The Holiday Tunic

02 Dec The Holiday Tunic

IMG_0057From the moment I resumed sewing garments in 2011, I was obsessed with learning to sew the cute $$$ RTW tops I could never justify buying for myself.

My second blog post was about recreating Milly peasant tops, and thus began my journey leading to The Tunic Bible. My first top, a silk peasant top looked quite homemade, but I was blinded by enthusiasm and after my investment of time and effort, I wore it with great pride. My mother bought the silk in Asia and I wanted to please her as much as myself.

Six years later I see the progress I’ve made but I’m still obsessed with recreating expensive RTW tops, and pay regular visits to the Saks website.


When Pfaff contacted me about becoming its ambassador I enthusiastically explained all of this to the company representative culminating in my desire to embroider tunics.

Julie and I designed a tunic bodice that would accommodate unlimited neckline variations. After the book was published, we began customizing necklines with purchased appliqués, but at last I have the capability to actually embroider necklines.

So this is my first tunic with a custom embroidered neckline, making this garment a dream come true!


While the process is not difficult, I’m on a learning curve. I wouldn’t exactly call the following steps a tutorial just yet, but in case you want to know what I did, here goes…….

1.Download design. I found a website that offers hundreds of neckline designs.

2. Convert design to compatible format with machine. Embroidery Designs converted the files I purchased from Embdesigntube to a format compatible with my machine for free.  (VIP file)

The photo below shows the design loaded onto my machine. The designs are large and require a larger hoop. My hoop is  360×260, but many of the neckline designs require a larger size.


3.  Cut a piece of  fabric slightly larger than the front bodice pattern.

4. Place the design approximately 2″ below the edge of the fabric. This should allow enough space for the pattern piece placement after the embroidery is completed.

5. Embroider the design.


Some of the following photos below feature my practice sample embroidered in a single color just like the pattern download.

6.  Cut a piece of fashion fabric a little larger than your embroidery design. This will be your facing. Stabilize the facing with your preferred method. In the sample I used a layer of organza. For the garment I applied Pellon EK 130 Easy Knit fusible interfacing to the facing.

7. Place the facing over the embroidery design right sides together.

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8.  Secure with pins and flip to back of embroidery design. (The color variation in the sample photo below is due to two colors of bobbin thread 😉 )



9. Stitch around the inside of the embroidery (this is the neckline). Trim close to stitching.



10. Turn and press.



11. Trim  the facing to a shape similar to that of the embroidery design, and finish the edge by turning under or serging the edge.

You are now ready to cut the front bodice.


I have a way of making things difficult for myself ….. for my first embroidered neckline project, I selected an antique piece of silk dupioni embroidered in different color threads. IMG_0007

I received the beautiful dupioni from a longtime family friend. The silk is old and possibly the loveliest dupioni I have seen or touched with its fantastic weight, drape and very few slubs. The vibrant hues shimmer and radiate the varying shades of green and black threads. Its unique colors are gorgeous.

I stabilized the fabric with a ‘soft cut-away’ stabilizer thinking I didn’t want to place stress on the fabric with a’ tear-away’ stabilizer.

I was very pleased with the embroidered design around the neckline until I made the fatal mistake of pressing the embroidered silk with a steam iron. This caused puckering which is here to stay.😡 Maybe you know a miracle remedy for this.

Since Embdesigntube did not offer a companion embroidery design for the sleeves, I found a design from my machine.  I used a tear-away stabilizer for the sleeves and was careful with the iron. They are perfect……… and this is one lesson I will never forget.

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Christmas Tunic-001.jpg 3

I added back darts for a fitted back and a more flattering silhouette, and chose a shorter length just beneath the widest part of the hips (keeping up with the current RTW trend!)…

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… and here we have it….. The Perfectly Puckered Holiday Tunic 😉

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30 days left until the 2018 RTW Fast!

  • Becky Bagwell
    Posted at 07:50h, 02 December Reply


    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 08:06h, 02 December Reply

      Thank you, Becky!

