Blue Ridge Dress Sew Along 5- Binding the armholes, hemming, finishing touches

brdsewalongtitleimage It's the final stretch! How is it coming? Any steps making you want to pull your hair out? Today we're not using any new techniques, just practicing a few things from other steps and putting on the finishing touches!

Binding the armholes

Begin by placing your bias tape along the raw edge of the armscye 1.5in from the side seam, leaving a 3in tail.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/xtnpgbnalr70oju/day%205%20sewalong1.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Continue pinning around the armscye, gently stretching/curving around your thumbs as in previous steps, to help ease around the curves of the armscye.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/9scywcwjyfwlbsj/day%205%20sewalong2.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

End pinning 1.5in before reaching the side seam, leaving another 3in tail.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/pyjf2h05nprfmlu/day%205%20sewalong3.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Using the same method we used to join the binding at the waist seam in part 3, mark the point where the two tail ends meet.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/537pbq2brzlkvig/day%205%20sewalong4.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Keeping the marked spots together, rotate the right hand tail so the two tails are now perpendicular and the right one slides to the underside.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/fpsydgsolsgqpqs/day%205%20sewalong5.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Pin and sew from the marked point to the opposite corner.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/scbakwtzibrnt1f/day%205%20sewalong6.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Trim the seam allowance and press open, then sew the gap where the newly joined tail ends are. The bias should now be sewn along the entire armscye.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/rvsr2p2y9l78wx0/day%205%20sewalong7.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Just as we did while binding the neckline in part 4, press the bias tape toward the armscye, then turn the dress inside out to work from the wrong side. Fold the bias in to nearly meet the edge of the lining fabric.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/nipatvya29uejs7/day%205%20sewalong8.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Then fold down again to cover the line of stitching.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/ccyb61l3r4ghdb7/day%205%20sewalong9.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Continue around the entire armscye, pressing and pinning as you go.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/iagydgmhn6g08fc/day%205%20sewalong10.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Stitch in the ditch from the front as we did in part 4, catching the back side of the bias binding in the stitching. The first armhole is now bound!

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/rl9dq04wx8nc4rn/day%205%20sewalong11.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Repeat that process with the other arm hole.

Hemming

Press the bottom of the dress up by 1cm/ 3/8" toward the wrong side of the fabric.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/qot885hqr87utkw/day%205%20sewalong12.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Turn up by 2in /5cm and press.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/3vvjll4fct4jb5r/day%205%20sewalong13.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Finish hem by either machine stitching close to the folded edge, or hand stitching in place.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/v1rhxg40qon292o/day%205%20sewalong14.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Adding the button

Attaching the button is the last step! In order to get the best placement for the button I like to align the top neck at the center back opening, then push a pin through closest to the sewn end of the button loop.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/wulniam7nw5mc4r/day%205%20sewalong15.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

That point is where the center of your button should be. If you prefer to sew your button by machine, align the center of the button over this point before sewing. If hand sewing, we'll use that as a guide for starting our thread. Push your threaded needle through the point marked by the pin, then remove the pin and sew on the button.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/b8wike4qh6b4e1d/day%205%20sewalong16.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/rnp2dva00swioik/day%205%20sewalong17.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Slide that button through the loop- voila!

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/fb2cfwx4as8nart/day%205%20sewalong18.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

That's it- a lovely finished garment with no exposed seams. And it wasn't so hard, was it?

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/47nev3fj87j0tl2/day%205%20sewalong19.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/0qr1pj9dyzx6w47/day%205%20sewalong20.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Now the best part- go try that dress/tunic on the little lady it was intended for!

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/cli4cpbbzf5tgo8/day%205%20sewalong21.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Questions? Comments? Any tricky parts still have you perplexed? Send me an email at hollisue at gmail dot com, I'm happy to help! You can also join the Hello Holli Makers Facebook group to share your creations and get additional help!

