Monday, 26 December 2011

Merry Christmas (well, Boxing Day anyway)!

I hope you're all having a great time. I thought I'd show you what I got for Christmas. Well, I say show, my camera ran out of power just as I was about to take the first photo so I will just add links to pictures on the web. : )

Present No. 1
The main thing is the Janome Rotary Even Feed Foot Set. As you know, I have a Brother sewing machine, but the Janome website said that it is made to fit all sewing machines.

Anyway, it has three hemmer attachments, an adjustable binder attachment, and an adjustable bind hem attachment. It is good for sewing awkward fabrics. It would have done a better job on my plaid if the fabric had been on grain.

The hemmer takes a little practise, but I'm getting the hang of it. I find that if you hand baste the beginning, wrap the hem around the curl of the attachment, bring it towards you and then arrange it so that the start is under the needle, it is a lot easier and so gives better results. When you get to the end you have to leave long thread trails and then hand sew the last 4cm or so with a backstitch, otherwise the bit you are sewing uncurls and you end up with a rather uneven hem.

The binder takes a bit of practise too. It helps if you press (even finger press) the tape in half lengthways first, because it has a tendency to slide out of position.

You can't sew satin stitches with this foot because there isn't the room underneath. There are white bits on the underside which I think could be Teflon to help go over vinyls etc. but I can't be sure.

The screw that you use to attach the attachments is very tough. In fact I had to get my pliers to turn it all the way at first. Now I sometimes have to use a cloth or something to help me to grip it and not hurt my fingers. The kit comes with a nice clear plastic box. It's good quality and nice a smooth.

Presents No.s 2,3 and 4
I also got three pressing cushions: a tailors ham, a seam roll, and a pressing mitt. I was going to buy them myself but now thankfully I don't have to and I can save that money. : ) I haven't had cause to use them yet, since I only got them yesterday, but I shall be using them in the future.

Present No. 5
 My brother kindly bought me a diary that fits in my handbag. Again, I was going to buy one, but now I don't have to. : )

Present No. 6
This one hasn't arrived yet. Mum has bought me a ruffler attachment for my sewing machine. To save money, I picked one from America to take advantage of the currency rate. The last we know of it at the moment, the courier picked it up in Wichita on the (I think)8th December.
I've yet to find out if it's really that golden colour, or if that was just the light in the photography studio.

Now, I didn't just receive presents, I gave them as well. I gave Mum some André Rieu DVDs and I gave my brother Rayman Origins for the PS3.

On another subject...
Having saved up for years and having been thinking of starting a children's dressmaking business, I was thinking of upgrading my sewing machine to a top of the line model that does embroidery and alphabets. But before I decided I thought I would have a go with my Brother XR6600 and see just how much it can do.

I have begun doing more free-motion embroidery. I don't have the foot for it but you don't really need one. I think their main purpose is free-motion quilting, i.e. on layers of fabric. On regular fabric you don't need one. Sometimes you don't even need to use a hoop. It depends how stable the fabric is. Anyway, yesterday I made myself a personalised coaster with a butterfly on it and my name above the butterfly. It helps if you draw the picture or letters onto the fabric first and then sort of trace them with your needle and thread. Mine isn't perfect, but it isn't bad either.

Something else I had a go at was appliqué. My sewing machine has an appliqué stitch, which some may call a buttonhole stitch. Doesn't it look lovely?

I also tried it with a satin stitch pearl scallop. It isn't quite as good, but I only had one go.

You can also see that I free-motioned my initials, and my name, the latter being only about 1/4" tall. I wrote onto the fabric first for the smaller lettering that says "Sabrina" but I winged it on the "WB".

Along the top are some scallops from the in-built stitch, and an early attempt at binding the edge using my new attachment.

Using a stitch that looks like a buttonhole stitch mirrored, and having the upper tension set at 8, you can make a picot edge. I did this on some very drapey viscose knit (it only works on soft or thin fabrics). I tried to scan it in but the image never looked right. The fabric is grey. Maybe that has something to do with it?

