Have you missed our Sew Along post this week? I know I have been eagerly awaiting them.
Since this is our very first attempt to host a sew along we are learning quite a lot! Preparing and posting these blog tutorials is a significant amount of work, especially for Maggie and Louise! They are doing a great job and the work required to provide you with the instructions and photos is taking quite a bit longer than we thought when we dreamed the idea up.
Thanks for patiently waiting when we run behind schedule. Here is your Week 4 installment. We hope you are having a great time and that your creative juices are in free-flow mode.
We can’t wait for the March 22 Show Off event to see all the amazing things Maggie and Louise have inspired with all their hard work on these blogs! Please be sure to give them a give thank you the next time you see them!
– The Special Events Team
Vogue 8897 – The Fun Part
We have the hard part behind us, so now we get to the fun part…the sewing. You have cut your garment, and marked the darts and notches. So what’s next?
1. I must say that I am somewhat disappointed in the pattern directions. The primary reason for my disappointment is that they did not recommend any staystitching. Let’s talk about staystitching: what is it, why is it important, and where should it be applied?
Staystitching is a row of permanent straight stitches sewn to a single layer of fabric ⅛” inside the stitching line. If the seam allowance is ⅝”, then the staystitching will be ½” from the edge. It is used to prevent stretching in areas that are susceptible during the sewing process. It is added immediately after the pattern is removed once the garment is cut and marked. Normal stitch length is used, and backstitching is not necessary.
Many patterns will provide instructions about where staystitching should be added. If there are no instructions, follow these guidelines:
- Staystitch curved and bias areas. These include, but are not limited to: necklines, armholes, shoulder seams, princess lines, waistline, and crotch seams. Stable fabric can usually remain intact with less staystitching.
- The direction in which you sew every seam is important, but especially so for staystitching. The idea is to prevent stretching rather than creating it.
- A general rule of thumb regarding the direction of staystitching is to sew from high to low, wide to narrow. This usually means that you are sewing in the direction of the grain. Let’s think about what this looks like:
- A shoulder seam is high closer to the neck, and drops as it approaches the shoulder. High to low, so stitch from the neck to the shoulder.
- The same is true for the neckline. Stop at center front/back and start from the opposite side to complete the neckline.
- The armhole, or armseye as it is often called, actually changes grain. Start at the shoulder and sew down…high to low. Stop where the armseye begins to curve out. Stitch from the underarm seam upward to meet the previous stitching…wide to narrow.
- If the fabric has nap or pile, such as corduroy or velvet, always sew in the direction of the nap.
What does it mean to sew with the grain? When fabric is cut on the bias and you rub the raw edge, it is easy to see which direction is with the grain. The fibers move into the fabric. When you rub against the grain, the fibers will stick out more and create a frayed appearance. See the following photos. One the right side, the point of the stick is going with the grain. On the left, it is going against the grain. Sewing with the grain will prevent stretching, so it is important to know how to tell the difference.
2. The next learning opportunity is stitching the darts. Sewn properly, a dart can make a garment fit beautifully. Poor sewing technique for a dart can distort the fit of the garment. It is easy to create a dimple at the point of the dart that makes it unattractive and ill-fitting. The dimple usually indicates that the dart needs to be either narrower or shorter. The last few stitches of the dart should catch only a few threads of the fold. One way to sew a beautiful dart without creating a dimple is to add a 1” square of bias-cut lining fabric. Place it underneath the dart point before stitching and sew as usual. Sew past the point and cut the threads, leaving about a ½” tail.
In order for a dart to lie as it should, it requires not only good sewing techniques, but also good pressing techniques. So what is the best way to press a dart? Start by pressing only the dart itself with the point of the iron.
Press to the point but not beyond it.
Next, press the dart stitching line flat on both sides.
The last step is to lay the dart over a pressing ham and press from the wrong sidemaking sure that the dart extends in the correct direction. Turn the garment piece over and press the dart(s) from the right side (using a press cloth).
The directions indicate that the dart should be pressed in a downward direction. You may remember that I told you earlier that most patterns are created to accommodate a B cup, and darts for a B cup or smaller should be pressed downward. That means that if you altered your pattern to accommodate a larger cup size, the dart should be pressed upward after stitching.
Follow the same method when you sew and press the darts on the back shoulders. Press them toward the center back.
3. The next step is to stitch the center front seam up to the dot. Perhaps you adjusted the position of this dot. In any case, once the seam is stitched, what comes next?
4. Pressing the seam is of utmost importance.
To press the seam, start by pressing the stitching line from both sides, just as we did the dart. Now, “bust” the seam. This means to spread the seam open so that the seam allowances lay flat.
Press the seam open from the inside of the garment, then with a press cloth, press the seam from the outside of the garment. Using steam will help the seam lay flat. Press every seam immediately after stitching. Allow steam to dry completely before removing the fabric from the ironing board. Never stitch a seam across another seam that has not been pressed. If you don’t develop another good sewing habit, this is the one that counts!
5. Every well-made garment should have seams that are finished in some manner. Seam finishes can be as simple as using pinking shears to trim the seam allowance slightly, to as complicated as a Hong Kong finish. Finishing the seams will add years of wear to your garment, not to mention the garment will hang and look better. The seam finish should be appropriate for the fabric you have selected. Once again, I will send you to Sewing.org section 11.115 (opens PDF-file) for some basic instructions. Finish each seam before sewing another seam across it.
6. The pattern directions instruct you to prepare the front facing. At this point you might want to consider: do you want the facing on the inside, or will you be creative and allow it to be a decorative accent on the front of the garment? The construction technique is the same. Follow the pattern directions if you want it inside, or place the right side of the facing fabric on the inside of the garment before stitching in order to expose the facing on the front. Add topstitching or trim to secure it to the front of the garment.
7. Follow the pattern directions to attach the pockets to the front and back. Use good pressing techniques.
8. Stitch the front and back shoulder seams together. Remember to stitch with the direction of the grain.
9. Stop at this point. We will pick up here next week when we add the collar or neck facing, and insert the sleeves or facings, according to your choice. Have a good week, and Happy Sewing!
Use this contact form to ask Louise and Maggie questions about the Sew Along. Your Sew Along work-in-progress pictures can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or uploaded to our Facebook page.Happy Sewing!