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Nicole Blum from One Golden Apple is back! Nicole also posts regularly at Improv Diary, the site she shares with Debra Immergut, co-author of their recent (and fabulous) Improv Sewing: 101 Fast, Fearless Projects. Nicole shared the lovely Reverse-Appliqué Skirt and this fabulous Hooded Tunic Tutorial with us this year. The skirt, hooded tunic and today’s ruffled wrap give you a great look at the style and approach to the many quality projects in Improv Sewing. Nicole and Debra give you the confidence you need to create an entire wardrobe, complete with beautiful accessories (plus home decor items + furnishings); the projects are easy, flattering and the clear instruction makes each effort a success. Just what you want out of a sewing book, right?!

Enjoy today’s free Ruffled Wrap tutorial from Improv Sewing: 101 Fast, Fearless Projects and comment below to win a free copy of the book! Tell us how you improvise when you sew (or not!), or tell us how much you love the projects in Improv Sewing

The uneven hemline of this sophisticated little number looks lovely when the front is left open, and adds interest to a plain top or dress when it is tied at the waist.

The simple ruffle is left with a raw edge for a more laid-back touch.

What You’ll Need:

  • Torso pattern piece to trace
  • 1 yard 58/60″-wide jersey fabric
  • 1 spool of coordinating thread

Make your Torso Pattern Piece:
Cut a sheet of kraft paper, or the plain side of wrapping paper, a few inches larger all around than each of the two pieces — you can also cut open and flatten a paper grocery bag or two. Iron the paper gently to remove any creases. To make the torso pattern piece, fold the front panel of your original shirt* in half lengthwise and align the fold with the edge of the paper. Pat out any wrinkles until the panel is flat and aligned. Trace around it, adding ½” for the seam allowance along the armhole, shoulder, and side (don’t add seam allowance to the neckline, since it will be finished in a variety of ways). Cut along the marked lines with paper scissors, and label the edges “center” and “side seam” to help you remember which is the pattern piece’s center line and which is the side seam.

* Your original shirt is a shirt that fits you well, used to trace your new pattern.

Tip: If you’re an experienced sewist and know a lot about shirt construction, you can probably make the pattern just by tracing the shirt carefully rather than cutting it apart; if so, go for it.

To make the sleeve pattern piece, fold the original sleeve piece in half lengthwise and align the fold along one edge of the paper. Trace around it, adding ½” for the seam allowance along the cap (the bell-shaped curve along the top edge of the sleeve) and down the length of the sleeve. Cut along the marked lines with paper scissors, and label the pattern piece along the sides with the words “seam” and “fold.” Note the sleeve style (short, cap, long, and so on) directly on the pattern too, since you may accumulate a bunch of sleeve patterns.

Create the Ruffled Wrap:
1. Measure, mark, and cut the back panel: Lay the fabric right side up with the straight grain running vertically. Fold one edge toward the center so that you can fit the panel pattern piece positioned along the fabric fold.

Trace the pattern piece onto the wrong side of the fabric and cut along the marked lines through both layers of fabric. Don’t cut through the fold, because that’s the center of the back panel. Simply unfold your fabric after cutting and it’s ready to go.2. Measure, mark, and cut two front panels.

Fold the remaining fabric in half with the right sides together and position the panel pattern piece so the side seam is close to, but not on, the fabric fold. This will allow for ample room to draw a new shape for the center opening.

Trace the shoulder line, the armholes, and the side seam. To make the swooping design line of the front, mark a point on the fabric 5″ from the bottom of the pattern piece and 7″ to the right of the original center line as shown. Use a French curve or your eye to draw lines to connect this mark with the side and shoulder seams as shown. Cut along the lines through both layers of fabric.

3. Assemble the wrap: With the right sides together, pin the back to the two front pieces so the shoulder and sides are aligned. Using a straight stretch stitch, sew a 1/2″ seam at the shoulders and sides.

4. Add the ruffles: Fold the remaining yardage in half with the straight grain running vertically and the right sides together. Cut two 1″-wide strips from fabric edge to fabric edge across the grain.

Baste 1/4″ from one long edge of each strip. On each strip, grasp the top thread and gently slide the fabric along the thread to make loose gathers.

Pin a ruffled strip along each edge of the front panel so that the panel overlaps the ruffle’s sewn edge by 1/4″, extending the ruffles as desired to fit the front edge. From the right side of the panel, topstitch with a straight stitch about 1/8″ from the edge. This leaves the front panel’s raw edges exposed to add even more fullness and texture.

Cutting Tip: Don’t worry if your lines aren’t perfect. As long as the curves are gradual and gentle, the end result will be just fine.

Stitching Tip: When you’re done stitching the seams, snip the corners of the seam allowances so they don’t show.

Excerpted from Improv Sewing, copyright Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut with illustration by Ryan McMenamy. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.