Blue Ridge Dress Sew Along 4- Joining the shoulders/back, binding the neckline

brdsewalongtitleimage Part 4 of the Blue Ridge Dress Sew Along and we're getting to some of the finishing touches today! Get ready to sew the main and lining together at center back, join the shoulder seams, and bind the neckline!

Finishing the center back

This part seems tricky but it's actually really simple. The tricky part is maneuvering the fabric since the bodice is already joined at the lower center back and along the waist. Really though, we're simply sewing the back main and lining together, right sides together. To do this you pull the two apart (I'm showing the left side first below), sandwich the skirt portion of the dress between them, then pin and sew along the center back seam. The skirt will get in the way of sewing all the way down to the notch, so just sew as far down as you can. The rest will get closed in the next step.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/pln81ryw5zys8ib/day%204%20sewalong1.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/rfvxgh81q2wy7lv/day%204%20sewalong2.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/az9hf9y3moaio41/day%204%20sewalong4.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

I realized later that this step would be easier if you push the skirt toward the armscye instead of the center back. I tried that on my next one and was able to stitch even closer to the notch!

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/wavsg1y1fw4uc7g/day%204%20sewalong5.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Repeat with the other side, then turn right side out. It should look like this:

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/d9jxs48rakpjjdl/day%204%20sewalong6.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

That hole at the bottom will get closed up soon. Press, then topstitch along the center back, pivoting at the bottom of the opening and stitching back up the other side.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/kwx72hz8906idg4/day%204%20sewalong7.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Joining the shoulders

It is finally time to join those shoulders! This is another super simple step that seems more complicated than it is.

Moving the main bodice pieces out of the way, pin and sew the lining shoulders together, right sides together.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/wffk2maize02sft/day%204%20sewalong9.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Turn the dress inside out and repeat with the main bodice. Press seams open, then turn dress right side out.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/9zuj7puwxk92p24/day%204%20sewalong10.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Binding the neckline

Here's where things really start to look polished. (and please oh please forgive me for how out of focus these are!)

Starting at the back right neckline, align the bias strip with the raw edge of the neck, right sides together. Leave a 3/4in tail at the end for folding in the next step.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/heft6373ywnqosk/day%204%20sewalong11.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Continue pinning around the edge of the neck, using the technique we used on the front waist trim of curving around your fingers to get the binding to lay nice along the curve.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/46ujg51irlu9rwe/day%204%20sewalong12.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Once it's pinned all the way around the binding won't lay flat along the garment- this is good! We're working on a curve, so if it naturally seems to fold up that's ok. We're going to be folding it later to encase the raw edge.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/8m7qazb6xy97w5q/day%204%20sewalong13.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Leave a tail at the other end for creating the button loop. In the pattern I instruct to leave a 3in tail, but I actually found that to be a bit short as it didn't give a lot of wiggle room for button size. A 4in tail will be easier to work with in the coming steps. Sew binding to dress with a 1cm seam allowance.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/irrjztkwzicjryr/day%204%20sewalong14.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Fold the binding up toward the neckline and press.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/fp9nrlav7m2u52m/day%204%20sewalong15.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Turn the dress inside out- working from the inside will make this step easier. Fold the short tail toward the lining.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/hptb4u2cc3to2ta/day%204%20sewalong16.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Fold the bias binding down so the raw edge of the binding nearly meets the raw edge of the neckline.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/ajdrnzdxilf4lcv/day%204%20sewalong18.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Then fold the the binding down so the newly formed folded edge covers the line of stitching. I find it helpful to do this step at the iron and press as you go.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/1uzrgar18k1fixd/day%204%20sewalong19.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Press and pin all the way around, making sure to fold the long tail end as well.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/73uc2l8x3v58tud/day%204%20sewalong20.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

To secure the rest of the binding I like to stitch in the ditch. To do this you position the needle so the line of stitching is right where the binding meets the main fabric. You may also choose to hand stitch it from the back side, or use a narrow seam allowance on the front side to sew just inside where the binding and main fabric meet. Using the last method will mean a visible line of stitching, but it is the easier option.

