McCalls 4440 Sew Along - Day 2

Good afternoon sewers! I apologize for posting so late in the day - I've been a bit under-the-weather today so I haven't been as productive as I would have liked. Nevertheless, I've begun sewing my dress and I hope you have too! Just a reminder, you can post any questions you have in comments and, even if it's something I haven't gone over, I'll get to it quickly!

So, yesterday, we cut out our fabric, right sides together. That was so tracing the pattern markings today would be easier. The best way to transfer the markings (dots, dart lines, etc) is to lay your fabric, pattern still pinned, onto a [right-side up] piece of transfer paper. Then, using a dressmaker's ruler as a guide and a tracing wheel, carefully trace the dart lines. For the dots, you can either use the wheel to trace an 'x' where the dot should go or you can use a washable fabric pen to draw the dots through the pattern paper. Now, unpin your pattern and flip your fabric. The marks (those done with the wheel) should now be visable. Trace those lines to create identical ones on the other half of the fabric. (If you used a pen for the dots, you'll need to line the pattern back up to draw them on the other side.)

Using transfer paper and a tracing wheel,
trace along the dart lines

(lining shown for visibility) Using your new markings,
trace the dart lines onto the other half of the fabric
Now, you're ready for darts! Darts are very easy - don't let them intimdate you! The best way I've found to create them is to stick a pin through the dots along the line, matching them on both sides. Fold the fabric, keeping your pins straight and lightly press the fold. Stitch the darts from the wide end to the point, sewing a few extra stitches at the end. Tie a knot (don't pull the fabric) at the point end of the dart. Press the dart toward the center, blending at the point. If done accurately, all three raw edges at the bottom of the dart should line up. If a layer is slightly off, it shouldn't be a problem. However, if a layer, or two, is more than an 1/8" uneven, it may mean your dart is slightly crooked and it may not line up with the darts you'll put in the skirt pieces. (Little secret: if your darts are only slightly off and you're using trim along the seamline under the bust, no one will notice a thing ;) )

Bodice dart, pressed toward center (wrong side shown)

Bodice front darts completed (right side shown)
Now that all four of our bodice darts are in place, it's time for the next step. If you're only using a bodice lining, continue as shown in the instructions (sew side seams of bodice). If, however, you're creating a fully-lined dress, hold off on sewing your sides until the zipper is in place. Fully-lined dresses should instead continue to the skirt. From there, attach your skirt to the bodice as instructed and finish your seam allowances. Repeat for the linings. The lining will only be attached to the outer material at the neckline and zipper. (Presuming that I am still ill tomorrow, I'll post skirt pictures on Thursday. In the meantime, I'll gladly answer any questions.)

A few notes:
  • For those doing a self-lined bodice (no skirt lining), I recommend pressing your seam allowances open and trimming them to 1'4" - 1/2". If you have a serger or an overcast stitch function on your machine, you can use this on your seam allowances to inhibit fraying. For those without this option, a simple zig-zag stitch should work or you can trim your seam allowances with pinking shears (they have a zig-zag blade). On the skirt, I would recommend either finishing in the same way chosen for the bodice or using a French seam.
  • For anyone doing a fully-lined dress, I recommend any of the above mentioned pressing/finishing options. French seams aren't necessary since they won't be visable and they would add unwanted bulk.
  • To turn straps right-side out, sew up one end and use a bamboo skewer to push the closed end through to the other side.
  • If using boning, the Featherweight option found at Hancock or Joann's works quite well for this dress. It isn't very supportive but does give structure and shape. It is also very easy to work with. Just use sharp scissors to trim 5/8" off each end and round the corners. I recommend ironing the boning, on a med-low setting to reduce the curl before attaching it to the fabric. Alternately, you can remove the boning from the casing until after you sew the casing to your bodice lining.

On Thursday, we'll work on our zippers, and hems! We're already almost done! How easy is this dress!!? Please post pictures of your progress and your completed dresses. I can't wait to see them! x

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