The Tunic Bible – a review & giveaway (part 1)

(Giveaway now closed)

My sewing is behind schedule. As much as I don’t like to think the my life requires a schedule, the simple reality is when you are working fulltime with kids and a hobby blog… a degree of planning is necessary!

Lately my life has been dedicated to juggling a fulltime job and my eldest daughter’s very busy dance schedule and her participation in the local dance eisteddfod. More about the dancing & dancewear in another post – as I ended up making more than ‘just’ a tutu!

Today I’m here to review the new book The Tunic Bible: One Pattern, Interchangeable Pieces, Ready-to-Wear Results by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr.

Julie Starr is well known for her gorgeous contributions to Pattern Review and Sarah Gunn needs little introduction to the online sewing world courtesy of her blog Goodbye Valentino and Mood Sewing Network – in fact she was one of the first sewing bloggers I discovered. Together they have written The Tunic Bible, a huge achievement and exciting development for them both! Congratulations.

Julie Starr and Sarah Gunn, authors of The Tunic Bible

Julie Starr and Sarah Gunn, authors of The Tunic Bible

I’m in the middle of making up my ‘tunic’ from this book and decided not to rush and to share it on a separate post because…

  1. I like to finish my project thoughtfully and neatly; and
  2. focus on the book.

I think it’s easy to just look at garment and not really know what you might be purchasing when you buy a book on impulse after seeing one garment from it.

I’ve been provided with a digital copy to review. I confess I do find it difficult to read a book online or on my ipad so I ended up printing it out in mini booklet form so I could get a general sense of the layout and feel. The paper copy is still on it’s way


Now like many of you I suspect, I thought… how on earth do you write a book about tunics? I thought that because my ‘notion’ of a tunic is a garment that finishes at upper to mid thigh, a placket style neckline – with or without sleeves. And as a general rule – modest.

And yes, the tunic as you know it is definitely this book… alongside a seemingly endless array of tunic, and dresses – mini/maxi in this book.


or if you prefer to see them on ‘real’ people…

Sarah Gunn & Julie Staff (centre) ... that long print maxi dress sold me on the versatility of 'the tunic' if only I could find suitable fabric.

Sarah Gunn & Julie Staff (centre) … that long print maxi dress sold me on the versatility of ‘the tunic’ if only I could find suitable fabric.


I’ve decided to include the Contents page from my ‘review copy’ so you get a good overview of what is covered in this book.


Contents: The Tunic Bible by Sarah Gunn & Julie Starr


The books does provide you with a full overview of all the possible options – and each version of the ‘tunic’ is accompanied by a description of the different style ‘elements’ that have been used as well as the type of fabric, trimming and embellishment.

There is a array of necklines and collar types to consider, sleeves (including a puffed and split sleeve), fitted vs loose silhouettes and how to embellish and trim your tunic. They also cover suitable types of fabrics – the options range from silk and linen to lace and knit options.

There is also a gallery of home sewing personalities who have made up a wide range of ‘tunics’ in all lengths, fits and fabrics. The book itself is packed with a huge range of different tunics – there must have been A LOT of sewing going on during the making of this book! I believe Sarah and Julie sewed approximately 60 tunics between them.

Tunics from The Tunic Bible by Sarah Gunn & Julie Starr

There’s more to a tunic than meets the eye


The pattern is provided full-size on a tear-out jumbo sized sheet. Hooray for not printing off A4 sheets and sticking them together!

There is a ‘general assembly order’ provided with an order of construction provided and also a seam finishing order.The construction instructions to me are more than adequate – however if you are an absolutely beginner you make want to google a few things BUT if you have basic sewing knowledge the book provides adequate guidance through the contruction of all the different elements: the types of plackets, collar finishes (including a ruffle of course – I would expect nothing less from Sarah!).

I wouldn’t say that there is ‘fitting’ advice in this book – other than the suggestion to make a muslin, what to check and a resource list on where to source support for alterations. I think this is adequate as it is not sold as a tunic fitting bible and fitting is such a varied and complex area unto itself.


The book concludes with a range of physical (largely US based) and online fabric & trim stores, Sewing and alterations resources, online classes and links as well as sewing with speciality fabrics.


I’ve been guilty of not to think to include sizing in my book reviews – and I always should. I’ve made the mistake of buying patterns that I fall outside the range of and I think it’s easy enough to do! So The Tunic Bible covers the following size range.

  • Begins at XS: Bust 33in/84cm, waist 28in/71cm, hip 35.5in/90cm
  • Finishes at XXL: 47in/121cm, waist 43in/109cm, hip 49.5in/126cm


I admit to being somewhat skeptical about 100+ pages on tunics – and I’m delighted that my skepticism was unfounded. I found the book interesting and inspiring – and a nice change from pretty dresses (as much as we all love them – me included).