Working from the front side of the dress, stitch in the ditch (or your preferred method) starting where the short tail end was and working around the neckline. End stitching 4in from the center back, then stitch the long tail end closed. The unstitched area is marked with pins in the image below. This is necessary for forming the button loop.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/ii1j5arb43ggft4/day%204%20sewalong21.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

You can see here that since the inside binding covered the original line of stitching, stitching in the ditch catches it just slightly to the side of the fold. If any areas of the binding did not get stitched down, go back and reposition the binding, pin, and sew over that area.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/lkak5p1tlaxdycc/day%204%20sewalong22.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

From the front it is nice and clean!

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/wby3vpfpaorrz9e/day%204%20sewalong23.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Now we're ready to form the button loop. The unsewn portion near the tail should look like this:

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/yb3j9eozyaaxav6/day%204%20sewalong24.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Grab your button and place it at the edge of the center back. Fold the tail down so the edge grazes the side of the button, and the width from the center back to the edge is the same as the width of the button. The tail should now be going straight down and the fold should be at a 45 degree angle.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/idd0qq91o60w1e9/day%204%20sewalong25.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Fold the tail back parallel to the binding. It should now have a small triangle at the end, like this:

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/96e7e3o7035vygl/day%204%20sewalong26.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Slip the end of the tail into the pocket formed by the unsewn portion of binding. Pin well, and make sure the binding still goes past the original line of stitching.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/quqyj3yylzz0sqp/day%204%20sewalong27.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Stitch in the ditch (or your preferred method) to secure the tail end and the binding. Secure the little folded triangle at the end of the button loop by sewing over the long straight edge of the triangle, otherwise your button loop will be too wide and will cause gaping at the center back.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/biehqp7uxrlqzes/day%204%20sewalong28.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Ta-dah! Neck- bound, button loop- created, and gorgeous to boot!

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/h4vlig3alpklx9m/day%204%20sewalong29.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Just a few more steps to completing the dress- how is it so far?

Blue Ridge Dress Sew Along 3- Joining the bodice and skirt, applying flat piping/bias trim

brdsewalongtitleimage Welcome back for another day of the Blue Ridge Dress Sew Along!

By the end of this sew along you'll have something resembling a dress!

When we left off, we had the bodice prepped and the gathering stitches sewn in to the skirt. Now it's time to work on joining those two together.

Gathering the skirt

Place the bodice lining inside the skirt with the right side of the bodice facing the wrong side of the skirt. Match the notches and side seams and pin in place.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/ezulxe0pot6agxg/day%203%20sewalong1.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/o8ni3xrfe5syi6a/day%203%20sewalong2.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Grab the top thread from both rows of stitches and begin to pull. Continue to pull those two threads, adjusting the gathers as you go, until each skirt section between pins matches the width of the bodice between the same pins. Secure with more pins. Sew a basting stitch to secure.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/fthgn2r59c2q0ci/day%203%20sewalong3.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/327yjou8eo8onpk/day%203%20sewalong4.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Applying flat piping/bias trim and joining the bodice and skirt

In this step we're using our bias tape as a sort of flat piping or trim. This will accent the waist seam curves and adds a fun pop of color. If you are using premade bias tape, unfold the raw edges from the center so the center seam remains and the raw edges meet. If using home made bias tape, fold and iron a section of your bias tape lengthwise, like this:

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/3feoxz98pg7tnt6/day%203%20sewalong6.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Beginning 1.5in from the side seam, leave a 3in tail at the beginning and pin the bias trim around the right side of the skirt, aligning the raw edges of the bias tape with the raw edge of the top of the skirt. If you are using narrow bias tape you'll need to align the seam line of the bias tape (the folds you just unfolded) with the 1cm seam line of the skirt top, otherwise this bias trim will end up significantly narrower looking than the bias binding around the neck and arm holes.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/sw737u6t90ls2a5/day%203%20sewalong7.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

