Today we’ll put together most of the dress! You should have already cut out your fabric, based on day #1 (click here) of this sew along. This is a quick sew because there are only 4 long seams, 2 shoulder seams, some hemming, and the gathering in front. However, because you have to sew each seam twice, I think it takes more than an hour (the pattern envelope says one hour)! I’ll split the sewing into four days, with today constituting the majority of the dress, tomorrow focusing on the front gathering, and Monday focusing on the hemming. I’ll try to post both tomorrow and Monday’s sew along instructions tomorrow in case you want to do it all at once.
I recommend that you glance over a few tutorials on sewing with knits. The pattern instructions recommend to stretch the fabric slightly while sewing. You want to retain the stretch of the fabric (if your stitching is tight, it won’t stretch!), but I’ve found that if you stretch the fabric, the stitching looks bunched up. I have read quite a few tutorials and decided to hold the fabric taught but not stretched. It’s very important to use a stretch stitch, though! If you use a regular stitch, then you’ll lose the stretch of the fabric. On my sewing machine, the stretch stitch is #5. If you don’t have a stretch stitch, I’ve read that a narrow zigzag stitch will do.
Check out these two helpful tutorials/descriptions of how to sew with knits: this one from Birch Fabrics and this one from Sew Mama Sew. I didn’t do everything they suggested due to lack of supplies, but the general tips are very useful. I used a regular narrow needle (though one did snap into pieces at one point). I also didn’t try to do the mock coverstitch thing (will come into play Monday) because I didn’t have the special needles. I apologize that both examples focus on children’s clothing! I guess there are just a lot of knit kids clothes.
|The stretch stitch on my machine. The
number on yours will likely be different.
Look for the lightning bolt shaped stitch.
Remember, I’m following the instructions for view A! Some of the instructions in the actual pattern itself are mislabeled (for example, the sleeve instructions say they’re for View C, when on the pattern envelope, View D has the sleeves). If you’re making sleeves, it really doesn’t matter which view you chose, just find the correct instructions! I am not providing sleeve instructions here.
I’m going to walk through the steps on the pattern instructions and include my own commentary and photo descriptions as we go. I’ll also indicate what you’ll do differently if you’re making one of the two variations I listed (reversible or maternity). Before starting, read the “Sewing Information” on the front page of the pattern instructions, next to the pattern layouts. This defines words and diagrams the pattern instructions will use.
1. Stitch the outer seam of BACK (1) using a double-stitched seam. Press seam allowances to one side.
This means you’re going to sew one 5/8″ seam, and then afterwards, you’ll sew another seam so the seam allowance can’t roll and add bulk to your dress. I chose to make my second seam an overlock stitch. In theory, you could trim your seam allowance before starting and use ONLY an overlock stitch, but I felt more comfortable doing a regular stretch stitch first.
Here’s where I probably added a LOT of time (but also made my final product look nicer): I pressed the FIRST seam open and then back together before sewing the seam allowance together! I did this because once you’ve sewn the second row of stitching, you can’t get into that first seam with the iron to really make it lay flat. I use my standard pressing technique: press over the stitching, press the seam one way from the right side of the fabric, press the seam the other way from the wrong (visible seam) side of the fabric, and then finally press the seam open. Then I just pressed it flat again before sewing my second seam. This added a lot of time, so it’s totally optional, but it looks nice.
I previously described the overlock stitch here.
|Pin together the two back pieces, right sides
together. Remember to match up the piecs
using the notch you cut!
|Sew the seam with a stretch stitch (looks like a lightning
bolt on the sewing machine). This is what the seam will
look like. I then pressed this seam open and closed again
before doing my second row of stitching.
|The overlock stitch on my machine|
|Topstitch 1/4″ away from the seam, so the
seam allowance is trapped. Hopefully
you can sew straighter than I can. I would
do this regardless of whether you choose
to do a French seam or a regular seam.
3. Finish the neck edge with a 5/8″ narrow hem.
As the glossary indicates, the instructions mean you’ll fold over the fabric ~1/4″, sew it into place, and then fold it over agin before sewing that down. That way, you won’t be able to see the raw edge of the fabric. If you traced the dot for the center front, that will help you find where the final fold goes (it’s 5/8″ from the raw edge).
|This is the narrow hem from the outside. It goes all the way
around the back and finishes at a point at the center
3. Stitch center seam of front.
Stitch this using the stretch stitch you used on your other seams. However, this seam does not indicate that you should double stitch. You should just do one line of stitching and press the seam open.