Here is a sample of my hemming using the 1/2" hemmer attachment that I got for Christmas. In the photo above, you can just see where I stitched a wavy stitch along a hemmed edge. It's a nice touch and you could easily whip up some napkins or place-mats etc. like this. Think what a great gift that would make if you have a wedding coming up! Why! You could even monogram them or add a picture. Don't you just love sewing?! : )

I am so pleased with the buttonholes on this sewing machine. They are so much easier and more professional looking than the 4-step buttonholes on the Toyota 21-DES. I stitched some two of the buttonholes, decreasing the stitch length to 0.2.. and the width to 4mm (which refers to the width of the buttonhole, not the stitches along the sides of it). The buttonholes look better in real life than they do on the photo. The top one is a round-ended buttonhole and the other is a regular buttonhole. The bottom one is a regular buttonhole without any buttons pace in the back of the foot. It's only 1/4" long from start to end. You could even use it as a squarish eyelet! The little thing near it is a bar tack that my sewing machine makes automatically.

You know, I think some people think that the Brother XR6600 and it's twins-in-different-casings (like the CSi6000) do less than perfect topstitching. That is largely down to the needle they use and the fabric they are sewing on. Linen is determined to have wobbly top-stitching, but just look at the lovely zigzag stitching on this bias binding! I defy anyone to find a better-looking stitch quality! The same for the straight-stitch. Please ignore the less-than-perfect binding. I haven't quite got the hang of the attachment yet.

So that is what I have been doing this Christmas, that and watching television with Mum and Joe, and cooking Christmas dinner. What have you been doing? I heard that Italian-Americans eat fish at Christmas time. Do you have any unusual traditions (eating more than is sensible aside?).

What about your new year's resolutions? One of mine is to keep accounts of my money and be more economically-minded. I shall put a certain amount aside for each expense and also save a certain amount. For example, £8 or so per month will go to my sewing funds. If I don't use it, it gets carried over to the next month and so on. And I don't borrow anything from my other "accounts" either! I may however dip into my savings to buy Mum a Kindle for her birthday in January.

Until the new year (2012 -- where did 2011 go?), happy sewing and festivities. : )
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner Haberdashery, 41 Market Place, Hornsea, HU18 1AP, United Kingdom.

P.S. We watched the Queen's message yesterday and while our National Anthem was playing, I found myself singing The Star Spangled Banner! Well, the tunes are the same, and I don't know our lyrics. I only heard the American ones on the cartoons I grew up watching. I believe the words "God save the Queen" are somewhere in ours, but they are all I know. Shameful, I know.

Monday, 12 December 2011

How to Make a Dress Part 11: Attaching the Collar and the Bow

This week we will attach the collar and bow.

How to Attach the Collar and Neck-line Facing

Get your collar halves that you made earlier and place them on the RS out dress. Pin and baste along the seam line, or maybe a little inside the seam allowance if you prefer
Then get your neckline facing and place it RS down on top of the collar. Pin and baste. Then sew along the neckline taking the stated seam allowance (in most cases 1.5mm or 5/8").

Grade and notch the seam allowance. Trim the corner near the zip to reduce bulk. Turn the facing to the WS and pin and baste. Press.

With the back seam lines even (along the zip), hand-stitch the facing to the zip tape.

Pin the facing to the dress inside as shown (the sticky-up thing is the collar).

Now hand under-stitch the facing to the seam allowance. A hand under-stitch is basically a backstitch that has a tiny stitch on top and a long stitch underneath. It helps keep the facing in place. Do this all along the neck-line. Press.

Match up the shoulder seams on the facing and the dress. Pin, keeping the facing smooth against the dress.

Now invisibly hem the facing to the dress, with fairly loose stitches, taking up only one thread of the dress fabric at a time.

Turn the dress RS out. As you can see, it is not very neat at the CF of the neckline. That is because of the way I made the collar (see one of the previous posts). It's okay because we're going to cover that up with the bow.

Just overcast the edges by hand to keep them from fraying. You'll probably have to trim them down first.

How to Make and Attach the Bow

Get your two "bow" pieces which were cut on the bias. Place them RS together and sew around from dot to dot. Then trim and notch the edges. Turn RS out.

Tuck the opening's seam allowance in and hand stitch closed.

