In today's Lottie Dress & Shirt Pattern Sewalong post, we are finally sewing! Yay! Whenever I teach classes, it seems to always amaze my students how much work there is in sewing before we are actually sewing anything! But it's so true; sewing is also cutting, marking, measuring, making muslins, gathering supplies, and so much more. But for me, my favorite part of any project is the actual construction. So here we go!
Staystitching is key to help keep the threads of the fabric in place on curves while you handle your fabric. But even after staystitching, I suggest you be very very careful of how you handle the curves, in this case, the neckline. I try to discourage my students from trying on projects unless we need to check the fit, because every time you pull it over your head, there's a real possibility of stretching the fabric out, which will leave you a very unhappy neckline. Here's how to do it, on all views:
1. Staystitch the shirt or dress neckline front at a 3/8" seam allowance. Stitch from the shoulder to center of the neckline. Then repeat on the opposite side from shoulder to the center of the neckline. This way you are sewing both sides toward the center of the neckline opening, instead of one side toward it, and one side away from it, which can cause the fabric to warp differently around the curve.
2. Repeat by staystitching the shirt or dress back in the same way. Give the stitching area a press with your iron.
Many of my other projects have so many darts, that my students were begging me for something that had fewer darts because they were just over all the darts! So here you go! Emery has 16 darts and Sylvie has up to 16 depending on the view you sew, but this fine Lottie only has two! You're welcome.
1. If you haven't already transferred your bust dart markings to the wrong side of your fabric, as pictured above, do so now.
2. Fold the fabric of the dart, right sides together. Place one pin perpendicular at the apex, through the layers. The remaining pins should go through the legs of the dart on both sides of the fabric, confirming that when you sew through the line you can see, you're sewing through the line on the underside at the same time. Place the pin heads facing the apex so you can pull them out towards yourself as you sew.
3. Start sewing the dart at the edge of the fabric, and sew a backstitch.
4. Continue sewing along the line you drew, pulling the pins out as you get to them. Be careful to not shift the layers of the fabric after removing the pins so that the legs of the dart remain on top of each other.
5. When your stitching is approximately 1/2–3/8" from the apex, stop sewing and turn your stitch length down to 1.0. Stitch the remainder of the dart at this very short and tight stitch length. Do not backstitch or turn off your line. Simply sew right off the fabric as you follow your line.
6. Your stitching will look something like this image above. There's no need to backstitch or tie off the threads. By simply sewing at a 1.0 stitch length, it stays tight. Backstitching or tying off the threads create a bump at the apex of the dart, which is the last place you want a bump!
7. Place a pressing ham under the dart and press the dart with the excess fabric pressed down towards the hem. Use the small end of the ham at the apex to smooth it out. Now that you've folded the fabric, it will no longer sit flat on a surface, as we've shaped it for our curves, so the ham will take the place of your bust and will greatly assist in a successfully pressed dart.
8. A successful dart looks like a seam that ends, like in the photo above. There should be no puckers, bumps, or pointy bits. Use the ham to shape and mold the dart with the heat and steam of your iron if your dart isn't smooth.
Technically, only views A & B have pockets, but of course, you can add pockets to view C as well. Also, it's worth noting that in the instructions I have you sew the shoulder seams first, then sew on the pockets. You can do it either way. Sometimes It's easier to do them now before anything else is attached, but if you've gone and sewn the shoulders already, no worries. But they are incredibly challenging to put on straight and level if you've sewn your side seams, so positively don't do that step first!
1. Fold the top edge of the pocket down 1/4", wrong sides together and press.
2. Flip the pocket over and fold along the fold line, right sides together. Pin it in place on both sides. Do not press this top fold, as later we will be folding it the opposite way.
3. Sew the top fold in place at the 5/8" seam allowance. Continue sewing all the way around the pocket, pivoting at the bottom corners, until you reach the other top edge.
4. Trim the top corners away to reduce bulk.
5. Turn the top flap right side out and poke out the top corners. I like to use a metal knitting needle for that step, but a proper point turner will work well too.
6. Press the top fold, making sure to keep the flap a consistent width all the way across. Fold in the sides of the pocket, using the stitching as your guide. The stitching should be just to the wrong side. Lastly, fold up the bottom, again using your stitch line as your guide. It's really easy for the bottom corners to stick out, so be careful to keep them inside the pocket shape. A handy tip: Press one side to center, then press the other side to center, instead of pressing all the way across the bottom from right to left, or left to right. I also like to flip the whole pocket over at this point, and really press it well to crease the folds.
7. Stitch along the bottom of the fold at the top of the pocket. After stitching, give the pocket another good press. Repeat all the previous steps for a matching pair of pockets.
8. Following the marking guides on the pattern, that you've transferred to your shirt or dress front, pin the pockets to the fabric, with the wrong side of the pocket down on the right side of the shirt or dress.
9. Stitch the pockets to the shirt or dress, following the stitching diagram below. Edge stitch 1/16" from the pocket's edge. For the reinforced triangle at the top corners, I usually make mine about 3/8", but you can make yours whatever size you like. I suggest marking them with a seam gauge and marking tool if you aren't good at eyeballing it!
10. Once the pockets are sewn on, give them another good press. I find that the answer to good looking pockets is being pretty heavy handed with my iron. You won't want to warp them out of shape before sewing, but you do want them to be flat and crisp so they go on straight and square.
And that's it for today! In the next post we will sew the shoulders, sew on the 3/4-length sleeve extensions, and bind the neckline. See you then!