Here is the sew-a-long! I am posting the pictures of the process here. I have a Facebook page with the event where you can post your own pictures of your won finished project! You can also post questions and comments to the event or to this blog post.
For this project I used Michelle Millers mermaid fabric. I found it at Hobby Lobby, as part of their Fall 2017 apparel fabrics. I do not recommend using quitting cotton as it is not very soft, and doesn’t drape well. This looks a little like quilting cotton but it is softer and has a little stretch to it unlike quilting fabric. I used my 40% off coupon and bought 2 yards, It ended up costing only 15.00. I only needed two yards for the pattern and size.
I am using NEWLOOK 6442 dress B in size 3. I have already made a wrap dress from this pattern, its easy to read/use and it turned out super cute, I decided to use it again for this mermaid wrap dress tutorial/sew-a-long. Its great for anyone who wants to try their hand at sewing or for experienced sewers alike! I did use a few of my own alterations which I will elaborate on when I get to them.
First thing you need to do is wash your fabric according to the type you are using. (You don’t want to skip this step, because if you don’t pre-shrink your fabric you will end up with puckering in your seams after you do end up washing your finished garment) after its washed press you fabric so its ready for cutting.
Choose the dress you will be using and cut out your pattern pieces. I have traced my pattern onto tracing paper so that I can re-use the pattern in a different size later, if I want to. If you are using a rotary cutter and cutting mat (which I highly recommend) you can lay your pattern pieces on the fabric and use some pattern weighs (I just bought some large metal washers from the hardware store) and cut your fabric pieces. If you are using shears, it is best to trace your pattern before cutting, or pin your pattern pieces to the fabric before cutting. Make sure you look at the cutting reference on the pattern as you need to have mirrored bodice pieces! (make sure you have one facing right and one facing left) or if you are using the same fabric as the bodice facing (liner) you will need 4 bodice pieces. I am using just a plain white super soft cotton that I found at Colorado Fabrics in the bargain section for 3.00 a yard as my facing.
I have my fabric folded RSTOG (right sides together) to cut. note that I have folded with my selvages (that woven end) parallel to each other. This way you are cutting in the correct direction of the grain of the fabric. That arrow on the patten should always be parallel to the selvage.
Here’s my favorite rotary cutter, make sure to be extra careful not to nick your fingers!
Pic of a bodice back ready to cut.
Pic down below is all of my pattern pieces cut and laid out. I did add 2 inches to the length of the skirt front and back as my daughter is super tall and she also likes LONG dresses. It will give us at least a year of wear (I think) with the added length and because its a wrap dress, the bodice has a little bit of give, you can loosen it as the kiddo grows!.
It is best to mark your fabric now with any instructions (like dot or circles) on the WS (wrong side) of your fabric while the pattern pieces are laid onto of your fabric. alternately you can keep your pattern piece out and mark it later, some times I do the latter, especially if you are using an air soluble pen. But if you are using fabric marking pencils you can do it anytime.
TIP: if you are having a hard time getting fabric pencils to show up, wet the tip a bit and it will show up better!
The instructions say to “stay stitch” your bodice pieces. This a a row of stitching 1/2 inch in from the edge, and it keeps your bodice pieces stable as your work on them. Sew in the direction suggested, which was from the bottom up.
I have a picture of how I placed my fabric on my machine, because it is cut at an angle, line up the edge you will be sewing with the line on your machine (the 1/2) and sew a straight line.
Your stay stitching will look like this. (you will not see it after your dress is sewn)
next stay stitch the bodice back. Starting from the edges and sew to the middle.
Repeat with your facing or lining pieces.
Next the pattern has you sew your tie ends. Fold them in half, sew up one end, stop with your needle in your fabric, lift the presser foot and turn your fabric 90 degrees to get a nice sharp corner.
Clip the corner close to the stitching so you will have a nice corner once its turned out. and then you can turn it out.
I absolutely HATE turning these kinds of skinny tubes, but you have a few options, one good one is to use a safety pin and secure it to the closed end and start to pull it through to the open end. I bought a Loop Turner for this because it makes the job even easier (and it was only a couple of bucks).
If your using a loop turner, insert it into the tube and then pull the hook through a little bit of fabric, then you can ease it back through the fabric tube. I have a video of it posted below.
