How to Sew a Simple Dress ~ Step 4 [A Series]

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Hey, you!

Welcome back to How to Sew a Simple Dress series!

Wait.

Are you feeling a bit flustered, anxious, and/or excited, because we’re finally here at our sewing machines?!

Me, too!

But I think we’re more than ready. So on that note, let’s do this and begin Step 4 ~ Let’s Sew Our Dress

NOTE: If you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies, please click HERE!

Series Contents

Step 4: Let’s Sew a Dress!

Step 4a: First things…

Okay.

We’re just about ready to sit down before our sewing machines and assemble our dress “puzzle.”

But before we do, I recommend that we’re clear on the following:

pre-sew-checklist-cover-sheet

Click HERE to sign up for weekly-ish emails and you get access to your FREE Resource Library. There you can download a copy of the Pre-Sew Checklist and more!

Q: Have we reviewed the actual tissue pattern pieces for additional instructions?

A: At the bottom of the FRONT (4) and the RUFFLE (2) tissue pattern pieces, this pattern calls for a hem allowance of 5/8 inches.

v9237-hem-allowance-notation-on-tissue-pattern

Q: How many wound bobbins will we need?

I decided to play it safe and wind two bobbins with gray thread. This way I won’t have to stop and wind bobbins midway through my project!

Q: What is the best thread to use? 

A: I’m using high-quality Guterman’s thread. Yes, I love Guterman’s!

Q: Do we have enough in the appropriate colour?

I’ve made sure to buy a big healthy spool — 500 meters! Those small tiny spools are useless nonsense — wind a single bobbin and they’re spent!

vogue-9237-gray-thread

Q: What needle type and size is best for this project?

A: I’m going to use Universal 80/12 needle!

Q: Do we have all the required notions?

A: Yes, I’m custom making my bias tape for this project and I have a hook and a round eye!

vogue-9237-required-notions

Q: Which stitch type and length is the best for our project?

A: I am using the standard straight stitch with a 2.5mm stitch length

Q: Which tension is the best for our project?

I’m leaving the tension set at the default of 4!

Q: What is the closure type for this project?

A: This pattern uses a center back (CB) slit. No, I’m not doing a thread loop — I’ll be subbing a hook & eye!

Q: What seam finish is the best for our project?

A: I’ll be using two: stitched + pinked at the center back (CB) seam and a French Seam at the shoulder and side seams. 

vogue-9237-two-seam-finishes

Q: How will we finish the neckline and armhole edges?

A: The pattern calls for bias facings! YAY!

Q: How will we finish the hem?

A: Since the hem sweep, the width of the hem, is so wide, a narrow hem is the simplest and best option for this project.

vogue-9237-narrow-hem


And then, in order to make sure this sewing experience is as pleasant and stress free as possible, we’re also going to do the following:

  • Make sure our sewing machines are clean.
  • Make sure we have a new sewing machine needle inserted in our sewing machines.
  • Mark the 5/8 inch seam allowance (SA) on our needle plate with rubber band or masking tape to give ourselves a longer SA guide!

seam-allowance-marked-on-needle-plate-with-rubberband

It is critical to make sure that we use the right SA from start to finish so that we end with a garment that is the right fit!

  • Using fabric scraps from our project, we should also do some samples to test stitch length and tension. We’ll use at least two layers of fabric to simulate how we’ll actually sew the garment together.

v9237-testing-samples-hem-and-two-seam-finishes

  • We should also test seam finishes and hem finish too if we think we need to…

Now with all of that out of the way, guess what?!

Finally, we get to sew!


Step 4b: FRONT (4)

Staystitch the neckline and armholes of the FRONT  (4) pattern piece 3/8 inch from the cut edge.

v9237-first-dress-staystitching

Step 4c: BACK (1) & RUFFLE (2)

  • Staystitch the neckline and armholes of the BACK (1) pattern pieces 3/8 inch from the cut edge.
  • Sew the two BACK (1) pattern pieces together, stopping at the circle pattern marking; press SAs open. You want to sew the CB seam before you finish the SAs to make sure that you sew the CB seam using a 5/8 inch SA!
  • Now, finish the SAs at center back (CB), using the stitched + pinked seam finish.
  • Topstitch the slit from the RS ¼ inch the folds. I used to my water-soluble pen to mark the stitching line prior to topstitching. (Optional)

  • Sew the CB seam on the two RUFFLE (2) pattern pieces.
  • Now, finish the CB seam’s SAs on the RUFFLE (2), using the stitched + pinked seam finish. And then, press.
  • Gather the two RUFFLE (2) pattern pieces at the top.
  • Then, attach the ruffle to the bottom of the now constructed BACK (1).
  • Once the RUFFLE (2) is joined to the BACK (1), finish the SAs where they join. And to do so, first, I stitched the SAs together, and then pinked the edges. See how pretty it is on the inside…

vogue-9237-ruffle-seam-allowances-finished-min

Okay. Stop a minute.