Top-stitch all around the edge of the bow-to-be.

Fold the bow in half. The fold the long edges over again so that it's kind of like a fan. Then with your sewing machine on a 0 length zigzag stitch, sew in the centre to secure it.

To make the tie get a rectangle of fabric, your pattern will either include the paper pattern or tell the size. I made the paper pattern to go with this pattern (which I made, in case you just found this blog). Stitch along one short end and along the long end.

Now, using a pencil, turn the tie RS out.

Put it in the dress, so that the raw edge is against the point of the neckline and sew it by hand to the facing.

Now place the bow on the dress and wrap the tie around it, tucking it under at the front. Hand stitch securely all around the tie, as invisibly as you can.

I'd have included the photo but the Blogger software decided to hide those buttons. : )

I think that will have to do this week, because I have run out of time. Next week we'll make and sew the inset, and hem the dress. Then we're done!

Hope that helps!

Until next time, happy sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner Haberdashery, Hornsea, HU18 1AP, UK

Monday, 5 December 2011

How to Make A Dress Part 10: Sewing the Front to the Back and Setting the Sleeves

Now that you have the back half of the dress made you can attach it to the front.

How to Sew the Shoulder Seams
First we'll start with the shoulder seams. Sometimes the back shoulder seam allowance is longer than the front one. It is so that the fabric shapes better to the curve of the upper back. The extra is taken up with a dart or with easing. In this example we shall use easing; it is less noticeable than a dart.

On the back shoulder seam allowance, right next to the stitching line, sew some hand running stitches. Make sure that you don't sew gathering stitches in the armscye and neckline seam allowances.

Pin the Back to the Front at the start and end of the running stitches, keeping the raw edges even. Then pull up the running stitches so that the back shoulder is flat against the front shoulder. Wrap the thread end in a figure 8 around the nearest pin to hold it drawn.

Even out the easing and pin. It is a good idea to baste as well. Now sew the seam with the eased fabric against the feed dogs. Press flat, then press open and neaten the raw edges with a zigzag stitch or with your serger/overlocker if you have one. If you neaten the seam allowances together, press them towards the front of the garment so that the seam will be less conspicuous when the garment is worn. Repeat for the other shoulder.

How to Sew the Side Seams
This bit is easy. Just match the raw edges and sew from the bottom to the armscye. Press flat, press open, and neaten. If you neaten the seam allowances together, press them towards the front of the dress so that the seam won't show as much when the dress is worn.

How to Ease the Sleeve Caps the Easy Way
When I was doing my first course in dressmaking I had to set a sleeve. I had printed the pattern out and it had no notches which didn't help. I passed, but I would have preferred to get a Distinction rather than a Merit. If I had known the technique I'm going to show you now, easing in the sleeve caps evenly (i.e. without puckers) would have been a lot easier and a lot quicker. : ) (BTW. I got this from Sandra Betzina's book POWER SEWING, available in my Amazon Store.)

It is easier if you do it before sewing up the sleeve seams, i.e. work with the sleeve flat. I didn't, as you can see in the video of machine ease-stitching, or as Sandra Betzina calls it, super-staystitching:


Starting at the first notch, put the sleeve under the presser foot. Backstitch to secure. Put your finger behind the presser foot and push it towards you as you sew.When there is to much fabric (and you will know when) bunched up behind it, let that fabric go and start pushing again. Do this until you get to the other notch. Then backstitch and remove your fabric. As you can see at the end of the video this shapes the sleeve somewhat.

Now you can sew the sleeve seam, keeping the raw edges even. Press and neaten as for the rest of the dress (see above). Repeat for the other sleeve.

How to Hem the Sleeves
The sleeve in this pattern has a 1 1/4" (3cm) hem allowance. First fold up the hem allowance the full amount (3cm) and pin. Then turn under the raw edge 1/4" (6mm), leaving 1" visible. Check as you go with your sewing gauge or ruler. Pin.

On the seam allowance, secure your thread with a few backstitches on top of each other, as in the top photo. Then take a stitch in the hem allowance about 1/4" long. Bring the needle through, then take a stitch of only one thread in the sleeve. Repeat until you have gone full circle. Then secure your thread as you did at the beginning. Repeat for the other sleeve. Now you can set the sleeves.

