This week, we’ve been exploring Finnish design company, Marimekko, well known for creating colorful, often bold patterns and fabrics. While their designs were first made popular in the 1960’s by Jacqueline Kennedy, the bright and vibrant garments remain classic choices, appropriate for any generation. Personally, I love to add a bold pattern or color to my regular wardrobe from time-to-time.

This pattern is a variation of our T-shirt Top, available in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design cut to tunic length. The tunic has a bit of a flare starting at the waist, which makes it comfortable and forgiving. We also have variations of tunics – the Camisole Tunic and the Tank Tunic – available as patterns in Alabama Studio Style.


The role of color and Marimekko influence is obvious when you compare the T-shirt Tunic above with the one below. Both are the same style, same cut, same pattern, but use different color ways.  While both tunics have a white fabric as the reverse appliqué, the tunic above is high in contrast with a navy outer layer and includes the Marimekko-style splash of color. The one below is shown with a Natural outer layer. It is more simple, allowing the bold pattern to blend into the background. Both are equally beautiful. They are simply different statements.

This play on color is one of the things that inspires me most as a designer. Use this project as a way to try your hand at experimenting with new colors and patterns.


T-shirt Top pattern, adapted from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design or Alabama Studio Style
Paper scissors
1 yard of 60” wide medium-weight organic cotton jersey for top layer
1 yard of 60” wide medium-weight organic cotton jersey for backing layer
Supplies for stenciling (see page 48 of Alabama Studio Style)
Magdalena Stencil
Button Craft thread
Embroidery Scissors
Hand-sewing needle

Basic sewing supplies: fabric scissors, pins, tailor’s chalk, ruler, rotary cutter, Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style, or Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: all three of these books contain the basic sewing and embroidery techniques.

Photocopy your pattern and cut the photocopied pattern to your desired size, cutting as close as possible to the black cutting line. There are two pattern pieces – a front and a back panel – with a 1/4” seam allowance built into all pattern edges.

Lay the top layer of fabric flat and fold to create two layers and position the front pattern on top of that yardage, making sure the pattern and fabric grain lines run in the same direction. With tailor’s chalk, trace around the pattern’s edges, remove the pattern, and cut out the traced pattern, cutting just inside the chalked line to remove it entirely. Repeat this step on the remaining top-layer fabric and then repeat for the back panel. You should have 4 cut panels for your shirt.

Add the stenciling on the right side of the tunic’s top layer only, front and back. Align each cut top layer piece on the corresponding backing-layer piece, with both fabrics facing right side up, then pat the layers into place with your fingertips so that their edges match. Securely pin together the two layers of each piece.

Follow the instructions for reverse appliqué on page 95 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design and then trim away the excess fabric on the wrong side of your T-shirt panel, keeping 1/4″ outside your stitching line.

Our Marimekko-style appliqué is based on a flower shape. You can easily make your unique appliqué by cutting any shape, floral or geometric, from fabric scraps.

Decide upon the positioning of your Marimekko-style appliqués on the front and back panels of the tunic. We have secured the bottom layer with a whip stitch, and then added each subsequent layer with a straight stitch.

Once you have completed your embellishment, construct your tunic by pinning the two panels, right sides together.

Thread your needle, love your thread, and knot off (see pages 21-22 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design). Using a straight stitch, begin stitching the pinned pieces together 1/4” from the fabric’s cut edges. Be sure to begin and end the seam by wrap-stitching its edges. Fell your seams by folding over each seam’s allowances to one side and topstitching the seam allowances 1/8” from the cut edges, down the center of the seam allowances, using a straight stitch and wrap-stitching the seam.


For the second/ tone-on-tone version, you follow the same instructions and just eliminate the appliqué.