When you get to the front curve of the bodice, you'll need to gently stretch the bias tape as you apply it, otherwise it will either form waves or stick out at the front. Essentially the curve of the bias tape in this portion needs to be smaller than the curve of the bodice, since the bias tape will fold down below that curve. I find that placing the bias tape between the skirt portion and my thumbs, and then curving both around as I gently pull the bias tape helps that front trim lay nice and flat. This is only necessary at the front, between the notches, since that is the sharpest curve.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/y9hmxnp9laamuhh/day%203%20sewalong8.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Continue pinning all the way around until 1.5in before the side seam where you began pinning. Leave another 3in tail at this end. Baste stitch from the beginning of the pinned section to the end, leaving the tails free.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/6nmvpndavv46su8/day%203%20sewalong9.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

(in my sample I skipped the basting, but it certainly helps to baste at this point to help keep everything in place!)

This part is a bit tricky- but you can do it! We're forming a diagonal join in the bias tape. You can join them straight, but joining on a diagonal reduces bulk and is less noticeable. I'll use this same method in later steps on the armscye binding, too. Pinch the two tail ends where they meet together at the side seam and mark with a pin or fabric marker.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/glqmd3wjuhb7js6/day%203%20sewalong10.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Unfold the tail ends so the outer fabric folds down and the inner layers still meet.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/g3pyru7q9jcwgy6/day%203%20sewalong11.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/6x3qamlyfgsmkru/day%203%20sewalong12.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Keeping the marked spots together, slowly rotate the right tail end so it is perpendicular to the left one. The right one will naturally go to the bottom while the left goes to the top, like it shows below:

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/g84eg88e3eqxu2n/day%203%20sewalong14.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Pin through both layers, then sew from the marked point to the opposite corner, like this:

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/zavpznmc0t5fxb8/day%203%20sewalong15.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Trim and press the seam open. I don't know where my focus was in this shot- sorry!

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/kmgnrtd3rxrk4i6/day%203%20sewalong17.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Refold the bias trim, pin in place, and baste. (again, I didn't baste when sewing my sample for these photos and you can certainly get by without it, but it is recommended to keep all layers in place.)

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/ykahgptz17qwxhi/day%203%20sewalong18.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

See that lovely join? Barely noticeable, and the extra bulk in that seam is now nicely distributed! Bonus: you don't have to worry if your diagonal join is totally centered over the skirt seam- a straight join would be very obvious if it wasn't completely lined up.

Next place the main bodice over the skirt with right sides together. Match the notches and side seams and pin in place.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/2d1n5bl0qql5ivc/day%203%20sewalong20.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

You now have the pieces layered- bodice lining on the inside, skirt, bias trim, and then main bodice on the outside.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/g8utdo84z9uz3pn/day%203%20sewalong21.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Sew through all the layers.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/379mogubh21z5tv/day%203%20sewalong22.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

It may be helpful at this point to grade or trim some layers of the seam allowance to help reduce bulk. If you do, take care to not cut too close to the line of stitching. The bodice and skirt are now joined, with some lovely bias trim applied- hooray! Flip both bodice pieces up and give it a good press. Remove any visible basting stitches.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/b7sqazxkz5oki7j/day%203%20sewalong23.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/zhzbq9wofconhd3/day%203%20sewalong24.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

So good, right? That waist seam is now enclosed between the layers of the bodice and skirt, with no additional pressing or hand sewing necessary. Ironing a lining seam allowance on a curve is one of my most hated sewing tasks, as it never ends up as smooth as I'd like and inevitably a fingertip is burned in the process. Let's revel in that nicely enclosed seam and get ready for our next step- finishing the back edges, joining the shoulder seams, and binding the neckline!

Blue Ridge Dress Sew Along 2- Constructing the bodice, prepping the skirt

brdsewalongtitleimage Hello friends!

