x birthday this year, I’ve decided to take a fit class to get to the bottom of all my new fitting issues.

    Just a quick suggestion if the hemline bothers you - get someone to help you mark a level hem, and cut the shirt down and re-hem. Not the best solution for every time you make a shirt, but a way to fix a shirt if it really bugs you. I would use bias binding to hem it after cutting it down to give a bit of stability, and keep you from loose more length to the hem.

    Keep sewing! It’s a beautiful journey!!

  7. Thank you so much, that is a great idea. Since I can't see the hem it doesn't bother me - ha ha!

  8. I like your shirt! Maybe the fit isn’t the way you expected but it’s such a lovely colour and it looks so soft and casual, I think it looks fine!

  9. Masha,
    I love your shirt and teamed with the skinny jeans! It is always fun to figure out a tweek to making patterns fit us better. I wish I had found your blog earlier. :-) When I got the email from Oliver & S today, I said "I know her!" and followed the link here. I think I need to do a little less ballet sewing and a little more sewing for myself. I need one of these shirts in my wardrobe and I am sure I can find some fabric here in my house. I hope your travels will bring you back to Virginia sooner than later. Meg


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