Tiered Pillowcase Dress Sew Along: Week 4 - Gathering The Bottom Tier

Welcome back!  So here we are at Week 4!  Today we will gather that bottom tier onto the one above.  

If you are just joining us, you can catch up on the previous weeks at the links below. 

Week 4: Gathering The Bottom Tier (time needed about 1 1/2 to 2 hours)

1.  Lengthen your stitch length on your machine a few clicks.  On the top edge of the bottom tier and starting at a seam,  sew a line of stitching 1/2 inch from the edge.  DO NOT backstitch!  Stop at each seam and clip your threads leaving a longer tail than usual.  Continue in this fashion all the way around the edge of the tier until you come back to where you started.   

2.  Sew another line of stitching parallel to the first one.  I usually use the edge of my presser foot for a guide for this.  Start and stop at the seams, clipping threads and leaving long tails just as you did with the first line.  Be careful not to catch the thread tails from the previous line of stitching.  

When you get finished it should look like this. 

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 on the top edge of the top tier as well. 

4.  Return your stitch length to your normal setting. 

5.  Taking your top tier, fold it in half and mark the centers of each side.  Mark both the top and bottom edges.  

6. Do the same with your bottom tier, if you are making one of the smaller sizes, and mark the top edge only.  If you are making one of the larger sizes, one of your center seams can serve as your center mark.  

7. Place your two tiers right sides together.  The upper edge of the bottom tier should be lined up with the lower edge of the top tier. The upper tier will be "inside" the bottom tier.   

8.  Line up your side seams.  If you pressed your seams in opposite directions you can "nest" them together, just like in quilting. Pin these in place.  Place your pins perpendicular to the edge of the fabric.  

9.  Line up your center marks and pin these in place also. 

10.  GENTLY begin to pull the bobbin threads on the bottom tier and gather the fabric up on them.  Take your time and carefully slide the fabric down a little at a time.  Patience is key here.  Don't tug too hard or you will break the bobbin threads.  Just keep steady pressure on them and working the gathers down the stitching line a little at a time.  

11.  Pull up gathers until they are distributed evenly and the two fabric edges are the same length. You will need to slide the gathers back and forth a bit to get them distributed evenly.  Make sure that the gathers are as perpendicular to the stitching line as possible.  Pin this in place all the way around the edge.  

12.  Beginning at one side seam, begin stitching the two tiers together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Remember to use your needle down and go slow stopping to adjust and remove pins as needed.  Try to keep the gathers as perpendicular to the seam as possible.  Stitch all the way around until you come back to where you started.  Don't forget to backstitch! 

13. Turn the fabric so that you are looking at the right side of the skirt.  Double check all the way around to make sure you are satisfied with how your gathers and seam look.  

14.  If you are finishing your seams with a serger, take another trip around this seam on your serger using a slightly narrower seam allowance than 1/2 inch.  I start just a little bit before a seam and then when I get back to that spot, I taper it out, overlapping my first stitches and then stitch off the edge.  Be careful not to stitch off the edge before your knives stop trimming thread and fabric.  

15.  Press the seam from the bottom tier toward the top tier.  

16.  Topstitch on the top tier, through the seam for the bottom tier, about 1/8 inch from the seam. This will hold that seam in place and the skirt will hang better.   

I like to use my "edge joining" or "stitch in the ditch" foot.  It has a small "fin" that sticks out in the front.  

I set my needle off center a few clicks to whichever side of the seam I want to topstitch.  In this case I set it to the right 6 clicks.  Make sure that the foot you are using has a wide enough opening to allow you to do this or you are sure to break a needle.  

When you begin to stitch, let the "fin" on the front of the foot ride along in the seam.  You can see in this picture how the needle is offset from center.  This helps give a nice evenly spaced topstitch.  

And there you have it!  Week 4 is complete.  Next week will be so much fun as you FINISH your dress and then show it off!  
I can't wait to see! 
Until then...
Happy stitching! 

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