Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sleeveless Emery Dress, with construction tips

Hi All!

This week I finally got back into the swing of things, sewing-wise, and made my very first Emery Dress - finally!  I've been saying I was going to do it since it was released last fall!  However, I'm glad I waited until after I learned a bit more about fitting.  I did have to make several changes to the bodice, although the original form was passable.  But that's why we sew, right?  Or at least that's one of the reasons - to have a well-fitting garment.

I'm going to talk about my fitting changes in a separate post, since they may be helpful to some of you.  None of the changes I made were difficult to do, and many of them were changes I've learned I need on pretty much any pattern.  But there were some surprises in there.

I'm also not going to show you any pictures today of me wearing the dress, as I've just gotten back from a very long walk and don't quite have the energy to take photos!  Here it is on a hanger though:


I'm very happy with it :-)  I got several questions on Instagram about whether or not the fabric is vintage.  It is in fact quilting cotton!  I believe this print is no longer being produced, but it is called "Boxed Dozen" by Martha Negley.  I'd been in love with it for quite a while, and when I came across it on clearance last year on Fabric.com, I immediately bought 4 yards.

Instead, today I thought I'd share how I did the lining on my sleeveless dress.  I did a little google search and couldn't find any tutorials (on the first couple pages) for lining a sleeveless dress to the edge - most of what I saw was bias binding for the armholes.  I'm not a big fan of bias binding, looks-wise; I much prefer pieces that are lined to the edge.  But I can never remember how to do it and always have to look it up!  So as I was making this dress, I made sure to take pictures of each step to share with you and as a reference to myself in the future.  Because I think there will be many more sleeveless Emery dresses in my future :-)

Lining to the Edge on a Sleeveless Bodice

1.  Cut out your outer and lining bodice pieces, front and back.  Stay-stitch the necklines on all these pieces, as per the pattern instructions, and then sew and press the darts.

2.  Sew the backs to the fronts on both the outer and lining pieces at the shoulder seams.  Press these open, and trim the lining shoulder seams in half.

3.  With right sides together, sew the lining to the outer at the neckline, starting and stopping 1.25" from the edge.  I made a little mark at these positions to make it easier on myself.


*EDITED TO ADD:  After I made my second Emery bodice, I decided to try understitching the entire neckline at this point, after trimming and clipping the curves, but before sewing up the armholes.  Worked great!  I didn't do it that way the first time because I was following the directions from the lining book.

4.  Starting and stopping at the armhole curves, trim 1/8" off the edge of the armhole on the lining piece only, making it slightly narrower than the outer bodice.  They will look like this:


5.  Pull the edge of the lining over to match up with the edge of the outer, then sew the armhole seams.


6.  Grade the armhole and neckline seams, then clip the curves.  However, make sure not to cut away any of the neckline seam at the 1.25" you left unsewn - you'll need it to be there when you install the zipper.


7.  Now turn the lined bodice right side out, pulling the back through the shoulder to the front:



8.  Once the whole bodice has been turned right side out, give everything a nice press, making sure that the lining is pulled to the inside a bit.  This will be really easy to do at the armhole edges, since a bit of extra was trimmed away.  It will look like this - just a scant 1/16" of outer fabric showing:


Here's the whole bodice so far, pressed and ready to go on:


9.  Now, pin the lining side seams and outer side seams right sides together.  Sew this as one long, continuous seam:


Make sure to have the armhole seam allowance folded towards the outer side, like so:


Press these seams open.  Now you have a bodice that is completely constructed and lined to the edge, but open at the center back for the zipper installation.

10.  Assemble the skirt as per the instructions.  Then attach the skirt to the outer bodice only, keeping the lining pulled up out of the way:


11.  Finish the entire center back edge on both sides - I like to serge these edges.  Still keeping the lining pulled out of the way, install the back zipper as per the instructions.  The 1.25" opening you left at the neckline will make this easy to do.  Once the zipper is in, you can finish sewing that last 1.25" of the neck seam.

12.  Press up the waist edge of the lining 5/8" to prepare for attaching it to the waist.  Then flip the lining piece to the outside of the bodice so that the right sides are together.  Line up the center back edges and sew the lining to the zipper tape using a regular zipper foot.  Note:  you don't finish the center back edge of the lining, because you want to minimize bulk here.


13.  Trim the corner, and also the remainder of the neckline (not shown here), then turn out the dress to the right side.  Give everything a good press, then sew the waist edge of the lining to the waist seam of the dress by hand (or if you prefer, by stitching in the ditch from the right side).

Now all you've got left to do is to hem the dress!  You shouldn't need to do any understitching, as the trimmed armhole on the lining should keep the lining from peeking out.  If you want a little insurance understitching at the neckline, you can do this before closing up the lining in step 13.  You won't be able to understitch the whole neckline, but you should be able to do most of the front.  Or, you could understitch later by hand if you enjoy doing that - I sometimes do.

I'm very happy with the finish I got using this method, which I learned from Connie Long's Easy Guide to Sewing Linings.  I hope this will be helpful to some of you too!

35 comments:

  1. VERY helpful, thanks so much Gail! I'm definitely going to be using this on my next sleeveless dress. Your Emery dress looks lovely, can't wait to see pics of you wearing it. x

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    1. Thank you! I'm so glad these notes were helpful for you!

