Tuesday, March 28, 2017

B6453 Sew Along: Sewing the Skirt, View B

How are your dresses coming? Don't forget to post pictures in the Facebook Group; I love seeing everyone's work.

Today we're sewing the skirt for View B, the pencil skirt version! I'm making mine Tiki-style in one of my new Hawaiian print cotton poplins, available here.

Grab your skirt pieces; you'll have two for the back and one for the front.

First, stabilize the skirt center back zipper opening, above the circle. I use strips of fusible interfacing for this.

I also like to finish my raw edges using my serger at this point. Finish the sides of each skirt piece, leaving the top and bottom unfinished. When you get to the skirt back slit, serge as carefully as you can around the angle. (If you are not using a serger, use another method like zigzagging or pinking after the seams are sewn.)

Sew your darts! You can revisit this post for a dart refresher if you need one.

Press the back darts toward center back.

And your front darts toward center front.

Next, check out step 22 in your instructions. This is Butterick's method for reinforcing the slit, which gets a lot of wear when you're walking. You can also use strips of fusible interfacing, or selvages from your fabric if you don't have seam binding, like pictured here.

Cut two 2" pieces of your reinforcement material.

Center the pieces over the circle at the top of the slit on each back skirt piece and stitch in place by hand, positioning your stitching within the seam allowance so it won't show on the outside of your dress.

Next, stitch your skirt back pieces together. Start at the zipper circle mark, and when you get to the vent mark (where the seam binding is), backstitch and then lengthen your stitch to a basting length, 4-5mm. Note that when you get to the slit, your seam allowance is 1".

Press the back seam open. 

After pressing, you can remove the basting in the slit. The slit will look nice and crisp since you basted and pressed it.

Now sew the skirt front to the skirt back at the side seams. (Note: If you think you may need to adjust the fit of your skirt, it's a good idea to do a basted fitting. Use a long stitch length to sew the skirt seams, try on the skirt, and then make any adjustments before using a regular stitch length.)

You now have a fully sewn skirt.

Press the skirt side seams open, using a ham to press the hip curves.

Time to stitch the skirt to the bodice. When you do this, keep in mind that you'll be matching side seams, notches, darts, and princess seams. Take a look at the two pieces so you have an idea of how they go together.

Put the bodice and skirt right sides together and pin carefully, making sure that seams and darts stay in the direction you pressed them in.

Stitch around the waistline seam. After stitching, carefully check your waistline to see if everything is properly matched. You may need to rip out small portions and re-stitch.

Finish the waistline seam as one, trimming down to about 3/8". Press the seam toward the bodice.

And now you have a completed pencil skirt!

Later this week, we'll be moving on to the zipper for both views.

Friday, March 24, 2017

B6453 Sew Along: Sewing the Skirt, View A

Time to sew this skirt! This is always satisfying because it really starts to look like a dress.

For these steps, please follow along closely on the pattern instruction guide sheet. It can be difficult to photograph these large pieces, and I often find it easier to look at the illustrations.

First, if you're serging your edges, I recommend doing that to the pockets and skirt pieces before they are sewn. It's very tricky to serge the pockets after they're attached because of curves and corners.

Serge your skirt pieces on the side seams only. Do not remove any fabric with the serger's blade, just finish the edges.

Serge around all sides of all four pockets. 

Next, stabilize the skirt backs above the zipper circle mark. I use 1-1/4" fusible strips for this.

Stitch the back skirt pieces together, right sides together, at the center back seam, ending at the zipper circle mark.

Press this seam open. 

Now it's time to attach the pockets. You have four pocket pieces. With right sides together, pin the pockets to each skirt side seam, on the front and back skirt. There is a notch to help you match these pieces. Stitch the pockets to the skirt pieces using a 1/4" seam allowance. 

Press the pockets so they're flipped away from the skirt. The seam allowances should be facing the pockets.

Next, sew the skirt front to the skirt back using your regular 5/8" seam allowance, right sides together. Pivot at the circles above at the top and bottom of the pockets, stitching around the outside of the pockets.

Clip into the back seam allowances only at the top and bottom of the pockets, up to the circle marks where you pivoted.

Press the side seams of the skirt open and press the pockets to the front of the skirt. (Those clips you made allow you to press the pockets to the front while pressing side seam allowances open.)

Time to gather the skirt! There are lots of different ways to make gathers (in this video skirt tutorial I show you how to use dental floss!) but here I'm using the traditional method of doing two lines of basting stitches. The first line is at 1/2" seam allowances, and the second line is at 1/4". This method works well for thin and soft fabrics like this sateen. Start your basting stitches at the small circles. 

Pull up both bobbin threads to create gathers. Be patient and do not pull against any resistance, as you will break your threads, and we all know how frustrating that is! Create enough gathers so that the skirt is roughly the size of your bodice waist. It's a lot of gathers, which gives the skirt its extra full look.

With right sides together, pin the skirt to the bodice. Start by matching your side seams, and adjust the gathers from there. Make sure that your side seams stay pressed open, your princess seams pressed toward center front, and your back darts pressed toward center back. (It's easy for things to get flipped around at this stage.)

Stitch the skirt to the bodice, going slowly and keeping the gathers as straight as possible so they don't bunch up under the presser foot. You can stitch with the gathers on top or the bottom; people have strong preferences for each so just see which works best for you!

After you stitch, examine your gathers closely to see if there are weird bunches anywhere. I usually have to take out at least one spot and neaten up the gathers!

Finally, press your seam toward the bodice and finish the seam allowances as one. I have a special way of doing this to reduce bulk. I trim the gathered seam allowance down to about 1/4", holding my scissors at an angle toward me. This trims the seam allowance so that it's beveled slightly. Then trim the bodice seam allowance to 3/8". Next, run both seams together through the serger, without catching any fabric in the blade. The seam allowances are serged, but also graded! (You could also use a wide zigzag on your sewing machine in place of the serger.)

Another method I have used successfully on this waistline is to stitch a grosgrain or petersham ribbon to the waistline (I prefer cotton or rayon ribbon if possible since poly can feel uncomfortable so close to the body.) Stitch it through both seam allowances, as close to your waistline seam stitching as possible. Fold down the ribbon and grade the seam allowances as described above. Press the ribbon up and tack it in place at the side seams. It will both cover your waistline seam and keep your waistline from stretching! It's a great option if your fabric has stretch, to keep the dress from getting bigger over time.

 Here's how it looks when you fold down the ribbon:

That's it for this week! I'll be back next with with instructions for the pencil skirt, and then the zipper!

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! 

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