Thursday, October 10, 2013

Anna Tea Dress: Construction Notes

For the last week plus, I've been working on another Anna dress, this time with a full gathered skirt.  Should be nothing easier, right?  Well, figuring this thing out nearly did me in!  I had to take a break of several days to ruminate on it. 

The problem was that I wanted my bodice to be underlined, but my skirt to be lined - hanging free of the zipper, if possible.  That problem was compounded by the fact that my outer skirt and skirt lining pieces were not the same width, so I couldn't just smack them together and gather them as one.

So, because I intend to do this at least once more, and because it may help some of you out, I took lots of pictures (after I was done) and I have lots of notes.  Fair warning:  this is going to be a long one!  And you probably won't get to see the finished dress for a few days because I'm hoping to wear it on Sunday when we go out for brunch with some friends.  I know, I'm a tease. 


The Process:  I'm writing this out step by step because I intend to use this post as my instructions for the next time I do this.  So while it may not make for entertaining reading, it will be useful and more concise than I usually am!

Bodice

1.  Cut outer pieces, and underlining pieces, for bodice front and backs only.  (Underlining is white cotton batiste; outer is loosely woven cotton lawn.)

2.  Baste underlining to outer at 1/4" all the way around each bodice piece.

3.  Mark darts on underlining; sew up center of each then sew darts.  (Sew only to 1" below top of release pleats on front so stitching doesn't show.)

4.  Interface facing pieces with very lightweight fusible tricot. 

5.  Sew shoulder seams of bodice; finish on serger.

6.  Turn under sleeve hem and hand stitch to underlining.


7.  Sew shoulder seams of facing.  Finish outer edge only on serger.

8.  Attach facing to bodice.  Grade and clip curves, then understitch all the way around the neckline.



9.  Sew side seams; clip curve then finish on serger.


At this point the bodice is complete, with unfinished edges at the center back.

Skirt

1.  Tear off two pieces of fabric for skirt, 29" long by width of fabric.  (My fabric here was approximately 60" wide.)  Cut one piece in half to create a center back seam.

2.  Tear off two pieces of batiste for skirt lining, 26" long by width of fabric.  (My batiste is 45" wide.)  Cut one piece in half to create a center back seam.

3.  Sew side seams of both skirt and lining using French seams.

4.  Make three rows of basting stitches at the top of both skirt and lining (separately) at 3/8", 5/8" and 7/8".

5.  Make a mark on inside of bodice 1.5" toward center back from side seam, because the front bodice of this pattern is significantly narrower than the back. 

{pink marking is barely visible}

6.  Gather outer skirt to bodice, matching center front and lining skirt side seams up with markings from previous step.  Baste in place.

7.  Gather lining on top of skirt, matching in the same way as before.  Baste in place.

8.  Sew over basting to create waist seam.  Serge all layers together, trimming away excess.  Press seam up toward bodice.


At this point, the skirt and lining are attached to the bodice and all center back seams are unfinished.

Finishing

1.  With serger, finish center back openings all the way from the outer edge of the facing to the hem edge of the skirt, making sure not to catch in the lining.

2.  Fuse Knit Stay Tape to zipper openings. (1.25" wide ivory)

3.  Turn facing to the outside (RS together with bodice)  and stitch along center back (I used a 1/2" center back seam to give myself a little more room, as determined when trying on the dress at this point.)

4.  Turn out facing and press.  Continue pressing under center back seam allowance from neck edge all the way down to hem edge of skirt.

5.  Press skirt lining seam allowance under separately from outer skirt.

6.  Sew center back seams of skirt and skirt lining separately, RS together.  Finish lining opening by stitching down the turned-back seam allowance.


7.  Insert hand-picked zipper.  My zipper is an invisible zipper because that's what I originally planned to use.  But I realized that using a hand-picked zipper would make the construction a whole lot easier with the interlining/lining thing, while enhancing the vintage vibe of the dress.


8.  Try on dress to determine hem length.  I changed plans here again too:  my original intent was to have a deep hem to finish just below knee length, which is why I tore off my skirt pieces at 29" long.  But when I tried on the dress, I really loved the mid-calf tea length, so I decided to use a narrow hem.

9.  And I got my most successful narrow hem ever by doing one simple thing:  I pressed my hem back by 3/16" (less than 1/4" but more than 1/8") all the way around.  The biggest problem I've had with my narrow hem foot is keeping the feed a consistent width from the edge.  By pressing it back first, that problem was eliminated.  I also set my needle at 3.0 - one notch right of center - to get the stitching right down the middle of the narrow hem.




10.  Finally, create "hem" for lining by using a contrasting color thread and the "scallop" stitch on my machine, set at a stitch width of 7.0  and stitch length of 0.7.    Cut away free edge once stitched.



Whew!  If you made it this far, you're a trooper!  And if you followed the links, you saw that I relied heavily on tutorials by Tasia at Sewaholic.   I have learned so much from her site over the last year or so, I'm thinking of going all the way back to the very beginning of her blog and reading it like a book!


30 comments:

  1. Nooooo! I want to see the finished dress NOW! :) This is so pretty-- I can't wait to see it! Thanks for sharing your tips!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so mean! OK, the truth is that I'm not very photographable today - I have a terrible sinus headache, and it shows! This dress deserves for me to be dolled up, and there's no way that's happening today!

      Delete
  2. such a tease! it looks lovely though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know :-( The other reason I wanted to save the "real" pix for later is that this post is long enough already!!

      Delete
  3. From what I can see, it looks absolutely lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Rhonda! I'm really happy with how it turned out!

      Delete
  4. I live the idea of a tea dress. The print is lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds so fancy, doesn't it? I think that's what this length of dress is called, but I might have made that up! I don't know!

      Delete
  5. This is amazing! Wow, I love the detail of the scalloped lining!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I've had that idea in my head for a while to try out. I really like it too! Not sure yet how durable it will be though.

      Delete
  6. oh the scalloped hem! what a lovely idea!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for the very useful notes. Love the scalloped hem. And yes, you are a tease: can’t wait to see the whole dress!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope they will be useful for someone other than myself! It took me a ridiculously long time to get a grip on how to do this. If I'd had a finished example to look at, it would have been so much easier.

      Delete
  8. It looks so pretty already, can't wait to see it modelled!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sabs! This is cheapie fabric I bought at my local, but the print is so pretty!

      Delete
  9. What Evelyn said! I've bookmarked this for future reference. What gorgeous fabric - you're going to be the best dressed on Sunday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Shar! Glad these notes will be useful to you!

      Delete
  10. Wow, what a great detailed tute. I have learned a ton from Tasia's blog too. This looks like a beautiful make Gail -- can't wait to see it! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Susan! Tasia explains things in a way that really makes sense to me. I just love reading her tutorials. I even went ahead and bought the Couture Sewing book (Claire Schaeffer) she says she learned a lot of this stuff from. Just got it in the mail yesterday and can't wait to start reading it!

      Delete
  11. Love this--especially the scalloped finish for the lining! I'm going to use this as a tutorial to finish my tweed skirt.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Can't wait to see the dress! It looks gorgeous from these photos. Thanks for all your tips!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am loving that dress fabric and the lining hem. Can't wait to see the finished dress!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really love this fabric too. I wish I'd gotten more of it! Of course, it's gone now.

      Delete
  14. What a great tutorial. Thank you so much for documenting this Gail! And, Love the scalloped edge hem. I definitely want to borrow that idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Debbie! Maybe it will be helpful for you some time!

      Delete