Popover Tunics

| December 18, 2012 | 1 Comment

Turn this into this…


…in 20 seconds.

A group that I work with has a football field across town from the high school, so changing clothes for a special halftime show is not feasible. They always march the pregame in their school uniform, which is a long sleeved tunic over a camisole unitard. With the popularity of one shouldered tunics, I thought it might be possible to make a spandex sleeveless tunic that only exposed the black sections of their uniform. The band wears a red jacket, so I wanted something that would be more visible. These popovers also look fine with just the camisole unitard, as we wore them for a basketball performance in November.

The fabric was purchased on sale from Spandex World. The cost was less than $8.00 each to make, plus thread and needles (more on that.)  I could get two pieces out of one yard except for XXL sizes, but you will need more fabric with one way designs or napped fabric. For 16 uniforms I bought 10 yards of each fabric, front and back, or a total of 20 yards, which was plenty for 6 small, 4 medium, 3 large, 2 XL and 1 XXL.

First make the pattern (pictures 1-8.)  I used craft paper here, but you can use the back of wrapping paper that has graph lines on it, that works great.  Make lines on the craft paper as shown. When tracing, try to stay about a quarter inch away, and when cutting, cut another quarter inch away, giving a half inch seam allowance.

The fabric was laid out as you would wear it, with the outside back down and the front up. If you have fabric with a one way design, make sure the pattern is facing the same direction every time.  Do not turn the pattern over or your shoulder will be on the wrong side.

I laid out the mediums first, pretty much staggered side by side like footprints, then the larges and XLs alongside the smalls, then the XXL alone. It is important that you are running along the true line of the fabric or the tunic will not fall as nicely. Here I used a different fabric so you could see how the pattern lined up.

Once you get one or two pinned, pictures 9-10, cut out the front and back and keep them as a pair and keep track of your sizes.

The pinning and cutting took the longest.  Use smooth strokes, especially top and bottom, as these edges will not need to be finished. The sewing was a walk in the park, pictures 11-12.  Three short seams with backup seams, or serge if you have a serger.

When sewing on metallic or sequin/sparkle you will probably need one ball point needle for every two garments, whereas regular spandex will need one needle for every 3-4 garments.  If your machine starts skipping stitches, the first thing you do is change the needle.  There are lots of instructional videos on the internet if you are not used to sewing on knits…I wasn’t!  Don’t let that stop you. Or find a band parent, you did the hard work!

Photos 13-15 are the final product. No need for a changing room, we just put them on over our regular uniforms.  They are also easy to take off for a change on the field, if you want to conceal and reveal.

We put bright green on the back of our tunic for a special effect.  The bright green popped when they turned as if they were saying: “Hey! Watch us!”

Time needed:

30-45 minutes to trace the different sizes to make the patterns. (I did two sizes per pattern piece, but you have to cut out the largest ones first –medium, then small)

4 hours to pin and cut 16 tunics.

3 hours to sew 16 tunics…only 3 short seams, leave neck and hem unfinished.  The thought of leaving the hem unfinished was introduced to me by the dance catalog companies…I would have never thought you could just leave the hems unfinished, but the spandex in the fabric pulls the bare edge enough to keep it from fraying, the exact opposite of lame!!

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Category: "DIY", Costumes, Design

About the Author (Author Profile)

Sue Cechal got her degree in instrumental music education from St. Cloud State (MN) in 1975. After 37 years of teaching H.S. marching, concert and jazz bands, she now volunteers her time in N.E. Wisconsin working with guards and band programs. Her main focus is integrating music education into guard instruction, including the state and national standards. She approaches guard as the “visual” instrument of the band and loves teaching the basics of guard and dance to small town programs.

Comments (1)

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  1. olatutu akinyelure says:

    thank you for posting,
    I studied music at cleveland state university. I teach violin and viola but my outlet for band was always color guard. I am about to start a program at on of akron parks and rec. Trying to build the visual aspect of performance more. 7 high schools in this town and only 3 have color guards although one without does have majorettes. Need lots of support. Thanks again.

    Olatutu Akinyelure

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