  • Amy Knopsnider
    Posted at 07:55h, 02 December Reply

    I so enjoy your blog. Your projects are always lovely!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 08:06h, 02 December Reply

      Many thanks, Amy 🙂

  • Cheryll Kaczkowski
    Posted at 07:57h, 02 December Reply

    The tunic is lovely, the fabric is perfect. If you had not pointed out the pressing issue, I would never have noticed. Truly, it is only visible on close inspection. A great make. Looking forward to 2018!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 08:04h, 02 December Reply

      Thank you, Cheryll! I hope pointing this out will help others avoid such a dreadful mistake. Also, I’m hoping a remedy exists 😉

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:06h, 04 December Reply

      Many thanks Cheryll! So glad you’re on board for 2018!

  • susan snow
    Posted at 08:10h, 02 December Reply

    I wouldn’t have noticed the puckering until you pointed it out. It really isn’t noticeable. If it bugs you have you thought about discussing it with the dry cleaners? Maybe they have ways of steaming things out. In any case, don’t worry about it and enjoy your beautiful top!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 08:21h, 02 December Reply

      Thank you, Susan! I’ll enjoy the top but don’t want anyone else to make this mistake 😉

  • Tina Spear
    Posted at 08:11h, 02 December Reply

    Stunning! Almost makes me want to purchase an embroidery machine. Can you tell me how you made the ruffle around the edge of the sleeve? Dimensions, not construction.Is it just a rectangle piece of fabric, or did you make it curved at the seam line similar to a contoured waistband or peplum?

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 08:23h, 02 December Reply

      Many thanks, Tina! The Tunic Bible features a ruffle cuff, but this sleeve was cut from a rectangle almost twice the width of the sleeve. The ruffle is folded in half so that it is hemmed before attaching to the sleeve.

      • Tina Spear
        Posted at 10:20h, 02 December Reply

        Thank you!

  • Tempe Lampe
    Posted at 08:14h, 02 December Reply

    Do you use rayon or polyester thread? I made the mistake of ironing a polyester thread design on too high a setting and burned the threads. I love your tunic and can’t wait to try something like it myself – it looks gorgeous!

  • Toni Morse
    Posted at 08:50h, 02 December Reply

    Love this!❤️❤️❤️❤️
    While I think the neck and sleeve designs go well together, if you want them to really match you can do some editing of the neck design in software to get your sleeve design.
    You really do a beautiful job and it always looks fantastic on you!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:48h, 04 December Reply

      I so agree with you, Toni! I do not own embroidery software yet. Next step 😉
      Many thanks for your comment!

  • Debbi S
    Posted at 08:51h, 02 December Reply

    I love your pretty little tunic. I am infatuated with bell sleeves right now. I bought a pretty little top (Parsley&Sage) that has a same color as fabric (coral) satin stitched embroidery flower and leaf design. It follows the neckline all around and then fills out to a large v shape on the front below the scoop neck and an even bigger v shape on the back because there is no neckline to take away the space. I love textures so much. What a great job you did.

  • Connie Turner
    Posted at 09:02h, 02 December Reply

    Silk is so beautiful, such luxurious sheen that you can see even in the photo. I think you did a wonderful job on this tunic. I’m glad you post about things that go wrong so others can learn.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:49h, 04 December Reply

      Connie ~ I use Coats and Clark Trilobal embroidery thread which is a polyester thread.. The thread was not the problem………. 😉

  • Sharon Kane
    Posted at 09:12h, 02 December Reply

    Beautiful fabric and embroidery design. While the puckering is there, one would think it would be a fabric issue, a machine issue, definitely not a user issue. Thank you for pointing out what happened – you provided a valuable tip to all your readers. Your work is always inspiring and fun to look at.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:50h, 04 December Reply

      Many thanks, Sharon! I ‘ll wear it and will try to wear it confidently 😉

  • Lucy N
    Posted at 09:17h, 02 December Reply

    I am so excited about these neckline designs! I can’t wait to check out this website. As for your puckering, I have had that problem embroidering on broadcloth. I believe it happens when your stabilizer is insufficient. After it happened to me, I literally doubled my stabilizer for the next project and it was fine. I’m not sure that the ironing had anything to do with it, although it might have. I tried everything to get that puckering out but nothing worked. If we are wise we would always do a small test with fabric and stabilizer and small piece if embroidery on thinner fabrics. But I know I probably won’t! Your tunic is gorgeous and no one will notice the puckering but you. We are always too hard on ourselves. Stitch on!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:53h, 04 December Reply

