Tuesday, March 21, 2017

B6453 Sew-Along: Sewing the Straps

Before we start, a note: If you haven't already, I'd recommend stay stitching the neckline and armholes now that all your bodice pieces are assembled. Do a line of stitching at a 1/2" seam allowance all around, to stabilize the curves around your neckline. It's best to do this directionally, starting at the top of the curve, and always ending your stitching at the lowest point of a curve. This keeps your pieces from stretching from being stitched in opposing directions.

Okay, time for your straps. Remember how we taped the two strap pieces together? So you'll just have two long strips for both the front strap and the back loop.

Now I'm going to show you a different way to sew the straps rather than stitching and turning them, as in the pattern directions. I'm going to turn in the straps and edgestitch, which means no turning is involved. Yay!

Fold each strip in half lengthwise and press a crease.

Then turn in each side to meet the crease. Use the tip of your iron along the very edge of the fold so you don't press out your first crease.

Now fold in half along the original lengthwise crease.

Edgestitch along the open side. I use my #10 Edgestitch Foot for this.

Finished straps, no turning involved.

Okay, take your pattern piece and chop off the ends where you joined the two pattern pieces.

Now get rid of one of those pieces; you only need one! 

Now cut that remaining piece in half to get two small pieces. These are your back strap loops. 

Thread a ring onto each small loop, like so:
Fold in half and pin to your dress bodice back, centering over your circle marks (which I mark with an X for accuracy). I position them with the edge stitching on the outer (shoulder edge of each) so it looks symmetrical.

Baste the strap onto the dress.

Okay, the next part required a video to explain. It's a but tricky to see (and to do on camera) but I hope it makes sense.

Attach that little bit to the strap using a zipper foot so you can stitch close to the slider.

Finally, attach the end of the front strap to the front bodice just like you did for the back bodice, centering over the mark, with the strap facing down.

There you have it: fully adjustable straps! 

Friday, March 17, 2017

B6453 Sew Along: Steps 1-4

Time to sew! Today we're doing steps 1-4 on the pattern instruction sheet. My next post will be on Tuesday, so you'll have the weekend to catch up!

Start with your bodice center front. I'm sewing two at once! The small rose print will be View A, and the tropical will be View B.

Staystitch between the princess seam notches on both sides of the bodice center front. Staystitching is a line of regular straight stitching that only goes through one layer of fabric. It should be just inside your 5/8" seam allowance line. I find a spot just between the 1/2" and 5/8" lines on my machine as my guide. No need to back stitch.

Make clips between the notches, using just the point of your scissors, cutting as close as you can to your staystitching. The clips should be about 1/2" apart from each other. These will allow you to sew this piece to the curve of the side front princess seam.

Now we're going to sew the princess seams.

Pin the center front to the side front, with right sides together, matching your notches. With the center front piece on top, spread the clips so that the curves of the two pieces match. Pin and stitch the two pieces together. Repeat on the other princess seam.

Press the princess seams toward the center front, holding each side of the seam taut.You can use a tailor's ham to help you.

Now finish your princess seams as one, trimming them to about 3/8". I'm using my serger for this step, but you could use pinking shears or a zigzag stitch instead.

Next, we're going to sew the darts on the bodice back.

Fold the dart in half, positioning it like this (i.e. how you will put it into the machine, with the point closest to you and the fold on the right):

Start by placing a pin horizontally at the dart's point. This will tell you where to stop sewing.

Next, pin vertically up the legs of the dart, making sure that the dart lines are exactly on top of each other as you're pinning.

Sew up the leg of the dart. Back stitch at the beginning. Remove your pins as you go!

When you get to the point, sew the last couple stitches right on the fold of the fabric.

Do not backstitch, but leave tails that are at least a couple inches.

Tie the tails into a double knot and trim close.

Press the darts toward the center back, using a tailors ham if you have one.

Side seams! Place the front and back right sides together at the side seams, matching notches. Pin and stitch.

Press the side seams open.

Finish the seam allowances with the method of your choice.

Now's a good time to try on your bodice if you want to double check the fit!

Finally, I always recommend stabilizing your zipper openings. I use this fusible tape, but you can also easily cut 1" strips of fusible interfacing for this purpose.

If serging, you can finish you back bodice openings now.

You have a partially assembled bodice! Next Tuesday: straps!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

B6453 Sew Along: Cutting!

Woo hoo, time to get cutting! I know a lot of sewers hate the cutting process, but it just means you're one step closer to sewing. So hurrah!

Okay, actually. A few small things before you cut.

First, if you made any adjustments to your neckline, bust, or armhole, you need to make the same adjustments to your facing patterns. I raised my armhole 3/4", so I did the same on facings. I took the same amount off the bottom of the facing so it remains the same width.

I moved the notches up since they would have been cut off. Repeat on the back.

I also had to do a slight slash and spread (not shown) on the front facing like I did on the bodice front for my FBA. So if you did an FBA or SBA, keep that in mind!

Also, if you are making View B and you made any bodice adjustments (like taking in or letting out seams), you will need to do the same adjustments to your skirt. If you've lost track of those changes (so easy to do!), you can also just pin closed your darts, draw in your seam allowances, and then "walk" the pattern pieces together to make sure they still match.

Draw in seamlines, close darts

Compare the pattern pieces by walking them together as they would be sewn
Next, one little pattern change that I highly recommend: tape your strap pieces together. Just butt the edges together and tape on the front and back.

This will make sewing the straps much easier as you can sew them and then trim off the smaller piece. Not necessary but a big help, in my opinion.

Okay, let's cut! I'm going to focus on the cutting for View A as it needs more explaining. 

I recommend cutting in stages, starting with your skirt pieces. They are BIG and need to be cut on the crosswise grain. Do we all understand what this means? Normally we cut on the lengthwise grain by making a fold that runs horizontally down the length of your yardage, and the selvages go on top of each other like so:

Instead, we're going to make a fold that runs vertically from selvage to selvage. So you have a big width of fabric with selvages on top of each other at the top and bottom, like so:

Make sense?

With your fabric folding on the crosswise grain, lay out your skirt pattern pieces along one selvage. The front is cut on the fold and the back is not. After you cut out your skirt pieces, you will have a long skinny bit left on one selvage that looks like this:

Cut the bodice center front by making a narrowly folded piece from the leftover yardage.

Then double up the rest of the skinny piece and cut the rest of the pattern pieces: pockets (cut twice to get a total of four pockets), bodice back, bodice side front, straps, and back facing. The fold the remaining and cut the front facing on a fold.

Next, cut your interfacing for the front and back facings. I'm using this Palmer/Pletsch sheer interfacing that Pati Palmer herself gave me when I visited her in Portland! She told me it's a great match for cottons.

Go over all your pieces are transfer any notches by snipping into the point of the notch.

Also transfer your circles and the back dart. I do this using wax tracing paper and a spiky tracing wheel. Make a sandwich by putting one layer of tracing paper face up under your bottom layer of fabric, like so:

Then put the other side of the tracing paper wax-side down on top of the other layer of fabric.

 Lastly put the pattern on top of all the layers.
I mark an X through my circles.

Now that you've cut out your pattern and marked it, it's time to sew! I'll be back tomorrow with our first sewing post.

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