On May 4th, I shared several cotton fabrics that I intended to make into summer dresses for myself. I really like lemon prints so, of course, I started with the lemon fabric.
If you don’t remember, this is the pattern that I wanted to make. The version with the sleeves and collar.
Being super excited to make something for myself, I dove right into cutting out the pattern and fabric. I didn’t even stop to take pictures until the dress was at this point:
I still needed to cut out the actual sleeves. I had plenty of fabric to work with. However, I only had enough fabric with the pattern in the correct direction to cut out one sleeve.
I wrote myself a note to purchase more fabric from Grandma’s Attic when I went to Dalles for the next Quilt Club. Moving on to cutting out the contrasting fabric for the collar, sleeve cuffs and reveres.
Cutting the collar was interesting. I needed to cut it on the fold while also following the labelled grain-line. To do this I had to pin the pattern to one layer of the fabric on the grain-line. Then manipulate the fabric in such a way to have it also be on the fold.
Having been sewing for 45 years, I have never seen this before. It is fun learning new things!
The pattern instructions are a reprint of the originals from 1930. They definitely don’t walk through, step-by-step, the process of piecing together the collar & revers. I went to the internet to help me out. From what I could find, one of the modern ways of doing a similar look is to cut the collar as one piece with the “reverse” or lapel. The second way is to have the lapel cut, as one piece, with the dress fronts. In fact, it took me a long while to find a video that helped with revers and not a “reverse”. Neither of these techniques would work in this instance.
I did learn about under stitching! Very useful for keeping the facings from rolling out into full view.
In my great wisdom, I thought I knew how to attach a collar and jumped right in without double checking with the instructions. So… it was wrong. Well not really wrong, just not as the pattern called for. This did cause issues a little later on.
Having re-learned the lesson about instructions, I read and re-read them. Attaching the revers as shown was actually much easier than I was making it out to be. Again, I deviated from the instructions (will I ever learn?). Wanting the collar and revers to lay flat and not flop about, they were sewn together. It looked pretty good.
The raw edges of the revers were tidied up by covering them by bias tape. At this point, the trouble with using a modern way to sew on the collar made itself abundantly clear. There were no raw edges on the collar, they had already been hidden away. I could have taken the bias tape up the revers and stop at the edges of the collar, but that would have been abrupt and jarring to the eye. I did manage to make the application continuous around the hole neck edge. It only 3 times. Of hand stitching. Stitching and ripping out. It did finally turned out well, I thought.
When I was able to purchase more of the lemon fabric, I also purchased some blue fabric that matched the blue. Intending to use this for the ties.
The pattern said to “join sleeve to arm hole matching notches”. ok. There was a large difference in the hole and the sleeve head. Too much to just “ease” it in. There will need to be gathers. Went back to look at the pattern to see what the look of the sleeves was. They didn’t really appear to be gathered. This lead me to do the gathers more on the back of the sleeve while still matching all notches. From a quick try-on, it doesn’t appear to affect the range of motion in the armpit area. Good to go!
Onto the ties. Looking nearly everywhere, the blue fabric is now MIA. Grrr… White ties it is! There was no actual pattern piece for these. Just the instructions to cut a piece of fabric so long by so wide. Easy-peasy. Cutting two pieces of each size (the left and right ties are different lengths), I quickly sewed the ties. Without double checking the instructions (are you detecting a theme here?). Yaaaaaaah, it was supposed to be only one of each size folded in half lengthwise. The seam ripper has been my friend on this project. Good thing I used a REALLY SMALL stitch length to sew them up.
To make finished edges at the point of attachment for the ties, they were sewn in the “wrong” direction, seam allowances trimmed close, the ties folded back over the raw edges and top stitched down.
Because this is a wrap around dress, an opening would need to be made for the tie to go through. Placement of this opening showed on the pattern as being a little forward of the side seam. Because I had finished the dress front turnovers differently from the instructions (big surprise), it was easier to just open up the side seam. To get the correct placement for this opening, I laid the tie back against the dress and marked it with a pencil.
All the side seams had been finished as French seams, which includes two seams that enclose the raw edges.
Carefully picking both lines of stitching between pencil marks created the opening.
Using the tie, I double checked that the opening was the correct size.
To be able to turn under the seam allowances to finish the opening I had to clip the French seams at the top and bottom of the opening. I used Frey Check on these raw edges.
Now it was again time for a try-on to determine hem length. That is when I realized that having the collar and revers sewn to each other made the whole top of the dress look really stiff. This was supposed to be a comfortable cotton house dress. Having it looking stiff was definitely not my intention.