Hello and welcome to day three of our sew-along! Today we will be putting together our skirt and sleeves. We will be finishing our sleeve hems, but we will save our skirt hem for another day. Remember that the sew-along posts and questions are hosted on Facebook, in the “Sew Alongs & Sewing Contests” group.
For this entry, you will need:
1. Your constructed bodices (shell and lining), without collar installed
2. Your skirt pieces (shell and lining), properly marked & cut to hem length
2. Your sleeve pieces (shell and lining)
In our last entry, we cut out all our pattern pieces. Remember, as I said in our pattern preparation post, we want to make sure our skirt pieces are carefully marked. There will be seven panels in all for the skirt shell, and seven for the skirt lining. Their shapes can be easily confused if you’re not careful.
And before we proceed, I want to repeat some points about our skirt hems. We want to double-check our lining and shell lengths are correct, rather than fix this after we’ve constructed the dress. In my silk crepe de chine dress version, I used a baby hem for the shell and a raw serge for the lining – this means I cut the lining about 1/2″ shorter than the skirt. In the wool crepe version, I hemmed the shell fabric with a serge then turn, but left the silk lining edge raw. I cut the lining 3/4″ shorter than the shell in that case. And of course, in the cotton/rayon/poly knit version I’m fiddling with now, I’m leaving the hem raw, and the dress isn’t lined.
Sewing the skirt together is super-simple and satisfying. You are essentially using the techniques you used for the bodice – either a slot-seam or a regular seam. The fluke-like shapes in the trumpet hem give no particular trouble. The skirt is really drafted well.
One caveat, however: if your skirt needs to open (that is, if the closure extends from the bodice into the bottom half of the dress), you will not be closing the back of the skirt. Instead, interface it as per the formula needed based on what zipper you’re using (seam allowance plus 1/8″ or 1/4″ plus topstitch width) and finish the seam. We’ll be installing our closure in the next blog entry.
If the dress pulls over the head with only a bodice closure (as I expect most builds of this dress will), simply sew all skirt panels together. I left the side seams (slot-seams) for last; I joined my front panels (one center panel, two side panels) and then joined the back (four panels) by first very carefully serge-finishing each panel edge, then pinning and sewing the seams. And of course, I gently pressed after every seam. I was very patient with all these seams, as pressing well results in a good-looking final result. Here is the inside of one of the skirt seams:
After sewing all these panels together, I closed the side seam with my slot seam technique:
Now – simply sew up the panels for the lining! Again, if you won’t have a closure in the skirt, go ahead and close the skirt. If you do have a closure, consider whether you will interface these lining seam allowances. The staystitching we’ve employed will likely suffice. For a fragile or flimsy lining, I might choose to interface, but such cases are rare.
Now, let’s talk about sleeves! Below, I will show you the methods for both types of sleeves. In both cases, we will be making the sleeve and lining it before affixing it to the shell bodice. Later, when we insert our lining into the bodice, we will hide our sleeve seams with gorgeous hand-finished (and strong!) stitches. While there are all sorts of great lining shortcuts applying a lining by machine, and I often use these shortcuts, I have found hand-insertion gives my favorite results. It doesn’t take that long, and there are less opportunities for error (i.e. a date with the seam-ripper!)
So let’s first tackle the “flutter” sleeve, shown on the green crepe de chine dress:
Isn’t that a gorgeous sleeve? Especially paired with the trumpet hem!
So the pattern piece for the flutter sleeve is essentially a sickle-shape. Remember, in Bootstrap Fashion patterns the notch closer to the shoulder notch (at right) denotes the front of the sleeve. And yes, I like to mark the front and back of my sleeve heads as I’ve sewn in too many sleeves backwards! So this is usually where I mark the pattern and the fabric pieces with a safety pin on the front of the sleeve.
Sew the sleeves to the linings ONLY along the outer curve, at the seam allowance, with about a 2.5mm stitch:
Now, trim this same seam. You should always seek to trim evenly, but in this case where the lining is semi-sheer, a consistent edge is essential. I cut at 3/16″:
Below: before flipping the sleeve right-side out. Now for those of you following closely: yes, the safety pin is actually on the wrong-side of the fabric here, but again, it denotes the front of the sleeve:
Now simply push the sleeves right-side out, and patiently press, slightly rolling the lining under so there is a 1/16″ lip of the fashion fabric showing on the underside. Look how gorgeous it’s looking! And note the safety pin denoting the front section of the sleeve. You can see why this is a handy visual marker.
Let’s take a closer look at that edge!
Now, pin the sleeve to the armscye, right-sides together, lining up the notches. The sleeves will overlap right at that seam allowance (3/8″). Try the bodice on to make sure you like the sleeve effect. Stitch, clip, and grade the armscye. We’ll be hiding this seam with the hand-installed bodice lining.
And we’re done with the flutter sleeve!
For the gathered cap sleeve, we are employing a little elastic to gather the bottom edge.
For this sleeve, we are (like the other sleeve) sewing the sleeve and lining together, right-sides together, along the outer edge of the sleeve (the edge with pins in it, above). Use a 2.5mm stitch and sew right on the seam allowance:
Next, pin the elastic. I simply pin at the ends, and in the middle, ensuring an even amount of gathering ratio between pinning points:
Next, I stitch the elastic right on the seam, using a zig-zag. I don’t start pulling on the elastic until I’ve firmly anchored the end of the elastic. Sew slowly. I actually kind of love installing elastic. It is more art than science. If you are struggling, don’t worry – elastic application gets better with practice.
Now: trim and grade this outer edge seam allowance, turn, and topstitch – again, sewing slowly and stretching evenly:
And finally: pin and stitch the sleeve as we did with the flutter sleeve: overlapping slightly at the armscye underarm seam.
Try the bodice on to make sure you like the sleeve effect. Stitch, clip, and grade the armscye. We’ll be hiding this seam with the hand-installed bodice lining.
So there we have it! Your dress is nearly built! On the thirteenth of April we will address our back closure! We are nearing completion already.
Thank you to all who have read, and especially those who take the time to write in with any typos or confusing bits they find. I could not put together these sew-alongs without feedback. Happy stitching! And we’ll see you in a couple days.