July 3, 2012

2-in-1 Sewalong: Wrap Dress Neckline

OK you guys, I decided to go out on a limb and try something new here. I was going to show you how to put elastic in the neckline area of the wrap dress version of Simplicity 1880 to keep it from gaping, but in all actuality I started working on it and it just never quite meshed. So that's a technique that I need to work on a little more - hey I never said I was perfect. Right....? Anyway, then I started rethinking the neckline and decided on a bias binding technique that I had yet to try. I decided to give it a whirl on my wrap dress. End result? Ummmm GORGEOUS! I don't know about you, but I have such a problem with bias binding. It always ends up looking like garbage. Seriously. The thing with bias binding on drapey fabric is that it gets all warped and starts looking thin in one area and fat in another. It's the nature of the beast. So we're going to work on counteracting that today. Let's get started.

Step 1 ~ First you need to trim the seam allowance off of the neckline for the wrap dress. By the way, it's only 3/8".

Step 2 ~ Now you need to figure out how wide you want your bias binding to be. I picked 3/8", which is .375 in decimals. Take that number and times it by 8 and you have the width of the bias strips you need to cut. My bias strips are 3". Cut 3 of those.

Step 3 ~ Measure the back section of the neckline, from shoulder seamline to shoulder seamline. Mine measured 6 1/2". From there take 1" away from that, which would leave me with 5 1/2". I know we're doing a bit of math here, but really it all has a purpose. Promise.

This 5 1/2 inches I'm left with is what I'm going to cut one of the strips of bias to be - meaning that it would then be 3" wide by 5 1/2 long. Now you should have 3 bias strips - one that is short and two that are long and at least as long as the front neckline, so its good to measure that section too. Alright?

Step 4 ~ Now it's time to sew the bias strips together. With right sides together, match up one end of the short bias strip with another end of one of the longer bias strips and give it a 1/2" seam allowance straight down the edge. And just so you know, I sew my bias strips together like this because I think sewing them with a seam that's on the diagonal is a bunch of malarkey. I really do - and you know what I'm talking about if you've done this with drapey fabric - quelle nightmare! So forget that and just stitch the bias strips together down the straight edge and it works out just as well (if not better in my opinion).

Now returning to stitching the bias strips together - stitch each right sides together until you end up with one giant strip that has the small strip in the middle. Make sense? Now press the seams open in your bias strip and let's move onto attaching it to the neckline.

Step 5 ~ Fold the bias strip in half, but don't press it in half - we'll do that later. Just fold it in half, wrong sides together, for now. Now we're going to take our folded bias strip and with the small strip in center, we're going to line it up with the back of the neckline so that the bias strip seamlines are about 1" off of the shoulder seamline with the right side of the bias strip to the wrong side of your neckline. Why, you might be asking? This is to avert having the seam of the bias tape directly over the top of the shoulder seamline which will reduce bulk in the end and no one needs extra bulk anywhere do they?

Pin in place and then continue to pin the folded bias strip in place down the rest of the neckline. Again, right side of bias strip to wrong side of neckline edge, raw edges all together now. Now stitch in place with whatever amount of seamline you picked in step 2 - mine was 3/8".

Step 6 ~ Press the bias strip away from the neckline edge, making sure that you don't yet press the fold in the bias strip yet. Seriously, don't press the bias strip fold yet because we're going to turn it in the next step and we need to allow for turn of the cloth.

Step 7 ~ Fold the bias tape to the front and pin into your ironing board. Then take your steamy hot iron and steam it in place. Pretty neat trick huh?

Step 8 ~ From here, you can hand baste down the front of the garment to keep the bias binding in place or you can even use a little steam-a-seam to tack the seam down and then edgestitch along the fold of the bias binding.

Not bad, no?

So, now you just need to baste the fronts together, matching the notches. Then stitch the skirt to the bodice. I know. Now you can try on the full dress. My version is looking rather gorgeous if I do say so myself. I nearly fainted from the luxury of the silk when I tried it on today. Sigh. Ok, Ok enough! You've seen this version of Simplicity 1880 quite a bit lately, so its time we took a break and let you see a little of my white linen shirt dress version.

Meet me back here tomorrow!
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