How pretty is that ruffle?!

vogue-9237-pretty-flirty-ruffle

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how to sew a plain seam!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how to gather like a pro!

Step 4d: Sew the shoulder seams.

  • Now it’s time to sew the FRONT (4) and BACK (1) pattern pieces to each other at the shoulder seams. We’ll be sewing from the neck point (NP) to the shoulder point (SP).

vogue-9237-neck-point-shoulder-point-demonstrated

  • I decided that I would use a French seam to finish the shoulder seam allowances.
  • After sewing my French seam, I pressed the Frenched SAs flat towards CB, and then finished with a quick press from the RS.

vogue-9237-shoulder-seam-finished-with-french-seam

Step 4e: Apply bias facing to the neckline.

At this point our side seams (SS) are unsewn — leave them that way.

We’re now ready to finish our neckline edge.  Just follow Step 13 on the pattern guide sheet when you arrive around to the CB seam.

But I’ve demo it in the image below…

  • on the LEFT, the blue arrow points to how we need to fold over the short ends to finish the neckline edge at CB; and
  • on the RIGHT, the finished result once we’ve folded under the short end and then folded the bias facing all the way to the inside or the wrong side (WS) of our dress, edgestitched, and pressed.

vogue-9237-step-13-finishing-ends-at-center-back

RELATED: Please click HERE to learn my preferred way of applying bias tape to an edge. It’s easier than those given on the pattern’s instruction guide sheet!

Step 4f: Sew the side seams (SS) & apply bias facing to each armholes.

I decided to also finish my SS as I did my shoulder seams with a lovely French seam. Press as instructed in Step 4d.

After we’ve stitched the SS, it is time to finish our armholes with bias tape.

Don’t worry! I’ve done the heavy learning for you! Click HERE to learn how to apply bias tape to the edges of the armholes.

RELATED: Click HERE to learn step-by-step how to apply bias tape to an edge in the round!

As we near the finish line, remember this…

We are greedy seamstresses! We demand a pretty start and a pretty finish! Because there is no way in heck we plan to end on a sloppy note!

Alright! Let’s…

Step 4g: Hem our dress.

Oh. My. Gosh. We’re sliding into the home stretch.

vogue-9237-finished-hem

Ideally, you want to hang your dress for 24 hours before hemming. This is especially important with rayon!

Then, you will stitch a narrow hem using a 5/8 inch hem allowance.

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how to sew a narrow hem!

Step 4h: Finishing touches…

The only thing left to do is to add a hook and eye at the CB neckline. This will require just a tiny bit of hand sewing.

And if you want to learn how to apply a hook and eye to your dress in the prettiest way, then you really want this PDF from Dritz!

And if video is more your style, click HERE! Ms. Taylor does a great job explaining the technique in under 4 minutes without headache-inducing music overlay!

vogue-9237-hook-and-eye-applied

Not too bad for my very first hook and eye! I know it going to get prettier with practice, practice, practice!

Finally, finally, after we’ve sewn on our hook and eye, we can head on over to our ironing board, and give our lovely dress a quick press!

And guess what?!

THE END

You did it! We did it! We’ve sewn a dress for a grown woman!

And because that is so fan-freaking-tastic, we get to do the happy seamstress dance from here to over there!

See, we were patient and it paid off with a dress that we can’t wait to flaunt at best and at worst a lesson to take into our next project.

Either way, we get an A++!

We should feel very proud and accomplished for even attempting to sew our own clothing.

Next up: Step 5 ~ Assess the Dress: Vogue 9237 (Coming So Soon!) so that sewing the next one and the next one and the next is even easier! Plus, a confession!

Until then, remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

RELATED: Click HERE to sign up for weekly-ish emails and you get access to your FREE Resource Library. There you can download a copy of the”Pre-Sew Checklist and more!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn about the most lovely dress silhouettes and keep up with the all the dress projects on this site!

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