Its not always the easiest thing to do. I have a video, I did not cut out the part of me struggling to start the end so that you can see that it can be a bugger sometimes! Once you have your loops of your tie ends turned, you can push the ends out using a chop stick to get a nice clean square end. Its best to then press them before moving on to the next step. (If you really want your project to turn out well you will press along the way, it makes a HUGE difference in the finished project)
Once you have your tie ends you will baste (basting is just using a long stitch length) to attach the tie end to the bodice piece where the dot or circle indicates (if you put it to low it will get stuck in the skirt seam later!) with raw edges lined up, baste (stitch) across the tie, close to the raw edge. (your just keeping it in place for later. It will be in the side seam of the bodice later on.
Pin it out of the way and then stitch your bodice front to the bodice back RSTOG (right sides together, meaning you want the fabric that will be showing to be facing each other) you will see the WS (wrong sides) of your fabric as you stitch the seams.
Per the directions, I stitched the shoulder seam and the side seam, then repeat with the other font bodice part. (But you will not put other tie end in the other side seam!) It will be on the outside of one of the bodice pieces.
When you turn it right side out it looks like this.
By the way we are using 5/8 in seams. (Very common seam allowance for woven fabrics) This is in the instructions but I thought I would just mention it anyway.
Now you stitch your facing pieces in the same manner, shoulder and side seams. (here is a detail photo of me matching up my pattern pieces with the tiny notches that were indicated on the paper pattern) I notch in, some would say to cut the notch out, but I always keep it very small as to not get into my seam allowance too much, and I have never had any problems.
Once you have stitched your bodice pieces and your lining or facing pieces together press the seams out like this. (photo below)
Here they are stitched and pressed, now they are ready to be joined in holy stitchery (awww).
Find the centers of your seams and match them up, and pin RSTOG.
You will only be stitching the neck line here but I like to pin it all around, excluding the bottom part, Make sure to keep that little tie out of any seams!!! (if you end up sewing it on you can always use a seam ripper and remove the seam, and try again)
Now you are going to sew the neck edge only, do not sew up the bottom or the sleeves yet!
Once you sew the neck line, the pattern says to under stitch the lining. please don’t get too confused about this its really not that complicated, even though it might seem that way if you are new to sewing. you will open out your fabric and stitch through the seam allowance onto the lining.
In the photo below you can see my stay-stitching, the seam and now the under-stitching.
This is what under stitching looks like, you don’t see it on the right side outside, but you can see it on the lining side.
This is what it will look like turned right side out. Now you can press.
Now here is an alteration I have made, I will add my other tie end here into the seam on the bodice piece, so you can either rip a few stitches out or you can keep going and sew the other tie end on after the dress is finished (like the pattern says to)
I opened out this seam and then put my tie in in, folded it back up nicely and then top stitched the tie in place.
Here you can see that I top stitch close to the edge of the seam.
Here is what it looks like after top stitching the whole neck edge, and adding the tie to the bodice piece at this stage.
Top stitching close up (oh la la)
Next were moving onto the sleeve. Put two rows of basing stitches along the edge to the indicted dots (that were on the pattern) you will use these to gather the top of the sleeve later.
Now you will press up the bottom of the sleeve with an iron with about 1/2 in. then you will fold the edge under again and press. Next before making your narrow hem along the edge of the sleeve, stitch the middle seam (shown in the next photo below)
There is numerous ways to do sleeves, none are right or wrong, this is just how the pattern said to do it, so thats what I’m showing. Here I’m stitching the middle seam on the sleeve, then you can use pinking sheers and trim the seam allowance, or you can zig zag over the raw edges, I just like these to be cleaned up one way or another. If you have a serger you can serge the edge.
Once your sleeve is sewn you will do a narrow hem along the bottom. Fold up along where you pressed earlier, then fold that in half and stitch in place, as shown below.
This is what it will look like I already pulled my gathering stitches in the photo below, but we’re just looking at the hem here.
(I used pinking shears to trim the seams, it would have been better to do it right after making the seam and then doing my narrow hem but say la vie!)
This is what the sleeve will look like when the gathering stitches are pulled tight (pull the bobbin threads, it is much much easier then trying to pull the top needle’s thread).
Now take the bodice and turn it inside out, keep your sleeve right side out and place into the bodice. The right sides of the fabric will be together. Line up the seams and pin into place. Then you can adjust the gathering stitches so that the sleeve fits the arm sych (arm hole) just right.
