Saturday, February 24, 2018

Sewing with Sew Chic - Simplicity 8439 Bodice - Efficient Sewing

This is going to be one long humdinger of a post! The whole bodice all in one giant BIG GULP! Be glad I didn't get the skirt finished this week too. :-D

First let me say that I did not look at the guide sheet that comes with the pattern, so my assembly will  include some time-saving all-by-machine methods employed to make the originals you see on the package front.  My methods are not always "conventional", but they are fast, efficient, and produce good results. It's no secret that sewing time is precious and don't they say that whomever makes the most dresses wins??


Presumably you've already done a test fit with your interlining, made any needed changes to the pattern and interlining. You will have removed stitching and pressed theses pieces for reuse, and cut your fashion fabric from the corrected pattern.   

My favorite all purpose method for marking is with waxed dressmaker carbon and a tracing wheel as it is quick and accurate. On this pattern, except for this inset, do not mark the fashion fabric. Use the markings from your interlining.

I use clips to mark the pleats. The pleats are on grain, so with a tug at parallel clips, that pleat should fold right across for you.

 Then give it a press before it escapes!
Interface and complete the front to prepare it for merging with the interlining.

While you've got your iron hot, press your interlining to the fashion fabric to help temporarily bind the layers with heat. Pin the edges and baste the perimeter. 

Baste up the center of each dart.

After basting layers it's always a good idea to check your piece against the pattern and give it another trim.
 Sew all darts at one time, including the lining. Notice the uneven length of muslin to lining. This was a correction that I forgot about at the interlining fitting stage. I will end up trimming this away once I get to the bodice assembly! At this point thought, I'm still wondering why they don't fit.
I trim away excess and press open. If working with two colors like I am, it's handy to have two machines threaded, each with the correct color scheme for the palette.


Sewing that inset curve is just like sewing a princess seam. Always sew with the curved piece on top.  Be sure to trim that seam and press the seam down.

To sew the lining to the front, I sew each side separately, leaving the center seam free. I find my seams lay better.
Clip that center right up close to that stitching or it will pucker. You'll know when you turn it if you didn't clip close enough.
Turn right side out, understitch, press and baste the lining to the front. DONE!


Once the center back and shoulders are sewn, it's time to insert the inset.
It was at this point that I realized WHY my interlining inset was 1/4" shorter than my matching pieces: I couldn't make it fit! Once I trimmed away that 1/4" to match my muslin, it fit between the symbols perfectly. BASTE the inset into place. We'll be doing a final fitting and you'll have opportunity to attach this permanently when attaching the lining.
Pin the side seams in place and give the bodice a try-on. You can see mine didn't go perfectly, but nothing I can't fix.
 So undo the basting...
And re-pin to fit. Notice that I've pinned the bodice to my t-shirt underneath to keep from pulling too much. MUCH better, right?
Once removed from my body, keep those pins in place and trim off the excess beyond the seam allowance.
Use the trimmings as a guide for cutting the opposite side to match. Re stitch the inset.
Now we are ready to sew lining around the neck. As before, you'll need to stay stitch that lining  under bust curve and clip to match to the inset. Don't forget to understitch and press the finished neck edge well.

Now I move to the sleeve hem. Turn the the sleeve and lining to right sides together, encasing the bodice sort of like a taco! 

Pin, sew and trim that sleeve hem.
Put your hand in there and turn it right side out. This is the fun part!!
Sew from back to front to understitch. The back has a larger opening to help you reach the front.

Just lovely! Now we move to the side seams. I usually start with the right side because the left side will have an opening for the zipper.
 Matching the sleeve hem seams first, I pin in place and make my way down the lining side, matching lining to lining and then the opposite fashion to fashion side, stitch up one side and down the other.
Trim seams and clip the underarm curves, press seam open.  Leave a 7" opening from the waist for the opposite side, basically sewing just the sleeve curves. Clip into the seam and trim the underarm, but be sure to leave all of your seam allowance for the zipper.

The lining is rolled to the inside and pressed. Doesn't that sleeve opening look beautiful?

If you've made it this far, then congratulations!  The hard part is done. Next we'll move on to the skirt and finishing!

You might be interesting in this post about altering this pattern (and FBA)

And this one about measuring and sizing for this pattern:

Are you making this dress? Leave me a note or a link!
Have a wonderful sewing day, and I'll see you next time!


Friday, February 9, 2018

Sewing with Sew Chic - Altering Simplicity 8439

Are you still pondering which fabric to cut for this dress? Yeah, me too. I'm also considering some minor style changes- but decisions are not REALLY final until my pattern has been altered and cut. It's taken me some time to slog through the testing and grading of each piece, but I'm finally on the other side of it and ready to share!

Choosing the right size is so critical (and it seems people complain about it so much) that I've made yet another video on "what size am I?"  It only took me about 20 (million) tries and now I absolutely hate teaching by video.  Even still, lot's of good information there, especially how to measure for a full bust adjustment.
AFTER I measured the pattern, I can safely say that these below are my final measurement/size recommendations. In my opinion, this pattern is definitely going to fit better with a "C" cup bust (3" more that the chest measurement) than a B (2"), which is doable, but C is better.  Note that those two sizes on the end have negative ease a the waist.

Once you've picked a size to fly with, next come the alterations video. That one also took a lot out of me with 5 pattern pieces to alter on view B! If you hate doing pattern alterations, this one will give you a run for your patience, but the video in that section is pretty thorough so it should go smoothly for the curious. 
I should warn you this second video is long enough to be a TV sitcom. I tried to go really fast, cutting everything I could and ended with 7 minutes spent on quick tips for accurate and speedy transitioning between sizes, lengthen/shorten, etc. The bulk of the time (23 minutes!) is spent on bust cutting and altering. Each section is labeled so you can watch the progress. Enjoy!

Alterations done, and ready to cut. My opinions on this are strong: I hate doing muslins. They waste both time and money, both of which we all agree we haven't enough of. But in the case of THIS pattern, there is a built in necessity to sew a muslin and it won't go to waste. It's called INTERLINING. This is a just a cotton muslin that lines your fashion fabric to give it weight and stability. I included this feature to add balance to the many bust layers in this dress. Nobody needs a heavy front shield unless it's a dress made of Kevlar!  A flimsy every where else just wouldn't do.  Taking advantage of that necessity, I did cut a muslin to test the fit! 
I discovered that the bodice needed about 1/4" more height at the front shoulder near the notch, and that there is still a touch too much room across the bodice. Later I would find another reason why the shoulder was too tight, but you will have to run on over to join the group to get the inside scoop (and of course join in the party!?). There you will find...yup, yet ANOTHER video:

 I tested the interlining with my standard bra (as you see me above)
 and again with a padded bra adding an extra inch- and the fit was much better in the cup area.

The back looks great. It sits right above that bone as it should.


 Then with my standard bra I pinched out about  a 1/2" inch on both sides as you see pinned here and think this will be a better fit, even with my padded bra. Here's how to make this alteration:

The best advice I can give is be sure to stay stitch every seam because you will be messing with it and don't want to stretch it out of shape. With that inset, clip that curve and add a big notch in your fabrics at center front. Match those big notches first, and pin to either side. 

 For your interlining muslin, use a basting stitch to test the fit, marking and cutting or recutting your fabric and pattern to match as needed to get a good fit. Don't over fit though. Once perfect, pull those basted seams out and you are ready to combine with your fashion fabric. 
Finally, after all those videos I get to sew! YAY!

Are you making this dress? Tell me about your experience!
Stay happy and keep sewing!