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
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.
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.
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.
Now set that lining down- we're not sewing the shoulder seams just yet!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Now we are prepped and ready to join the bodice and skirt pieces in part 3!