Another great day sewing with some lovely ladies! This time I was in Wincanton at the Wincanton Sew & Sew shop with Di Winton. She has been in business for just over a year and had a lovely light and airy shop packed with haberdashery, trims and delicious fabrics in the back. At the front, space for small classes – perfect for today.
We covered some top techniques for dressmaking, including curved hems without lump and bumps, rolled hem (using a rolled hem foot), blind stitch hem, piping within seams. over-edge stitching to neaten raw edges quickly and professionally and understitching. Very often, it’s all about the foot!
For the curved hems I showed how to ‘ease’ in the excess that you find is in the hem allowance. Just stitch just within the hem allowance, so 13mm – 20mm from the fabric edge with a gathering stitch (choose the longest stitch length available). Very slightly gather this stitch to take out the excess and fold up the hem, so the stitching is on the inside of the garment. Tuck under the raw edge and press, pulling up the stitching as you need, to create a smooth pucker free surface on the ‘right’ side. Stitch in place and press.
Blind hemming is made simpler with the right blind hem foot and stitch – it does leave a tiny ladder stitch on the right side of fabric, but if a good thread match is made, this is virtually invisible. For this it is all about the folding of the hem allowance. Fold it up, then holding it in place, fold back on itself under the garment, leaving about 13mm of the hem allowanc protruding to the right. Butt the guide on the blind hem foot against the fold and stitch with the blind hem stitch – which has a straight stitch to the right (sewn in the singleg layer of hem allowance) and an occasional zigzag to the left which takes a nip into the folded fabric. Voila.
A rolled hem foot has a coil on the front and is great for narrow hems on lightweight fabrics. As you feed the fabric into the front of the foot, the coil turns it under so when it passses below the needle to be stitched, the raw edge is neatly tucked inside a double folded hem. Take a look at my blog on the Walkaway dress to see it in action.
What better way to start the series of Big Vintage Sewalong workshops – at the Sewing and Craft Superstore in Tooting Beck as the store was celebrating their 70th year in business as the Wimbledon Sewing Centre. Still in the Rushton family, the business has continued to provide THE place to go for anything to do with sewing – from masses of fabulous fabric bolts to trims, haberdashery, sewing machines and overlockers, a big pattern bar and classroom area.
The day started with an official opening by the store’s oldest customer Mrs P who arrived in the original van to much applause and wearing stunning purple. I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs P too and she was delightful and not that old! She explained that she had been coming to the shop for over 30 years – so was oldest in that sense!
The staff were dressed in vintage clothes they had made as were many customers and looked amazing. Many were sporting Butterick, Vogue or McCalls dresses and others were on mannequins providing inspiration.
As Brand Ambassador for The McCalls Pattern company I was there to help with any sewing queries and demonstrate techniques useful for sewing any of the Big Vintage sewing patterns. I had a lot of interest in creating pretty pintucks using a twin needle and pin tuck foot, plus overedge stitching to neaten raw edges. Great techniques for all sorts of dressmaking of course.
The shop was very busy all day, with lots of celebratory special offers on fabrics, haberdashery and trims plus prizes for anyone arriving in a Butterick Walkaway dress.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I am delighted to have been part of it.
At the recent Knitting and Stitching show I was tasked with demonstrating the lovely Vogue pattern of vintage aprons (Vogue 8643) so of course, I made it up first and then cut out further sections to demonstrate at the show daily. So I thought a tutorial on making this pattern might be useful.
The apron came together easily although it does have some unusual shaping, which adds to the vintage style. There are two side panels which are gathered to a shaped centre panel. Big patch pockets can be trimmed along the top with lace or ric rac, or have appliqué or lacy edging.
For the demonstrations, I decided to concentrate on the ties, the patch pockets with inserted lace edging along the top edges and hemming. The view I made, view A, also has the lace edging along the top edge too.
The first step was to make the patch pockets. Step one is to add the lace edging along the seam line of the pocket top. With right sides together, stitch in place so the straight edge of the trim is along the seam line and the scallop edge hanging down towards the pocket. Then add the pocket lining sandwiching the lace trim between the layers which are placed right sides together. Sew around the pocket, leaving a turning gap in the bottom edge. At the curves, stitch slowly, stopping with needle down, raise presser foot slightly and pivot the fabric – continue like to this to get a nice smooth curved seam. TIP: Work with the pocket front uppermost so you can see the stitching holding the lace trim in place, sew just to the left of the first row of stitching so it will be encased within the seam.
It is also important to clip and notch the curved seams of the pockets so that they will turn through smoothly – cut little wedge shapes from the seam allowance at the curves.
POCKETS EDGE STITCHED
The pockets are then edge-stitched to the side panels – edge stitching is just stitching close to the edge.
TIP: To achieve a straight seam, nicely on the edge, use the inner edge of the presser foot as the guide and move the needle to the far right (using the stitch width button to move the needle when sewing with a straight stitch).
