New Year – New Dress
In this new dress sewing post: Project organisation; Matching Checks/Plaids; Creating a Neck facing; Inserting a Zip; Inserting Sleeves; Using Tacking
My new dress has both a high waist and both bodice and skirt darts which are flattering to my curves.
My aim is to use up the fabrics and resources I already have, reducing my storage needs and simplify finding everything.
I had already prepped some red, brown and navy plaid fabric: washing and drying it and then pinning the selvedges together, matching the plaid pattern up. Having decided to use a high waist winter dress pattern, I had stored the fabric and pattern together in a stacking basket, complete with thread and zip notions.
This is one of the ways I organise my projects.
After hearing a podcast on fabric and pattern organisation I’m considering options for my New Year goal of simplicity.
I already use Evernote for general organisation so this may be best for specific sewing project organisation. I would then have the info on fabrics and patterns, including the fabric & notions required on my phone with me when out.
When I realised I had a spare afternoon towards the end of December, when the rest of the family went off to the cinema, I washed down the Kitchen Island (which is just the right height for me to cut out fabric without back issues), and grabbed the basket for this project.
Having the plaid pattern already matched up, and using my fabric weights, which I find quicker than pins, I had my dress fabric pieces cut out in no time.
I made my own fabric weights, filling them with rice, and you can order some yourself choosing your own colour fabric, from my Etsy shop.
These pattern weights are not just handy for sewists, but make great paper weights or for juggling practice!
All the pieces were returned to the basket to take back to my studio and stay together during construction.
Over the following week, whenever I had a little time spare, I went to my machine, and pieced my new dress together. My aim became to have it ready to wear on News Year Day, and I did achieve this, even though I sat sewing the hem by hand at my sister in law’s New Years Eve gathering!
As I mentioned I had already pined the selvedge edges together, matching the plaid pattern up.
Fabric is not always folded up on in the bolt straight to the pattern so the first step to pattern matching is to straighten it out.
Pre washing means I know there will not be any distortion after making up.
When placing the pattern pieces on the fabric I considered what would need to match up.
My pattern needed matching horizontally and vertically, so I needed the skirt and bodice plaids to match up, as well as the front and back pattern to match horizontally.
I placed the pattern pieces to allow for this.
I also added an inch to the bodice armhole as shown, to give a little more movement.
In places, even after pinning the plaid to match on seams, there was some slippage. So the plaid did not quite match after pressing the seam. This is an instance when tacking, in this case sideways on the plaid line, as well as just inside the seam line, saved unpicking and resewing!
Creating a Neck Facing
An interlined facing creates a neat neck edge. I attached iron-on grey interlining to the fabric facing pieces. (It is not necessary to try to do any plaid matching, as the facing is turned to the wrong side and is not seen when you wear the dress).
The shoulder seams both of the bodice and the facing are sewn first
The facing is then sewn on to the bodice, right sides together. This curved seam needs clipping to ensure the facing lies flat.
I then pressed this facing seam to ensure a smooth neck edge.
Especially when pressing curves, a tailors ham makes a really good accessory, giving a firm surface to press against.
I made my own tailors ham, filling it with sawdust and you can order one yourself (choosing your own colour fabric if you choose) from my Etsy shop
I then used understitching the facing to give extra strength to the neck edge and help ensure the facing lies flat.
This involves a line of stitching on the opened out facing.
When the facing is folded under you don’t see the stitches.
An alternative would be to topstitch the folded neck edge, where you will see the stitches. This can add an extra design feature, especially if you use a contrasting thread colour. As my fabric already had plenty going on, I chose to understitch.
Inserting the Zip
I used a regular zip, rather than an invisible one, as that is what I had in.
When your fabric has several colours, it can be tricky to decide which colour zip to use. I had brown and red zips, so held both against the bodice pieces to choose which blended best. I went for the red zip and made sure the thread blended well too.
My zip method: tack the seam together, press it open and then lay the right side of the zip down centred over the seam.
Tacking again helps keep the centred and in place during stitching. Using a zipper foot helps get the stitches close to the zipper teeth.
Tack the sleeve heads, with the thread secured at one end. Pull up these stitches then to match the bodice armhole.
I place the pins sideways to the seam. Wind the unsecured end of the tacking round a pin in a figure of eight, after pulling the gathering to match.
The regular sewing machine foot used, glides over pins that are sideways.
My finished new dress for the New Year and Burns Night. Bring on the neeps and tatties!
I would love to hear from you. Please comment here, or using the contact form.
What is your most recent make?
How do you organise your fabric and patterns?