Sunday, 6 July 2014

Inserting a Side Zip

It has been too long: I've been very busy.

Lots of vintage patterns feature side zips. There are obvious advantages to having the zip at the side rather than back or front:

  • It can't be seen, from a design point of veiw this is almost always preferable;
  • If the fabric has a pattern it negates the need to pattern match the back seam;
  • It frees up the neckline to incorporate collars or other design features.

However there are two issues with having your closure at the side:

  • If your back is not the standard size altering the pattern will be more complex;
  • Altering the fit at a later date due to fluctuations in size is far more problematic.

5. Turn your dress to the right side. This automatically brings the zipper into its rift place. Baste the front edge of you placket to the zipper tape, basting 3/8" back from the seam.

6. Take out basting which is holding the placket together.

7. Assuming you are happy with the position of your zipper, stitch and remove basting.

Because we stabilised the seam, it should sit flat to the zipper.

I will be posting updates on our summer sew-along soon.



Sunday, 20 April 2014

Ball Gowns

It's been great to see all the contributions to our 'Summer Dress Sew-along' on Flickr and in our chatroom. There's still plenty of time to get involved as the big reveal is not until the end of August.

In addition to the day dress I'll be making, I'm also planning a rather special summer dress. I have a summer ball in August and have been sketching out different designs for the event. The sketch below shows my ideas so far.


The ballet Giselle which I'm currently studying.

The silhouette of the dress below really appealed to me but I'd set my heart on a more structured fabric, this powder blue shot silk dupion.



Although I'm fairly happy with the design sketch, I think I'll try to rework it into something a little more practical to wear.


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Summer Dress Tutorials

Lots of you have voted for the summer dress tutorials you'd like to see. The poll ended yesterday and here's the winning pattern choice.

Vogue 8789

This is a great choice because it's a relatively easy pattern and the simple design will allow us to experiment with prints and border fabrics. I'll be using 'Purple Wish' by Etsuko Furuya for Kokka of Japan.

If you'd like to be part of our 'Summer Dress Sew-along' any pattern will do, but if you haven't choosen your pattern I'd recommend reading the following posts:

  • 'Perfect Pattern Choices', the post includes some great tips on how to find a pattern that will flatter your figure.

Vogue 8789 tutorials will start in a couple of weeks.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Setting and Lining Sleeves

Before we finish setting and lining sleeves, just a quick reminder that voting for the summer dress pattern tutorials you'd like to see ends tomorrow. You can vote using the poll gadget on the right of this post. Update: our poll is now closed, thanks for voting. The pattern which received the most votes will be revealed tomorrow.

Prior to setting the sleeve into the armscye, hem sleeve and shrink ease out of sleeve cap (see previous post on Smooth Sleeve Caps)

  1. Wrong sides out, place lining on top of sleeve and loosely sew the underarm seams together. Leave 3-4 inches at the beginning and end of the the seam.
  2. Baste sleeves to bodice. Loosely diagonally baste around the sleeve to secure the lining: 4 inches from the hem and 4 inches from the sleeve cap. Machine stitch armscye seam.
  3. Clip at matchpoints and press underarm seam flat so it stands up under the arm. Across the top of the sleeve cap, between matchpoints, press the seam open.

4. Press under seam allowance on sleeve lining and drawstitch to the bodice.
5. Press up and baste the hem lining 1/2 an inch shorter than sleeve hem. Blind stitch to sleeve hem.
Off to put in the side zip, not my favourite job!


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Smooth Sleeve Caps

I grew up in the 80s and painfully remember those awful shoulders! It is perhaps for this reason that I so prize a smooth and understated shoulder. Here's how I like my shoulders:

Poor construction of this aspect of a garment can ruin the whole; I know I say this about almost every aspect of construction but stick with me. A poorly set shoulder isn't just an eyesore in itself, it can also:
  1. Distort the neckline;
  2. Ruin the alignment and hang of the sleeve itself;
  3. Affect the ease and fit across the back;
  4. Create tension and puckers which affect the bust and underarm darts.
I know it's hard to get excited about shoulders; they're just there aren't they. True, beautifully set shoulders are just there; unremarkable by their perfection. However trust me; if they're wrong you'll soon notice them.
The first step to perfection is setting your sleeve cap so here are some tips for smooth sleeve caps:

  1. Run three lines of easestitching between the cap matchpoints. Don't run right across the cap; run from the centre top to the front, repeat to back matchpoint. This is because there will always be more ease to distribute on the back; if you try to distribute the ease equally across the entire cap you will pull the sleeve cap out of alignment.
  2. Match pin to armscye, pull up and tie off fullness at front match point, repeat for back match point.
  3. Unpin, place on tailor's ham to shrink out the ease using steam. Place your iron on 'steam' allow the iron to hover or rest over the seam line. Do not press down hard or steam too far into the cap itself. This always takes longer than you think and feels as if nothing's happening but those fibres will be gradually shrinking out the ease.
If you follow the above tips your cap line should match the top of your armscye perfectly, removing the need distribute ease when sewing and ensuring dimple free, smooth shoulders.
Look out for forthcoming posts on completing, attaching and lining sleeves.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Winners: Pattern and Book Giveaways

The start of a new month and time to reveal the winners of our 'Pattern and BookGiveaways'.
Pattern winner: Gina
Vintage Book Winner: Vicky Tring
Congratulations ladies, please email me with your choice of pattern or book:

If you'd like the chance to be one of our winners next month here's how it all works. To say thank you for being part of Grace Dressmaking, each month two of our lovely readers will receive a free pattern. If you do any of the following you could win:
  • follow us;
  • Use one of the 'share' buttons (bottom of pages) or;
  • comment on a post (bottom of pages).
The winners will be drawn and announced on the 1st week of every month. You can select any pattern from the current Vogue or Butterick pattern catalogues. Here are some of their summer patterns which would be perfect if you're thinking of joining The Summer Dress Sew-along 2014:

To be entered into the monthly draw for a CD containing a vintage sewing book all you need do is contribute to either our Flickr group or Sewing Chat Room, a winner will be drawn at random during the 1st week of each month and contacted to select which one of the titles below they would prefer. If you were thinking of drafting your own dress for this year's Summer Dress Sew-along then one of these vintage books would be invaluable.

In Practical Dress Design the wonderful Mabel Erwin demonstrates how to go from design to pattern:

Wishing you all a wonderfull Sunday; I'm off to line and set some sleeves but more of that next week...

Friday, 4 April 2014

The Summer Dress Sew-along

Summer is on its way so summer dresses here we come! Yes, it's time for The Summer Dress Sew-along.

Never been part of a sew-along? Here's how it all works:

What does it involve?
Well, it's a chance for us to share our sewing projects, support and inspire each other. You can sew any summer dress that takes your fancy: retro, modern, evening, day, adult or children's dress. This is for all levels of experience and skill and would be a great way to get encouragement and advice if this is your first dress.

Why join a sew-along?

How do I join?

You can get involved using any of the following:

  • Click the icon to join our Flickr group:

  • Click the icon to join The Summer Dress Sew-along topic in our sewing chat room:

  • Click the icon to 'Like' our Facebook page; this will enable you to follow us on Facebook and post your ideas, photos, comments or questions directly onto our Facebook page;
  • If you have a blog or website you can display one of the above buttons with a link;
  • Vote to pick the summer dress you'd like to see tutorials on by using the poll on the top right of this post.

The sew-along starts today and finishes with a post showcasing everyones' hardwork on Friday the 22nd of August. I will need all images uploaded to our Flickr group, sewing chat room or emailed by Friday the 15th of August so I can put them together for the showcase.
Let's get sewing for summer!
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