Last week, we added our  2016 Build a Wardrobe silhouettes to Custom DIY. These new projects are not included in our Alabama Studio books, so we are providing instructions for each project on our Journal over the next few weeks. Last week, we shared instructions for the Maggie Dress and variations with you, and this week, we share instructions for the Alabama Sweater Tunic and variations. You may also download a printable PDF with instructions through the link at the bottom of this post. Find all of our digital patterns and stencil artwork on our Maker Supplies + Stencils page.



1. Baste Neckline and Armholes
To ensure that the neckline and armholes don’t stretch while you’re constructing your garment, use a single strand of all-purpose thread to baste around the neckline and curved edges—from the shoulder to the side edge—of each piece.

2. Add Embroidery
Add embellishment, as desired. Use one of our Alabama Studio Series books for inspiration. If you’re adding beading, avoid beading in 1/4” seam allowance.

3. Prepare for Construction
After completing embellishment, choose Inside or Outside Floating or Felled Seams (see our Alabama Studio Book Series) for your garment. You will pin with fabric’s wrong sides together for seams visible on the outside of the garment or with fabric’s right sides together for seams that are finished on the inside of the garment.

When pinning knit seams for construction, it is important to follow a method we call “pinning the middle”. With right sides together for inside seams and wrong sides together for outside seams, start by pinning the top of your seam, and follow by pinning the bottom of your seam. After pinning both top and bottom, place one pin in the middle, between the two initial pins. Continue by pinning in the middle of each set of pins, until your seam is securely pinned and ready to sew. Repeat the process for the tunic’s two back panels, pinning them together at center back (right sides together for seams inside the garment, wrong sides together for seams that are on the outside of the garment).

4. Sew Center Front and Center Back Seams
Thread your needle, love your thread, and knot off. Using a straight stitch, sew the pinned pieces together, starting at the top edge of the center front and stitching 1/4” from the fabric’s cut edges down to the bottom edge. Be sure to begin and end the seam by wrap-stitching its edges to secure them. Fell each seam (if desired) by folding over the seam allowances to one side and topstitching them 1/8” from the cut edges, down the center of the seam allowances, using a straight stitch and wrap-stitching the seam. Repeat this process to sew the center back seam

5. Sew Shoulder Seams
Next, pin the shoulder seams, with the raw edges aligned, and sew the seams, starting at the top edge of the Alabama Sweater’s armhole and stitching 1/4” from the fabric’s cut edges across to the neckline. Begin and end each seam by wrap-stitching its edges to secure them. Fell your seams, if desired, towards the back of your garment down the middle of your seam allowance.

6. Add Sleeves (optional)
Add sleeves by pinning your cut sleeves to the Sweater armholes with the right sides together for inside seams (or wrong sides together for outside seams) and matching the sleeve’s edges with the edges of the front and back of the Sweater. Pin pieces together securely, working in excess fabric with pins. Use a straight stitch to attach sleeves and then fell the seams toward the sleeves, if desired.

7. Sew Sweater Body at Side Seams
Turn your Sweater wrong side out for inside seams or right side out for outside seams. Pin together front, back, and sleeves (if added) at the side seams. Wrap-stitch your seams. Start stitching at the bottom edge of the Sweater’s hem and sew side and sleeve seams in one continuous pass. After stitching side/sleeve seam, fold seam allowances toward the back, and fell the seam, if desired.

8. Create Mitered Binding and Bind Neckline
Use a rotary cutter, cutting mat, and plastic ruler to cut 1 1/4”-wide strips of leftover fabric across the grain to use for binding the neckline. You will need one strip, approximately 55”, for binding the neckline. Use your iron to press each binding strip in half lengthwise, with the wrong sides together, being careful not to stretch the fabric while pressing it. To bind the neckline, you will first make a miter at the mid-point of the binding before applying the binding to the neckline.

To create the miter, open the pressed binding flat, and then fold it in half crosswise, with right sides together and the short edges aligned. Starting at one edge of the binding, stitch to the fold line and then back to the other edge, sewing a 90-degree V-shape whose point is 1/2” from the binding’s folded edge, and knotting off at the other edge. Clip the excess fabric from V-shape, leaving a 1/4” seam allowance.

Turn the binding right side out; re-fold it with wrong sides together; and place the mitered V at the neckline’s center-front V, folding the strip along the fold line and over the neckline’s raw edge. Start basting the binding in place with all-purpose thread, encasing the neckline’s raw edge inside the binding (note that the binding’s raw edges will show). You will remove this basting thread at the end of the binding process. Add a new binding strip, as needed, as you work around the neckline’s edge to the center back, overlapping the short raw edges of the existing and new binding strips by about 1/2”.

When you reach the center-back point, overlap the binding’s short raw edges by about 1/2” to finish the binding, and trim away any excess binding. To permanently sew the binding in place, use the stretch stitch of your choice to sew through all layers down the middle of the binding.


12. Bind Armholes (for sleeveless top)
You will need one strip, approximately 55”, for binding the armholes of a sleeveless top. Follow cutting instructions above to cut and press binding pieces.

To bind and finish each armhole, repeat the cutting, pressing, and binding process above, skipping the instructions for making and applying a mitered V-shaped binding at the center-front V-Neck. After permanently sewing the neckline and armhole bindings in place with a stretch stitch, remove or simply break the basting stitches by pulling gently to snap the thread. If some of the basting stitches remain embedded in the binding, leave them in place since the thread is broken and the remaining stitches will not restrict the fabric’s stretch.

Find downloadable and printable stencils here.


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  1. Julie Ford

    I can’t say enough glowing things about the DIY garments. I purchased two books and have quite the work wardrobe based on Natalie’s patterns and using thrift store 100% cotton t-shirt material plus ordering material and notions from Alabama Chanin. I work full time, have a family, do all the domestic duties, etc. and I can easily find an hour here and there to hand sew these beautiful clothing items in a reasonable amount of time. Natalie – I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your skill and warmth in sharing your craft. Hand sewing my clothes helps me to relax and also provides a sense of accomplishment that makes me feel really happy.

    1. Alabama Chanin

      Hi Nicole. Yes, these instructions are still available. The link should be up to date now. Thanks for letting us know!