Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tutorial: Seventies Handkerchief Sleeve Dress

There was a lot of interest in the little blue dress I made for my daughter last week, so here it is - pretty much step by step.
1) Cut out the body of the dress.  (Two pieces, front and back).  I have shortened the dress this time to be about knee length.
 2) Cut out the sleeves.  I wanted to make them smaller, but she really likes the super huge sleeve.
3)Prep the sleeve - hem it.  I got a nudge to make a quick backstitch at the corners, and it worked well.

4) Hem the armhole (such as it is).

5) Cut two lengths of ribbon to the length of the first guide.  You could use a variety of ribbon, but you see that even this 2" grosgrain is a bit thinner than the pattern called for.  I used crochet lace last time, and when I did that, I hemmed the top before attaching the ribbon.  This time, with ribbon that would conceal any loose threads, I followed the pattern directions.

6) Sew two rows of gathering stitches at the very top of the dress (front and back).  Gathering stitches are the longest stitches your machine will make.  That's 5 on my machine.
 7) Gather it up until the fabric is 3/4" (or so) shorter than your ribbon. 

8) Pin your ribbon to the start and end of the fabric, and as many other places as you like.  You need to make sure that you have just enough ribbon on each side so you can lap it over and hem it when you're done.  Then scootch your gathers until they're reasonably even.

9) Change thread colors so your thread matches your ribbon as closely as possible, and sew it down.

10) I was careful (for me) to sew the ribbon right on the edge of the grosgrain pattern, where it wouldn't show too badly.

11) Next gathering guide!

12) Measure out enough ribbon to go 'round your subject's waist and tie a comfortable bow.  Mark the center of this ribbon with a pin.

13)  Two more rows of gathering stitches, straight down from the edge of the ribbon (there are proper marks on the pattern, but I didn't use them).  You can really put this where-ever you want, as far as verticals go.  I am making this for an 8yo and she doesn't need much room for bustline.  Hold the front up to your victim, with the top edge of the ribbon whereever you want the collar to be, then figure out where the belt should hit.  (It could have used another inch or so, oh well.  Next dress!)
 14) I tie one side of my gathering stitches before gathering them.
 15) Make sure you gather it up to be the size of your second guide.

16)  Sew down the second ribbon, top and bottom.  Make sure that a) the middle of your ribbon is in the middle of your dress, and 2) that you keep your gathers fluffed out straight to the side of your sewing machine so they don't get sewn down in an odd direction. 

17) I used three colors of thread to make this dress.

18) Having changed to the ivory thread, here I am sewing the lace to the edges of the sleeve.  You COULD sew just one side of the lace....

19) But life is too short to iron the lace down every time I launder this dress, and I know it to be old and delicate lace.  I sewed both sides down.

20) You have all your pieces completely prepped.  Now to assemble the dress.  Figure out where you want the sleeves to cross the dress at the collar.  Since I am making this for my 8yo, the pins are well in from where the pattern calls for them to start.  Not a big deal, so long as I sew it down where it needs to be!

21) Likewise, mark how long you'd like the sleeves to be, where they will look best.  I messed this up - I used the measurements for the first dress and didn't take into account fabric differences.  I will learn my lesson on this SOON, I hope... gah. 

22) The pattern calls for you to sew a great ugly box, but even with closely matching thread (I switched back to rose), that's just too obvious for me.  Instead I put a line of stitches close to the lace of the sleeves and then put a decorative stitch a bit farther out to hold the sleeve even more firmly.  (I didn't do the latter on the blue dress).  Repeat until sleeves are sewn down front and back, each side.  Yes, that's all the attaching they get.

23) Wrap the ribbon over the edge of the dress, sew it down.  No one will ever see this, doesn't matter if it matches.

24) Sew the sides of the dress together.  I used french seams.  That means first I sew things together wrong sides touching, then I trim close to the line of stitching, press it flat, flip it around...

25) and sew the seam so that the right sides are together.  No messy seam fluff!
 26)  Hem it.  A hand hem is always nice, unless you're giving it to a child to wear, in which case ... machine that sucker.

27)  Get your child to try it on, albeit without taking the dress she's wearing underneath off.  Sigh, knowing this is what you're getting for the evening.
Quilting cotton and cotton gauze don't exactly drape the same, but this is still a cute, comfy dress she can wear in the heat of the summer.  I really should have made her let me shorten those sleeves...... :P

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