Morning! Everyone having a good week? It’s been a bit muggy and gloomy around here, but that makes perfect sewing and crafting weather while our new transplants in the garden are taking root. Hopefully by the time this all clears up, we’ll have nice big healthy plants to take care of outside!
I hope everyone has their machines tuned up, threaded, and ready to go. I switch around which machine I use for different projects, and for this I’m using my old standard Janome Memory Craft 3000 and my Babylock Imagine serger. Someday soon I’ll do a roundup of all my machines and what I use them for, but I primarily use these two workhorses. (And if you think sergers are a pain to thread and tension and use, seriously, go to your local Babylock dealer and watch them use their Jet-Air and Extroadinair Threading. You’ll change your mind about sergers.) I’m just using standard Gutermann thread and a size 12 Schmetz needle. I’ll be numbering my steps during the sew-along to correlate to the numbers listed in the pattern instructions. Everything is using a 1/2″ seam allowance unless otherwise specified, and I’m using a 2.4 stitch length on my computerized sewing machine. I’ll mainly be making the dress View A with the Lil’ Red fabrics, but I decided to make an additional version of View C (the shirt) out of white linen and Cotton + Steel quilting cotton in a mod cat print to illustrate different methods. Let’s dive in and get started!
Make the button loop
Version 1: I use my serger for this method instead of a loop turner. I like this method when I want a clean finish and no topstitching showing on the loop. Fold the loop in half, and serge the seam, not trimming any away. Serge a long enough tail that it’s at least as long as the loop.
Thread the serging tail through a large eyed blunt needle, like an embroidery or tapestry needle. Thread the needle back through the loop, and encourage the end to turn inward. pull on the needle and tail until the loop turns entirely inside out. You can then press and clip off any serging tail left.
Version 2: I use this method when I want to see more topstitching decoratively on the dress, or if I just don’t feel like turning a tube. Fold and crease in half. Open it up, and fold both sides to meet the middle crease. Then fold again along the middle crease. Topstitch and press.
- Transfer the dots to the pocket yoke pieces. I also like to fuse a lightweight square of interfacing here to keep the notch crisp for wash and wear. I cut a square 1.25″ and fuse to the direct center of the piece, aligning with the top edge, before I transfer the dots.
- Sew a basting line 1/2″ along the pocket’s outside curve. I also sew at 1/4″ around the bottom, leaving long thread tails, to act as a gather to help hold in the corners later. I do this at a longer stitch length than for regular sewing, but not as long as the machine will go. For me this is a 3.5 on a machine that ranges 0-5 (my normal stitch length is 2.4). *Sometimes I’ll serge the outside edge of the pocket, but it does add bulk. By the time it’s sewn to the garment, there are multiple layers of stitching, so I’m not as concerned about the edges raveling away to nothing.
- Pin the pocket yoke to the pocket right sides together, aligning the notches. Sew at 1/2″. I sew both pockets at the same time and chain between the pieces to save thread. Clip apart, and press the seam allowances up towards the yoke. *Do this from the front so you can use the tip of the iron to really crease right up to the stitching line.
- On the other two pocket yokes, press the notched edge to the wrong side 3/8″ and press. Pin to the assembled yoke and pocket right sides together and stitch, following the dots to make a V. I do this at a slightly lower stitch length than normal because so much seam allowance will be trimmed away, and this helps reinforce the stitch line. Take one stitch across the bottom of the V to aid in turning a crisp point.
- Trim. I start by trimming all the seam allowances on the yoke to 1/4″, including following the lines of the V. Then I go back and trim away the corners at the outsides and also the tops of the V, and then clip to (but not through) the point of the V. *I don’t trim away the bottom curved edge of the pocket as the pattern instructs; I instead gather the extra into place. Turn right side out, using a blunt point to help turn the corners (like a knitting needle, chopstick, or bone folder). Press. Then pull on the bobbin threads of the 1/4″ stitching line around the curved edge of the pocket until the seam allowance is gathered. Fold and press along the 1/2″ stitch line, adjusting the gathers so the seam allowance lays nicely following the curve.
- Pin the back of the pocket yoke into place so it covers the stitching line. Edgestitch or stitch in the ditch from the front, whichever look you prefer. (Edgestitching is stitching very close to the original seam line but on top of the pocket yoke; stitching in the ditch is stitching on the original seam line so you don’t see it from the front side.)
- Pin the pockets to the front of the dress and edgestitch. Use the markings on the pattern to help you align the placement. I usually do a triangle at the top corners for extra stability. I also do change my thread color from the yoke to the pocket because I like everything to match, but go with a contrast color if you like an accent.
Preparing the Yoke:
- Transfer the V markings like on the pocket yokes. Again, I like to fuse a square of interfacing to both pieces to keep the points crisp.
- Fuse a 1″ strip to the center back edge of the outside yoke as well.
- Fold and press 1/2″ to the wrong side of the bottom edges of the outside yoke (or inside, but only if you choose to construct the garment differently than instructed; see note below). If you have trouble keeping a consistent line, you can stitch a basting line 1/2″ from these edges to follow while pressing. *Note: The instructions as written will have you construct the yoke to the backside of the dress, and then topstitch the front yokes in place. If you’re an avid stitcher, this will seem counterintuitive; you’ll want to sew the right sides together yoke to bodice and stitch in the ditch to finish. I’ve made them both ways. Just choose which method you’re going to follow at this step, because the pressing of this step and the side you affix your button loop to will need to change accordingly.
- Fold the button loop in half, place the mark on the wearer’s right side at center back, and baste into place. The pattern instructs for a 2″ loop, but I make sure it will fit whatever button I’m using minus the seam allowance before I attach. I always start with a 3″ loop and baste it shut with 1/2″ seam allowance, try to poke the button through, and then adjust my seam allowance bigger or smaller until I get the perfect size for the button.
Assembling the Yoke:
- Align and pin the yoke and yoke facing right sides of the fabric together. I like to leave a hair of fabric showing on the yoke facing along the sleeve edge, and move the outer yoke just in a smidge. This makes the outer yoke ever so slightly bigger and allows for better turning. Stitch the neck seam and center backs with 1/2″ seam allowance, following the dots to stitch a V as you did on the pockets.
- Stitch the outer yoke edges, which will become the tops of the sleeves.
- Trim. Again, I trim to 1/4″ all around first, and then clip my corners. Also clip the entire neckline curve to allow for the seam allowance to lay flat when turned back. Clip up to but not through the stitching lines.
- Turn the yoke right side out and poke out the corners like you did with the pocket. Finger press and then steam press with an iron. On the sleeve edges, I like to first press both seam allowances towards the inside yoke, and then push the seam so the outer yoke has a scant roll to the backside when you make the final press. You can see how this looks from the inside and outside in the middle photo below.
- Pin the center back seams together and tack the seam allowance together at the bottom. Make sure at this point that the center backs are the same length. If they’re not, you need to go back and either restitch a bit off the top of one corner of the neckline, or unpick the stitching and refold back the yoke bottom.
Whew! If you have any questions about any step, please comment below or on the Wisconstitches Facebook page, and I’ll be sure to help as best I can. Let’s hope the weather clears up a bit and everyone can get outside and enjoy the summer for a bit this weekend with these extra daylight hours we’re enjoying. See you next week!
Love from Wisco,
Also in this series: Sew-along announcement