Garment – Casual T-shirt Tunic
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Navy
Fabric color for inner layer – White
Stencil – Magdalena
Embroidery technique – Reverse appliqué; Cretan stitch used for neckline and armholes – both instructions available in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
Fabric paint – Navy
Button Craft thread – Navy #13
Seams – Inside Felled
Knots – Inside
Marimekko-inspired appliqué – Rose, Carmine, Coral, and Navy scraps
Rose Appliqué – whip stitch with Dogwood #155 thread
Carmine Appliqué – straight stitch with Red #128 thread
Coral Appliqué – straight stitch with Dogwood #155 thread
Navy Appliqué – whip stitch with Navy #13 thread


Garment – Casual T-shirt Tunic
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Natural
Fabric color for inner layer – White
Stencil – Magdalena
Embroidery technique – Reverse appliqué; Cretan stitch used for neckline and armholes – both instructions available in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.
Fabric paint  – White
Button Craft thread – White #1
Seams – Inside Felled
Knots – Inside

The Magdalena Stencil is available for purchase in our online store.


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Click to read 26 comments
  1. britt

    that stencil pattern is just amazing! i love that design. it’s getting my fingers itching for the needle and thread again! bye bye knitting.

  2. beki

    Oh my goodness, absolutely stunning! I love love love the navy version. I’ve been working on my own version of a sleeveless tunic with a stenciled and stitched bib and back yoke. Once that project is finished I am going to explore something along these lines. Love it!

  3. Debbie U

    Love this! Must finish my coat so I can get on to some new projects. Overwhelmed by all of the great new ideas you have put out into the world during the last few months. Thank you!

  4. Carol

    I can’t decide which I like better – want to make both. Without seeing the white on white I never would have thought I would like it. It is so simple & elegant. Thank you for these wonderful ideas!

  5. Jen

    Thank you for the Magdelena stencil! I fell in love with it when it was the endpapers in your first book, and always thought I would try to copy and enlarge it. I absolutely love you reinterpretations of others designers work – it shows an honest way to love and appreciate another’s work without just copying. How am I to keep up when you inspire me weekly, but it takes me months to complete a project? 😉

  6. amisha

    This is such an inspiring post. I love the presentation of this pattern in the two colorways– it is always eye-opening to see the way the color choices influence the design. And the Magdalena stencil is perfect here. It’s beautiful at this scale, and channels the Marimekko influence wonderfully.

    Your DIY posts have been incredible lately… like many other people, my list of to-do projects is growing at a much faster rate than I can sew! But that is a wonderful problem to have. Thank you for all that you share.

  7. erin

    I totally want this! I will have to aim for this one as my next purchase…too bad i just made one. LOVE it! I am thinking turquoise.

  8. Leslie R

    I love my first and only DIY t shirt project (so far), this will be my next. Just cannot decide between the creme for navy version. Beautiful.

  9. Kathy

    Wonderful! First you convinced me to buy Marimekko Converse, and now I have yet another project on my to-do list 🙂 I love this large-scale stencil. Like Jen, I had been trying to figure out a way to replicate the endpaper design from your first book, and this does seem to be it I’m really excited and really grateful that you are sharing it! It’s also a great addition to the DIY kits.

    I will definitely go with navy and white, as I am currently working on a natural over white Anna’s Garden camisole pattern tank top. It’s a great combo so far.

  10. Julia

    WOW. This is beautiful! That pop of color is such a design delight! I can’t wait to have hands on sewing with you all at the workshop I’m scheduled for in May! I don’t know if I could complete this on my own, I’m hoping after the workshop I will be so excited, Ill be ready to whip up an entire wardrobe! (Wishful thinking!) thanks for sharing these gorgeous designs, ideas & inspiration so freely! Love, love, love it!

  11. Audrey

    I love this tunic. I took your class and thoroughly enjoyed it, however the jacket featured in the class is not something I would wear. This tunic is. I am excited to try the techniques demonstrated in the class on a garment like this.

  12. Marita

    Since you asked of ideas, have you thought about topping linen (woven) with cotton jersey , you should try, it looks really nice also I’ve tried couching on linen.

    I feel like I opened up a Pandora’s box (in a good way) when I bought your books, thoughts kind of sprout out from my brain and at some nights it’s really hard to just let it go and go to sleep, it’s like one more stitch and one more pearl until one hardly sees, LOL!!!

    No plans for a new book???