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Today I’ll show you how to sew a simple dress and also I’d like to introduce you into something new – an instruction of making the simplest bust darts and few tips which, I hope, will enable you to effortlessly finish a V-neck with welt.

Usually I’m not really into printed type of fabrics but when the pattern is unique then I can go totally crazy about it – and that’s exactly how it was with this lightweight jersey with a print of cable knits and stripes. Using this kind of fabric you can only sew something with a pinch of salt. So wanting to make something contrastive to this type of a sweater pattern I decided to sew a mini dress out of it. And because of the colors and the type of fabric I had to go more for a sporty-teenage kind of look. To make it not feel like we’re in the ice-cream shop (I mean the stripes colors: apricot, vanilla, strawberry, raspberry, wild strawberry) I finished neckline and sleeves with a plain color (lemon- to balance the sweetness ;). As the result of making the welts’ widths different, they’re more of smooth, diagonal shape, and they emphasize the neckline and armholes lines – it makes a dress look a lot more feminine than it would with straight lines and with a trimming of same width – remember, the devil’s in the detail.

 

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When I finished sewing this dress I sent a picture of it to my friend and she replied right back saying that an African girl would look best posing in it. It didn’t take me long to figure out who this girl should be – Ewa  is Polish, but she’s got African roots. And after this photo shoot I think, I just found a new muse :) She is great on the set. So Kaśka (my friend) was definitely right. What you think guys, doesn’t Ewa look in this dress AMAZING!!

 

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You’ll need:

  • 1,5 m wide fabric, the length depends on how long you want the dress to be (dress’s length + extra 20 cm)
  • Fabric for the finish – 20 cm of fabric with elastane or a rib knit fabric will definitely be enough, its thickness should match with the basis fabric.
  • Pattern paper, ruler, pencil.
  • Threads, tailor’s scissors, tailor’s tape measure, tailor’s chalk.
  • Your T-shirt – pick a well – fitted one, but yet not too tight, and so long, taht it will cover half of your bum. We’ll use it as a base for the pattern, that’s why it should be reflecting your body measurements well. If you’re sewing a dress from a very elastic fabric, T-shirt might be more fitted then.

 

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The pattern:

You can of course sew the dress with no darts, but then remember that well-fitted clothes may wrinkle on the back, and on the front armhole – especially if you’ve got bigger bust. So if you want to make darts, follow the steps below and sew the prototype of the bodice first, to check the width and position of darts.

1. Copy the pattern from your T-shirt. Here you can find an instruction: LINK. Make a pattern for half of the T-shirt. Mark the front and back neckline. Measure the T-shirt’s bottom. It should be of 1/4 of your hip width, if it’s narrower then widen the pattern.

2. First make a pattern for the back panel of the dress. Given dimensions are right for 36/38 size but you can modify them as you like:

  • A- figure out the length from the highest point of the shoulder- on the pattern it’s the highest point of the neckline, and on the body it’s an arch between neck and shoulder- measure this length on the back of the dress.
  • B- figure out the width of dress’s bottom. It’d be the best if it was narrower than the width on hips (1 – 2 cm), so that it’ll have a pencil shape. If the widest part of your figure is on thighs and not on bum, then don’t narrow it- you’ll do it later while trying on the dress and  then you’ll adapt it to your shape
  • C figure out the shoulder’s center point
  • D figure out the strap’s width, so that its center part will be placed on the middle of the shoulder. Keep in mind that you’ll be adding the ribbings later (about 1  cm of them on the neckline and about 3 cm on the shoulder). Draw a new neckline, so that it’ll cross the center line at a right angle, and draw a new armhole, which will be a soft arch.

3. Redraw the pattern of dress’s back

4. Begin drawing the front basing on the half of the T-shirt

  • E figure out the neckline’s depth- remember that you will later sew the binding on, which will be of 3 cm wide.
  • F and G figure out the apex point, it’s the place where dart ends. When it comes to the bust darts then the middle point of bust is moved a little to the armhole side- about 3 cm. You can either measure it with a tape or put on a T-shirt ,which you were copying the pattern from, and mark this point with chalk. Then recreate this point on the pattern. If you’re measuring on your body: F- is the distance from the highest point on the shoulder to the apex, G is the half of width between the apex of both breasts (it’s called apex to apex) extended with 3 cm – so that the darts’ endings won’t be too close to each other.
  • H is of the same length as darts (J in next step). For smaller bust 4 cm will be enough, for bigger 6 cm, for very big 8 cm. Make sure that the front of the dress is longer than the back- when it comes to tight dressed like this one , the front will go up on the bust. That’s why it has to be a little longer. Thanks to the dart, sides of back and front will be of the same length and after sewing it you’ll receive sticking out lines on the bust.
  • I is the height where the dart ends – about 4 cm under armhole.

