So on Amazon Prime Day last week, I casually mention to my adoring husband that I’ve been keeping my eye out for deals on coverstitch machines. I’ve been thinking about one for a decade, and desperately in need of one for about 5 years. Later that evening, he tells me that he ordered the one he knew I wanted, and it will be here by the end of the week. I was so shocked, I couldn’t even cry about it. It’s here, and I still don’t believe it’s real. Get ready for a ton more knitwear and some tutorials while I play around.

I pulled out all my knit fabric and patterns and spent a good 2 hours trying to figure out what to make next, and had such severe design block given what I had, I just gave up. I even tried phoning-a-friend or two to talk through potential. Whenever I hit a roadblock like this, it means I need to take a step back and mull things over while I work on something else. So I pulled out the cute shirtwaist dress I started last fall, and decided to finish it up and think. And there were so many small details to talk about, I thought I’d post another play-by-play while I finish it.

Catching up

cutting polka dots

I didn’t document the whole process of starting this dress, so here’s a quick recap.  The pattern I’m using is Butterick 6333, if you want to grab a copy and read or sew along.  Its a polka dot cotton lawn from the Gertie collection at JoAnn Fabrics that I bought last summer.  I initially bought SO MUCH YARDAGE from her collection, it was just so sweet and fun and perfectly summer and retro all rolled up together.  Taking the polka dot placement into account, I tried to cut everything with placement and centering in mind like I usually do.  I stitched the princess seams, side seams, pleated the skirt, installed the pockets, and sewed on the front button plackets before I put it away last year.  I decided to topstitch most of the dress, as it’s so lightweight I wanted the seams to all stay in place when laundering.  I was just about to sew the collar on when the weather took a cold snap, and it went to the back of the closet in October.  Which brings us up to…..

pinning skirt pleats


I don’t know if it’s because it’s been hanging in the closet for nine-ish months, or because it’s a lightweight lawn that can move and stretch easily, but my glass slipper fit was no longer true. It was too long in the torso now, which meant I needed to either reset the skirt (and the front plackets, which were already done), or raise the shoulders. To decide, I made sure the bust point sat in the correct place and checked. The waist was actually fine, so I pinned the excess out at the shoulder seam while trying to not stab myself in the neck. Word to the wise, this is a good time to put to use your phone-a-friend.

pinning a shoulder alteration
I measured off the amounts at the neck edge and shoulder edge, made sure they were the same on both shoulders, drew a line with a ruler, and restitched. Because I took so much out of the seam at the neck edge, the curve of the neckline would no longer match the collar stand piece. I dug out the pieces for the front and back and lined up where they would be on the shoulder seam (mark off the seam allowance line on the pattern piece to do this). The amount I took up at the shoulder equals the amount the new neckline needed to drop, so I marked this to align as well. Drew the new line and cut.

correcting neckline

I fused both stand pieces and collar pieces with a fusible interfacing, since the fabric is so lightweight. To ensure nice sharp collar points, I took a tip from a friend and sewed the short sides first, then folded on the seamline before sewing the long edge. It makes the seam allowances pop perfectly into place when turned right side out, instead of pulled out of shape when you try to poke them out. I trimmed all seam allowances down to 1/4″ with a rotary cutter, since you may see them through the sheer.

There’s a little thing called “turn of the cloth,” which refers to the amount of fabric that’s eaten up or used when it folds around. It’s minuscule sometimes, and makes a huge difference other times. In a collar, you want the piece to turn and roll effortlessly, which means the undercollar piece needs to be a hair smaller than the top piece. If you don’t account for this, your collar can stand out strangely from the body. If you hold your working pieces over your hand in the way they’ll be on your garment, you can see how much to accommodate for this in anything you do.

In my case, it was a scant 1/8″, so I pinned it this way and basted the edge together.

Collar stand

Placing the long basted edge of the collar between the stand pieces and matching all notches, I sewed the seam, trimmed to 1/4″, and notched the curve so it would lie straight.

At this point, there is a definite right and wrong side to the collar. I checked seventeen times before pinning it to the neck edge of the dress and sewing in place. I didn’t photograph, but stitching a staystitch line on the dress at just inside the final stitch line helps a lot. And clipping into the curve so the pieces fit together better.

I basted a line along the long edge of the inside collar stand which is left free during the first round of stitching, so that I had a nice line to turn against. I topstitched this in place from the inside, as I hate stitching in the ditch and the rest of the dress is edge stitched anyways.

From the outside, I edge stitched the rest of the collar stand and collar edges to keep them nice and crisp.


Tried it on, just for good measure, and to make sure I’d put on the collar the right side out just one more time.

And that’s it! It rolls perfectly to the outside and the points are nice and sharp. Next time I’ll share how I did the sleeves! Because sleeves always seem to need their own post, and I got to use some fun gadgets.  ‘Til then happy sewing! Go try a collar or turn a point and see how much this helps!

Love from Wisconsin,


For more posts about this dress:

Make it fit: Bust points

Learn to sew.  Love your body.