How to Set (insert) the Sleeves
With the dress inside-out and the sleeve RS-out, put one sleeve into it's armhole, matching the notches and matching the top of the sleeve which is also indicated by a notch with the top of the armhole, which is usually the shoulder seam, but sometimes a notch. (This is why the front has one notch, and the back has two notches: so that you get the sleeve in the right armhole.)

If the armhole is quite small, you will have to sew it in without using the free-arm because you won't fit the sleeve over the free-arm (unless perhaps you're using a Bernina which look to have nice narrow free-arms). If you are sewing baby clothes you will have to insert the sleeve in the flat (like they do with T-shirts) or by hand because the armhole is just too small.

The photo shows what it will look like when it is pinned in. It is a good idea to baste as well as this saves your pricking yourself too much. When you have done that, starting at the underarm seam (which you can see I have trimmed at an angle to reduce bulk) put the armscye under the presser foot with the bodice fabric against the feed-dogs (if you can use the free-arm, do - then you can have the sleeve fabric against the feed-dogs). Sew the seam, then sew again about 2mm or less away from the seam and in the seam allowance to strengthen the seam. Press. Do not press open. Trim the seam allowances to roughly 1/8" from the second line of stitching. Neaten the raw edge. I haven't done so yet in this photo, but used hand overcasting to neaten the edges.

Now turn the dress RS out with the sleeve sticking out of the armhole as it will look when you have finished. Press the seam with the seam allowance towards the sleeve. Repeat for the other sleeve and you are done!

Next week we'll apply the collar and the neckline facing. If there is time we may even add the bow as well.

I hope that helps!

Until next time, Happy Sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner Haberdashery, 41 Market Place, Hornsea, East Yorkshire, HU18 1AP, UK

Monday, 21 November 2011

Another Cold

Sorry I haven't posted this week. I have another cold, this time with a violent cough and a sore throat. I couldn't even talk on Saturday morning!

Sabrina Wharton-Brown

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

How to Make a Dress: Part 9 - How to Insert an Invisible Zip with an Adjustable Zipper Foot

I only just remembered that I am supposed to write this post today! Nearly all day I've been putting together a TV cabinet (flat-pack). What hard work that was!

Anyway, onto the invisible zip...

In case you don't know the difference between a regular zip and and invisible one, an invisible zip's teeth curl inwards so that when you zip the zip up you can't see them from the RS. When you have sewn an invisible zip into the garment properly, all you can see is the zip pull, whereas with a regular zip you would see topstitching and a sort of pleat under which you have the zip.

An Invisible zip is sewn in differently to a regular zip. You insert the zip before you sew the seam. Also, you can't sew all the way down it so you need a zip that is at least about 2" (5cm) longer than the opening. You can easily shorten the zip if you have to.

First, neaten the seam allowances all the way down and mark them off. Here, they are 1.5cm and the same width as my tape measure which I used as a guide). Press them to the WS.

Open the zip and, keeping the edge of the coil even with the folded edge of the seam allowance, pin the zip to the seam allowance only. It is a good idea to baste as well.

Remove your zigzag foot and replace it with your adjustable zipper foot. Have the needle fall right at the edge of the foot; you want to get as close to the teeth as possible without having the needle hit them.

TIP: If you sew at an angle so that it looks like you're going to sew diagonally through the teeth, it will be easier to stitch in the groove of the zip. You still have to open the coil far though, so that the teeth are perpendicular to the tape. In this photo I haven't got them pushed back far enough, but if you get them right, the results are better. It will be easier to sew the zip in properly if you machine baste it in first. Yes, it takes more thread, but it is worth it.

You will have to stop stitching about 1/2" to 1" above the zip pull. When you sew an invisible zip you will see why. Backstitch and tie off. Repeat for the other side, keeping the notches on the seam allowances matched.

Now fasten the zip and have the garment parts RS together, tucking the zip as far out of the way as possible. Sew, starting from where you stopped sewing in the zip, past the end and then back stitch. Change to your regular foot and sew the rest of the seam.

