I am treating these cotton double-gauze dresses as if they are sheer. They are not; at best, they are semi-sheer and only see-through when the garment is held up to the light. But what this means for me, is I want a very neat seam allowance finish. Remember the little sheer knit mini-tutorial I shared a couple years back? I want seams that look that good:
So, I will be finishing the seams of this garment with a very narrow serge-stitch. For tidy inner details, you can also french seam the entire dress (you may want to adjust your seam allowances if so), stitch and pink, or zig-zag and trim. Make sure to test any seam finish you want to try, on some scraps.
When cutting, we are omitting the bodice facings (front and back) and instead cutting 1 1/2″ bias strips to finish our neckline. Cut enough of these to be long enough you can join them, and have the neckline length plus two inches.
Join these strips on the bias – using paper or washaway stabilizer – so you don’t suck the delicate bias edges down into the feed dogs:
Trim these seams, gently press the strip wrong-sides together lengthwise. Then, set these strips aside!
Now, let’s talk marking. I will be marking the pleat location (outermost pleat line, and center), the bodice darts and gathers, the sleeve notches, the invisible zipper termination, and the center fronts of the insert and bodice. Since I’ll be serge-finishing, and the seam allowance is already rather narrow at 3/8″, I have elected to mark any of the seam-allowance marks with a very small dot from marker, in the same colorway of the dress. For the dart apex, I used a thread-tack. Shown below – the gathering locations on the bottom of the bodice:
These seam allowance markings should be fairly subtle – you can keep your pattern aside for quick reference later (mark shown at bottom-right):
Now, a few words about this bodice. The back is shaped with waist darts. The front, with gathers under the bust. So let’s sew those up!
Darts are super-easy. You simply fold the garment, right-sides together, matching the dart leg marks in the seam allowance and pinning, tugging slightly to align the fold. If you don’t feel confident you can sew in a straight line from the leg to apex, go ahead and draw one in with chalk or disappearing marker. Then, sew in a straight line (firmly backtacking at the waist raw edge, using a stabilizer if necessary), terminating at the apex point. I like to leave a longish tail then tie a knot and thread the tails back inside the dart for a gorgeous finish:
Lightly steam-press the dart toward the center of the garment.
Next, I interface that curved back seam where the zipper will be installed. I interface this on the back bodice, on the back insert, and on the back skirt. In general for an invisible zipper, I use a width of about two times the seam allowance:
Next, I sew up two lines of stitches (at 1/8″ and 1/4″ from the raw edge) between the front bodice gathering marks, as shown below:
I then tie the bobbin side threads together on the back side, and use the topside threads to evenly gather between these two marks. Tying the threads on one side of the garment helps keep that gathering exactly between the two marks:
Time to finish this seam, and gently press. I elected to press away from the insert, into the bodice. Later I’d be pressing the skirt seam allowance away from the insert, toward the skirt:
And there you have it! Tomorrow we will be pleating, then installing our skirt! Because we are awesome like that!
See you tomorrow!