23 December 2009

Nativity Tunic/Costume Tutorial

Occasionally, being able to sew is a very useful skill.

I love all the free sewing tutorials that are all over the internet. People are so generous with their instructions and pictures and I have benefited many times.

So last week when I was looking for a tutorial for a basic Mary & Joseph nativity costume, I was surprised to find that there wasn't much available. The only thing I found were some very basic instructions on blurtit.com. The woman that posted those proved to be my lifesaver, though, as I was trying to put something together to help out a friend desperate for a costume for our church christmas program the next night.

Her instructions said this:
This is the method I used:
2- 2/3 yards (8 feet) x 2 ½ feet (30) inches for gown. Cut a 8 inch circle in center.
22 inches x 22 inches square for sleeve. Fold in half.
Cut a slit down front and bind edges. Hem around neck
pin center of sleeve to gown length center. Sew side and sleeve seams.

In hoping to give back a little to all who have shared a tutorial with me, I wanted to expand those basic instructions with some pictures, and perhaps someone else will be able to make a very simple tunic-style gown that is useful for many costumes.

Woman size: uses about 3 yards of fabric (I used 45" wide muslin)
Man size: uses about 4 yds fabric
1) For a woman's size tunic, cut fabric 28" x 3 yards (108") For a man's size tunic cut fabric 30" x 3 yds. 14 inches (122") Fold in half and cut out a half circle on the fold for the neck hole. 6" diameter circle for a woman 7" diameter circle for a man
2) Cut a 3-4" slit starting at the center of the circle you just cut
3) Hem the slit
4) With the remaining scraps of fabric, first cut two pieces for sleeves.
16" x 22" for women,
22" x 22" for men.
Set these two sleeve pieces aside.

5) With what is left, cut bias strips 3" wide and stitch together to make a bias strip about 30-35" long. Press this bias strip in half and then each half to the inside to make bias tape, pressing one raw end also to the inside.

6) Sew the bias tape around the neck, starting with the finished end of the bias tape.When you get to the other side of the neck you will need to trim the excess tape and turn under the end before you finish sewing.
7) Fold the two sleeves in half. For the woman sleeve, fold along the 16" side. Pin the center of the sleeve to the gown length center. Serge (or sew and then zigzag) around this sleeve seam.
8) Match and pin the insides of the sleeve right at the armpit, then serge (or sew and then zigzag) along the inside of the sleeve continuing all the way down to the bottom of the tunic.

9) Press all seams, then hem sleeves and bottom to desired length.

It is a very, very basic gown/tunic, but I was able to quickly sew four of them--two for my friends who played Mary and Joseph and two for me and Jeff. I also made a couple of vests for the men to wear over their tunics using the same basic pattern, by cutting and hemming the neck slit all the way down the bottom of the tunic, and leaving off the sleeves.

At one point in the evening, Jeff had to remove his brown vest and be the Angel Gabriel for someone who didn't show up.

I hope this tutorial is helpful--If you use it and find it confusing, please comment with any questions or suggestions and I'll try to help.


Aimee Fuller said...

They turned out SO GREAT!!! I'm sure there will be many people thanking you for posting such great step by step instructions...WITH pictures. You seriously never cease to amaze me with your talent.

Can't wait to see you guys!

Amy said...

Thanks for the tutorial. I want to make some for primary to use when the kids act out stories for sharing time or during music time when learning the song When Joseph went to Bethlehem. Do you recommend a size or length that would fit most kids? I'm thinking about making one size for Jr. primary and another one for senior primary.

Lima Bean said...

Amy, I'm glad you found it helpful. I would say just measure a child from each primary from shoulder to ankle and use that as a guide. It's such a rough pattern, that really any length will work find. Good luck!I love being in primary.

Hilary said...

I don't know you, but I found this post in a google search and it is a life saver! Thank you!

Laura said...

Thanks for the post, it made my evening much easier. We adapted ours to a tunic without sleeves and that worked great too.

Esther Sumner said...

No way!! I just found your blog while Googling for different tunic-sewing ideas. I recognized your husband in your pic - we were freshmen at BYU together, in the same ward.