I made this in 2 hours, including working out why to do, taking photos and typing this instrucatable as I went; without having to do those things, I'd be surprised if you couldn't knock this out in less than an hour.
I needed a tunic style top for a fancy dress (Barrel from Nightmare Before Christmas - instrucatable to follow) but didn't want to spend a great deal as I have to paint it. After ruling out pre-bought tunics and even long sleeved t-shirts as expensive and / or unsuitable, I decided to make one.
I've never made clothes before in my life, but figured that a simple tunic couldn't be too difficult, right? After a quick trip to the haberdashery (notions,) department, I quickly realised that fabric was far too expensive (I could actually have bought a tunic cheaper than making one). Then I spotted some plastic Dracula capes in the Halloween department that looked kinda fabric-ish, for 99p each! I bought 3, and made it up as I went along, and actually found that the shape of the capes helped me out enormously.
The result is actually perfect for covering clothes for painting, and could easily be scaled down to child-size, once you know what you're doing.
Step 1: Acquiring and Testing Your Materials
3 Plastic Dracula Capes
An Iron and Heat-Proof surface (folded towel)
Non-stick Baking Parchment.
I've included a picture of the packaging for the capes I used; try to get this cape. If you get another brand, be sure that the collar is a separate piece, and that the cape is tapered to be wider at the bottom.
The tunic can be made with or without sewing, if you want to sew, you won't need the iron or paper. If you want to avoid sewing at all costs, buy just one of the capes and carry out this test before going any further.
If you will sew if you must (or actively want to sew), go ahead and buy 3; if the test fails you can still follow the design, but they'll be sewing involved.
Carefully remove the collar from one of the capes; you'll find that if you pull it carefully should tear away right along the seam.
This will leave you with a large trapezoid of the plastic cloth, which we will be using later; for now we're going to run a test with the collar.
Cut the sides and top off of the collar, and you'll find that it is a double layer that's seen together - open it up an cut off the seam. If your cape is constructed differently, and is only a single layer, cut it in half so that you have 2 pieces.
Place a sheet of non-stick baking parchment on a heatproof surface, then the 2 layers of cape fabric, then another sheet of the parchment.
With your iron on its hottest setting, carefully iron a 1" strip along one edge of the cape fabric (you'll be able to see it right through the parchment.
Give it 30 seconds to cool, then peel away the parchment. If your cape is suitable, the 2 strips will have fused together and can be opened as one sheet. If not, you can still use the rest if this instructable, but you'll have to crack out the sewing machine.
Assuming the cape is suitable, go out and buy another 2.
Step 2: The Neck Hole
Lay the two capes on top of each other, with the shortest edge towards you.
Using the technique we learned in step 1, fuse 6-7" at each end of the short edge - sharpie marks on the paper will help you make sure everything is symmetrical.
Check that you can get your head through the gap in between the seams. If you've made it too small, cut off a little if the fuzed area from each side (it won't be too obvious once it's inside out). Obviously if its too big, make the seams longer.
Congratulations, you have made a poncho ;)
Step 3: Cutting the Sleeves.
Fold the cape in half lengthways, making sure the edges meet up, then cut along the fold (I sat on the cape and cut the fold with a knife).
These 2 pieces will be the sleeves of the tunic.
Fold one of the sleeves in half so that the long edges line up, then trim the widest end so that the 2 layers match.
Leave the sleeve folded.
Step 4: Attaching the Sleeves.
Lay the poncho in front of you, with the seam to your left, and a long edge facing you. Slide the sleeve INSIDE the poncho, so that its short edge, and the poncho's long edges line up; The folded edge of the sleeve should be facing the shoulder seam of the poncho.
Slide a piece of non stick parchment under the whole assembly, another piece INSIDE the sleeve, and a final piece on top.
The layers should go:
Iron the sleeve in place (iron to the open edge of the sleeve and no further).
This should have sealed both sides in one go, but just to be safe, flip the whole assembly and iron the other side too. The sleeve can now be pulled out if the poncho.
Repeat for the other sleeve.
Step 5: Closing.
On the same side, again, staring at the armpit and working in sections, seal down the edge of the body. Flip and repeat for the other side.
Step 6: Finishing Up
Bend your arm as though looking at your watch, and have someone mark the position of your wrist with chalk.
Depending what you want the tunic for, you'll want to mark the desired length too; If its for protecting your clothes, just leave it long.
Take the tunic off, fold it in half, and cut the sleeves and body to the desired length.
Step 7: Extras
If you wanted to shrink the back so that it fits better, you could turn it inside out again, and flatten it so that the creases run down the front and back - using the paper again, iron a line where you want to remove a section of the back, then cut off the excess - you will now have a smaller back panel with a seam down it.