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! 

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!

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