3 Dresses 3 Fits 3 Looks

05 Mar 3 Dresses 3 Fits 3 Looks

Maybe you go through color phases like I do.  I don’t know where they come. Two years ago I was all about orange but lately I’ve been partial to blue and green.

Recently, the delightful fabric designer Jennifer Paganelli sent Julie and me selections from her Hotel Frederiksted collection. We each made a tunic for one of our book signings at Quiltcon in Savannah last week.  The fabrics are quilting cotton which isn’t always recognized as garment friendly, but one can have fun with the great prints found in quilting cotton, and create cute casual garments! Here’s mine.


I decided to make a summer dress fitted through the bodice and a-line below the hips. Back darts were added in the back.

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By adding an invisible side zipper, I can get in and out of the dress without wrinkling the cotton.


The large pattern design needed to flow freely especially on short me. My placket is sewn in the dress fabric and matched to the bodice. I piped the placket in the companion fabric to give it some definition and RTW detail.

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I contemplated piping the neckline but opted instead to pipe the armscye for balance and to give the dress a finished look. I love the dress and am eagerly awaiting warmer weather!

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Earlier in the fall I made an all purpose dress in a four-way stretch nylon/spandex fabric which I found at Mary Jo’s Cloth Store in Gastonia, NC. I see RTW garments everywhere in this stretch fabric!


I wear this simple dress ALL THE TIME! Julie and I were inspired to design the ruffled neckline two years ago by the Devon Baer line, and are we glad we did! Now we cannot keep up with the designers offering  this ruffled neckline dress and tunic.

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The stretch in this fabric naturally resulted in a looser fit. I added narrow back darts to fit the back, but because I loved the comfort of this dress, I made no other adjustments.



I happen to be someone who asks “What if….” a lot.

What if I made the ruffle wider?

What if I used a heavy scuba type knit on this pattern?

What if I made it really fitted?

I put the pedal to the metal over the last couple of days and here’s the result.


I picked up the fabric from my local JoAnn’s. The fabric is so heavy it would not fit through my ruffler so I gathered the ruffle by hand, otherwise it all worked out! Due to the weight of the fabric and because I wanted a fitted dress with little or no flare, I ran the back darts all the way to the lower edge.

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I used bias strips of silk for the armhole facings and cut the shoulders in slightly beyond the pattern marking. Since the dress is more fitted than my usual makes I’m wearing it a little longer striving for balance……..

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All of the dresses are made from The Tunic Bible. The philosophy behind the book is by fitting yourself once, you are free to experiment and be creative with the design details, and it has been the greatest reward of our efforts! Additional construction techniques and details can be found at thetunicbible.com.

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As promised earlier – the next post will feature Julie Starr’s Winter project which I must share! (not tunics 😉 )

Happy Sunday everyone!



  • Cheryll Kaczkowski
    Posted at 10:57h, 05 March Reply

    Your concept is brilliant. By changing out fabrics and design elements beautiful garments result! I am thrilled to see so many dresses showing up on the blogs again. Feminine details enhance a lady and her style. It is my goal in life to not see ladies wearing yoga pants and sleep wear in public, dresses are the perfect medium to influence in my opinion. Thank you for all your hard work and creativity to inspire us all. ps: I am a quilter and you are correct, quilting fabric is not always garment friendly but you have defied that logic with this dress!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 16:19h, 05 March Reply

      Thank you for your comment! I agree with you that dresses are the perfect medium and I love wearing them throughout the summer. I’ve found quilting cotton works nicely due to its great colors and designs for simple and casual clothes. 🙂

  • Brenda Everett
    Posted at 11:04h, 05 March Reply

    Hey Sarah! It’s Brenda whom you met at Chautauqua last summer! I really love the solid blue dress and am totally thinking of copying it! They are all super cute, though. I love the ease of one piece dressing and tend to wear dresses often to work.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 16:33h, 05 March Reply

      Well I hope you do copy it! You may want to find a fabric in a slightly lighter weight for easier sewing 😉 Many thanks for the comment, Brenda – I’m contemplating another Chautauqua trip this summer.

  • Julie Johnston
    Posted at 11:17h, 05 March Reply

    Thank you for the beautiful inspiration! As a garment sewist since childhood and a mad lover of fabric, my forays into the quilting universe have resulted mostly in cottons too delicious to be left in the shop being added to my stash. Both this lovely tunic and your fabulous waxed cotton wrap spark ideas of ways to use my treasures (while the quilting skills are still woefully short of my aspirations).

