Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sew-Along #1 – Macy Giggles Dress - Lesson 4

Macy Giggles Skinny Hem Dress

Today we will finish off our dress.  Please read the booklet instructions before beginning.  If you have any questions, suggestions, or tips, please make sure to share them on the Facebook group.

H - Putting It All Together

1.  If you are going to attach a label to the inside of the dress, now is the time to do it.  This step it optional, but the Macy Giggles pattern does come with an Izzy and Ivy label that you can use.  I used my own label.  Decide where you want your label to go and stitch it in place.  We put our label on the inside of the back bodice, attaching it only to the bodice lining so that our stitches did not show on the outside of the dress.

2. We are going to skip ahead to step #4 in the booklet.  Using a tape measure, or a folding guide if you have one, fold under the bottom edge of the bodice lining 1/2" and press well.  A few good shots of steam while pressing will help.

3. Find the front center of your skirt and mark it with a marking pen at the top of the skirt.  Also find the sides of the skirt and mark them with a marking pen at the top.  The sides will be the side seams in the 2 panel dress (sizes 2-4).  For the 3 panel dress (sizes 5-14) you will need to match up the front and back center to find the sides.  Finally, find the front center of the bodice and mark it at the bottom edge with a marking pen.

4. With right sides together match up the bodice sides, back, and center front with the skirt sides, back and center front.  Pin in place making sure you do not pin through the bodice lining, just the bodice front and the skirt.  Your skirt will be inside the circle your bodice forms.  The bodice lining will be on the very outside.

5. Carefully pull on the bobbin thread of your gathering stitches on your skirt to pull up the extra fabric.  Work the gathers evenly around the skirt until the skirt edge is flush with the bodice.  By pulling both the top and bottom row of gathering stitches it will help to keep your skirt edge from twisting under.

6. Once you have your skirt gathered evenly around the bodice, pin the raw edges of your skirt to the raw edges of your bodice.  Make sure those gathers are all evenly spread out around the skirt.  Also, do not pin the bodice lining to the skirt, that should remain free and will hang down.

7. We are now going to sew our skirt and bodice together.  I find it easiest to sew with the gathered skirt fabric on top (directly under my presser foot) and the bodice fabric on the bottom (directly on top of the feed dogs).  This allows me to keep an eye on the gathers, making sure none of them turn under and get caught in the seam.  To do this, turn your whole skirt/bodice inside out so that the bodice is now on the inside and the skirt is on the outside.

8. Using a basting stitch, carefully sew around the skirt with a 1/2" allowance, attaching the skirt to the bodice.  Make sure as you sew that the bodice remains flat and that you are not catching any folds in the seam.  Also make sure that the raw edges of your skirt gathers remain flush with the raw edge of your bodice.  If the gathers turn under they may get caught in the seam and show on the outside of the skirt.

9. When you are finished basting the skirt to the bodice, turn the dress right side out and check to make sure everything looks right.  If you have any weird tucks or skirt gathers poking though the seam, rip that part of the seam out, re-adjust, re-pin, and re-baste.

10. Using either your sewing machine and a regular stitch or a serger and an overlock stitch, go back and stitch over the seam, securing it.  I prefer to use my serger because it trims off all the threads and catches everything in the overlock stitches.  This seam will not show, so if you prefer just to use your sewing machine and a straight stitch, that is fine.  Either way, just make sure you keep everything smooth and flat as you sew.  You don't want to accidentally create any unwanted tucks in the fabric.

11. Pull out any loose threads or gathering threads and discard.  Using your iron, press this seam up towards the bodice, being careful not to disturb the fold you pressed in the bodice lining earlier.

12. We are now going to tuck this seam in between the bodice and bodice lining.  Since you have already pressed a 1/2" fold, it's just a matter of securing the lining down over the seam.  You can do this in a number of ways.

a. You can pin the lining in place over the seam and then sew it down when you topstitch the bodice.  This is how the booklet tells you to do it.  It's a good method, but I find I have a hard time catching the edge of the lining as I am sewing because it naturally wants to slip out of place when I remove my pins.  I don't sew over my pins for fear of breaking a needle.  So, inevitably, my bodice lining pulls up and away from the seam and ends up not being secured in place.

b. You can pin the lining in place over the seam and then hand stitch the lining down.  This is a great method if you like to hand sew and have the time.  I usually don't.  Maybe someday I will feel like I have more time, but it's doubtful.

