Hello again to all my geese! Welcome back for day 3 where we will finish up our beautiful dress! If you are just now joining me, click these links to catch up:
Yesterday we got the bodice put together and ready for the skirt and zipper, which are the tasks ahead for the day!
First let's measure out our bodice to cut the skirt pieces. Place your bodice on a flat surface and have it where both side seams are on the side (duh). Since the zipper has not been installed, the back pieces will overlap just a smidgen. Measure across the front bodice from one side seam to the other. In my case, I get 12". Jot down this number somewhere where you won't forget it.
Now flip the bodice over and measure from the side seam to the edge of the back. For me, I have 6.5". Again, jot this number down in a safe place.
Now for some math, but don't panic. It's elementary my dear Watson. ;) While I love pleats and how perfect they look, let me just confess...there is NOTHING easier than working with gathers. The beauty of a gather is in the ease. (That sounds like it should be a song, doesn't it?) Just like a sleeve with a gathered cap, good gravy...it is almost fool-proof. Almost. Depends on
the amount of wine you drink while sewing how much you pay attention when sewing. ;) Speaking of drinking, on to the math.
My favorite gather is a double. However, sometimes I will go up or down, depending a lot on how much fabric I have, whether the fabric has a print or not and how thick the fabric is. But, the skirt in this photo is a double gather.
So, let's start there. Beginning with the front piece, take the measurement of the front of your bodice and multiply it by 2. Then add .75. Seriously. That's all. So, here it is all formal.
(front bodice measurement x 2) + 0.75 = width to cut your front skirt piece
For me, I had (12 x 2) + 0.75, so I knew the width of my front piece should be 24.75", but since I am a rebel I cut it at 25" because honestly, with the gathers that 1/4" is not even noticeable. Now, write down the width measurement for your front skirt piece and let's work on the back pieces now.
Same thing, different numbers. For the back pieces - here is your formula.
(back bodice measurement x 2) + 0.75 = width to cut your back skirt pieces
So, mine was (6.5 x 2) + 0.75 =13.75, and you guessed it...again I was a rebel and noted 14" instead.
Now, reference the cutting chart for the skirt on page 6 of the pattern. ONLY PAY ATTENTION TO THE LENGTH dimension as you just did the math for the widths. For me, I am making a size 4, so this is how I will cut my skirt pieces:
- front - cut one 24.75" wide by 13" long
- back - cut 2 that are 13.75" wide by 13" long
See how easy that was? Now, if you want more gathers, multiply by more than 2 and if you want less gathers, drop it down to 1.5. :)
Cut your 3 skirt pieces and then lay the front piece on a flat surface. Place the back pieces on it right sides together like shown below and sew down the sides as shown by the black dotted line. Finish those seams and press them out.
Now, finish the 2 back center seams as shown below.
Once finished, make a mark with either a sewing marker or pin 3/8" away from the edges of the back center seams. This will guide us when we place our gathering stitch.
Run a gathering stitch along the top edge of the skirt. Now, for a little behind the brain of Amy. When I have a large skirt to gather like this one, I like to run 3 different gathering stitches. I run one along the front and then the other two along the two back pieces. This just makes gathering SO much easier in my opinion. While running the gathering stitch, make sure to stop it before you get to the 3/8" mark you made on your back center seams as shown below.
Okay, now grab your bodice piece and lay it on a flat surface with the right sides facing up. Now, we only want to sew the skirt to the outer bodice, NOT the lining, so make sure to flip the lining piece up and back as I did below.
Now, place your skirt piece on top of the bodice making sure that the top of your skirt (where you ran your gathering stitch) matches up with the bottom of the bodice. Your skirt piece will go right sides together with the outer bodice. Match up and pin the side seams of the skirt with the side seams of the bodice as shown below.
Begin pulling in your gathers on the skirt to match up with the bodice width. You see below how I start with the front piece? Make sure to space your gathers evenly and pin until the cows come home.
On the back center seams, you see how the skirt will have no gather where it meets up with the back seam of the bodice. This is totally intentional and why we left that 3/8" space. We will be placing the zipper in this void and a zipper is not a fan of being placed on gathers. Trust me.