      ……so much wonderful content in your comment, Lucy!
      If I was wise……. I would have done a small test on the fashion fabric and not relied on the sample for sure.
      I believe the insufficient stabilizer may have played a major role in the puckering, but as you say…… Stitch On! :). 🙂

  • Alicia Burrus
    Posted at 09:19h, 02 December Reply

    Beautiful work. I love the embroidery designs you chose and the color is fabulous!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:53h, 04 December Reply

      Thank you so much, Alicia!

  • Chris
    Posted at 09:36h, 02 December Reply

    So stunning!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:54h, 04 December Reply

      Thank you, Chris!

  • Deborah Penner
    Posted at 10:02h, 02 December Reply

    Lovely work, Sarah. I am inspired!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:55h, 04 December Reply

      Thank you so much, Deborah! I’m inspired to try it again, hopefully with the exact result I’m seeking 🙂

  • Patricia Flournoy
    Posted at 10:11h, 02 December Reply

    You were lucky…the puckering is not noticeable! Finding the correct stabilizer is elusive. It is best to do a sample…I used a tearaway “sticky’ stabilizer on a lightweight linen and the fabric came away with the stabilizer! Your tunic is lovely…a job well done!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:56h, 04 December Reply

      Yikes!!!!!!! It could have been worse I suppose ;). Many thanks for your nice comment, Patricia!

  • PsychicSewerKathleen
    Posted at 10:18h, 02 December Reply

    I agree wholeheartedly with Lucy – no one is going to notice this puckering but you! Your tunic is so luscious and there is so much more to take in – gorgeous design on that shimmery dupioni – who in this crazy world but the sewist herself would notice a bit of pucker? Keeping in mind that it’s so common to see a bit of pucker around embroidery! Don’t let that dampen your joy in this amazing accomplishment 🙂 Your tunic is truly high end indeed!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:57h, 04 December Reply

      Thank you, Kathleen! This duping is beyond description and I hope it will overshadow the puckers 🙂

  • Becky Thompson
    Posted at 10:53h, 02 December Reply

    I’ve done that…the steam mistake. And no, I’ve not found a fix. Your blouse is lovely and the puckering is barely noticeable.. Question, does the website auto convert into US dollars on checkout? How do you know how much the designs are because the cost is not in US? I’m all over this.

    • Alania Sheeley
      Posted at 12:31h, 02 December Reply

      Becky, I visited the website and there is a tab at the top to change to USD.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:00h, 04 December Reply

      I converted the currency before buying the design, but as Alania said there is a tab that does this.
      Can’t wait to see yours!

  • Kathy
    Posted at 10:57h, 02 December Reply

    Beautiful results! Fabric selection, neckline design and color all amazing. Thank you so very much for sharing your source on neckline embroideries. I have done what you have done without the benefit of a pre-set design. So much better and easier when the design is made for a neckline. I will be visiting that website today.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:01h, 04 December Reply

      Thank you, Kathy! You’re going to love the predesigned necklines 🙂

  • Karen Helm
    Posted at 11:31h, 02 December Reply

    How beautiful! The color is luscious and the embroidery is the perfect design. I love it! Have you tried ironing over a thick towel to help remove the puckers (obviously with a silk organza press cloth on top)? It might help.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:03h, 04 December Reply

      Many thanks, Karen! I’ve ironed and ironed and ironed to remove the puckers. ;( Time to move on….

  • Eileensews
    Posted at 12:08h, 02 December Reply

    A lovely top.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:07h, 04 December Reply

      Thank you, Eileen!

  • Alania Sheeley
    Posted at 12:28h, 02 December Reply

    Try a Rajah Pressing Cloth by Sullivan. Here is a link: I use them all the time to put creases in pants, takes creases (including hemlines) out of garments. They are reusable and really are miracle workers.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:07h, 04 December Reply

      I will most definitely try this. Thank you, Alania!!!!

