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  • Writer's pictureLonda

How To Morph Your Basic T Sewing Pattern

Changing your basic T pattern is truly LOTS of FUN!  As with this project, that may mean some ‘morphing’ and RE-DOING, but in the end, it’s really worth it.  I let my students see the process as I work on it to encourage them to PERSIST (talking to myself as well!).  Walk with me through the process to see how I got to this flippy Tunic.

Finished Flippy Tunic from a T Pattern


  1. What I call a ‘Monet’ Rayon/Lycra Print-found at JoAnn’s!

  2. Orchid rayon/lycra jersey 4 gore skirt that I’d ‘scrapped’ in favor of the silk dupioni dress I made to stand up with my Sis at her wedding. See this post. And I’d even underlined each of the gores with nylon tricot!  I kept that nylon tricot layer intact as I worked, feeling it added nice body to a pretty cheap-filling jersey I’d gotten off

  3. Grey knit jersey from my stash – also rayon/lycra.

If you read my 3 part series on Rayon, you’ll understand why I KNOW that I will hand wash and hang dry this garment, pressing from the reverse side if necessary!


To create one of the longer tunic tops that are SO popular right now, it is really quite easy to add width and length to any basic T pattern.  Of course, I utilized my favorite Terrific T Top Pattern.   However, I want to go on record to say that I’m actually quite tired of this

However, I want to go on record to say that I’m actually quite tired of this prevalant  tunic/legging look.  Anyone with me?  I’m sure it is popular as it is skimming over generous bodies.  Like elastic waist pants and skirts, I fear this ‘skimming’ the body look is not going to do any of us favors in the end.  Personally, I don’t wear leggings – and feel many others should not either! Instead, I opt for a  rather a slim pant.  In fact, I just decided to narrow down yet another favorite bell-shaped black pant.

Add width and length

Add width and length

IDEAS-Where to find them…

Clicking on the Diagrams of a pattern you like ANY part of, right from your computer, you can print enough to show you proportions and get clues as to how to change your basic pattern.  Check out the Diagram  – Line Drawings – from a Vogue Pattern below.  On my Mac, I right click, Save Image As, and put into my Design Idea File, then print.  EZ.

Line Drawings from a Vogue Pattern

Line Drawings from a Vogue Pattern

Can you see in the 2nd row how I played with changing the straight lines to curves?  Why curves?  Well – the ‘Monet’ print has curved lines in it and my ‘design line’ is a curve rather than a straight.  I ‘get that’ from the curve of my hair, my round face, etc.  Curves just ‘work’ better on me and I prefer them.  That doesn’t mean that straight lines are wrong…I just feel I look better in CURVES. As my friend, Nancy Nix-Rice explains it, round shapes ‘connect’ with me, my ‘look’.

Mark and maintain straight grain on all pieces

Mark and maintain straight grain on all pieces.


Designing is really just that simple!  THE important FIRST step is to create a full-size pattern – meaning if it is cut on the fold, you double it and cut out of tissue or pattern fabric.  SECOND, establish the GRAINLINE on each and every piece.  The grainlines on these pieces need to be parallel to the original (which, in this case, was the original center front fold line.)

Another good thing to do is to mark cross hatches across any design lines.  Those will become matching notches. I also have found that if I just mark each seamline on both adjacent pieces with several big red X marks, that I can remember to add a seam allowance as I cut, rather than taking time to add tissue.  Do what works for YOU.

Original Back Pattern

Original Back Pattern

Original Front

Original Front

Remember to check to see how things ‘connect’ at the shoulders as shown in this photo.  Then remember to place your pattern right side up on the right side of te fabric!

Check what occurs at shoulder seams.

Check what occurs at shoulder seams.

Cutting from Mauve 'Flop' Garment. Note cream tricot underling.

Cutting from Mauve ‘Flop’ Garment. Note cream tricot underling.

Original Front in process

Original Front in process


At this point, my piece was on a dress form in my Studio.  Enter, good sewing friend.  She assumed the back was really the Front and vice versa.  By jove, I decided she was right, and proceeded to just use the Front as the Back, and the Back as the Front.  Out of a  knit – it worked! Yes, the Front had a lower neckline than the Back, but I figured that could be fixed.  Of course, I had to cut the original ‘Back’ lower to be the front.  That meant I needed to ‘fill in’ the ‘too low’ neckline that was now the ‘Back’  AFTER that, I designed the draped collar – several times, actually,  and came up with what ou see below.

As you can see, it had to be quite deep, and I actually had to take the seam in at quite an angle at the center back. To shirr the sides, I stretched 1/8″ braided elastic as tight as possible and zigzagged it on = a technique I teach in my Sensational Shirring Booklet.


I ALWAYS stabilize hems of knits with knit interfacing in the hem allowance.  I did just that , and then, feeling guilty that I have not only a serger with cover hem capability, but also a cover hem machine sitting here – that are hardly EVERY used, I decided to do the cover hem.

Hem#1.  I thought I’d make it look ‘extra nice’, so I serged it.  My serger happened to be threaded up with BOTH needles.  BAD BAD – it just overworked the hem.  SO – I cut that hem off (and I had twin needled it as well for the final stitching!) , and then, feeling guilty that I have not only a serger with cover hem capability, but also a cover hem machine sitting here – that are hardly EVERY used, I decided to do the cover hem. After adding the cover hem, it looked AWFUL!!!  I just didn’t like the waves that I got.

About this time, I almost ‘threw in the rag’ on this project.  Instead, I cut a cap sleeve cowl top out of the remaining length of the ‘Monet’ Print.  I simply cut it longer and a bit wider than my original pattern.  INSTANT SUCCESS!  In fact, I wore it for Resurrection Sunday with a wide belt! Instructions for turning any T into a cowl neck of ANY depth are found in my Captivating Cowls Talking pattern™.  Click HERE to order.

Cowl Neck Top

Cowl Neck Long T Top

Back to the ‘original’ project…    In retrospect, I know it wasn’t construction waves, but rather the only way that the fullness I had drafted in, and the character of the lightweight rayon jersey that created this ‘flowy’ hemline.  Nonethess, I didn’t like it.

Ripply, full hemline.

Ripply, full hemline.

Hem #2.  After about a week of ‘thinking’ and considering, I decided to cut it off much shorter and to add the flounce (___ depth) that you see here.  I like the dark color at the bottom, as it visually ‘weights’ or ‘anchors’ the garment in my opinion.  How to do a flounce?  Learn how in my Stetching Your Knit Sewing Know-How 3 Disc DVD OR my Flirty Flounces Talking Pattern™.  Similarly, I added flounces to the sleeve hemlines.

final tunic views

NOW, I love my tunic top!  Hopefully, my next sewing project won’t have quite as many Re-Do’s as this one.  Nonethess, I’m finding that I especially love the pieces that I have to ‘conquer’ .  It seems we ‘connect’ as a result of that process.  Thinking about it – perhaps this is kind of a ‘Garment pregnancy’?


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