To be honest, I didn't treat it as my true firstborn at the time. I thought "Well I've made some refashions, that patternless skirt, and a few other silly things (a knit pillowcase. don't ask). So surely I already Know Stuff. How hard can learning the rest be?" (Ha ha ha!). I did realize that the fact I'd never laid eyes on an actual sewing pattern was a problem. So I downloaded a tiered skirt Burda pattern, taped it, and screamed! What in the world was that??? It didn't make ANY sense! So I did what I always do when things don't make sense. I went to school. I signed up for a 3-session sewing class. It was not a good experience, but I did learn one thing: how to read and, most importantly, appreciate, the pure genius that are sewing patterns. And for that I am forever grateful!
First, I ignored the fact that the pattern is designed for wovens. I didn't know it mattered! Not only did I pick a knit, but I picked a really challenging one: an almost see-through tissue knit that is probably called that because it feels like Kleenex! But hey, I had two big pieces in matching colors (from some random trip to L.A.'s Fabric District where I probably thought "oh hey, this is soft and $1/yard!"). So I proceeded, blissfully ignorant.
I had used the white piece to make a pillowcase (umm, yeah...) and the orange for God knows what else. Which somehow had required that I cut off all selvedges. Since I did learn what selvedge was in sewing class, I knew this was not cool. But by then nothing could stop me! How important could lining your pattern on the grain be, reeeally? ONWARDS!
Inserting the center panel was not very hard (it's easy to go around those curves when your fabric stretches like a piece of well-chewed gum). I even made a slight sweetheart curve as a mod. Then I sewed the shoulders and the side seams, using a straight stitch. Because, I'd read somewhere that if you don't plan to pull the garment downwards a straight stitch works fine for knits. This part is actually true. IF your garment follows the grain so it won't stretch down on its own! But who's keeping track of such details...
Of course the shoulder straps did stretch out by ~3 inches just in the course of sewing (now that I've learned to tell the grain on knits, I can see that I'd cut the entire top on the bias. Hilarity!). I cut off the extra length from the straps and was about to resew them, when I was struck by an idea! I'd forgotten to pre-wash the fabric! What if it shrinks? Somehow, despite the thing being by then 2 sizes too big I was worried about shrinkage... So, with the side seams attached and the shoulders detached, I handwashed it and hung it to drip dry (!!!). By morning, it was another 3-4 inches longer than I'd intended. But so what? It clearly wants to be a tunic! Who am I to stop It? I proudly sent a phone pic to my mom.