Note: It may be easier or better to sew below the bottom of the zip by hand with doubled thread if you can't get it just right. (It is very hard.) Then sew the rest of the seam by machine.

And there you have it! Just press. Doesn't it look neat? Yes, you can see my zip's pull, but you can get zips in different colours, or you can use nail varnish/polish to colour the pull. (Mum can't stand the smell of nail varnish/polish, so we don't have it in the house.)

After that you sew the rest of the dress.

Next week, we'll sew the front of the dress to the back of it and insert or "set" the sleeves. Plus, assuming the Blogger thing works right, I'll post a little video on ease-stitching the easy way (if only I had know about this when I did my first course!). It is my first online video and I felt almost nervous, so there is no speaking in it : ).

Until next time, Happy Sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner, 41 Market Place, Hornsea, East Yorkshire, HU18 1AP

P.S. You can sew an invisible zip in like a regular zip if you like. They are actually easier than regular zips that way. I know because on my first dress, I sewed one in using a centred zip application. You can get quite a narrow finish that way. : )

Monday, 14 November 2011

How to Make a Dress Part 8: The Pocket Flaps

This week, as the title of this post suggests, we'll make the pocket flaps. They're optional, but are a nice touch. You can embroider them or add appliqués or buttons etc. as you see fit. You can make them in a contrasting colour, or if you're using a striped or plaid fabric, you can cut the top-flap (the part you will see) on the bias for interest. You don't have to use the shape that was supplied in your pattern; you can easily draft your own by drawing a horizontal line the width of the pocket, drawing the shape you want below it (and above it if you like) and then adding seam allowances.

What I have learned from making these pocket flaps is that, as with collars, the bottom piece should probably be slightly smaller than the top one to make sure the seams are not seen from the RS when the garment is worn. (I didn't, so don't be concerned if your pocket flap doesn't look exactly like mine. : ))

So, let's get on with making the pocket flap!

How to Make a Pocket Flap

If you have only one pattern piece for the pocket flap, use it to cut all four pieces, and then trim about 1/8" (3mm) off the outside edge of the under-flap (or flap facing, whatever you would like to call it). In this case, it would be the round edge because the pocket flaps are almost semi-circles.

Interface the top pocket flap if you haven't already.

Then, keeping the raw edges even (and this may be a little fiddly) pin and baste the top pocket flap to the under-flap and stitch around the curved edge, leaving the straight edge unsewn so that you can turn the flap RS out in a minute. Press flat to set the stitches.

Grade the seam allowances as shown above (you don't have to pink them) and notch them so that the curve will work out. Turn the pocket flap RS out and push the seam out as far as it will go. You can use a knitting needle for this. Press.

Now you can apply the pocket to the dress. We are doing this before we sew the dress parts together because it's easier to sew "flat".

Fold down the seam allowance of the pocket flap. Trim to half and press. Neaten the raw edge. Now put the flap on the dress above the pocket so that the raw edge is about 1/8" to 1/4" above the top of the pocket. Stitch along the pressed fold. Press.

Flap the flap down to its finished position and stitch down, encasing the seam-allowance.

Repeat for the other pocket flap et Voilá! Your pockets now have flaps!

Next week we'll put in the invisible zip with an adjustable zip foot and then sew up the centre back (CB) seam.

Until next time, happy sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner Haberdashery, 41 Market Place, Hornsea, East Yorkshire, HU18 1AP, UK.

P.S. Last week we got some new stock in the shop so I bought a sewing gauge. (They're only £1.85!) It's nice for measuring hems, and you can even draw circles with it! It also has a point-turner on one end and an adjustable button sewing shank thing on the other. We sell Hemline brand products. We could have got the Nancy Zieman sewing gauge, but they're so much more expensive and I don't know that they're that much better. What do you think? Do you have one? Please comment below. : )

Monday, 7 November 2011

How to Make a Dress: Part 7 - How to Make A Patch Pocket

Hello! : )
My cold is almost gone now and I'm feeling much better.

The next thing we are going to do is make the patch pockets. This stage is optional, but the dress looks better with them. Besides pockets are very handy.

