Monday 15th October

Yes, it’s been a while since I posted, but I’ve not been idle!

As soon as the costume was finished (and the play was over) – I started on a project that I’ve been dying to get to for a long time.

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I absolutely adore a bit of vintage and retro and this is a vintage Georgette with a retro 50’s pattern (yes, the pattern is currently available [correct as at October 2018]).

The Georgette is gorgeous, but it’s also a bit sheer and see-through so I’ve decided to line this – and I’ve been advised by the lovely ladies at my local Fabricland to use anti-static lining (which is also quite sheer and see-through) to prevent the fabric riding up when it’s worn.

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You can see from the photo above of one of the darts that the lining is sheer as you can see the Georgette pattern through it.  Because both fabrics are sheer, I’ve decided to do to things:

  • Overlay the fabrics – i.e. stitch lining and main as if they are 1 piece of fabric
  • Use ‘French Seams’ – to prevent fraying and also to ‘finish’ the seams off nicely

There will be a couple of exceptions: –

  • The Bodice centre front seam (due to the facing and collar)
  • The side seam where there invisible zip will be inserted (both bodice and skirt)
  • The skirt as I want the fabric here to flow independently of the lining

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To create a french seam you put the wrong sides of the fabric together and sew close to the raw edge.  This garment has a 1.5cm seam allowance, so I’m taking a 0.5cm seam here.  The fabric is then folded ‘around’ the seam you have just created (right sides together), pressed, pinned and then stitched, but this time at 1cm to complete the seam.  From the edge it should look something a bit like this:

French Seam

This is actually the inside, the right sides are still together, but you can see the principle – the raw edges are enclosed by 2 seams – below you can see an actual french seam that I’ve sewn on the bodice.

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I was also given a very good tip when working with 2 slippery fabrics – you can use ‘stay tape’ or ‘hemming tape’ round the edges of your 2 fabrics to hold them together.  If you do use this technique, only use a very thin amount that will be hidden in the seam allowance or you might end up with some stiffness near the seam.

This method holds the edges together and causes a lot less movement of fabrics when sewing the seams.

The Bodice construction is relatively easy – sew both front pieces together stopping at the large dot – this is from the skirt to the bottom of the lapels.  The outer part of the lapels is attached to the facing, so  I had to be sure not to stitch too far otherwise there would be puckers around this seam.

The front sections on my mannequin – the seam point where the front seam and the lapels meet will eventually have 3 pieces of fabric sewn at this point – the two front sections and the facing.  It’s super important to follow the instructions very carefully here and not stitch past the large dot!  Make sure your markings and stitching are accurate or you may have issues.

Attach the front bodice to the back at the shoulders and the sides – leaving the area for the zip open.

The two lapel pieces and the collar piece (which create the facing) are stitched together and the outer edge finished (rolled hem, overlocked, zig-zag stictched etc) and then attached to the bodice.  This is the trickiest part of this make as nothing wants to lie flat!

If you’ve stitched too far past the large dot, you will also have issues with aligning the lapels with the front bodice seam – below is the facing attached to the bodice (shown from the inside).

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You can see how the fabric wants to roll and not lay flat – especially around the collar – but remember that this is a 3 dimensional garment and will be on a body!  Put on the Mannequin it looks a lot better.

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Yes, apologies, at this point I only had my male mannequin and the bodice is too small to fit him (d’oh!) so this is pinned on the outside.  The next image shows the underskirt (lining) pinned to the bodice and on my (female) mannequin.

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The sleeves have been constructed, but only pinned to the bodice as I’ve yet to slip stitch the inner sections of the cuffs in place.  The cuffs are made up of 20 pieces – normally it would be 6 each – 4 x fabric and 2 x interfacing, but I’m also lining these so that they don’t look different to the rest of the dress – cuff construction below:

The inner section of the cuff (in this case the bit that folds back onto the sleeve) is pressed up and then stitched before turning the cuff the right way out – this is the bit that is then slip-stitched to the sleeve one the outer (sleeve hem) seam has been machine stitched.

Sleeves are gathered across the top and then inserted.

Because of the curves involved with the sleeves, I’ve decided not to french seam them as I would normally clip the curves and press towards the sleeve – I will still do this but I’m going to bias bind the seam to keep a nice clean line.

Once the under-skirt (lining material) was completed, I started on the outer skirt – this isn’t completely finished as yet, but I’ve pinned this to the rest of the dress so that I can see what the final result is going to be like.

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You should be able to see the pins around the waist (just under the bust)  – this could be called ‘Empire Line’ but it’s not a true Empire line where the dress fitted just under the bust and then the skirt dropped from there – this is actually fitted over the stomach and flares out from the hips.

The skirt is made out of 8 pieces and I’ve slightly cheated on my main fabric.  You probably won’t be able to see it (the joy of a ‘busy’ pattern!) – but half of the pieces have been cut upside down.  This has reduced the amount of fabric that I’ve had to use and the entire outer dress has been cut from about 2.5m of the Georgette – leaving me with a nice amount left over for a vintage blouse!

I’ll post again when this is finished.

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