It is hard to believe that this is the last session of this project. I would like to thank you for joining the Plano ASG chapter and me for our first (but surely not the last!) Sew Along. Our chapter has SEW many talented members, and you won’t want to miss what we present in the future. If you are not an ASG member, then put that on your “To Do” list! Read here about how you can join.
Our president, Markita Gumble posted information about our Sew Along on the ASG President’s Forum, and we have heard that chapters from other states have joined us for this endeavor. Thank you for your time and interest.
And none of this would have been possible without our extremely talented web person, Nienke Wolthoff. Many thanks for making us look so good!
Please know that despite not being shown on the front page of our website, the Sew Along blogs will always be available. You can use the top right search bar to look for them, or click the Sew Along category.
Finishing our dresses/tunics
Now, let’s talk about finishing our dresses/tunics. If you have chosen to add the contrasting bands to the sleeves and hem, let’s look at the instructions. I agree with the recommended method on the pattern guide, but would like to offer this suggestion. Let’s start at #46 where it tells you to turn the band facing to the inside and press. That means to turn the 5/8” seam allowance and press it; but what if we made a template so that we turn up only 3/8”? Let me explain how to do this, and why we would want to do it. These templates can be used in so many helpful ways! I never mark a hem without one.
First, go ahead and fold the band in half and press it. That will be the finished lower edge of the garment and/or sleeves. It might be a good idea to try the garment on at this point to be sure that the length is correct. If you want to shorten at this point, make a note of how much you want to remove from the length. Remove the band, carefully mark pencil or chalk the determined amount all the way around the edge of the garment (not the band!), and then cut the excess length off. When putting the band back on, it may not fit as accurately. Feel free to make the seam allowance in the band a little wider in order to fit the garment/sleeve bottom. If the garment needs to be longer, cut new bands add twice the amount of length needed. Remember, the band will be folded in half, so only half the length will actually be added.
Take a piece of cardboard, such as a used manila folder. A 4×6” index card will also work. Using a fine- line Sharpie pen, mark a line 3/8” away from the edge.
I made my line across the narrow side because it will work better when marking the sleeves. Otherwise, either side is fine.
After placing the card near the edge to be turned up, start turning up the edge so that it just meets the line you have drawn. Use your iron to press the seam allowance.
Work all the way around the hemline. You have already pressed the fold line for the band, so position the band as it will be when finished, as shown in the directions. The difference will be that the seam allowance fold will extend above the seam line that joined the band. (Be sure to grade those seam allowances.)
Now, begin pinning the band in place over the seam allowance. Note the placement of the pins in the photo.
The directions instruct you to slipstitch the band in place. Using my method, you can take the garment to your machine and “stitch-in-the-ditch” to create a very neat finish, without handwork. In today’s fast- paced world, many sewists enjoy the luxury of machine hemming instead of handwork. At the machine, place the front side up, with the seamline that joins the band and the garment under the pressure foot. Before lowering the pressure foot, lower the needle exactly into the seamline.
Begin slowly stitching along the seamline until the entire band is attached. Notice that even though I sewed with contrasting thread so that you could see it, the seam disappears into the “ditch”.
When completed, the band will be neatly finished inside the garment.
Now, why did I instruct you to place the pins in such a particular way? First, always place pins perpendicular to the stitching line. In this case, the pins are underneath the band with the heads facing to the right. It is easy to gently remove each pin as you approach it, instead of sewing over it. You can see this in the photo.
If you are not adding the contrasting bands, then finishing the hems on the garment and sleeves will require a more traditional approach. There are many ways to sew a hem. The longer you sew, and try different methods, you will most likely find a method that you prefer over the others. However, different fabrics and situations require different techniques. I encourage you to learn as many different techniques as possible. Once again, I will refer you to Sewing.org (opens PDF file) for excellent instructions for different methods in hemming.
To finish this blog session, I would like to share some embellishment ideas. Back in the beginning, I mentioned that one of the reasons we like to sew is in order to express ourselves, in addition to having unique clothing. Embellishment allows us to meet those needs. Any of us can make a garment by following the direction sheet, and be very pleased with the results. But does it reflect who you are as completely as you would like? Think about the ready-to-wear garments that appeal to you. What makes them attractive in your eyes? Add those things to the garments that you make.
Let’s look at some options that this Sew Along pattern might offer for embellishment.
1. We already know that we can use contrasting fabrics for the bands, collar, or front facings. What if we took the time to dye that fabric in a special way? Dying fabric is fun, fast, and easy.
2. Adding decorative stitching to the contrasting fabric adds dimension. If your machine has decorative stitches, learn to use them. Add samples of each one to your notebook! If your machine doesn’t have decorative stitches, then use multiple rows of straight stitching to create a pattern. The lines can be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal. For lightweight fabrics, you may want to add a layer of light stabilizer or silk organza. A great book to give you a jumpstart with enhancing fabric is “The Art of Manipulating Fabric” by Colette Wolff. Here is a simple example.
3. Machine embroidery offers a world of embellishment opportunity. Create borders, patterns, or add designs to your garment.
4. Decorative trims come in all colors, styles, widths, and designs. They are a wonderful way to make a garment your own. Multiple rows provide greater interest than a single row, unless it is very ornate. Even then, showcase it with a row of narrow trim on either side to create emphasis.
5. Applique is a simple way to add a lot of interest. Cut out a design from your print fabric and applique it to your contrasting fabric borders. Or applique a repetitive design from your print, using solid fabrics that are in the same color range. For instance, on a paisley print fabric, applique solid color paisleys in a pleasing pattern.
There is a huge assortment of books and resources about embellishing techniques. I have saved numerous files, in physical file folders and on my computer, that contain ideas I have run across. I save photos of embellishment ideas from magazines and catalogs. There is absolutely no reason for you to have a boring wardrobe!!!!
This has been an amazing adventure for me, and I hope you have learned some new tricks and techniques. If you are in the Dallas, TX area, we hope you will join us for our Sew Along event – Saturday March 22nd from 10am – 12pm. Even if you did not finish your garment in time, come and see what others have done. I will have a display of some of my samples, and I will be giving away a small compilation of my favorite books, websites, tools, shopping places, etc. Hope to see you there!
Please RSVP using the form below so we can plan accordingly.
If you’re not in the DFW area, let’s have a Show & Tell on our Facebook page. We’re there to answer questions, hear about your experience (success or failure) and are excited to see pictures of your garments and quilts, finished or not!
Plano ASG Show & Tell Event
Christ United Methodist Church
3101 Coit Road, Plano, TX 75075 (Southwest Corner of Parker & Coit Road)
Room N154 (Entrance closest to Parker Road)
10am – 12pm