c. Or, you can cheat and use hem tape to secure the lining to the seam.  This is the method I used.  It's not really cheating, but it is so easy it feels like I am.  Just cut small (4-6 inch) strips of the hem tape, place it on the seam, lay the bodice lining in place over the top, and carefully press to secure.  Ta da!  It is so easy.  Hem tape comes in all different sizes and types.  You can use whatever type you like best.  The only thing you will want to make sure is that your hem tape is not wider than your seam.  I had to trim my hem tape down a bit because it was too wide.  You don't want to be gluing the bodice front to the bodice lining with it, just the seam to the bodice lining.

13. If you have secured your seam inside your bodice and bodice lining by handstitching or using hem tape, the topstitching will be a piece of cake.  I went ahead and ironed my bodice to make sure everything was were it should be and neat.  I also secured the bodice and lining to the seam with pins just in case some of the hem tape were to come undone.

Now, starting in the underarm area, topstitch around the bodice. Stitch a scant 1/4" from edge and make sure you lengthen your stitches like we did when we topstitched before.  You will go all the way around the top, sides, and bottom, finishing where you started.

14. We are now going to make our covered buttons.  If you are not using covered buttons, skip this step.  Whimsical Fabric Rocks!
a. I have a little template I use when making my covered buttons. I think most of the packages come with a template for you to cut out.  If not, you can make your own.  For the 7/8" buttons we included in the Macy Giggles kits, you will need a circle of fabric with a 1.5" diameter. 

b. Decide which fabric you want to use, what part of that fabric you want on your buttons, and then using a marking pen, trace out your cutting lines. 

c. You will want to trace out a second set of circles so you can line your buttons.  We just used our same fabric and traced the button lining where the fabric had no print.  If you don't line your buttons you will be able to see the silver through the fabric.  Cut out your circles of button fabric.

d. Layer your button fabric with the lining fabric underneath. 

e. Center the button making base on top of fabric circles. 

f. Carefully flip the whole thing over.

g. Push your button front down into the button making base, being careful not to shift your fabric.

h. Fold the edges of your fabric circles in and place the button back, shank side out, on top of the button.

i. Using the button pusher, press the button back onto the button front, making sure all of the fabric raw edges are caught between the two.

Note: I use a pistol grip clamp to snap my backs on.  I must have wimpy fingers because I seriously can't do it without the clamp.  If you are like me, a clamp might help.
j. Pop your buttons out of the base and admire the beautiful buttons you just created.

15. If possible, try the dress on the new owner.  Position the buttons where they need to be sewn and mark the location with a marking pen.  Hand sew the buttons onto the dress.  Make sure you start on the outside and finish on the outside so that your knots will be hidden under the buttons and will not be visible on the inside of the dress.

16. One last thing you might want to do is to tack down the facing on the back of the skirt.  You won't really have a spot to tack it down on the 2 panel skirts (sizes 2-4), but if you made a 3 panel skirt (size 5-14) you can just tack it to the back seam.  I don't believe the instructions mention this, but I recommend doing it if possible.  I didn't at first, but the facing kept poking out of the key hole opening and it was bothering me.  Just hand sew a few stitches, securing the bottom of the facing to the back seam.

That's it.  You are all done.  Now step back and admire the beautiful dress you have created.  You did a fantastic job.  Way to go!  Some little girl is going to be very happy.

Thanks for sewing with me,
Danielle Storm

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sew-Along #1 – Macy Giggles Dress - Lesson 3

Macy Giggles Skinny Hem Dress

Today's assignment will cover E - Making the Shoulder Straps, F - Making the Button Loops, and G- Assembling the Bodice.  I will not be following the exact order of the booklet, but do please read the directions in your booklet as we go along.

Also, I don't know if this confused anyone else, but I finally figured out something about these directions that has been very confusing for me.  In all of the illustrations, the bird printed side of the fabric represents the wrong side (or backside) of the fabric.  I have no idea why they choose to do the illustrations this way, but now that I figured it out the illustrations started to make a lot more sense.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or tips please make sure to share them on the Facebook group. 

E and F - Making the Shoulder Straps and Button Loops

1. Grab your two shoulder straps to begin with.  Fold under 1/4 inch along each long side.  Fold the fabric towards the backside and press well with your iron.  I used a pressing guide I made with a piece of white card stock.

