Monday, March 5, 2012

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

Macy Giggles Skinny Hem Dress

Welcome to our very first sew-along.  I first want to say that I am not a "professional" seamstress, nor was I formally taught.  I'm just a girl who loves fabric, sewing, and pretty much everything related to those two things.  If you have any questions or suggestion as we go, please make sure to share them on the Facebook group.  I am looking forward to sharing my love for sewing and hopefully learning a lot from you all along the way.  Oh, and a side note, if you want to see any of the pictures larger, just click on them.  It might be helpful for some things.  Now let's get started.

We are making the skinny hem dress which is view A on the pattern.

1. Tracing the Pattern Pieces

The first thing we are going to do is to trace the pattern.  I use freezer paper on everything.  You don't have to if you have a different method you prefer, but I am going to explain the freezer paper method here for those of you that have never used it before.

First, fussy cut around your pattern pieces.  Next, iron your pattern pieces to remove any wrinkles or creases.  Then, place the pattern pieces on a flat surface, lay the freezer paper on top with the glossy side down, and trace around the pattern.  I use a sharpie marker to trace. 

You should be able to see the pattern lines through the freezer paper.  If you are having trouble you can always use a sharpie to darken the lines on the original pattern.

Make sure you transfer all markings to the freezer paper.  I also write all of the information I need on the freezer paper, such as pattern name, size, how many to cut, etc.

Continue to trace the two bodice pieces and transferring all the info.

I also drew out all of the rectangular pattern pieces the directions tell you to cut.  I used a yard stick and the lines from my cutting mat to guide me.  You wouldn't have to do this, but I find it helpful, especially since I will probably be making more of these dresses in the future.  By doing this now, next time I won't have to think as hard.  ;)

 Let's talk a bit about the skirt pieces.  You will see two measurements listed for the skirt.  The first number is the length of the skirt.  The second number is the width (the part that will wrap around the waist).  Make sure you keep these two numbers straight.  You might just want to make a note right on your cutting instructions.

I also choose to cut the skirt pattern out of the freezer paper.  I have a bit of a love affair with freezer paper, I'll admit it.  Since my freezer paper is only 18 inches wide and my pattern (size 6) called for the width of the skirt to be cut to 34 inches, I had to make the pattern 17 inches (34 ÷ 2 = 17) and then make sure I placed it on a fold so I get the full 34 inch width.  This only works for size 5, 6, and 7.  For the other sizes it calls for the skirt pieces to have a width of 40 inches.  You can get that if you have freezer paper that is wide enough.  It might just be easier to just use a fabric marker, mark your fabric, and cut it to the right size.  It's up to you.

Just to make sure I didn't get confused I wrote "waist" all along the top edge of my pattern.  For size 6 that is 34 inch side (17 inch for my pattern piece since I am cutting it on the fold) .  I also wrote the dimensions of each side of that pattern piece to help me keep it all straight.

Now, my little girl is a bit thick around, but kind of short.  I wanted to shorten the length of the dress to a size 4 for her.  Since I will probably be using this same pattern for another little girl that wears a size 6, I didn't want to cut the skirt pattern piece I made.  Instead, I just drew a line across and marked it with the length.

 Go ahead and cut out all of your freezer paper pattern pieces now.

2. Cutting Out Your Fabric

You should have already washed, dried and pressed your fabric.  I'm going to have you press your fabric again to make sure you do not have any creases from it being folded.

Once you have finished that it is time to iron on your freezer paper pattern piece.   Start with fabric B (your coordinate) and the skirt trim piece.  You will want to cut this piece first to make sure you have enough room for it.  I folded my fabric selvage to selvage and pressed well with my iron.  Iron the skirt trim pattern piece on to the fabric.  Iron it close to the selvage, making sure you have it straight with the grain.  If you are using a print with a direction, such as the plaid from Promenade, you want to make sure you line up the pattern piece along the print so it is straight.  Please make sure when you iron the freezer paper onto the fabric that the glossy side is down on the fabric.

DO NOT touch the iron to the glossy side of your freezer paper! It will melt and make a mess of your iron.