How to Make a Pocket

Get your pocket piece and if you haven't already, interface the WS of the hem (the top bit of the pocket). Turn 1/4 inch (6mm) along the top edge to the WS.

I did it wrong when I was making the dress and I turned it to the RS so I have "corrected" it on the photo with the red rectangle and drawn-in stitches.

Then you grade the seam allowances as shown and trim the edges like you did for the collar. Then you just neaten the raw edges with a zigzag stitch.

The next bit is a good idea. I'm not sure whether I thought of it or whether I got it from somewhere else. Anyway, get the pattern piece for the pocket, put it on top of a piece of cardboard such as you get from used cereal packets, and using your tracing wheel, trace the stitching lines. Cut out the cardboard shape and trim about 1 - 2mm) off the edges (otherwise it won't fit into the pocket).

Turn the pocket RS out and poke the corners out with a knitting needle or something. If they need trimming to a sharper point you should do that now. Now insert the square into the pocket hem and press. Fold the raw edges over the cardboard and press. You probably can't do the corners so leave them.

Take the cardboard out. Now it's time to mitre the corners. As you have folded the straight edges, you now have creases as a guide. Fold the corner in as shown so that the creases line up. Press. Trim the corner as needed to get a flatter corner. Fold the straight edges down so that the corners look neat like the left-hand one below. Then just hand stitch the corner closed, sewing only the seam allowances.

Now it's time to hem the top of the pocket in the same way as you hemmed the sleeve. Your pocket's hem will have the little fold going under, so you should be happy if it doesn't look like mine. : )

Secure your thread in the seam allowance at one side of the pocket. Take a stitch about 1/4" (6mm) long inside the fold of the hem, then take a stitch of one thread only in the pocket. Repeat until you reach the end. Then secure your thread in the seam allowance and cut it off.

Now you can place your pocket on your dress. There may be markings such as Tailor's tacks or dressmaker's pencil to help you match it up, or you may like to put the pocket wherever you want. Pin and baste. Then topstitch in place by machine. I have tried hand sewing pockets in place, but my hand stitching is never strong enough for something like a pocket, so I machine stitch.

I tried topstitching one of the pockets on using my blindhem foot as a guide, but the results were terrible. Thank goodness for my quick-unpick. It's better to topstitch with your regular presser foot.

And that's it. Just repeat for the other pocket.

Next week we'll make and apply the pocket flaps.

Until next time, Happy Sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner Haberdashery, 41 Market Place, Hornsea, East Yorkshire, HU18 1AP
Tel. +44 (0)1964 537901

P.S. Are you watching Kristie's Homemade Britain on Channel 4? I especially liked last week's episode because it was mostly sewing. On my mental wishlist is now a Free-motion embroidery foot. : )

P.P.S. Sorry for any typos; I don't have much time for checking today. : )

Monday, 31 October 2011

How to Make a Dress Part 6: The Collar

( I have added the pictures of the dress I made for this series as a reminder of what it looks like.)

All last week (half-term) my brother had a cold, and now I have it, so I will just make this post about the collar. Sorry to cut it short.

How to Make A Collar
Sometimes (in better patterns) there are two collar pattern pieces: the top collar and the under-collar. The top collar is the one that you will see when the garment is worn; the under-collar is like a collar facing (I think it's sometimes called that) and it goes underneath (hence the name).

If you have not already interfaced the top collar, do so now. The top collar is slightly larger and a slightly different shape to the under-collar. This is so that the seams roll out of sight when the garment is finished; it also makes the collar a better shape. It makes it a little fiddlier to get the pieces ready to sew, but the end result is worth it.

Match up and pin the corners first, and then the raw edges, keeping the extra fabric of the top collar evenly distributed. Now hand-baste in place. You don't have to pin and baste the neck edge - you will only have to undo it again later.

In the photo below, the under-collar looks rather wobbly because the larger top collar is eased onto it underneath (RS together).