Here we are at part 2 of the Blue Ridge Dress Sew Along. Part 1 is here, if you missed it! Ready to get sewing?

Oh, and before you mention it- I KNOW. I had to change up my photo background due to terribly inconsistent lighting in my dining room and this change is not my favorite. But hey, this is also my first sew along, so I solemnly swear before I do another I'll figure out a way prettier backdrop for photos. Deal? Ok. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Today we're going to begin the bodice and skirt construction. If you're new to the Blue Ridge Dress you may be thrown off a bit by my order of operation on the bodice. There are likely 10 more ways you could construct this dress, but the way I'm doing it will leave you with all concealed seams. It's a bit like a magic trick, so just trust me on this! Before we begin, don't forget these few things:

-transfer markings to all pattern pieces

-all seams are 1cm/ 3/8in unless otherwise noted

Bodice Construction

Gather your bodice main and bodice lining pieces and stay stitch along the armscye and neckline. Stay stitching is done by sewing inside the seam line (I instruct to use a 1/4in seam on this) using a longer stitch length. This helps stabilize a curve while you work on it. In this case, it is preventing the neck and armscye curves from stretching out during construction and binding, since there are quite a few steps before those edges are finished. Necklines should be stay stitched from the center out toward either shoulder to prevent the neckline from warping in one direction. It's a little extra work that helps create a nicer finished garment.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/y5ve5a8z4z2s62f/day%202%20sewalong1%20copy.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Next up, take the two main back bodice pieces with right sides together and sew from the center back bottom up to the notch. Repeat with the lining and press those seams open.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/xmr73031gv081wg/day%202%20sewalong2%20copy.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Align the bodice front and newly sewn bodice back at side seams and sew. Press seams open. Repeat with the lining. This is a good time to check and make sure the back opening won't be too low by trying the bodice on the model and holding it up by pinching closed at the shoulders. It seems that the larger sizes (6+) are more prone to this issue. If it appears it will be you can sew further up the center back on both the main and lining fabric. This will be possible, but much harder, after the bodice and skirt have been attached.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/6ttq6xqzh56fck0/day%202%20sewalong3%20copy.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Now set that lining down- we're not sewing the shoulder seams just yet!

Skirt Construction

Take your two skirt pieces- the back is the piece that curves down at the top and the front curves up at the top. Place these pieces WRONG sides together- yes, it seems counterintuitive, but we're about to sew a FRENCH SEAM here people! Never done one before? Don't worry- it's EASY and I'll walk you through it. Sew the side seams wrong sides together, then trim the seam allowance to 1/8in.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/6049r760c96pjdc/day%202%20sewalong4.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Now turn the skirt wrong side out (so, right sides together) and press those seams. Sew a new line of stitching at 1cm from the edge, encasing the first seam as you sew.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/3mav8m7erwgytbs/day%202%20sewalong5%20copy.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Now turn the skirt right sides out and press the seams to the back. Trim any stray threads poking through the seam. Congratulations, you have now sewn a French seam! That wasn't so bad, right?

Next up, we're sewing gathering stitches! There are lots of tips and tricks around the internet for gathering, but I'm a bit old fashioned here. Maybe some are better at this than I, but I hate when my gathers get crushed or folded over when they're sewn down. I like nice, even gathers that don't bunch in any one area. The best way I've found to do that is to sew to rows of gathering stitches on either side of the seam line, so that's what I'll show you now. Of course, if you have a tried and true way to gather, you do your thang!

Beginning near the side seam, sew the first row of gathering stitches, using a longer basting stitch, at 1/4" from the edge. When you come back around to the beginning sew 1in past where your stitches began but just to the side of them, never crossing the line of stitching. Begin the second row of gathering stitches using a 1/2in seam allowance where the first row of stitching began. Continue around, sewing past the beginning of that row by 1 in but sewing to the other side of the stitches, again never crossing the line of stitches. Confused? That's why I've got pictures!