2. Fold each long side of your shoulder straps 1/4 inch again so that the raw edges are encased in the fold and press well.  Do this on both sides of each shoulder strap.

3. While you are at the iron, grab your two button loops.  Fold each loop piece in half lengthwise matching raw edges with right side out.  Iron to create a center crease.

4. Open up each loop and fold each long side towards the center crease you just made, lining up the raw edges along that crease.  Press well.

5. With raw edges still resting on the crease, fold each loop piece along the center crease and press well again.

6. Topstitch as close as you feel comfortable to the outer edge.  I didn't increase my stitch length for this since I knew there would be some stress on these loops when worn.  In retrospect I wish I would have topstitched along both sides of each loop instead of just the one.  I think it might have looked a little better.

7. Fold each loop in half matching up the raw edges and stitch across.  The directions say to use a 1/2 inch seam, but I used a little less since I wanted these stitches to be hidden in the 1/2 inch bodice seam we will be creating later.

8. Now, grab your shoulder straps again.  We are going to topstitch down the center of each fold.  I used a longer stitch length for this.  Do all 4 sides (two on each strap).

9. If you have a thicker weight thread go ahead and thread your machine (top and bobbin) with this thread now.  We are going to sew some gathering stitches.

10. Set your machine to a basting stitch or some long stitch length.  Pull some extra long thread tails out of both the bobbin and upper thread.  Sew a basting stitch 1/2 inch from each short edge of both shoulder straps.  Keep your thread trails longer when you cut them so you have something to pull when we gather.

11.  Remember when I said we would sew in those gathering stitches for the skirt later?  Now is the time.  Since we already have the thicker thread in our machine, go ahead and sew a basting stitch all the way around the top of your skirt about 1/4 inch from the raw edge.  Sew a second basting stitch about 1/8 inch from the first stitch (3/8 inch from the raw edge).  Make sure you do not cross over the first gathering line you just sewed.  Oops, mine look pretty crooked.  Set your skirt aside for lesson 4.

G - Assembling the Bodice

1.  Make sure to transfer all marks from your pattern to your fabrics.  You need strap placements marks on your front bodice pieces.  You need strap placement marks and loop placements marks on your back bodice pieces.

2. Decide which front bodice piece you will use for the front of your dress and which will be your lining.  Take the front bodice piece that will be the front of your dress and pin each shoulder strap to the bodice, right sides together and  matching up raw edges.  Pin the straps on just one side of the strap first, lining up the edge of the strap to the strap placement markings on the bodice.

3. Next, pull the gathering threads on the strap until the strap fits neatly between the two marks.  Pin the strap in place well.  You don't want the gathers to move.  Repeat this with the other strap.

4. Pin the other end of each strap to the bodice back pieces, right sides together, matching up raw edges, between the marks, and pulling the gathers like we did on the front.  Pin in place well.

  • Note: This part can get a bit confusing.  I'm not sure if my picture will help you or not.  You need to make sure you pin the straps in the correct orientation.  If you get confused, play with the pieces, pinning and flipping them around to make sure you have them pinned correctly.  You can even flip it up over your own shoulder looking in a mirror to make sure the right sides of your fabric are in the right place.

5. Sew the side seams of the bodice front to the bodice back pieces using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

6. Take the remaining bodice pieces (1 front and 2 backs) and sew the side seams like you just did above.  This will be your bodice lining.

7. Press all seams open on both the bodice and the lining.

8. Pin the loops your created on the loop placement marks.  I decided to put the buttons on the right hand side of the dress back, thus my loops on the left. The raw edges of your loops need to line up with the raw edge of the bodice.

9. Pin the bodice lining to the bodice with right sides together.  Make sure you tuck the shoulder straps down between the bodice and the lining.  Pin all the way around the sides and the top.  Leave the bottom open.  Use lots of pins to hold everything well in place.

10. Carefully stitch using a 1/2 inch allowance up the side, across the top, and back down the other side, attaching the bodice to the lining.  Leave the bottom open.  Stitch this slowly and carefully making sure you don't stitch in any wrinkles or creases in your fabrics.

11.  Clip corners,

notch hills,

and clip valleys.  Do this carefully without clipping any stitches.  Here is a great tutorial explaining why you need to do this.