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 16:37h, 05 March Reply

      Many thanks, Julie! I know what you mean ~ the first time I saw Amy Butler fabrics I ordered several just because they were beautiful 😉

  • Joan Collins
    Posted at 12:45h, 05 March Reply

    HI Sarah, I have a question on the quilters fabric dress. Did you line it with batiste to help with wrinkling? If you wash it at home, is it difficult to iron easily?

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 16:44h, 05 March Reply

      Joan~ I always pre-wash quilting cotton with an extra dose of fabric softener. It is very easy to iron after washing. I did not line this garment but have lined others with batiste and it does indeed help with wrinkling 🙂 Many thanks for your comment.

  • Carolyn
    Posted at 12:51h, 05 March Reply

    I love all three versions! And you know this is my philosophy of sewing – fit the pattern and go crazy designing your own looks. You and Julie have managed to make this a key component of your book and that’s fabulous!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 16:46h, 05 March Reply

      Thank you Carolyn! You are the champion of designing your own looks 🙂

  • Eleanor Pollack
    Posted at 13:07h, 05 March Reply

    Delightful trio! It’s helpful to note the differences in each, especially for the less experienced sewist. The flexibility encouraged in your book is a real gift. I have my Bible and am plotting my first foray, after a little boy’s very important first birthday. The Tunic Bible has influenced me already in a pattern stash busting effort. Select a core pattern and keep only whatever else has potential details to be used at will and whim. Thoughts from another Chautauqua acquaintace, the PR moderator one…

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 16:50h, 05 March Reply

      I love hearing from from my Chautauqua acquaintances -especially on the same day! Thank you for ordering The Tunic Bible and I look forward to seeing your makes 🙂

  • Lisa Lacy
    Posted at 14:14h, 05 March Reply

    Great post! Sarah what length invisible zipper did you use on the first one? I added back darts to the tunic I’m working on now, and I need to add a zipper.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 16:53h, 05 March Reply

      Many thanks, Lisa! I always buy long zippers and cut them off, but the length in this one is approximately 18″. Look forward to seeing your next tunic!

  • Vanessa
    Posted at 14:17h, 05 March Reply

    I love all three versions too! Great job, you look stunning!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 16:55h, 05 March Reply

      Thank you so much, Vanessa!!

  • Laura Casey
    Posted at 14:18h, 05 March Reply

    Oh Sarah, that blue/wider ruffle dress is a stunner! Love everything about it-GREAT MAKE sister. I also am drawn to some of the wonderful quilting fabs….but I usually make a fun shirt with them…..just finished my annual dog shirt out of a quilter’s cotton which says WOOF WOOF all over it. The piping on your blue and green really hits the right note…also wonderfully made.
    I may have to make a V-neck big ruffle dress…..I’m all about dresses for the summertime.
    Thanks for the inspiration….just love you blog.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 17:59h, 05 March Reply

      Hi Laura and thank you so much for your nice comment! I agree – quilting cotton can make some great shirts – I may want to sew more of Jennifer’s fabrics. They are so wonderful!

  • Katherine Huson Finch
    Posted at 17:54h, 05 March Reply

    I know how stretchy rayon Lycra can be, so did you interfere your ruffle so it wouldn’t “fall all over”? I love those ruffles!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 17:58h, 05 March Reply

      I did not interface the ruffle. The topstitching around the edge forces the ruffle to turn inward 😉 If it was any larger it might flop in the back, but this width worked fine for this fabric. Many thanks for your comment!

  • Angie
    Posted at 18:23h, 05 March Reply

    All three dresses look fabulous on you and serve as wonderful inspiration. I was at a “sewing ladies” banquet last night where a woman was wearing a tunic from the “bible” and said it is a stash buster because there are so many ways to create different looks with different fabrics and only one pattern! I’m excited to try my hand at mine. I have a couple of questions about fitting the back. On the quilting cotton dress, it looks as if your back darts go almost up to the shoulder line. Am I seeing that right? I’m thinking they usually stop below the shoulder blades, thus my curiosity about this. Also, have you (or anyone you know of) ever inserted an exposed zipper in the back (or added a center back seam for a zip) instead of the side zip? Just curious if that might be an option, since I like to leave the side seam “available” for fitting. Thank you!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:51h, 05 March Reply

      What a great comment, Angie! I am guilty of extending the darts beyond the pattern stitching lines due to my narrow back. Neither Julie nor I have inserted a back zipper. Please let us know if you do it successfully!

  • Monica Goforth
    Posted at 18:50h, 05 March Reply

    I love them all! When you mentioned Mary Jo’s, it brought back SO many memories! My late mother-in-law sewed and constantly had projects underway. She made many clothes for me. I will always remember walking all over the store looking at fabric. The fabrics for my bridesmaids’ dresses was purchased there-way back in 1983.! I really enjoy your posts.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:54h, 05 March Reply

      Thank you for your comment, Monica! I too was married in 1983! Mary Jo’s has changed dramatically over the years but I’m always able to find a little something there .)