5. Combine the apex point with the dart’s height under the armhole, drawing a dart’s leg (blue line in the picture). Measure the width of your dart  (J = H) and draw the second leg (pink line in the picture).

 

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6. Cut off the bodice at the dart’s upper leg height. Pin the paper on the apex point – it will be your axis of rotation in next step.

7. True your dart- that means pivot the dress’s bodice, so that the upper and lower leg of dart will touch – it’s very important for apexes of the upper and lower part of the dress, to touch- since this point is your axis of rotation!

8. Adjust the dress’s back pattern (which you’ve cut out previously), so that its center and bottom lines, as well as the underarm, will cover with front pattern (the back is the blue contour in the picture). Draw a side line on the front pattern (K), which will be accurate with the side line of the back.

9. Erase a part of dart’s lower leg, which comes out of the side line. Attach a pink piece to the bodice, so that front and back will match with their side patterns.

10. Pivot the bodice again to the root position from the step no.6. Remember that the apex point is the axis of rotation.

 

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11. Half of the front pattern with dart is ready.

12. Add a mirror image of the front. Measure the circumference of front neckline M, and of the armhole O. You should be measuring with a tape placed horizontally along to the edge- see how to measure the neckline in one of the previous posts LINK.

13. Add a mirror image to the back pattern as well and measure circumferences of neckline N and armhole P – if you didn’t differentiate armholes before O and P, they’ll be the same.

14. These are the trimming elements. They’ll be pressed horizontally in half before sewing:

  • A rectangle is a binding for the bottom finish: R is the width of front’s bottom + the width of back’s bottom, reduced about 5-8%, so that the binding will gather the bottom of your dress a little, S is 2 x the binding’s width.
  • Another element is the neckline’s welt: T is (M+N) – 10 to 20%- necklines’ circumferences have to be reduced about 10-20%. It all depends on the welts’ elasticity- the more elastic it is, the shorter the strip should be. You can read more about measuring the neckline circumference and about adjusting the welt in one of the previous posts LINK. U is 2 x of welts’ width at the neckline’s deepest point = 8 cm, W is 2 x of the back welt width = 1,5 cm.
  • Two last elements are armholes welts: Y is 2 x of the shoulder’s ribbing width = 6 cm, X is 2 x of the underarm’s width = 1 cm. Z is (O+P) – 10 to 20% – same as it was with neckline’s ribbing.

 

Cutting:

Cut out all the elements with 1 cm of seam allowance. Each of them should stretch across (lay them on the fabric in the same direction like in the last picture with patterns). Note! Don’t cut out the darts but draw them and cut the fabric while lengthening the side seam allowances – look: picture below.

 

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Sewing:

Start with darts. You can just fold them in half along to the dart’s axis and sew the dart’s legs together. You can also help yourself with a tacking stitch: insert the needle on the dart’s top from the right to the wrong side of the dress.

 

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Make a diagonal tacking stitch, so that on the wrong side the stitch will go along to the dart’s legs, and on the right side it’ll go across. The vertical stitches on the right side should be possibly perpendicular to the dart’s axis.

 

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When you’ll pull both of thread endings, the tacking stitch will close, then the dart’s legs will cover each other perfectly. Sew the darts starting from the side and finishing on the apex. It’s important to sew very carefully to the very edge of the fabric. In this way you’ll avoid a pin tuck at the top of the dart. The end of stitch should be softly going near the edge – if the stitch will cross the edge then at too acute angle, you’ll receive a pucker/bubble on the right side.

 

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Pin the back and front. After making darts the patterns of front and back won’t be the same. But shoulders and sides will be of the same shape.

