Hello stitchers! It’s time to get back to our wonderful HP shift dress! Today’s entry is our longest. Are you ready to OWN IT?
In our first post we talked about our supplies. Then we prepared our bodice, including interfacing and darts, our button loop, and our pocket tabs. Last entry, we focussed on that important neckline.
Today, we are sewing our side seams (including finishes), and putting our sleeves together.
Remember, we are departing from the Hot Patterns instructions for a couple reasons – including the fact we are lining the dress. We are also going to ease the sleeve in, instead of setting it in the flat (both methods have advantages, and I use both). So in order to do that, we need to first join our side seams. This necessitates pinning from the armpit to the hem, and along the pocket edge:
Go ahead and sew the lining side-seams as well. I like to press, before finishing the seams.
Shown below: the stitched pocket. This is one reason I like to fully line anything with pockets. Yes, it’s possible to clean-finish an inseam pocket (I like this method, I believe I’ve mentioned before), but even a clean finished pocket on the inside of a dress garment doesn’t look as nice as a lining.
The dress will be lined by a hanging lining, affixed by thread chains at the hem. So it’s important to finish the side seams. I finished both the lining and shell side seams with a serge:
Here’s the lining before finishing:
Remember to press your seams before proceeding.
Now it’s time to start joining! Joining the dress is where things get unwieldy. But trust me – it’s worth it!
First, we are going to join the upper back bodice (that is lined) to the back shell. So pin the lower raw edges of these back plackets, to the lower shell, right-sides together. I like to sew with the satin against the bed of the machine, and the shell facing up.
Here is the finished seam. No need to press yet – as we’re going to join that back lower lining now.
Again, I stitch with the satin against the machine bed:
Now, I grade this seam. For grading, in general you leave the longest seam allowance on the side that is towards the public, and the shortest seam allowance on the side that faces the body.
Now – our sleeves. There are so many ways to insert and line sleeves. In my version, I’ll be affixing the lining and sleeve before installing, and we’ll be inserting the lining armscye by hand when we finish the dress.
So first, I like to sew a seam just 1/8″ to 1/16″ from the stitching line, all around the curved sleeve head of the sleeve lining. I’ll be using this seam when I hand-insert the sleeve lining. Don’t use such a tight stitch it gathers your lining fabric.
Next, sew our sleeve seams and press them open, using a sleeve board or equivalent. Since the sleeves will be a fixed lining, we don’t have to finish these seams.
Now (and this is where it gets fun for me!) fold up the sleeve hem and press that fold in:
Before proceeding, make sure your sleeve lining is the right length. Shown below, before I trimmed the sleeve lining. You want a little ease in that lining, so it feels good when wearing. I like about 3/4″ – just make sure it isn’t so much longer it will peak outside the sleeve. Once you’re satisfied with your sleeve lining length, you can join the sleeve lining seam and press open, as we did with the shell sleeve.
Now, turn the sleeves inside out, and the sleeve linings right-side out. Pin at the raw edges:
You can press this seam open, or grade and press toward the sleeve. Be patient here, as you want a good look and a smooth feel:
Shown below: our raw edge of the sleeve armsyce, and our staystitched lining armscye:
Now, with the sleeve right-side out and the dress inside out, pin the sleeve inside the dress. We are about to install it.
Now, here’s the thing about sleeves. If you want a flawless, perfect finish, you should baste the sleeves first, especially if the pattern contains ease in the sleeve. Sometimes I baste, sometimes I don’t, depending on the application. It’s not bad practice, especially if you’re working on a dressy outfit,
Stitch slowly, carefully easing around the seam.
Before you press, grade, anything – make sure the sleeve doesn’t have any ripples or small pleats:
Go ahead and trim this seam:
And then take it to the sleeve roll to carefully press. And please – don’t steam your hand! Ask me how I know this!
OK! WHEW! That was a lot of work! And you did it!
So, we’ll be finishing the dress in our last entry. I hope you’re enjoying the experience!
Any questions or difficulties? Make sure to comment or email me and I’m happy to help!