12. Turn bodice right side out.  Pull out your shoulder gathering threads and discard.  Press well.

You have finished lesson 3.  Only one more lesson left. 

Way to go, 
Danielle Storm

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sew-Along #1 – Macy Giggles Dress - Lesson 2

Macy Giggles Skinny Hem Dress

Today we are going to work on B - Preparing the Skirt, C - Preparing the Skirt Trim, and D - Assembling the Skirt.  Remember that you can click on any of the images to view them larger.  If you have any questions, suggestions, or tips please make sure to share them on the Facebook group.  Have fun!

B - Preparing the Skirt

1. With right sides together we are going to sew the side seams (shorter sides of skirt pieces).  We will use a 1/2 inch seam allowance for this.  Before you sew your side seams make sure you have the fabric in the direction you want it.  Check to make sure that none of the panels are upside down.  You will notice in my Promenade fabric that the two flower bunches with the tape measures next to them have the flowers going all in the same direction.  Look carefully to make sure your print has the same orientation as each of the other panels.

  • Sizes 2-4 only use two skirt panels, and will have two side seams.
  • Sizes 5-14 use three skirt panels, and will have three seams.
After carefully pinning, go ahead and sew up your side seams.  Then, finish the seams with either a zigzag stitch or an overlock stitch.   I used my serger to overlock my seams.

Decide which panel you want to be the front of your skirt and press all side seams to the back of the dress.

2. Find the center back of the skirt.  For sizes 2-4, match up the side seams to find this.  For sizes 5-14 the center back will be the seam.  Place a pin along the top of the center back.  Again, you might want to look at your fabric and decide which you want to be the top and which you want to be the bottom.  For some fabrics (Farm Fresh) that will be easy, you don't want the animals upside down.  For other fabrics, like Promenade, it is whatever you prefer.  Make that decision now and place your pin at the top of the center back.  For sizes 2-4 it might be a good idea to lightly press the center of the back before placing that pin.  This will help you line up your facing in step 4.  For sizes 5-14 you don't need to do this since you have the seam to guide you.

3. Grab your facing piece.  You will want the short side of the facing at the top and the long sides at the side.  Fold your facing along the center lengthwise.  Give it a quick press with your iron.

Place the facing in front of you with right side down.  In the pattern the picture shows the facing right side up.  You want to make sure you have it right side down.  Now, take a ruler and draw a line with your marking pen from the top of the center, down the center line, 3 inches long.

Next you will make a small mark 1/4 of an inch from this center line on each side.

Then, using your ruler, connect the 1/4 inch marks with the bottom of the 3 inch line.  You will be drawing diagonals.  Do this carefully. 

Mine looks kind of sloppy.  Oops.

  • Note: I decided to overlock around my facing so the edges were finished.  The pattern does not tell you to do this.  If you like finished edges, like me, you will want to do this before you sew the facing onto the skirt.  I did it after, but it would have been MUCH easier to do it first.  You can zigzag or orverlock and you do not need to worry about the top side since that will be caught in the seam when attaching the bodice to the skirt.
4. With right sides together, pin the facing to the skirt at the top center back.  Make sure you line up the center line you drew with the center (ironing line size 2-4, seam size 5-14) of the skirt.

5. Carefully (slow your machine down) stitch down along the left side diagonal line you drew.

Stop one stitch away from the bottom of the V.  With your needle down, lift up your presser foot and rotate your fabric 90 degrees so that you are stitching across the bottom of the V.  Hand turning your wheel, make one stitch across the bottom of the V.

Again, leaving your needle down, lift your presser foot, rotate your fabric, and continue up the other side of the V.

6. Carefully cut down the center line.  Cut all the way to the bottom stitch, being very careful not to cut any stitches.  The closer you get to the bottom stitch the cleaner your facing will look when you turn it.  But DO NOT clip any stitches or it will be a mess.  Use a sharp pair of shears that you have very good control over.  Make sure you have good lighting and you can see what you are doing well.  Go slowly.

7. Now, fold the facing to the inside of the skirt and press the seams down flat.  You will want to tug a bit on the bottom of the facing to get a nice clean V as you press.  Be careful not to burn yourself, but if you have a steam iron this is a good time to use some steam.  If you don't have a good steam iron think about getting one if you do a lot of sewing.  Everything looks better when you press your seams well with a steam iron as you sew.  I LOVE my steam iron.  Thanks Debbie W. for recommending it to me!!