Now you just have to sew from the back neck point to where the collar meets the front of the neckline. For the sailor collar I should have sewn right around the point to maybe 2 inches towards the neck to make it easier later, but I assumed that a sailor collar, being flat, would be applied like a Peter Pan collar. I was wrong, apparently, so these instructions are going to be for a Peter Pan type collar. : )

When you sew the corners, take a diagonal stitch or two. Ironically, this gives a sharper point when you turn it RS-out. It's because the fabric is thicker than paper and needs the space of the diagonal corner to lie flatter. Otherwise it will be all pushed together like inside the finger-tips of a glove.

Then you trim the seam allowance of the top collar to half. This will make it lie more smoothly when turned RS-out. You also need to trim the corners so that there will be less bulk. First, snip the corner off, about 1/8 inch out from the stitching, then whittle the seam allowances to a narrower point. I didn't take a photo of that so I've just whipped a drawing in Paint. It's a little scruffy, but I hope it serves its purpose.
Now you can turn the collar RS out and it is ready to sew onto the dress later.

I hope that helps!

Until next time, happy sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner Haberdashery, Hornsea, East Yorkshire, HU18 1AP

Monday, 24 October 2011

How to Make a Dress: Part 5 - How to Prepare Facings and Sleeves for Sewing into the Dress

If you follow sewing pattern instructions you will make the garment pieces as and when you need them. That's fine, but if you are an organized sort of person or you want to be, you can make the smaller parts up before-hand so that you can just apply them when the time comes, kind of like they do in factories, except you're make only one item (or so I presume).

We'll start with the facings.

How to Prepare a Facing
It's easy really. Once you have stay-stitched the edges and interfaced the facing, you put the seam allowances that are to be joined RS together and stitch. On this dress there was a neckline facing and the seams were shoulder seams.

Here the front neck facing is underneath the back neck facings, which overlap because of the seam allowances:

Once you have stitched the seams of the facing, you press them flat (as they are when you take them away from your sewing machine), then you press them open, and overcast or zigzag their raw edges. The interfacing is trimmed in the seam allowances to reduce bulk:

We'll apply the facing later.

How to Make a Sleeve
The sleeve on this dress is a simple short sleeve with a hand-stitched invisible hem (machine-sewn invisible hems are seldom actually invisible). The front of each sleeve has one notch and the back has two notches (also called a double notch). This is so you know where to start ease-stitching, and also to help you put the sleeve in the right way round. There is also a notch at the top of the sleeve to match the shoulder seam.

Here I have sewn the seam (you can see the hem area is interfaced for a better finish) and trimmed the seam allowance in the hem area to reduce bulk.

(You can see in the seam allowance of the sleeve cap I have clipped one of the notches rather than cut a notch shape outwards of the seam allowance. I do this because it's quicker and easier.)

Now we shall sew the hem of the sleeve. If you were making the garment for someone in particular, or for yourself, you could leave this part until you try the garment on to make sure that you get the sleeve the right length.

How to Sew An Invisible Hand-Hem
This hem allowance is 1 1/4 inches deep (about 3cm) and there will be two turnings: one deep one (1in deep), and the other (1/4 inch) to fold under the raw edge.

First, fold the hem allowance up 1 1/4 inches all the way around. This is a good place to use your sewing gauge if you have one (I made mine) or you can use a tape measure if you prefer. Once that is level, turn under the remaining 1/4 inch so that the hem is 1 inch all around when viewed from the inside (as shown at left). Now pin in place and baste if you wish.

On the seam allowance of the sleeve seam (which I probably ought to have overcast earlier) secure your thread for hemming as in the top photo below.

Then go into the hem allowance and bring the needle through about 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch along. Pick up one thread of the sleeve and then repeat. Keep going until you get to the starting point again. Then you just secure your thread and cut it off.

If you have to start a new thread as you go along the hem, secure it in the hem allowance so that it is invisible.

Et Voilá! You have your hem, and it is invisible from the RS.

When it comes time to set the sleeves, I will show you a neat trick that I learned from Power Sewing by Sandra Betzina for easing the sleeve caps much more easily.

I had planned to include the collar, bow and pockets in this post, but I haven't time. Never mind, we will continue next week.

Until next time, Happy Sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner Haberdashery, Hornsea, East Yorkshire, HU18 1AP