  • Sandy
    Posted at 12:48h, 02 December Reply

    This is simply one of the prettiest pieces ever. It is definitely better than RTW. You are amazing. The fabric and color are gorgeous. The embroidery is outstanding.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:08h, 04 December Reply

      Sandy, Thank you so much for your comment. I LOVE the tunic too puckers and all 😉

  • Patricia
    Posted at 13:03h, 02 December Reply

    Sarah, what a beautiful tunic!!! Your work is stunning. I love your website and look forward to seeing your new projects. I would love to invest in an embroidery sewing machine one day. So many endless creations.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:09h, 04 December Reply

      Thank you so much, Patricia! I highly recommend an embroidery machine……. I had no idea…… 😉

  • Samina Mirza
    Posted at 13:57h, 02 December Reply

    Your holiday tunic is better than RTW versions! Good make.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:10h, 04 December Reply

      Many thanks, Samina!!

  • Becky Hopkins
    Posted at 14:31h, 02 December Reply

    Oh, wow!!! Thank you so much for sharing.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:16h, 04 December Reply

      You’re so welcome and many thanks for your comment 🙂

  • Sheila Moller
    Posted at 15:17h, 02 December Reply

    Sarah, I too found out the hard way not to use iron on interfacing on a silk duponi blouse. Sigh. Your blouse is outstanding and the pucker is endearing.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:17h, 04 December Reply

      LOL – I’ll try to remember the puckers are endearing!
      Thank you, Sheila 🙂

  • Manju
    Posted at 15:51h, 02 December Reply

    Whatever you say this is stunning Sarah. Just beautiful

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:17h, 04 December Reply

      😉 Thank you, Manju!

  • Barbara Yonjof
    Posted at 16:57h, 02 December Reply

    Hi Sarah – you are very brave to try a neckline design on silk! I suspect your embroidery stitches are a little to dense for the fabric. Silk is very tightly woven. This is what may have pulled it all together when pressed. I noticed it was a little puckered on your practice piece also. I always make it a habit to pre-wash fabric before embroidery, especially a very densely stitched design. Some embroidery software will allow you to remove some of the density for easier embroidering and less puckering. Perhaps a heavy steaming prior to embroidery might have prevented the puckering. Regardless, it is a stunning tunic, and I applaud your tenacity! Keep on embroidering!!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:19h, 04 December Reply

      Brave or stupid….. sometimes the two go hand in hand 😉 I never thought about the stitches being too dense. I need embroidery software for sure.
      Thanks so much for your comment and your help, Barbara!

  • Debbie Williams
    Posted at 17:43h, 02 December Reply

    You are a wonder! I applaud all your efforts and think you are doing a fabulous job!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:20h, 04 December Reply

      Thank you so much, Debbie!

  • Patty
    Posted at 23:03h, 02 December Reply

    Oh my oh my!! So lovely 😊
    Your concern about the puckering reminds me that we see the flaws in our garments first and then our eye goes right to the flaw every time we wear it. Can we all agree to try to stop doing that and just enjoy our

    Thanks so much for the step by step photos, they are really helpful!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:26h, 04 December Reply

      I’ll try to agree, Patty, but don’t know if I can do it…………… the strive for perfection 😀😉🙃

  • Vancouver Barbara
    Posted at 04:20h, 03 December Reply

    Your top is beautiful and suits you so well. As many before me have said, only you will be aware of the puckering. So I hope you’ll be able to wear it and enjoy it. I would also try a very high end dry cleaner who specializes in silks and embroidery. They may be able to help you. Did you wash the silk before embarking on the project? How will you clean the top?

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:28h, 04 December Reply

      Thank you Barbara! The top will be dry cleaned. 😉

  • Ann cook
    Posted at 09:43h, 03 December Reply

    Hi Sarah,

    Like others, would not have noticed the puckering without you pointing it out (seen similar puckering on a Stella McCartney silk top from the summer 2017 RTW that is on my list to try and make.) so, if high end designers are ok with it, so should you be…when it’s minor vs all over.

