How to Make a Renaissance Tunic

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Make a Renaissance Tunic
Make a Renaissance Tunic

If you're going to a Renaissance fair, you don't have to break your bank to outfit yourself, nor do you have to be an expert seamstress. This tunic is about as fast and easy as it gets for sewing projects, and you don't need to know how to sew anything more elaborate than a hemline to pull it off. Match it with a pair of black or brown cotton slacks, or a colorful skirt, and an old pair of scuffed boots, and you'll fit right in at the fair.

Things You'll Need

  • two pieces of fabric
  • scissors
  • chalk
  • pins
  • needle
  • safety pins
  • grommets
  • hammer
  • shoelace or ribbon
  • elastic
  • tape measure
  • t-shirt

Choose a comfortable, light cotton fabric. How much you need will depend on your size, but you'll probably want each piece to be at least 2 yards to work with. To estimate, hold the piece of fabric up against your body. It should go from your neck to slightly longer than you want the tunic to hang, and be at least as long as your two arms spread out wide. It always pays to have a few extra inches to work with, to be safe.

Fold one piece of the fabric in half, lengthwise. Lay it out on your work surface.

Get one of your t-shirts to use as a template. It should fit well-- not too large, but not tight. When you wear it, it should not be stretching to fit you, but hanging comfortably. Fold it in half, sleeve to sleeve. Lay it on the piece of folded fabric, so that the fold in the t-shirt and the fold in the fabric are against each other.

Take a tape measure and have a friend measure from your shoulder to your wrist. Then measure from under your arm to the length you want your tunic to be. Normally they hang just past the buttocks, though you could adjust it to your preference. Write down these measurements.

With a piece of chalk (a different color than that of your fabric), trace the neck line of the t-shirt onto the fabric, and over the shoulder. Take your tape measure to measure the sleeve. It should start at the shoulder seam of your t-shirt, and extend it out past the end of the t-shirt sleeve, to 3 inches longer than the arm measurement that you took earlier.

Trace the bottom part of the t-shirt sleeve from the under arm, and again continue to the same length as the top part of the sleeve. Make a line connecting the two lines that mark the end of the sleeve.

Starting from under the arm again, measure downward to the length you want your tunic to be, plus an additional 2 inches. Draw the line with the chalk. Finish by drawing a line across to mark the bottom of the garment.

Remove the t-shirt. At this point, you may want to use straight pins to pin the two sides of the fabric together, without disturbing it, but if you are confident with your scissor skills, you can just cut on the lines. Cut out the tunic shape. This will be the front of your tunic.

Fold your second piece of fabric in half, lengthwise, for the back part of your tunic. Lay the folded front section on it the same way you did the t-shirt. Use the chalk to trace it so that the back piece will be exactly the same. Remove the front part of the tunic, and pin and cut the fabric.

Open both pieces of fabric. Lay one out on the table, front-side (the side that will show in the finished product) up. Lay the second piece on top of it, front-side down, so that your fabrics will be front-to-front.

Use the safety pins to pin the edges (about ½ inch from the edge) together from the neck opening to the edge of the sleeves. Then pin from the under arm to the edge of the sleeve. Then pin from the under arm to the bottom of the tunic.

Your tunic is currently inside-out. Turn it right-side out and try it on with the safety pins. Look at how it hangs on you. If it is too big, or too small, turn it inside-out again and adjust the safety pins, putting them more inward to make it smaller, or closer to the edges to make it bigger. Turn it right-side out and try it on again.

Begin sewing along the edges that you have safety-pinned together when you are satisfied with it's shape. You can use a machine if you have one, or just do it by hand with a needle and thread if you don't have one.

While the tunic is still inside-out, fold up ½ inch of the bottom edge. Pin it and sew to hem the bottom of the tunic.

With your tunic inside-out, lay it flat on a table, with the side that will be the front of the garment facing upward. Use a ruler to measure and find the center of the neck line. Draw a chalk line straight down, approximately six inches from the top of the neck line. Cut along the chalk line. Do not cut through both sides of the tunic. Only cut the line down what will be the front of the garment.

Fold the edge of the neck line down approximately ½ inch and pin it with straight pins. Fold the edges along the cut over approximately 1/2 inch over, and pin them into place. Turn the tunic over, and fold down the edge of the back neck line down ½ inch. Pin it into place. Stitch the neck line all the way around, and down the front center cut.

On each side of the front center cut, tap in approximately four to five grommets with a hammer. The smooth side of the grommet should be on the outside of the shirt, the part that will be showing. Space the grommets out so they are evenly spaced from each other. The grommets on one side should match up evenly to the grommets on the other side.

Thread a shoe lace or narrow ribbon through the grommets, from the bottom of the opening, criss-crossing your way to the top. You can tie them, or leave the ends hanging.

Fold up the edges of the sleeves approximately 1 inch. Pin it into place. Stitch almost all the way around, leaving 1- or 2-inch opening.

Take ½ inch wide elastic. Measure your wrist. Cut two pieces of elastic, each about 3 inches longer than your wrist measurement. Place a safety pin on one end (do not loop it) of the elastic.

Slide the closed safety pin, with the elastic trailing, into the opening you left on one of the sleeves. Maneuver it through the "tunnel" of the hem until it comes back out the opening. Safety pin the two ends of the elastic together. It will cinch the sleeve together.

Try to slip the end of the sleeve over your wrist to see if it is comfortable. Make the elastic tighter, if necessary, by moving the pin farther from the edges. It should fit snugly, but not tightly, around your wrist, and stretch wide enough to slide over your hand without pulling too much. Take the sleeve off your wrist.

Stitch the elastic together at the point you have pinned it. Remove the safety pin and cut off any excess hanging elastic. Repeat the entire process on the other sleeve with another piece of elastic.

Turn your tunic right-side out and try it on. Put a belt or sash around your waist and your tunic is ready to go.

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