 

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Sew shoulders and sides. Use an overlock or  a regular machine and sew with a zigzag stitch then.

 

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Now it’s time for the neckline! Press the binding lengthwise in half. The fold in the binding should be facing up and the raw edges should be facing down.

 

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Slide the band  about 1 cm underneath the neckline, so that its cusp will be placed in the middle of neckline (look below on the last picture). Draw a vertical line from neckline’s deepest point.

 

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Do the same thing with the other end of binding. Overlap the two ends  where the V-neck will be, so that vertical lines will be placed in the middle of  V-neck. Seam allowances should be facing up.

 

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Vertical lines are the ones, which will be the place of sewing the ends of binding to receive the V-neck shape. They should be symmetrical on both ends. Place the binding in such a way, that the vertical lines will be exactly on the V-necks deepest point. Seam allowances should be facing up. The rest of binding should be formed in the V-neck shape. This is the way to help you see, if the vertical sewing lines are at a right angle. If everything went well (bindings should be formed exactly in the same way as the neckline). Now you can move to the next step. If it’s needed you can change the angle, at which you’ll sew the binding’s ends together.

 

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Cut off unnecessary extras- remember to keep 1 cm of seam allowances.

 

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Fold the binding in half, so that it’ll be left side out (I draw lines on right side of fabric). Sew the ends together.

 

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After turning it right side out, and folding along ironing line in half, you should receive a V-neck shape. Cut off unnecessary extras. I’ve additionally soften the “V” a little.

 

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Now the hardest part. To sew on the V ribbing you have to put some work in it. Place the binding in such a way, that this sharp point  of  V-neck in dress and binding will touch. Pin it. Insert the maschine needle on the binding’s stitch, 1 cm from the edge. This will be the place of neckline’s deepest point . Remove the pin.

 

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Now lift the presser foot and pivot the binding, so that its edge will overlap with the edge of neckline’s deepest part. Make a 3 cm long stitch, and remember about securing at the beginning and at the end of stitch (back and forth sewing).

 

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The first stitch is done. Now snip a bit of seam allowance on the neckline’s deepest point. Cut the notch of V horizontally and end the snip about 2 mm from the stitch beginning.

 

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Insert the sewing machine needle exactly in the same point like you did before- at the beginning of first stitch. Lift the presser foot and this time pivot the dress in such a way, that the edge of neckline and binding will overlap on the other side of the V. Using tweezers even the fabric underneath, where you might easily receive an overlap. Make sure that the dress is laying completely smoothly underneath the presser foot and the binding.

 

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Make a 3cm stitch. As you can see in the picture below, even I didn’t do that completely straight. But if everything looks fine on the right side, then it doesn’t matter if you’ve done it a little crooked ;P

 

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The hardest part is behind you. Now pin the rest of neckline, distribute evenly between pins the difference in the circumferences of binding and neckline.

 

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First sew on the regular machine, while stretching gently the binding to the neckline’s width. But don’t be stretching out the neckline while doing that.

 

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Now  the armholes’ welts. Fold the bindings in half, so that they will be turned left side out. Sew the shorter edges together. Then press bindings along in half on right side.

 

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Pin them around the armholes, just like you did with the binding around the neckline. The widest point should be on the shoulder’s highest point and the narrowest on the underarm. After sewing it , cut off the seam allowances in all bindings wit overlock or scissors.  If after pressing they will be curling up, then sew through on the right side around neckline and armholes, to sew the seam allowances underneath.

 

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Prepare the band to finish the bottom. Fold it in half so that its right side of fabric will be placed inside. Sew the shorter edges together. Then press the band vertically in half.

 

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Pin it all around the dress’s bottom, so that its raw edges will match wilh dress bottom edge. Even the differences  of the circumferences of band and dress’s bottom between pins. You can sew right away with overlock here, since the stitch is straight. After sewing it, press the band downwards.

 

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The dress is done! I’d say that the difficulty level of this tutorial was like 3,5, so it was the biggest challenge so far on my blog. If we’re talking about sewing and the whole construction – we’re definitely  progressing! Looking simple, but in fact there’s pretty much work with it, right? Good luck with V-necks and darts!

 

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This tutorial was prepared for you by Janek

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He was using Brother Innov-is 15 sewing machine and Brother 1034D overlock.

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