    I’ve checked out the website you used and am happy to see so many neckline designs. Found the one you used and a few others I really liked. I had to set the currency to USD but when I got to checkout, it shows in Indian Rupee again. Was this site recommended to you or did you find it on your own ? Thanks, Ann

    PS: I purchased the Tunic Bible and have Made three so far … love the book !

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:30h, 04 December Reply

      I found the website on my own. I think it’s OK based on its customer service.
      Many thanks for buying The Tunic Bible – would love to see your tunics! 🙂

  • Hadassa Epstein
    Posted at 18:08h, 03 December Reply

    Beautiful top!
    I’ve been lusting after an embroidery machine, and would love to be able to create a similar effect. Since I’m not a Pfaff ambassador =( (though I do love my QE4.2) I probably won’t be able to afford such a large hoop capability.
    Does anyone know how to do something like this with a smaller hoop?

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 06:26h, 04 December Reply

      Many thanks! I’m wondering if embroidery software would allow you to cut the design in half which could be mirrored and sewn on a smaller hoop?

  • Tomasa
    Posted at 20:07h, 03 December Reply

    It’s a beautiful top. I think you did a lovely job with the embroidery despite the puckers!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:25h, 04 December Reply

      Thank you so much, Tomasa!

  • Margene
    Posted at 20:49h, 03 December Reply

    Beautifully done! I consider myself a newbie to embroidery and want to try a neckline design, too. You are producing wonderful results from the start.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:25h, 04 December Reply

      Thank you so much, Margene! I find embroidery incredibly fun 😉

  • Mary Funt
    Posted at 07:58h, 04 December Reply

    Beautiful job! I’ve looked at the site for these designs and wondered how they were to stitch out. I was hesitant to try an overseas site but It looks like they are well digitized and I will try them. My hoop isn’t large enough to do in one hooping but my Bernina software will split the designs. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 19:24h, 04 December Reply

      The designs are reviewed as well. I was a little skeptical too, but the website is ok. I really need embroidery software……

  • Eva Hoepelman
    Posted at 11:26h, 06 December Reply

    Stunning as always! Your blog is a delight, I get alot of inspiration from you ! Just inscribed in RTWfast 2018 and can’t wait…

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

      Many thanks, Eva! Delighted to have you join in the RTW Fast 😊

  • Pam T
    Posted at 02:41h, 12 December Reply

    Hi Sarah,

    In design school we spritzed on witch hazel to set and take out creases. However, I highly recommend testing it on a scrap of the silk to make sure it doesn’t leave a stain as maybe you didn’t pre-wash it. I never had a problem with using it. Maybe that’s what the rajah pressing cloth has in it!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:39h, 12 December Reply

      Hi Pam! I’ll try it on a scrap. My fabric was dry cleaned. I’ve only pre-washed dupioni once and it was a disaster 😟 Crepes and twills have pre-washed very nicely though. Many thanks for your comment.

  • Kathy
    Posted at 14:22h, 12 December Reply

    It’s beautiful! I love the shine of the silk.

  • Kathleen Hensley
    Posted at 07:52h, 22 December Reply

    I love this, the color is beautiful on you! I love the shine of the silk. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I look forward to see what 2018 brings. I want to start sewing for me again. I am 70 and can never find things that are look good on me or at my price range.

  • Abbey S
    Posted at 08:18h, 31 December Reply

    As others have mentioned, thick embroidery tends to produce wrinkles in the base fabric. When I iron my grandmother’s embroidered tablecloths, I put a thick towel on my ironing board and iron from the back, so that the embroidery can sink into the softer surface. Having said that for Silk, I’d top the towel with a cotton sheet to prevent the loops from showing up on the fabric after ironing. You could also create more loft on your ironing surface by putting an extra woolen blanket under the cotton cover….
    Lovely top and a great colour on you.
    Happy New Year, Abbey

  • Brita Audas
    Posted at 07:39h, 01 January Reply

    This tunic is so beautiful! Wonderful!
    Thank you for the tutorial. I too have an embroidery machine but necklines have been a mystery to me. Now I want to try it myself. I am curious about the neck. Anything to consider when it comes to the shoulder seam?
    Again, this tunic is stunning. I hope you had nice days wearing it.

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