Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sew-Along #21 - Dress No.17 & Leggings No.8 - Lesson #3

Who is ready to finish a dress today!!!! 

If you have any questions, suggestions, or tips to share; please make sure to post them on our Facebook group.  Also, if you would like to see any of the images larger that are posted in this blog, just click on them to enlarge. 
NOTE: Please make sure you read over the E+M Patterns Dress Tutorial prior to starting this lesson.  You should keep this tutorial open and where you can read it as you go through this lesson.  
 Today we are going to tackle the neck finishing, the hemming, and the optional waist - none of these are hard things, I promise!!!!  But these are things that you want to tackle slowly and with patience.... if you just yelled at the clock for ticking too loudly, take a break and come back to this after a glass (or two) of wine.

Cowl Neck or Neck Band 
The finishing of a neck can make or break your garment.  So take a deep breath and remember that the fabric and machine are going to do all the work for you - pinky swear.

Cowl Neck:

1. Lay your cowl pieces RST in front of you with the gentle curve at the top.

2. Sew the top edges together.

3. Open the piece up and press your seam allowance to one side.

4. Fold the piece in half with the seam you just sewed running horizontally along the middle.

5. Match the raw edges and sew in place.

6. Trim your seam allowance to 1/4 inch and press the seam open.

7. Fold the cowl wrong sides together along the 1st seam you sewed.

8. The back seam of the cowl is your center back.

9. You can find the center front by folding the cowl in half at the seam, mark your center front.

10. Turn your dress inside out and slide the cowl inside the neck opening (with the folded side down and the raw edges of the cowl matching the raw edges of the neck opening).
You can see the small black pin on the left marking the center front.

11. Pin the cowl to the neck opening matching center front and center back.

12. Continue to pin the cowl to the neck - you will need to stretch the cowl slightly to match the neck, don't stretch the neck line, just the cowl.

13. Turn Right side out and press well.  

14. You can top stitch the seam allowance down toward the dress - using a twin needle will give you the look of a coverstitch.

Neck Band:
I'll be honest - this is not how I normally do neck bands on knit shirts.... it isn't a 'bad/wrong' way, just not the way you might be used to.  Feel free to use your preferred method if you have one.  If not, I will walk you through this method.

1. Take your band and sew the short ends of it together (RST).

2. Now you have a circle.

3. Fold the band in half to mark the center front.

4. With RST, pin the neck band to the neck hole of the dress, match up center front and center back.

5. Stretch the neck band evenly as you pin.

6. Sew in place - do NOT stretch the neck hole, stretch the neck band as you sew to match the neck hole.

7. Flip the neck band up and press well.

8. Flip the neck band over the seam allowance to the wrong side of the fabric, pin in place.

9. Top stitch the neck band in place from the top side following the seam between the dress and the band.

10. Tip: press your neck line with A LOT of steam, this will help the elasticity of your knit shrink back into place and make for a better looking neck line.


1. Take your cuff and fold it in half matching the shorter edges.

2. Sew the raw edges together.

3. Turn RSO and fold in half.

4. Turn your sleeves inside out.

5. Place your cuff around your sleeve matching the seams and the raw edges.  

6. Stitch in place (once again, stretch the cuff to match your sleeve).

7. Flip the cuff around to the right side and press well.

8. Repeat for the other side.

Phew - the neck  and cuffs are done.... on some level your garment is now wearable - as knits don't have to be hemmed or finished because they don't unravel. BUUUUUUUUUUUUTTTTT  as tempting as that may be, let's go ahead and hem this baby!

Ok - I'll be honest, I hate hem tape, I just can't get it to work and I feel like it makes my knit hems stiff.  I find that an easier product to use is a glue stick, it will hold the fabric together and wash away leaving no stiff edge.  I also prefer a 1/4inch rolled hem to a 1/2 inch turned hem - I just don't want my raw edges showing... just me.

1/4 Inch Rolled Hem:
1. For a 1/4 inch rolled hem, I serge the bottom edge.
2. Turn up the serging.
3. Turn up again (so that everything is neatly tucked inside) and stitch along the inside fold.
4. Press well (with lots of steam) and DONE.

