Moving on with the Dress Construction

In this post we tackle the skirt assembly.  Sewing the lace or any other edging, like piping, onto a garment is easier if you draw the pattern outline on the fabric and pin the edging along the line, rather than a raw edge.

Applying edging

Here are the two together for comparison.  The one on the bottom is way easier to pin and to stitch than the top one.

Different ways to apply lace and edging

Below you can see how, by using a 1/4″ foot on the machine, I am able to stitch  with the seam guide right on top of the drawn line.  This ensures that the lace is applied uniformly and that the fabric is not pulled out of shape.

Stitching on edging with 1/4" foot

When I assemble my dresses, I prefer to use a french seam whenever I can, especially on the long side seams.  This type of seam allows you to hide all the raw edges along the seam and makes a more professional looking garment.

To make a french seam (on a 5/8″ seam allowance), sew a 1/4″ seam with wrong sides together.  Clean up the edge, removing any stray threads and turn the garment with right sides together and press the seam.  Go back to the machine and stitch the seam again using a scant 3/8″ seam allowance.  See two photos below.

French seam first edge

French seam second seam

Remember in the last post that I was confused about the hem band and that I thought there might be an error in the pattern?  Well, like I said at the time, I could be wrong and I usually am about those things.  The problem, after lots of rereading the pattern directions was not the number of hem bands to cut (2 vs. 4), but rather the poorly written directions for assembly.  The drawings are fine, but the directions are for several different dresses and they skip back and forth frequently, which really makes the whole process more frustrating than it should be.  This finally led me to break out the sticky notes and cover up the portions of the pattern that did not pertain to the dress I was working on.  After that, the dress went together quite quickly and smoothly.

Here was the precise issue.  In all the time I have been making girl’s dresses, I have always done hem bands with facings, meaning that I would need to cut 4 pieces (2 bands and 2 facings).  On this pattern, the hem band is sewn in such a way as to use the skirt as the facing for the hem band, so the pattern was correct in stating “cut two.”  In the photo below, photo 28 and 29 are NOT the dress I am working on.  However, they are right below the photo (27) of the dress I am working on, so EVERY time you look at the pattern for reference, you get confused as to how it should look.  Photo 27 and 28 are NOT the same dress…

Confusing skirt instructions

In the photos below, the hem band is sewn with the right side facing the wrong side of the skirt.  Then the hem band is flipped around to the front of the skirt and top-stitched in place.  Adding to my confusion, the hem band on this dress has scallops that face upwards when finished, rather than down (see photo confusion above).


Finally, we have to have a placket in the back of the skirt.  This is the opening just below the buttons on the back of yoke (or top).  The directions in most patterns are pretty clear about how to do this, so I will leave you with a photo of mine for reference.  Note how the split edge of the skirt is not lined up with the edge of the placket facing, but drops down to the edge of the seam allowance and then back out again.


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