I have mentioned the book ‘Love at First Stitch’ by Tilly Walnes a number of times. I find it very simple to use, but more importantly, I actually like the clothing. I like to think of myself as vaguely fashionable and not a middle-aged, dowdy, waterproof-wearing lady, which many patterns seem to assume and cater for…the same applies to knitting patterns (if not worse)! Today’s post is about the Megan dress from Tilly’s book. I have made it in a tartan fabric (trusty old John Lewis, again), but I have seen some beautiful summer versions that people have made too, and I will be keen to attempt one myself when the weather improves.
This dress is slightly more advanced than those previously covered on my blog, but that is not to say that it is any harder. It involves making a bodice and a skirt and attaching the two. Perhaps the hardest part will be pattern matching the top and the bottom if you choose a distinctive fabric like I have!
The first step on this project is to create yourself a mock bodice, known as a toile. This is done to test the size and position of the darts…well I suppose everyone has a different sized chest… Now, I could lie to you and pretend I am the perfect student and explain how to create this using a cheap fabric (usually unbleached calico) and then adjusting it to your fit before tracing onto your fabric and cutting out your accurate fit…BUT…since this is my blog, recording my sewing, I suppose I should tell the truth! I am a truly lazy sewer, and therefore, no part of me could be bothered to make this bodice twice. I am all about speed and getting it mostly right rather than becoming bored of a project by spending too much time perfecting it.
Therefore, I began the usual way – choosing my size, tracing and cutting out. I will caveat, though, that I am a fairly regular fit with a fairly normal sized bust for my build. Perhaps if you vary from this, you should consider practising to move the darts to a more appropriate place for your fit.
To begin the dress you need to stay stitch the neckline. This is a very simple single line of stitches along the neckline on the back and front pieces that stop it from stretching out of place. The next stage is to sew all the darts and tucks on this dress. I have described how to sew darts previously on this blog, but effectively cut out the tracing paper triangle so you can trace the dart triangle onto the fabric. Next, fold the dart in half along the centre line (right sides together), pin along one leg and then press. Check that the pins are also along the dart line on the other side too, then sew. Start from the outside edge in and do not back tack at the point of the triangle or you will end up with a little bump.
The next step of the dress is to sew the front and back bodice pieces together; the front and back skirt pieces together; and the bodice and skirt together. All of this should be fairly simple for you by now.
Following this, we construct the neckline facing. This gives the dress a little more sophistication than just hemming the neck and is also supposed to be neater. I have to say though, I do seem to struggle with facings! Interface the wrong side of the front and back facings using iron-on interfacing. Then pin together at the shoulder seams and sew (right sides together). To attach the facing to the neckline, you need to use the notches to line it up and then gently and carefully sew round. The next stage is to understitch the facing to the seam allowances. This is to try and keep the facing hidden on the inside. You can see in my picture that my version did not work so well and seems to be popping out…it looks better on me, but still not ideal! I will try and work on this technique and then write a separate post on it.
Next you must insert the invisible zip. I have been over this a few times, so I will now assume you are experts! (Mine was, yet again, done without a zipper foot!)
Now for the set in sleeves. I think the sleeves on this dress look very sweet as they are gathered to make them puff up slightly. To do this you must sew three lines of loose stitching around the sleeve edges – set your machine to a lower tension and longer stitches. Remember to reset before you continue onto the next part, though. It says that you must do this in a different colour…and I strongly suggest you do! As you might now imagine, I tried to do it in the same colour to save time once, but it is almost impossible to see and takes way longer, therefore, this time, do stick to the rules!! When you have your three lines of stitching, you then pull the ends to gather the sleeve into little puffs. Following this, try and evenly line up the notches and the gathers on the sleeves with the notches on the bodice and sew together. I assure you, this is possible, but does require patience!
All that is left to do now is hem the sleeves and then the dress. Perfecto!
After a weekend of tennis, cycling, dog walking and socialising, I am now completely exhausted and ready for a cosy Sunday evening! I hope you have a lovely end to the weekend and a good start to March!