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/6gmndx3vn6fqhky/day%202%20sewalong6%20copy.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

As you can hopefully see, there is a 1 inch section of stitches where there are 4 rows of stitching. This will help ensure even gathering, as often I find the gathering at the ends of the row of stitching comes "un gathered" before it is sewn together, resulting in an area that is flat. All four tail ends of the thread are free and none of the stitching has been sewn over.

[embed]https://www.dropbox.com/s/su9geum7u9n2mnx/day%202%20sewalong7%20copy.jpg?dl=0[/embed]

Now we are prepped and ready to join the bodice and skirt pieces in part 3!

Blue Ridge Dress Sew Along - Prepping the pattern, making bias tape

brdsewalongtitleimage I'm so excited for day 1 of the sew along! Happy Labor day to all my friends in the US- I'm off enjoying a beach day before the weather turns on us, but I'll be checking in later to answer questions so please let me know if anything is unclear or you need additional help!

Today we're going to talk about selecting a size, gathering your supplies, printing and prepping pattern pieces, and preparing homemade bias tape. Ready? Let's go!

Selecting a size:

This is the most important part of getting a good fit. Are you ready? MEASURE! Yes, I base my size chart off of current ASTM standards, but guess what? Every pattern maker/brand/clothing manufacturer has their own size chart and fit, even ones based on the same standards. I know it's tempting to select the size your child wears in ready to wear, particularly if you're a night time sewer like me and have a sleeping child. Measuring your child is the best way to ensure you're making the right size. You should choose a size based on chest measurement, meaning the circumference around the fullest part of the chest. If you're making the Blue Ridge Dress for someone with a developing bust, the upper bust measurement seems to be more accurate, as the gathered part will skim over the developing bust. I've noted the height so you can lengthen or shorten the selected size based on your own child's height. To lengthen the skirt of say, a size 2 to a size 4 length, I usually measure the difference between those two skirt pieces and add that amount to the bottom of the hem. Again, a 2in hem in included so it is possible to sew a standard size and lengthen to within a few sizes just by using a narrower hem. Blue Ridge Dress instructions2

Gathering Supplies:

Once you've selected the proper size you can gather supplies. This dress is designed for light to mid weight wovens. Quilting cotton, chambray, linen, lightweight wool, voile, and rayon would all be lovely choices. The fabric requirements are listed above and are also on page 3 of the instructions. In addition to the main fabric and the bodice lining, if you choose to make your own bias tape (which I recommend and will detail in this post) you'll need fabric for that. My tutorial shows you how to make the bias tape using a fat quarter (18x22in) but you can follow the same process with other square or rectangular scraps. A fat quarter yields about 5 yards finished bias tape, which is plenty for any size of the Blue Ridge Dress. If you buy premade double fold bias tape (narrow or wide) you'll need one package (3yds) for sizes 12m-5, and between 3-4 yards for sizes 6-14. Narrow double fold bias tape can be used but you'll need to take caution when applying it to the waist seam. I'll detail that step later in the sew along. Additional notions include 1 button, roughly 3/8-5/8in. Thread, pins, sewing machine, iron, fabric marker, seam gauge, scissors, and other basic sewing supplies are assumed. A clear quilting ruler is very helpful in making the bias tape.

Printing and Prepping the Pattern:

This pattern contains two files- one for the instructions and one for the pattern pieces. This is based on my own personal preference- I don't like having to look up which page the pattern pieces start on before printing. Open the pattern file in Adobe Acrobat. You can print the entire pattern by selecting print, and in the print options double checking that there is no scaling. I have a Mac and my options look like this:

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I make sure to select "actual size" in the size options. You should print the first page first and measure the test square to ensure accurate printing.

One fun option I've included in my pattern is the ability to print layers, which means each size can be printed separately. This works great if you know you only need one size and don't want to bother with trying to identify which line to cut on, and don't want to waste paper. You can select multiple sizes if need be, also. I've included a print guide detailing which pages to print for each size so that, for instance, if you are printing the smallest size you won't have all the extra paper where the size 14 would normally be.