1/2 Inch Turned Hem:

1. For a 1/2 inch turned hem, use your hem tape or glue stick to make the bottom 1/2inch of the hem sticky, turn up and press well.  Stitch along the raw edge of the hem.

2. Press well (with lots of steam) and DONE.

Waistline (Optional) 

Shirred or Elastic:
If you are creating the shirred or elastic waist transfer the shirring line to the inside of your dress with a wash-away pen.

Shirred : Shirring is covered in Part K of the E+M Pattern.  The following is taken from our Pink Fig Olivia Top Sew-Along.  The process of shirring is the same.
1. There are many brands of elastic thread to choose from and some people prefer specific brands.  I bought Dritz from JoAnn and it is fine.  The elastic thread will only be used in the bobbin and will only appear on the bottom of the garment.

2. When using elastic thread, you must wind the bobbin by hand.  Try to keep an even and smooth motion as you go.  Pull the thread to stretch it just a little, but not too much.  So, the thread should not be loose on the bobbin but pulled slightly tight. 

3. Shirring requires adjusting the stitch length to the longest stitch.  I leave the tension at a normal setting (or you can turn it one less than normal) and only adjust the stitch length. Below, you can see that my stitch length is at the longest setting.  All machines are different, so you will have to play a little if these settings don't work for you. 

4. The elastic thread on the bottom of the stitch allows the garment to stretch. Before sewing on good fabric, practice on a scrap piece.  Stitch a short row and make sure the elastic thread is pulling the fabric a little.  The fabric doesn't have to pull tight, just a bit of pull. 

5. When you are ready, begin stitching on the shirring line marked on your dress. Tie off the beginning and ending threads.  

6. The first row of stitching will not pull tight, that is okay.  As you continue to sew rows, the elastic will start to pull the fabric.Continue to use the previous line of stitching as a guide for your current row of stitching.  Go slow so you can be sure that your stitching is as straight as possible. 

7. You can see that my stitching has pulled a little, but it's not as tight as I want it. No worries! 

8. The trick to pulling the thread tight and creating a smocked look is to steam the stitching. Take the garment over to the ironing board, steam the stitching and watch the fabric draw up to the perfect neckline. 

Elastic: First, make sure the elastic waist is going to work for you. I was leery of having the elastic touch my daughter's sensitive skin. But, I've been shirring some of her items for the past few years without complaints so thought it might work for us. 

It didn't! 

She tried it on and it drove her batty! Needless to say, I spent the next 90 minutes carefully ripping out all of those little zig-zag stitches. It's not easy when you have sewn elastic to knit. They both stretch and you have to be super careful not to create any holes in your fabric. If I were to try this again I think I would make a casing out of bias trim and attach it to the inside of the dress first. Then, I would insert my elastic into that. By creating the casing it would ensure that the elastic wouldn't be touching her sensitive skin. Anyway, if you're game, the elastic waist is covered in Part M of the E+M Pattern.
1. Cut your 1/4" elastic to the length specified in the pattern.  Then zig-zag stitch the ends together.  I was a little off center.  Oops.
2. I marked my elastic in 8 equally spaced places. I marked my dress along the shirring line at 8 equally spaced places also.

3. Then, matching up the marks on your elastic with the marks on your dress, pin the elastic into place.

4. Using a zig-zag stitch stitch your elastic onto your dress, carefully stretching the elastic, but not your dress fabric.
Here is the dress after painstakingly removing the elastic. Sorry, she wouldn't wear it with the elastic long enough for me to even snap a picture.
Belted: If you created the belt loops for the belted dress, follow Part M of the pattern directions to create a simple belt.

That is it.  We are done with the dress.  WOO HOO!!!!  Great job.

* If you would like to enter the prize drawing, please make sure you submit a picture of your completed lesson one to the Facebook Album by 12:00 noon CT, Monday, February 2nd.  Also, if you have any questions the Facebook Group is a great place to ask.

Come back tomorrow to make some leggings ;o)

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