Run the iron along the freezer paper until it is stuck to the fabric.  Go ahead and fussy cut the two layers of the skirt trim out.  If you are making size 5-14, you will need a third piece of skirt trim.  Unfold your fabric, take the stack of fabric and freezer paper pattern, place it where you want it on the fabric, iron it again, and fussy cut around all three pieces of fabric.  Now you can take your skirt trim pieces onto a solid surface and carefully trim off the excess fabric with a sharp pair of shears or a rotary cutter.  

Above is my stack of three pieces of skirt trim before I cut off the excess fabric.

Go ahead and refold your fabric and press the fold line.  Line up your bodice front piece along the fold making sure the pattern is straight with the grain.  Iron it down.  I then placed my bodice back close to the fold and ironed it down.

Next you can do one of two things.
  • Cut those two pieces out making sure not to cut on the fold line of the bodice front and then repeat the whole process again so you have two bodice fronts and 4 bodice backs.
  • Or, you can fold your fabric back on itself so you have it 4 layers thick, press it well, and then cut out all four layers at once.  That is what I did and you can see the fabric is folded at the bottom of the bodice back piece.  Just make sure you do not cut along the fold line on the front bodice.

 It's time to move on to fabric A.  The first thing I want you to cut out is the skirt pieces.  Only cut out one skirt piece at a time.  Otherwise, you might end up not having enough fabric if you make a placement mistake.  Lay the skirt pattern piece close to the selvage along one side.  If you made a pattern piece that needs to be placed along a fold, make sure you fold the fabric so all the extra fabric not used by the pattern is in one piece.

 You want the left over fabric to be as wide as possible so you can fit your shoulder strap pieces.  You should have enough fabric to get all of your pieces just fine if you lay it out correctly.  If you have any questions about this draw it out on a piece of paper first.  If you are still having trouble ask on the Facebook group before you cut.  Remember, you are going to need to cut the other pattern piece out of the fabric after you have removed your skirt pieces.  Make sure you have a big enough piece to accommodate those pattern pieces.  Remember the rule, measure twice and cut once.  Think it through.  And don't forget to make sure that you have your fabric print going in the direction you want it to on those skirt pieces.

When you are done cutting out the skirt pieces you will need to cut out 2 shoulder straps, 2 loops, and one facing placket.

Finally, trim around all of those pattern pieces, stack them up neatly, but don't pull off the freezer paper just yet.  Here is my stack all ready to sew.

3. Sewing the Pockets  - It's time to sew.  Woo hoo!

Carefully pull off the freezer paper from the pocket pieces.  I always carefully fold up the freezer paper and stick it back inside the bag the pattern came in.  With right sides together, pin two pockets pieces.  Repeat with the second pocket.  Sew around the pocket pieces with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Make sure you leave a 2 inch opening in the bottom of each pocket so that you are able to turn the pockets.

One little trick I have learned to make nice corners is stop one stitch before you are ready to turn your fabric.  Making sure the needle is in the fabric, turn your fabric 45 degrees.  Now turning your hand wheel manually stitch one stitch across the corner.  Leave your needle in the fabric and finish turning your fabric so that you can stitch down the next side.  I'm not exactly sure why, but that one stitch across the corner helps to make the corners look a bit more professional.

When you are finished sewing around the pockets you will want to clip the corners.  Clip close to your stitches being careful not to clip your stitches.

Next turn your pockets right sides out.  I always use a plastic chop stick to help get my corners right.  Press your pockets well making sure you seams/sides are not folded in on themselves.  Again, I use my chop stick to help push out the edges.  Also make sure your opening is folded in and pressed down.

Your final step is to topstich around the top of your pockets.  Making sure the opening is at the bottom of the pocket you will want to stitch about 1/8th of an inch (or a tiny bit more) from the top edge. 

To give your topstitching a more professional look you will want to lengthen your stitch a bit.  On my Babylock I went from a 2.5 to a 3.5 for stitch length.

That's it.  You are all done with today's assignment.  Great job!  Make sure to share any questions, suggestions, or thoughts with us on the Facebook group.

Thanks for sewing with me,
Danielle Storm

1 comment:

  1. Another thing that is good for making pattern copies is exam table paper. My husband is a retired surgeon and I used to get rolls of exam paper from his office to use for tracing patterns. One roll lasts a long time. Just another option...


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