Once your entire skirt is gathered and pinned, head over to the sewing machine and stitch the skirt to the bodice. MAKE SURE you are only stitching to the outer bodice and not the lining. Although this seam will be enclosed, I encourage you to finish it anyways to help decrease the bulk.
Now, head over to the ironing board and press that seam up towards the bodice.
Guess what my dear ladies? We have a zipper to insert, a back seam to close and we are DONE. Can you even believe it?
Okay, zipper construction starts in the pattern on page 29. Please, please please reference that as well if you need to! If this is your first zipper, read over the first few pages first so that you can familiarize yourself with the basic idea.
Press out the teeth of your zipper just as shown on page 29. Now, for this tutorial I am using Wonder Tape to hold my zipper in place. My dear friend Alexis of My Sweet Sunshine showed me this trick and I hardly ever do a zipper anymore without it! I place it on the left side on the right side of the zipper. These next 2 pictures are mostly just terminology and again, I took them and hated to leave them out in case they help someone!
Grab your dress and place the left side of the back (if you are looking at the dress back, the left side) on a flat surface. We are going to be attaching the zipper to this center back seam first. But we are only attaching to the outer bodice, NOT the lining so make sure to keep that flipped up.
Okay - now for just a smidgen of seam clipping. You want to clip away 3/8" from the seam in which you stitched for the neckline construction. This will free the bodice outer and lining from each other at this point. You want this since you want to put your zipper in that spot.
See how once those stitches are removed the lining and outer are separated? The fold of the fabric where they were joined is what I will refer to as the seam line.
Now place the zipper right sides together on the bodice outer lining the edge of the zipper (not the side with the teeth) with the center back seam. You want your zipper stop to sit right below the seam line as I have shown below.
Now, continue to line the zipper up along the back center seam of the left side of the dress. If you are using Wonder Tape, keep pressing it down in place. If you do not have Wonder Tape, pin like there is no tomorrow. Zippers are no fun when they don't stay in place! Once pinned, take over to the sewing machine and stitch as close to the teeth as you can with your zipper foot as shown below by the black line.
Santa Claus was so sweet and brought me an invisible zipper foot. I highly recommend this. I, ahem he, found it on Amazon. :)
Once you get to where the skirt joins the bodice, make sure that the seam stays flipped up towards the bodice. As you get further down the zipper, at one point you will need to stop with your needle down and zip the zipper up just a bit so that you can continue to sew without the pull in your way.
Once you get close to the bottom of the zipper, stop your stitching just below the bottom zipper stop as shown below.
Pat yourselves on the back. You put a zipper in one side - rock on ladies, now let us work on the other side. I prefer to work from the bottom up in placing the zipper when it comes to the second side. And when I do this I like to add the Wonder Tape to the bodice instead of the zipper. Methods to my madness I assure you. But first, rip the first 3/8" of the neckline seam just as you did on the other side so that we can make way for the top of our zipper.
The way I find easiest to match up the zipper is to first match up the seam from where the skirt meets the bodice as shown below. The side that I have already sewn the zipper to is to the right. The bodice on the left is the one we want to sew.
See how I make sure that the skirt seam matches on both sides? Once that is determined, that is when I can ho ahead and start adhering (or pinning) the other side of the zipper to the other center back seam of the dress. Again, you want to place the zipper right sides together on the dress with the edge furthest from the teeth matching up with the center back seam.
Continue to match the zipper up along the side and pin/adhere like your life depends on it. Now, a little rule I learned of zippers years ago is to sew the second side in the same direction as the first. So, on the first side I went from top to bottom, so you will do the same for the other side of the zipper. If you matched up your zipper properly, the stop at the top should fall just below the seam line as it did on the other side. Sew from the top to the bottom, again making sure that your skirt seam stays flipped up toward the bodice, and stopping with needle down to move the zipper pull as needed. Stop just below the bottom zipper stop just as you did on the other side. Now, if your planning and adhering and pinning worked well, once you have it zipped, you should have something that appears like this. Oh the beauty of a matching skirt seam. If you don't, do NOT stress. I cannot tell you how often I rip the second side of my zipper and try again. You can do this! Promise.