Your facing should look like this when you are done.  If you don't have a distinct V you might need to clip closer to that bottom stitch.  Just don't clip it.  Sorry my picture is blurry.  I've got a low light issue in my studio.  It's located in my basement.

C - Preparing the Skirt Trim
  • Note: The pattern doesn't tell you to change your seam allowance for this step so I stitched my trim pieces together with a 1/2 inch seam.  My trim ended up being too short.  I had to tear out my seams and restitch using a 1/4 inch seam.  It could just be that I cut my trim pieces a bit short.  I don't know.  I didn't go back and measure them all to check.  You might want to double check your measurements and then decide what size seam you want to make.  If you use a 1/4 inch allowance and your trim is too long you can always cut some off, but then your side seams won't match up.  It's up to you what you decide to do.
 1. Pin your skirt trim pieces right sides together.  Make sure you don't have any odd twists in your loop and that your trim pieces are all in the correct orientation so any prints are not upsidedown.  Sew up the side seams.  Make sure to check that the trim piece matches up with the skirt lengthwise before sewing up that very last trim side seam.  You do not need to finish these seams since they will be hidden inside the trim when you sew it to the skirt.  You will want to press these seams open to reduce bulk in the seams.

2. With right sides out, fold your trim in half matching up the top and bottom raw edges.  Press the fold well.  Again, use steam if you have it to give yourself a nice crisp fold.

D - Assembling the Skirt

1. Look at your trim and determine which side will show and which side will be on the inside of the skirt.  It might not matter with some prints.  Also look and decide which trim piece you want to be the front of your skirt.  I liked how the plaid matched up better on one piece then the others and decided that would be my front.

2. Pin the trim to the skirt with the side you want to show facing the right side of the skirt fabric.  Carefully pin all the way around the skirt, lining up seams as you go.

 3. With a 1/2 inch seam allowance sew the trim to the skirt.  Zigzag or overlock to finish your seam.  If you overlock don't forget to either pull your thread ends back through the stitches or tuck underneath the seam. 

Press the seam to the top of the skirt.

4. Pining your pockets.
  • Note: I felt the pattern instructions were a bit ambiguous on this next part.  It says you are supposed to pin the pockets to the side seams, which is pretty straight forward in sizes 2-4 as you have the actual seams on the side to guide you.  But, for sizes 5-14, since you have 3 seams that make up the skirt, you don't have actual "side" seams.  I wasn't sure if they wanted me to match up the center front with the center back and find the actual sides of the dress or if they just wanted me to use the two seams on the sides of the front panel.  I choose to use those two seams as it was just easier and I actually thought I would like the pockets more to the front then on the actual sides of the dress.  You could do it either way.  If you are going to use the actual sides of the dress, you will want to find the sides by matching up the front center with the back center, and then lightly press so you have a line to guide you in lining up your pockets.
Wherever you decide to place your pockets, measure down 6 inches from the top of the skirt and place a pin.

5. Fold your pockets in half lengthwise and crease with your fingers.  You probably don't need to press with your iron, just a finger crease will suffice.  Pin your pockets to your dress making sure to line up the centers carefully.

6. Sew your pockets to the dress by topstitching 1/4 inch from the edge.  You will want to begin using your normal stitch length and start just one stitch before the pocket.  Once you hit your topstitching on the top of the pocket you can increase your stitch length to what you normally use for topstitching.  This shorter stitch length at the beginning will help to secure the pocket better.  You might want to even go back over those stitches again after you finish stitching the pocket down just to reinforce them.

7. The pattern doesn't tell you to topstitch the bottom of the skirt.  It's up to you.  I always topstitch because I feel it gives the item a crisper, more professional look.  It helps to hold those seams down and reduce bulk.  I just feel like it looks so much better.  If you decide to topstitch don't forget to lengthen you stitch and stitch about 1/4 inch from the seam.  You want to stitch on the skirt, not the trim, catching that seam below to hold it down.  If you overlocked the seam and didn't pull your threads through, don't forget to make sure you catch them under the seam as you topstitch.

That's it.  Your done for today.  We'll leave the gather stitches for later.  Great job!!

Thanks for sewing with me,
Danielle Storm
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