  • Catty andrt
    Posted at 20:52h, 05 March Reply

    Hi Sarah! I’m on my second tunic and have added front darts. Have you ever done this? My fabric is silk dupioni and I’ve lined it and I’m about done with the side zip. It’s comes together so easily! Look for it on instagram! I’ll tag the “bible”!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 21:23h, 05 March Reply

      I’ll watch for it Catty! I have not added front darts but Julie has for additional shaping 😉
      I’m sure it will be lovely !

  • Karin Mueller
    Posted at 01:40h, 06 March Reply

    Your ruffled v-neck is very becoming and your choice of jewellry as unerring as always. Love it.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 06:06h, 06 March Reply

      Thank you so much, Karin!

  • Linda LaMona
    Posted at 06:47h, 06 March Reply

    Great looking tunic and dresses! Love the blue dress the most. Great color on you!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 10:14h, 06 March Reply

      Thank you Linda! I love this shade of blue too 😉

  • Becky Bagwell
    Posted at 07:55h, 06 March Reply

    Sew much fun! Love them all!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 10:14h, 06 March Reply

      Thank you, Becky!

  • Irene
    Posted at 08:56h, 06 March Reply

    Lovely! – all three of them!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 10:15h, 06 March Reply

      Many thanks, Irene. They each serve a different purpose 😉

  • MaryEllen
    Posted at 09:14h, 06 March Reply

    I love all of these Tunics & need to get started making my first one !!! The first tunic with the piping on the sleeves -I saw you said you didn’t line it , so did you just use facings to encase the piping or ???
    How’s your AZ grandbaby ??

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 10:19h, 06 March Reply

      Thank you so much, Mary Ellen! I left 5/8″ of fabric along the piping. After sewing I layered the seam allowance, turned under the top layer and hand stitched the ‘facing’. I’ve never used this technique before, but it worked just great for an unlined garment.
      I’ll be in AZ later this month to see Birdie 🙂 🙂

  • Peggy Slavin
    Posted at 10:33h, 06 March Reply

    What an inspiration to use patterns more than once – three totally different looks! Not only is the blue fantastic with your coloring, I think you have hit the perfect proportion with the longer length.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 13:27h, 06 March Reply

      LOL – I have a hard time going down on the length, but I do love Fit Once and sew many styles 🙂
      Many thanks for the comment Peggy!

  • Pam Morris
    Posted at 20:11h, 06 March Reply

    These are beautiful and SO inspiring! I’m dying to make my first Tunic Bible project. I was sure it would be a classic linen one but now I must have a fitted ruffle collar dress. That looks stunning on you.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 06:08h, 07 March Reply

      Hi Pam! Many thanks for your nice comment and please sent me a pic of your tunic – I know it will be cute 🙂 🙂

  • Tomasa
    Posted at 21:58h, 06 March Reply

    It is amazing how changing the fabric and a detail here and there makes each dress look like a completely different dress. All of them are gorgeous. You look beautiful in each one.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 06:09h, 07 March Reply

      Thank you so much Tomasa! I agree that a single detail can completely change the entire look of the garment 😉

  • linda
    Posted at 14:26h, 07 March Reply

    Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I also used to sew many moon ago, and even made myself 2 suits when I was a teenager, and I guess was too naive to be intimidated by that! I also look at some of the clothes in the store and am shocked by their simplicity and their price. So….. I am trying to start to sew again, and always look to your blog for inspiration. You are so talented, but more so , have a great eye for co-ordinating patterns colours and styles. I sometimes see beautiful fabric, but am unsure of what to make with it. You give me motivation and inspiration…….keep going!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 13:48h, 11 March Reply

      Thank you so much for your nice comment! Those simple and pricey ready-to-wear clothes usually serve as my inspiration for buying fabrics and matching them to patterns. Good luck with your sewing 🙂 🙂

  • Maribeth Thomas
    Posted at 00:12h, 14 May Reply

    This post inspired me greatly! Just ordered your book and am plotting and planning as I look at my fabric stash. Thanks so much.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:05h, 16 May Reply

      Thank you so much, Maribeth!! Hope you enjoy it 😉

  • Susanne H. Keller
    Posted at 13:42h, 02 August Reply

    Dear Sarah and Julie
    Thank you so much for the Tunic Bible! I am just enjoying the creation of my first dress – charcoal italian linnen straight from fabric paradise – from your book, and I have a feeling there will me many more. The pattern is so versatile and easy to use. Susanne from Zurich

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