There is a truckload of visual inspiration due to the large number of photographs and tunics that have been constructed for this book. This comprises more than half of the book – and reminder being dedicated to the construction of the tunic elements (yes, there are a lot of options!).

I think it may be a good starting point for someone who wants to experiment with a fairly simple base pattern to try a range of fabrics, trims and let their imagination run wild. The book does offer you a range of options to consider to make a unique garment each time.

For me, I can see a few simple tunic shift dresses for summer and perhaps a floaty version with sleeves as a beach cover-up. I look forward to seeing the book in person.


Now the giveaway – every stop of the blog tour has a copy to giveaway. Note it will be a hard copy for the US-based winners and an electronic copy for those based outside the US.
Would you like a copy? To go in the lucky draw, leave a comment below and you might just win yourself your own Tunic Bible (courtesy of C&T Publishing). The lucky winner will be announced October 11! Where else can you enter the draw?
Or if you can’t wait, you can grab one at C&T Publishing – all new customers receive a 30% discount by signing up on their website and the ebook is now available.

Note: for this post I received a digital copy of the book The Tunic Bible from C&T Publishing to review. All opinions my own.

This post first appeared on


119 thoughts on “The Tunic Bible – a review & giveaway (part 1)

  1. Although I’m mostly a pretty dress kind of girl I do like tunics. I’ve never sewn one, maybe this is the perfect opportunity.

  2. The long versions are beautiful. I can see this book being used for both modern and retro/60s tops and dresses and I kind of want them all.

  3. I have been looking forward to this book since it was announced. I think tunics are such a versatile wardrobe staple and I can’t wait to get my copy in early November. I have already bought some fabric and trims. Thanks for the excellent review.

  4. Many of my favorite outfits over the years were tunics! I’d love to win the book, but honestly, I’ll buy it, if I don’t win.

  5. I was interested in the book just by reading your review and the photos hadn’t loaded. After seeing the pictures I really, really want this book!

  6. Thanks for including the table of contents. There are loads of options covered in this book. I too find ‘real’ books much easier to love than electrons!

  7. I’ve been following Sarah’s blog for years and noticed Julia popping up here and there. These ladies are classy and I love what the sewing community is doing with the tunics. So I’d love to get my hands on this book and spin out my versions…

  8. I also haven’t been sewing as much as I would like to (with family and study) but this book looks great. I look forward to seeing your version

  9. Thank you for showing us the table of contents and explaining what the pattern is like. I’m sure this is going to be a muchbloved book!

  10. I think we have a similar view of tunics as part of our wardrobes. Also, I have altered many a tutu for as costume mistress for my local dance school so we have a common “thread” there as well!

  11. I think we have a similar view of tunics as part of our wardrobes. Also, I have altered many a tutu as costume mistress for my local dance school so we have a common “thread” there as well!

  12. Julie and Sarah always impress me with their makes, but, I too, wondered about an entire book of tunics. Thanks for the thorough review.

  13. Good honest review Liz. I have to say I was skeptical about a book on tunics but I have seen so many lovely ones online due to this book. I wouldn’t mind a copy now.

  14. I’ve been watching the progress of this book with interest and had the same thoughts as you did about a book on tunics. Still reserving my judgement! Thank you for a great review.

  15. I agree with you completely that it’s better to focus on doing the book justice and taking time to make your project with care. Waiting patiently to see your completed tunic.

  16. Sounds like a great book with lots of options. I’ve been inspired by the different tunics that have been made for this tour and look forward to seeing your.

  17. Wow you’ve written a comprehensive review. The book seems quite intriguing. An real eye opener for tunics. I can’t wait to see your tunic. I can imagine you making a maxi tunic.
    I would love a copy of the book.

  18. Thank you for your thoughtful review! I would love to be inspired by the book as your on line review makes it a “must read”. 😊

  19. Sarah was also one of the first sewing bloggers I followed. As a lover of Lagenlook, tunics make a significant contribution to this style of clothing, looking forward to seeing all the different combinations of elements 😊

  20. I’ve been enjoying the sewing for your daughter so very much, but I also can’t wait to see your tunic. Thank you so much for the chance to win.

  21. Over a period of 45 years of sewing I have realized that using a basic pattern and applying variations of plain and printed fabrics, different necklines, sleeves etc. the look can be so varied…nobody would know it’s the same pattern! But the fit is spot on every time. This book is a must have for me!

  22. Aw … was looking forward to seeing what you’d made. Please post soon! Thank you for the opportunity to have my own copy. — ldp

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