Tiered Pillowcase Dress Sew Along: Week 2 - The Bodice

Welcome to week 2 of the shoulder tie dress sew along!  Hopefully you have had a chance to cut out your dress following the steps for week 1 and you are ready to begin sewing!

First off a couple of tips.

All seam allowances for the whole dress are 1/2 inch unless otherwise noted.

If you have a "needle down" setting on your machine, use it.  It will act as a third "hand" for you.  If you don't have a needle down position, just remember if you are stopping to make an adjustment to make sure that the needle is in the down position before lifting your presser foot to adjust.

Step 2: Sewing the Bodice (Time Required- About 1 1/2 Hours)

Today we will complete sewing together the bodice.

1. If you are using a serger.  Serge the raw edge of the top edge of each of the bodice pieces.  If you are not using a serger, turn this edge down 1/4 inch toward the wrong side of the fabric and press.

2. Next turn the top edge under 1 1/8 inch and press. Do this on both pieces.  Make sure to get a nice crisp crease, use steam or starch if needed.

3. Place your bodice pieces right sides together and sew the side seams using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Do this on both sides.

4.  I always use my regular machine first and then go back and finish the edge with  my serger.  I find that it gives me more accurate and secure seams than if I use only my serger.  Press these seams open if you are not using a serger.  Press them to one side or the other if you are using a serger.  

5. Next you will need your bias tape.  Cut off a piece long enough to fit the entire under arm curve plus about an inch or so excess on both ends.  If in doubt, cut it a little longer than you think you need.  It can always be trimmed down later.  (For a size 2-3 or 4-5 I use a piece that is about 15 inches, for the 6-7 or 8-10 I would cut a piece about 18 inches.) Once it is cut, I like to iron it a bit to get the kinks out of it where it was wrapped around the card in the packaging.

6.  Fold the piece of bias tape in half lengthwise and make a small crease with your fingers.  Then use your Mark-B-Gone pen to mark the center.  

7. With the side seam and under arm curve facing toward you, place the mark on your bias tape on the side seam.  

8. Open out the edge of the bias tape and pin in place with the side seam matched to the mark on the bias tape.  The raw edge of the bias tape should be even with the raw edge of the arm hole.  You should only be pinning through one layer of fabric. 

9. Continue pinning in place from the center out to the ends making sure to unfold the top where you pressed it earlier.  It might take a little work, but you should be able to match them up.  There should be at least an inch excess bias tape at each end. Make sure to pin this well. As you can see I used A LOT of pins. 

10. Set your machine for a shorter stitch length than usual.  This will help navigate the curve more easily.   I set mine at 1.5.  Carefully stitch down the crease in the bias tape.  Go slowly, use your needle down setting and stop to readjust and remove pins as needed.  Lift the presser foot to adjust if needed.  Be careful not to sew a pucker of fabric into the seam.  Don't forget to backstitch at the beginning and end.  Double check once you have it sewn that there are no creases or puckers sewn into the seam.  This is seriously the trickiest part of the whole dress, once you get this it should be smooth sailing... :)

11.  Once you are satisfied with your seam, then use your sharp tipped scissors to clip the raw edge up very close to the stitching line, but being careful not to clip through it.  Do this every 1/4 to 1/2 inch around the deepest part of the armhole curve.  

12.  Press the bias tape out as shown below. 

13. Then press the bias tape to the inside of the armhole as shown below.  

14. On each end of the bias tape fold it in as shown here.  If it is a little bit too long, you can trim it a bit to make it fit.  This will wind up on the inside of your ribbon casing so don't stress if it doesn't look perfect. 

15. Turn the bias tape to the inside and pin.  Pin the full length of the armhole. I only have part of it pinned in the picture.  Not sure why I never got a picture of the whole thing pinned.  Start at the center again, matching up your marking with the side seam again and work toward the edges.

16.  Stitch carefully on your machine near the edge of the bias tape.  I used a 3/8 inch seam allowance. Be careful to keep a consistent distance from the edge of the fabric.  This stitching will show from the right side of the dress.  Be careful, as before, to not sew a pucker or a crease into the stitching line.  Go slow, use your needle down setting, stop to adjust and remove pins as often as needed.  Lift the presser foot when making adjustments if needed. Don't forget your backstitching.  Sometimes the bias tape has a bit of a mind of it's own and wants to kind of bow up in the center in the deepest part of the under arm.  I have found that it is sometimes best to just let it do its thing, in the end you will probably wind up with a smoother seam on the outside, which is your ultimate goal.  Remember, this part of the seam will be in your child's armpit.  I doubt there will be a lot of people very closely inspecting your seam there. :)

Once this step is done it should look something like this on the outside.  You can see that my bias tape had a bit of a mind of its own here and is showing a little bit.  Again, this will hardly be noticeable when your child is wearing her dress.  Once you are satisfied with how it looks, give it a good pressing.

17.  Repeat these steps to attach the bias tape for the other armhole as well. 

18.  Once both armholes are finished.  Fold the top edges of the bodice back down as they were when you first pressed them.  Press them again along the edges where the bias tape has been attached. 

19. Sew both top edges down using a 1 inch seam allowance. This creates the casing for the ribbon ties.  Don't forget to backstitch at the beginning and end.  

Yay!  Your bodice is complete!  

Next week we will concentrate on the skirt portion of the dress.  
Until next time, Happy Sewing! 

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