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1940’s Tea Dress Sewalong No. 5: Constructing the Skirt
How did you all get on with your bodices? We bet they’re looking lovely!
This sewalong we’re going to be constructing the skirt, before attaching it onto the bodice. It’s a bit more relaxed today than earlier in the week – a couple of darts to sew and then a handful of straight seams and then we’re done. A breeze! Let’s get to it shall we?
Do you remember at the end of our measuring, tracing and cutting post we suggested you keep you pattern paper pinned to your cut fabric? Well today you’ll find out why. It’s dart tracing time!
If you’ve never sewn a dart before, let us reassure you that they are in fact very simple. It’s all down to accurate tracing and sewing. First thing we’re going to do is snip into the two ends of the dart at the raw edge of the fabric. This creates little notches – and as with all notches you want to make sure they are kept well within the seam allowance. No longer than 0.5cm please!
Next, place a pin through the dart tip. Lift up the pattern paper and, using chalk or other washable marker, mark the point where the pin comes through the fabric.
Leaving the pin in place, turn over the fabric and again mark the point where the pin comes through.
You can now remove the pattern paper from the fabric.
Using a ruler and chalk, carefully draw two straight lines between the notches you snipped and the point of the dart.
You might also like to draw an additional line exactly down the middle of the dart which will be your fold line for the next step.
Now folding the fabric right sides together, line up the notches that you cut and fold down to the dart point, creating a triangle shape. Secure the dart with pins.
We like to place the pins lengthways down the dart so we can check the markings are properly lined up on both sides. You want the pins to poke out in exactly the same place on the other side of the fold so you know the dart will be sewn accurately when you follow the markings with your line of stitching.
We’re ready to sew! Always (always always!) start sewing darts at the edge of the fabric – never at the dart tip. We like to do a couple of backstitches to secure the stitches at the beginning of the dart. Slowly sew down towards the tip, removing the pins as you go.
When you get to the end, do not backstitch! This could leave you with unsightly puckers – not what you want around your derriere! Instead gently pull the fabric from the machine leaving long thread tails. Tie these thread tails together, using a pin to coax the knot down to the point of the dart. Then trim the threads.
Press the dart towards the centre back.
Repeat this process for the other dart and then we’re ready to get to work on the rest of the skirt.
Let’s construct the skirt front. Pin and sew both side front panels (I) to the centre front skirt piece (K). Finish the seam allowance and press towards the back.
Join this new front skirt piece to the back panels (J) – the pieces you have just sewn the dart into. Finish the seams and press towards the back.
Now we have the whole skirt panel constructed, ready to be attached to the bodice. With right sides together, match up the side seams and front panel seams . If you have sewn everything accurately, these will match up like a dream. Pin the skirt and bodice together, and then sew. Make sure the seam allowances you have pressed towards the back don’t shift and face the other way. They can be pesky like that.
Finish the raw edges before pressing the seam up towards the bodice.
And voila! You now have a very fancy apron! How exciting – it looks something like a dress! Get someone to pin you in down that open centre back seam (remember that 1.5cm seam allowance) and see how you look. Absolutely gorgeous, no?
As usual, if you come a cropper at any point leave us a comment on Facebook or tweet us at @SewOverIt and we’ll do our best to help.