Guess what? The hardest part of the zipper is over. That wasn't so bad was it? Now it is time to attach the lining to the bodice, therefore sandwiching the zipper between the two.
Head back over to a flat surface (is it as hard for you to find a clean, flat surface in your sewing room as it is in mine?) and place your dress with the back left bodice facing up (this is the side you put the zipper in first). Now, what you are going to do is grab your lining for the back left side and flip it down so that it is facing the right side of the outer bodice with the edge lining up with the edge of the zipper. The next few photos show me flipping it down.
Now, once you have it flipped down, the hem that you pressed up on the lining yesterday should fall right around where the skirt seam is on the outer bodice.
Okay, bring your attention back to the top. Remember when we had to take a few stitches out at the neckline? This is where it will all make sense. When you flip the lining around, the zipper will be in the middle of the bodice outer and lining right where the neck seam used to be.
Take the lining and make sure to line it up along the center back seam and stitch along the seam (the one you ripped earlier) as shown by the black dotted line below. Stitch slowly as you don't want to break a needle on the zipper stop!!!
Now that you have closed that neck seam up again, pin the lining to the bodice lining up the center back seams as shown below. Then, you are going to stitch down along the lining as shown by the black dotted line below.
This is where I switch back to my regular zipper foot.
When you get to the bottom where your hem is pressed, make sure it remains pressed up to the wrong side and reinforce your stitch along the bottom of the lining as shown below.
Once you have this stitched, do the same exact thing with the other side of the bodice and lining. Once you have both sides stitched, clip the top of your zipper (the excess) and the edge of the seam where the center back meets the neck as shown by the red dotted lines below. This picture is a hot mess. Thank goodness this will be on the inside!!
Moving right along - let's finish up the rest of the back center seam along the skirt. Lay your dress right sides together matching up the center back seams of the skirt. You are going to sew with a 3/8" seam allowance along the edge closing up the back of the skirt. I usually start at the bottom and work my way up because the zipper is going to get in your way. See below where my black dotted line stops? That's where the zipper is.
What you will have to do is to push the zipper out of the way to finish up the seam.
However, you don't have to stitch it all the way. I usually stitch about 3/8" up past where I stopped on my zipper. Basically, sew from the bottom of your skirt up to the zipper bottom and then 3/8" past where you stopped the stitching when you attached the zipper to the skirt. Clear as mud, right?
Here I am at the machine. See I am getting close to the zipper.
So, what I do is push it out of the way of my stitch.
When you get 3/8" past your zipper stitching, reinforce that seam as shown below.
Guess what ladies? I have the best news ever. The hard part is OVER. You have some ironing and stitching left and you are ALL DONE!!
Take your dress over to the ironing board and press out the center back seam of the skirt that you just sewed. This is what you should be looking at.
Now, flip the bodice right side out and press it out along the zipper. It never ceases to amaze me how much I love an enclosed zipper. :)
Now, on the wrong side of the dress (which by the way looks gorgeous) work about the bottom of the lining making sure it is pressed down and encloses the skirt seam. This is again another place I like to use Wonder Tape to hold the lining down. Now, you can either whip stitch this part closed (sorry to all the hand-stitch haters out there) OR you can flip it over on the right side and stitch in the ditch OR top-stitch to keep the lining in place. Honestly, whatever is your preferred method will be awesome. Me, I will be plopping myself on the couch with a cold bevo, some Mad Men and needle and thread. :)
The only thing left is the hem! Finish the edge of your skirt however you please and take it over to the ironing board and press up a 1/2" hem and then stitch it down.
And you ladies are DONE with your sleeveless Lennon dress with Peter Pan collar. And you deserve a big-ole pat on the back because honestly, this construction was so different that it should have been a separate pattern (right Elizabeth?). Ha. Too bad I didn't realize that until I already had my feet in. :)
Remember, I will be posting an album in the brownie-goose lovers group on Friday 3/20 for you to put your photographs of the Lennons you constructed during the sew along for a chance to win some BG patterns and an Etsy gift card. SOOOOO exciting!!
And now...if you are up for more, come back same place tomorrow so I can show you how to make this one...the blouse version. You know you want to!!
Xoxo - Amy