Once you have the sleeve situated just right pin it into pace. Baste it then stitch.
Keep all of your layers nice and flat as you stitch, and make sure not to catch extra fabric like the bottom of your sleeve here, (its really easy to do, and if you do…then just rip the stitches and be more careful the next time you sew the seam)
Photo below shows me holding the bottom of the sleeve away from the raw edges that will be sewn.
here is my basting stitches (3.5-4.0 length) at about 1/2 in from raw edge (I checked the work from the right side and then added my shorter length stitches (2.5 is standard) at the standard 5/8 in seam once I knew that the sleeve was set in right.
Here I trimmed close to the basing stitches, you could even trim them off if you would like, and then I zig zag stitched over the raw edge.
repeat with the other sleeve/side and this it what you should have.
Now onto the skirt. stitch up the side seams.
now I’m going to finish my side seams with a lovely flat felled seam. because its a wrap dress, I like it to look pretty on the inside too!. You certainly do not have to do this part, you could just leave your seams or serge/zigzag the seam instead.
A flat felled seam, its best for straight seams, it looks good form both sides andit adds good amount of strength to a seam as well so if you need a strong straight seam, this is a good choice.
Here’s how to create a flat felled seam:
Sew your seam like normal, then trim off 1/2 of ONE side of the seam allowance.
This is going to sound complicated but its not, once you have done it its really simple. Fold the longer seam allowance OVER the trimmed seam and then fold it over AGAIN, and stitch in place.
Photo above shows the first fold over the trimmed seam, and below the second fold while its being stitched into place. Stitch close to the folded edge.
Stitch the legnth of the seam close to the fold. This ends up encasing the raw edges within the folds, leaving a nice clean appearance.
This is what it looks like from the inside, (I could have stitched closer to the fold…I usually do) but it ended up just fine.
This is what it looks like from the outside or the right side of the fabric. Looks good on both sides!
Next on the edges of the skirt and the bottom of the ruffle I prepared for my narrow hem, Don’t sew the narrow hem in place until after the ruffle has been added to the bottom of the dress.
This is what a narrow hem looks like before you stitch it (in the photo above I am holding it in place, below it after its been pressed and then I have it opened up.
Sew the narrow hem on the bottom of the ruffle, then add two rows of basting stitches to the top of the ruffle to gather. Pull the basting stitches and match the clips and seams of ruffle to the skirt.
Place ruffle RSTOG onto skirt, with clips and seams matching up pin into place.
You can see that I haven’t stitched the narrow hem on the edge of the skirt yet (but it is finished for the bottom of the dress). Once you stitch the ruffle in place you will sew the narrow hem on the skirt.
Okay, the ruffle has been stitched, and I finished it with a zig zag over cast over the seam.
Time to finish the skirt. I clip the corner at a little angle so that when I fold up my narrow hem I don’t have a little nub having out of the bottom. See photo below.
When its folded nothing is hanging out the bottom. It has a nice finish. Stitch the hem.
Sorry, baby hand in the pic. Your dress is almost complete! You can see that the lining is still loose. If you want you can over cast a zig zag, or use pinking sheers on that seam before you sew the facing into place. That is an optional step. I did end up pinking that seam. Press the seam up toward the bodice.
I folded the lining in and finessed it to look just right. The pattern says to hand sew the lining into place, and while that would turn out great I machine stitched it instead.
Here I am folding the little bits under the lining. Just keep at it, you might need to use your iron to get it just right if its not falling into place right.
Okay its hard to tell in this photo, I will post another of the finished product but I tucked the lining in and stitched across very close to the skirt seam and made sure to catch the lining. Whip stitching by had is ideal for finishing here.
In the photo below you can see the machine stitching on the lining to the skirt. On the inside of the dress I placed a loop and a hook on the bodice part that tucks under, this will help keep the dress from opening up. You could use velcro if you would rather or a button.
Here they are sewn in place.
In this photo you can see that row of stitches to secure the lining, if you hand whip stitch (to the skirt seam allowance) these won’t be here, but I don’t think they look bad so hey, tomato toe-mato.
I also made a head band to match, here it is on my 3 year old, she LOVES it has already worn it 3 days in a row!
Questions comments? Please leave a message! Happy Sewing and God Bless.