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  2. I can never remember how to do this! I have to look it up every single time! I greatly prefer lining to the edge over bias tape, too. It just looks sort of bulky and ugly! But lately I've been liking facings on top of my lining- it seems like the neckline has a nicer structure over time when there's a facing or a self-fabric yoke. Do you like facings, or not so much? They seem to be a love-hate thing with sewists!

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    1. I have to look it up every time too! I think that lining book is probably my most-referenced sewing book!

      I do like facings, but tend not to use them when there's a full lining, unless I really need the extra structure. This quilting cotton isn't stiff, but it's certainly not drapey. It was interesting to me that the neckline on this dress had no facings or interfacing, so I wanted to try it out and see how it worked. So far (after one wearing) I think it's OK!

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    2. That makes sense- if you've got enough structure from the fabric and you've staystitched it, it should be able to keep its shape.

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  3. So, so pretty Gail and perfect for the summer. Love the fabric, it will look so pretty on you.

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  4. It looks lovely ! I can't to see it on. Emery is my favourite dress bodice right now, it's so flattering :) thanks for the notes too ! Very timely, as I'm making another version right now. I've yet to put a zip in any of my versions though as I've no clue how to do it on a lined bodice lol ! Doh ! Xx

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    1. Thank you! You had mentioned before that you tend to omit zippers - it really boggles my mind! There's NO way I could get into or out of a dress with no zipper - my upper back and shoulders are just too wide for that! Good thing I don't mind inserting zippers!

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  5. Lovely dress! And I'm not sure but I think this is the same method I used on my pink linen dress. Tutorials are so hard for me to follow if I'm not going along with it and I tend to hoard them haha! What a lovely finish and cute fabric! :)

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    1. Thank you! I agree - part of this post is selfish: next time, I want to be able to just look at my pictures and be able to follow along without reading instructions!

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  6. Your dress is lovely! That print does look very vintage, and not like other stuff out there. I do my lining for sleeveless dresses the same way: I think I first saw instructions on The Slapdash Sewist's blog but it has been so long now I'm not sure!

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    1. Thank you! I was definitely inspired by all your recent Emery dresses. As I said, I didn't do a super-thorough search :-) But I figure it doesn't hurt to have the info out there in more than one place, right?

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  7. Very cute! Look forward to seeing it on you.

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  8. I love this method of lining sleeveless bodices, in fact I used it myself on the dress I'm currently making. I can't wait to see this on you, I'm sure it looks lovely.

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  9. Oh my goodness! I've used this method before, but I don't know why follow this method more often. There's one that I use, and I don't like. This one is much easier! Thank you for my aha moment!

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    1. Thanks, Kathy! So glad it was helpful for you!

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  10. What a great way to get back into sewing! Sometimes everything lines up perfectly with pattern, excitement level, and sewing expertise. Such a beautiful dress, the colors are great! Sometimes those fabric.com clearance finds are amazing – I like to take the risk with apparel fabrics when they are that low price. With quilting cotton, there is less of a risk though since you almost always know what you are getting in terms of weight and such.
    Thanks for the great tips on lining the bodice. I have a hard time visualizing the steps so your pictures were super helpful! I totally bookmarked: D

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    1. Thanks, Kristin! As I said, I'd been in love with this print for a while when I found it on Fabric.com. I originally saw it at one of the expensive fabric websites, so I figured it was probably a good quality fabric. Now what to do with the 2 yards I have left?

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  11. Oooh, very neat technique (I love having finished edges without having to use bias tape!) and that fabric is so vibrant and lovely!

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  12. This is so lovely. And so nice that you found a good pattern for such a fun print.

    The Emery Dress is on the list of items I'm working towards as my sewing improves. I'm looking forward to see this on you and reading more about the alterations you made.

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    1. Thank you, Angela! This is actually quite a simple dress to sew, and there's lots of online help via the sew-along on Christine's blog. I say if you like the style - go for it! I'll be making more of these too, so if there's any particular part of the construction you'd like photos of to help you along, just let me know!

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  13. Thank you for this! I always have to search to remember the steps for this process, and now I'll now exactly where to look! Very clear, concise instructions - bravo!

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    1. Hehehe! Me too! Now I won't have to weed through the book any more!

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  14. This is a terrific dress for lovely weather.

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  15. Cute,cute, cute! Thanks for the tutorial. I will take a closer look next time I make a lined sleeveless, and I wonder if it's much different from the version in the linings book?

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    1. Thank you! No, this information is from the directions in the lining book. The only reason I wanted to write it down is to add photos, and because in the book she flips back and forth between a lining with a facing, and a lining without. So I always have to wade through the stuff that doesn't apply to my project in order to get to the stuff that does!

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  16. This is EXACTLY what I needed for my most recent dress. I know how to do a clean-finish lined bodice when there's no closure, but I couldn't work out in my head how to do it with a zipper, so I ended up just finishing the sleeves with bias binding. But like you, I'm not a huge fan of bias binding. I'm pinning this to my sewing techniques board and can guarantee I'll be putting it to use soon!

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    1. I'm glad it was helpful for you, Gina! If you can find a copy, I really recommend the Connie Long linings book mentioned in the post - it is my most-referenced sewing book!

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