To print using layers, before opening the print dialog select the icon on the left, second from the bottom, that looks like two sheets of paper.

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Once you click that icon you'll see the individual layers pop up, like this:

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Each of those layers corresponds with a size, and the bottom two are for pattern markings. Each layer with an eye next to it is what is visible, so unselect any sizes you DON'T want to print. Make sure the Master and Tiling layers stay selected so you have all the necessary markings. After selecting which layers to print you can move to the print dialog as outlined above.

Once printed you'll need to assemble your pattern. I prefer to cut along the bottom edge and right side lines on each page, but folding also works. I use a small scale paper cutter to make it quicker. After cutting you'll assemble and tape the pages in a 5 across, 5 down grid. I start with the bottom right- page 25- and work left along each row and then assemble the rows together from the bottom up, which seems to work well if you've cut the bottom and right edges as I do. Match the dark grey circles  as you join each page.

Once it's assembled you can cut out the pattern pieces or trace and cut if you prefer. Your pieces are now ready to be cut!

Cutting guides are included in the pattern- do people use those? I never do. From the main fabric you'll need one each of the skirt front, skirt back, and bodice front, all cut on the fold. Cut 2 of the bodice back, mirror images. Only the bodice is lined so you'll need one bodice front cut on the fold and 2 bodice back pieces, again mirrored.

Making Homemade Bias Tape:

During the testing process I encouraged my testers to use home made bias tape, and the consensus from all was that those who did loved the result, and those who didn't  thought they would have liked that better. The reason? It lays nicer, it's softer, and really, it isn't that hard to make. I'm going to show you a way to make continuous bias tape so you don't have to cut a bunch of strips and sew them all together. Store bought tape is convenient (and believe me, I've used my fair share!) but the stiffness of that polyester against the arm and neck is pretty unpleasant. While you certainly can fold and iron your bias tape as it comes from the store, I'll show you how to apply it without ironing first, saving yourself a few steps and the risk of burnt fingers. Ready?

Start with your fat quarter or other scrap fabric.

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Fold one corner up to meet the top edge, forming a triangle.

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Cut along the fold

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Then arrange them so the original right edge of the fabric (currently right side of the triangle) is now aligned in the center with the edge of the other piece. Face the two pieces right sides together with those two center edges aligned, and sew a 1cm seam.

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Iron the seam open, and using the cut edge as a guide, mark a line every 4.5cm, or 1 3/4in.

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Continue across the entire piece.

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At the end there will likely be a bit narrower than 4.5cm. Go ahead and cut that part off. day 1 sewalong8

Here's where things get fancy. Find your top and bottom edges, and start to align the lines you've marked. Rather than matching the left edge of the bottom with the same edge of the top, offset by one marking. This means the left edge of the bottom will align with the first line of the top edge.

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Right sides should be together as you prepare to sew this seam.

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I find it helpful to actually offset the alignment a bit- meaning the lines will cross at the seam allowance rather than the edge. On the image below I've marked the line onto the front of the fabric to better show how this works. It may be helpful to place the pin through one layer of fabric along the marked line at the seam allowance, then through the other layer on the marked line at the seam allowance, then slide the layers together and complete pinning. Gosh that's so much easier to show than explain.

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Do this at each intersecting line across the edge.

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Sew the seam together and press open. Next is the fun part- start cutting! Cut along the lines starting at one edge and keep cutting along the line.

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Keep cutting...

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And cutting...

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The way we've sewn it has joined the lines so they now essentially form one long coiled line. Cool right? Just keep cutting...

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Until VOILA! One long strip of bias cut fabric, ready for use.

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You can leave it in a heap or fold it up nice, this stuff is prepped and ready for use! Everything is now prepped and ready so we can begin sewing tomorrow for Part 2!

Any questions? Anyone new to making continuous bias tape? It's my new favorite trick!