STITCH GATHERED SIDE PANELS TO CURVED INNER EDGE OF FRONT
The side panels are then attached to the front panel but first, it is important to stay stitch the inner curves on the front panel, to prevent them stretching out of shape as you sew Gather the top of the side panels to fit the inner curve of the front and sew together.
TIP: To stay stitch – stitch with a standard stitch length just within the seam allowance, close to the seam line.
TRIM ADDED TO TOP EDGE
Ric rac or lace trim is then stitched to the top edge of the front piece prior to the ties and facing being added following the same technique as attaching the trim to the pocket top.
TIES STITCHED AND ATTACHED
The ties are stitched, right sides together around the pointed ends and up to a large circle on one long edge as this is left unstitched in order to insert the apron back into the tie end neatly. This is an unusual way of attaching ties, but does produce a neat finish.
The apron is then finished with an interfaced facing across the apron front to give a waistband effect.
I hope you enjoy making your own vintage pinny. I will be doing some more Big Vintage Sewalong Demos at the Edinburgh Knitting and Stitching Show daily from 28th April – 30th April. Do come along and join me.
Last year the Butterick Walkaway dress was featured on the Great British Sewing Bee which was the start of a promotion by The McCall Pattern Company (who distribute Butterick, Vogue, Kwik Sew and of course McCall Patterns) that exceeded all expectations and culiminated in a massive £8000 cheque being donated by them to The Eve Appeal. Personally the best part from my point of view was the spectacular sight of over a hundred women wearing their Walkaway Dresses at the Knitting and Stitching show where McCall’s held a Champagne Tea Party. It was so lovely seeing these ladies walk around the show all day, and we all felt as if we belonged to a special club – and indeed we did!
The diversity of the dresses was also fabulous to see – so many different variations, different fabric choices and combinations so although we’d all used the same pattern, no two were the same. That of course is the beauty of dressmaking!
Still a great dress to make and wear, I thought I’d share my tips on making it fit – because although it looks very simple, there can be areas that are not quite so straight-forward if you have a fuller bust like me!
The first thing I did, as I always do, is take measurements to check which size I shoud be making. (This is rarely, dare I say never, the same size as ready-to-wear high street fashions and indeed, can be 2 sizes bigger than high street). Also as I am over a C cup, I take my bust measurement around the chest or high bust – which is above the bust, under arms and around the back. I then cut out the tissue following the cutting lines for the size I needed, merging from one size to another for bust, waist and then hip.
Full Bust Adjustment
My next job was to lowered the bust point and thus bust dart and front darts as sadly, my bust point is no longer where it once was! I also do a full bust adjustment in order to increase the area around the bust, but keep the shoulders, chest, torso etc the right size. The method I used is the most commonly used method – so I cut through the centre of the new bust dart close to bust point, then diagonal from bust point to mid armhole, and vertically up front parallel to centre front but in line with bust point. I pivoted open the tissue and added spare before redrawing the side seam. I then ’tissue fitted’. This gives a idea of how it will fit.
I also added an inch to the skirt section of the front from hem to waist to increase the waist size – but actually did take this out again when I’d made it in fabric and tried it on (before adding bias binding) as it wasn’t needed But better to have done that than find it wouldn’t fit!
I decreased the length on all corresponding pieces by 5cm (2″) as I wanted to make the dress shorter, more knee length suits me. If there is one asset I do have, it is good legs!
Added Insets and Godet
I also love to wear full petticoats, really 1950s style, which meant adjusting the shape of the front/under skirt which is cut straight normally and doesn’t have the swing of a circular skirt. So I added triangular inserts to the front skirt section at the sides to give it a fuller skirt and again, after trying it on and wearing it once, decided to add a further godet into the centre front of the skirt to further expand the underskirt to accommodate my petticoat. I had found that the front of the underskirt rode up when walking etc as there still wasn’t enough room under it. I added the insets by cutting up from hem to waist seam pivoted out hem and added spare tissue.
Lowered neckline at front and raised at back
Again because of my fuller bust, I decided to lower the curved neckline at the front to a more flattering height, but raised it at the back so that it wouldn’t slip off my shoulders all the time.
Ready to cut and sew
Having done all my adjustments, I cut out the dress and sewed it following the pattern. One of the most laborious aspects is the bias binding – but not if you have an adjustable bias binding foot for your sewing machine! This little gem wraps the binding around the fabric edge and sews it in place along the edge all in one go – so quick and easy!
I let it hang for 24 hours before hemming (although it says ‘make in a morning and wear to lunch’ the pattern does recommend hanging it for 24 hours, which is good advice when making any garment. It allows it to settle and bias cut seams to droop if they are going to so you can level them off before hemming).
Hemming could also be laborious unless you use a rolled hem foot on your machine, which again makes the task a breeze as it rolls the fabric edge under as it goes through the scroll on the front of the foot before it is stitched in place. Beautiful, and so quick!
So that is the story of my Walkaway Dress. I hope you enjoy making your own. (ps you can buy the pattern from www.sewdirect.com)