Tiered Pillowcase Dress Sew Along: Week 3 - Preparing The Skirt Pieces

Welcome to week 3 of the shoulder tie dress sew along! I am getting excited to see what you are coming up with for your own dresses!
If you missed the first two weeks you can find them and get caught up at the links below.

Week 1: Cutting
Week 2: The Bodice

Week 3: Preparing the Skirt Pieces (time needed about 1 - 1 1/2 hours)

Today we will begin work on the skirt portion of the dress.
Remember that all seam allowances are 1/2 inch unless otherwise stated.

First of all there are two ways to finish the hem of the dress.  You can either roll the edge with decorative thread on your serger, or you can turn under a narrow hem and sew it on a regular sewing machine.  I chose to do a rolled hem on my serger.  I love the look and it is a big time saver.

Step 1. The first thing you will want to do is to is decide which hemming method you want to use.  If you are NOT using a serger, you can skip the next few steps entirely.  Proceed to step 5 if you are not using a serger to hem your dress.

Step 2.  If you decide to roll the edge on your serger, you must now set your serger up for a 3 thread rolled hem.  I am using a contrasting bright pink thread.  It is not a necessary choice, but I like to use wooly nylon thread in the upper looper and regular thread for the right needle and the lower looper.  This thread stretches as it is being sewn and then relaxes after it is sewn and fills in nicely and gives a nice look overall.  You may have to adjust your tensions slightly for the thread you choose to use.  I suggest testing on a scrap of fabric until you have a look that is pleasing to you.

2. Set your stitch length to the smallest that your machine will go, and set your stitch finger for rolled hem.  On my machine the stitch finger is moved by simply sliding a little lever back and forth.  Consult your manual for the proper set up for your machine.  

3.  For sizes 2-3 and 4-5 proceed to step 4.  For sizes 6-7 and 8-10, four pieces were cut for the bottom tier. Sew two pieces together along one short end using a 1/2 inch seam allowance to make one long piece. Do this to both sets before proceeding.  You should have two long pieces with a seam in the middle of each.  Finish and press the seams before completing the next step.  I find that this gives a cleaner edge when serging.

4. Serge the bottom edge of both pieces of your bottom tier with the right side of the fabric up  trimming only a tiny portion from the edge. I use the edge of my plate as a guide.  Be careful that you use the same measurement for each piece.  
Your edge should look something like this when you are finished. 

5. Sew the short ends of your pieces for the bottom tier right sides together using a 1/2 inch seam allowance .  If you serged your hem, be very careful to line up the hem as closely as possible.  It is better to have the hem edge perfectly even than the top edge. 

6.  Finish this seam with a serged or overlocked edge if you wish.  A little trick I learned that is nice to do with your serger so that you don't have all those loose little strings hanging at the bottom of your hem is something that I have demonstrated below.  

Begin your serged seam at the hem side of the seam.  
 Stitch until you are one or two stitches into the fabric and stop with the needle down. 
Lift the presser foot and pull all of the slack out of the loose chain thread coming from the edge of the seam you just began to sew.  The thread will be behind the needle.  Be sure to really get in there and pull all of those little loops out.  You don't want any loose loops at all behind the needle.  Then pull that thread end toward you around the left side of the needle and under the presser foot and across the edge of the fabric.  Make sure it is snug against the needles and then lower the presser foot.  

Begin sewing again and allow the thread end to be cut by the knives as you continue the seam.  By doing this you will serge right over those loose ends and your seam will look something like this. 

Pretty neat little trick, huh!?

7.  Press this seam open if you are not finishing the edges.  If you are finishing the seam edge, then press this seam to one side or another.  Press both seams on this tier in the same direction.  

8.  If you serged your hem, you can skip ahead to step 9.  If you are doing a narrow hem, press 1/4 inch on the bottom edge of your bottom tier toward the wrong side.  Then press up another 1/4 inch.  Sew sew this on your machine starting at a seam and going all the way around the hem until you reach the place where you started.  Stay close to the inside edge of the fold, making sure to catch all the layers in your stitching line. 

9.  Set aside the bottom tier.  

10. Sew the two pieces for the top tier together at the short ends and finish the seams if you wish.  Press these just as you did before, but in the opposite direction from the other tier, unless you are not finishing the edges and are pressing them open.   

And that's it for this week!  Next week we will gather the bottom tier to the top tier.  
Happy Sewing! 

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