Refashioned // leather trimmed tunic

The thing about unfitted dresses (like the ones below) is that they need to be short or they can verge on looking frumpy. In my opinion, the black tunic dress that I used for this refashion went slightly over the length threshold. It’s only a very small difference, but it has a big impact. Compare the difference in look with these two very similar dresses.

PicMonkey Collage

There were a few other things about the black dress that I didn’t like. The base ponte fabric, whilst interfaced, didn’t have the structure to give this style a nice shape. It drapes too much. I should have either made it fitting (as would suit a ponte knit) or choose a more structured, woven fabric and flared it out. Like the length, the fit is half-way there but neither fitted or boxy. The sleeves and front zipper don’t do this dress any favours either, but I remember why I made it as I did. I was using up a limited scrap supply at the time which meant I couldn’t cut the fabric as one piece and proper sleeves weren’t an option.

I did actually wear this dress a LOT during Winter. I’m not as fussy about clothes when it comes to dressing warm (hello minus 15 degrees Celsius!) and this seemed to be the fall-back dress I would pull out anytime we had a dinner or event to go to. It was comfortable, warm, and I usually wore it layered with tights and my Dior knock-off coat. However, in the light of Summer, I was able to make a more objective critique of the garment. And the critique led me to this:


I love problem solving ways to make things work and I definitely enjoyed the process of making this jacket. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that anything about it is couture. I just bound and topstitched the leather and I have yet to hammer those seams flat. The waist tie is an unfinished strip of leather. I really wasn’t sure that this would work out at all. It still leaves a lot to be desired, but it is much better than I anticipated, and a good reference point for drafting a similar piece in the future (and one that might closer resemble my inspiration).


The steps in this refashion were pretty simple. I started with my tunic and cut off the hem to the length of jacket I wanted. I preserved that hem (including the back embellishment) by dividing it in half and turning those halves into the sleeves.


I then just unpicked the bound neckline to change the shape of it a little, attached the front leather panels, and bound or turned the raw edges under.




I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of this in Autumn, but most likely with jeans. I seem to be without jeans at the moment or I would have worn them in the photos. Jeans are one of my few RTW concessions. I just can’t summon the desire to make myself a pair, despite admiring the amazing handiwork of others out there.



11 thoughts on “Refashioned // leather trimmed tunic

  1. oonaballoona

    i’m so with you on the jeans–mainly because i know i’ll want ALL THE PROPER SUPPLIES.

    this is the most stunning refashion i’ve ever seen. HOLY COW WOMAN. you knocked this out of the universe!


    1. Debbie Iles Post author

      Thank you! I put jeans into the category of business shirt sewing for my husband – boring because of the limited fabric choices (I could probably stretch myself to liking 2-3 different shades of denim) and yet so technical that they require some serious skills. However, maybe if one day I decided to go all Versace, I might have a go at jeans…


  2. Jillian - SewUnravelled

    I think this is so very very you Debbie! More so than the dress, which was lovely, but on looking again, was a bit neither here nor there as you had assessed. Mind you I never noticed that before! This will look fab with jeans. I’m with you, I bought the Ginger Jeans pattern a while ago, purchased the denim etc, etc and I just can’t get myself over the line… I caved and bought an awesome pair of Guess jeans just this week in my very guilty RTW splurge. The funny part is, to avoid making jeans I’ve also just picked up some rigid denim for a fly pair of fancy denim pants. TNT pattern here I come 😉


    1. Debbie Iles Post author

      Denim pants sound fun! I need to go jeans shopping I think. The idea of sewing them just bores me. I think of jeans sewing as quite a technical sew, requiring skills, and experience…like sewing business shirts really. And yet fabric options don’t allow that much scope for experimenting, which isn’t going to give me the will to make the many pairs that would give me the skills to make the great jeans that would rival RTW – you know I don’t like to be boxed in ;-). However, as always, I reserve the right to change my mind 😉


  3. Fauxgetaboutit

    Great refashion. You will get a ton of wear out if this lovely jacket. I love your skirt. Did you make that as well?


    1. Debbie Iles Post author

      Thank you! Yes, I made the skirt as a maxi about a year ago, but recently modified it to the shorter length. Now I wear it almost everyday. So comfy!



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