Mpressive Threadz Studio Blog

Sharing my love of sewing

The Making of Diana’s Dress – Chapter II

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I started on the actual dress. I love my new cutting mat. I wore out my old cutting mat that was about 24” x 36” and required me to constantly reposition it when I was cutting large pieces. My new 36” x 72” mat covers the entire table, which means I can make a long cut in one swoop. I think some of the readers of this blog are beginner or novice sewers, so I think some sewing tips would be helpful.

Tip 1: I layer my fabrics on top of each other to cut out my pieces. I use a rotary cutter because you can get smooth cuts without disturbing the fabrics. Also, the rotary cutter is faster.

layered fabric

layered fabrics, ready to cut

Tip 2: I put a scant ¼” clip to mark the center front. That’s also the way I mark notches. When you are using a commercial pattern, don’t cut around the notches (diamond shaped) because it distorts the cutting lines and the notches will be off. Cut off the notches (leaving triangles) and use scant clips in the center of the triangles to mark the notches. The notches are more accurate when using this method. 

clipped center

clipped center

 Tip 3: Sew french seams on chiffon. It looks best. I do it a little different, so it easier to handle. How to make a French seam:  

A) Put wrong sides together and stitch a seam 1/4” smaller than the seam allowance. I know everywhere else you are told to stitch a 1/4” seam, but think about this. If you are using a commercial pattern that has a 5/8” seam, you will only use up ½” of that seam allowance, which means you add 1/4” of fullness for every seam. Make an 8-gore skirt and you have added an extra 2” of fullness to your garment. DON’T TRIM THE SEAM ALLOWANCE YET.

stitch 1/4" less than seam allowance

stitch 1/4" less than seam allowance

B) Press your seam open. Fold on the stitching line, putting the rights side of the fabric together and press on the stitching line, encasing the seam.

C) Now trim your seam allowance to 1/8”. If you trim your seam allowance first and then try to do the pressing, you will get whiskers that will extend beyond the final seam line.Your seams will have hair growing from it.

trim to 1/8"

trim to 1/8"

D) Stitch 1/4” seam, encasing the 1/8” seam. Now you have a beautifully finished seam that look great on the right and wrong side of the garment.
stitch 1/4" seam

stitch 1/4" seam

E) Press the seam allowance to one side, usually toward the back of the garment. Aesthetically pleasing.
wrong side

wrong side

right side

right side

Tip 4: I love my serger, but I won’t use it to finish every seam.
pinked seam

pinked seam

Serging the seams on this charmeuse fabric would take away some of the give in the seam because of the extra thread used, and leave impressions when pressing that can be seen on the right side.

A) I stitched my standard 3/4” seam. I like substantial seam allowances. The garment hangs better and you have something to let out if needed. I use a very narrow foot to alleviate the bunching and pulling that can happen when sewing light slinky fabrics.

B) After pressing the seam open, I stitch 1/4” from the cut edge using the longest stitch on my machine. I then cut 1/8” off the seam allowance using pinking shears.

 C) I press the new pinked edge by sticking a piece of paper between the seam allowance and the garment. This prevents impressions that would be seen on the right side.

Tip 5: I baste the chiffon and charmeuse layer together. Why? Easier to handle this way. How? I use the long stitch on my machine. I can’t drop the feeddog, so I raise the presser foot off the fabric just enough using my knee lifter (I have an industrial machine) to allow me to “pull” the fabric through as the needle goes up and down, resulting in LONG stitches that approximate the give that hand basting has.

Tip 6: For the lining, I stitch 3/4” seams and serge both seam allowances of the seam together, resulting in a 5/8” allowance when finished. Why? The lining is the part of the garment that gets the most stress. A more generous seam allowance means you lessen the likelihood of seams pulling apart. Yes, that 1/8” makes a difference. Press the seams to one side, usually toward the back of the garment. Aesthetically pleasing.

serged seam

serged seam

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Author: Mpressive Threadz

I started sewing when I was 11 years old, and had my own clients when I was 12. I graduated from the H.S. of Fashion Industries, majoring in fashion design. I expanded my technical background by attending evening classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology and working many years at a major pattern company. I have been creating custom wedding gowns and evening dresses for more years than I care to count. I LOVE WORKING WITH FABRICS. I love fine sewing techniques. I love creating beautiful dresses.

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