Method in My Madness

Have a good 2014, fellow stitchers!

Have you made a list of sewing resolutions? Perhaps the one that goes something like this –

‘ I will eat my stash, conquer pad stitching, learn bead embroidery, make  a dozen  coordinating outfits, and turn those scraps into patchwork cushion covers, oven gloves and bread bags’

Me? I’m throwing in the towel.  Facing facts. Accepting the inevitable. Last year’s rezzies bit the dust well before Spring had wafted in. Might as well admit it, planning isn’t my forte.  But maybe you have hit on the winning formula, the right ratio of inspired madness to methodical plodding? Can you muster up the discipline to not only make the list, but get it done?

In lieu of the grand list, I’m merely going to resolve to catalogue some techniques this year. Starting with

Lining a sleeveless dress or top

The all time favourite method of course is the one I used in the babydress posted here. The roll up. In summary:-

Lining serves as facing. Stitch the shoulder seams, but not the side seams. With RS of lining to RS of garment, stitch, trim, understitch and press the neckline. Then, the clever part, roll up  the  garment so as to bring the right side of the armhole lining to the right side of its corresponding outer fabric, the whole dress shoulder width crammed into the width of one shoulder piece. Stitch and pull through.

The advantages are obvious – such a beautiful finish when it works, with no hand stitching.

It would be the only method you need, if only all fabrics and all shoulder widths were obliging.  When your fabric is bulky, or the shoulder pieces very narrow, you can get your dress or top well and truly jammed. Have you ever done this?  The only remedy I found was to carefully unpick the narrowest part of the shoulder section, pull through oh so gently, and very gingerly tuck in the already trimmed turnings, slip stitching the armhole seam closed. A solution with a high cock-up risk.

Next up, the Open Shoulder

I was taught this by my couture teacher. Its got good points. Maybe you have a garment in fabrics which you don’t want to bulk up with heavy facing and interfacing, or maybe the fabric is delicate, and stretches easily or the neckline shape is daring you to stretch it out of shape. Its a Vee on the cross, or a scoop.  It will laugh off stay stitching and stretch between cutting table and machine.

The method has its bad points too – actually one major bad point. You have to line up the edges of the shoulder seams exactly, there’s no room for fudging.

Treat the front and back as flat pieces, facing with either a lining or continuous facing piece, leaving the side seams and shoulders open, or after doing the side seams – either works. The greatness of this method is that a dodgy fabric or neckline shape can be tamed without interfacing, stay stitching, seam binding or other paraphernalia. You can even leave cutting your neckline shape until after you have stitched on the facing/lining. If you have ever wept as a scoop gets scoopier when you gingerly lift your piece to the machine, this is the method of choice. Just chalk the stitch line on the WS of the lining piece, and cut the shape away after joining the pieces.

Its the next part which knocks this method out of first place.

Trim and turn the lining/facing, and press. All neat and looking good, but the shoulder seams have to be joined by stitching the outer fabric front and back pieces together, matching the neck and armhole edges exactly. Then the lining is turned under and slip stitched on the inside. On a good day and with the right machine, you can stitch some of the lining shoulder seam in a continuous run with the shoulder seam of the outer. This makes for a stronger, neater edge. But, if you don’t get those edges lined up its there for all to see. You have been warned.

Separate facings and lining

Classic and foolproof, but also pretty tedious, and bulky. For this you need to have or to cut separate facing and lining pieces. This post discussed planning them, if your pattern doesn’t have them.

A facing in the same fabric as the outer avoids having the lining showing during movement, but can create a lot of bulk too, especially at the seams. Joining the lining to the facing  means stitching curves together, so accurate turnings help, but unlike the method above, bodges are all inside.

Thats my three dress lining/facing methods, have I left any out?


About jay

I design and draft patterns
This entry was posted in Sewing methods, Techie Stuff. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Method in My Madness

  1. I have used the roll up method frequently – and yes, I have come to grief once of twice. I hadn’t tried the ‘open shoulder’ method which looks well worth investigating. Thank you for sharing.


  2. prttynpnk says:

    Ok, my new resolution is to learn from your skills- I dont want to load myself down with commitments- just improve- teach me!


  3. auntmayme says:

    Resolutions?? What resolutions?? Just settling down getting work can be enough of an “event” and then comes the dreaded “What if”–What if it doesn’t turn out? What if I don’t have enough to finish the project and then I end up tossing it anyway? So to prevent that, I keep the scraps…

    Brilliant method for lining. I wish I knew of it when I made my linen shift dress (which I’m now forced to wear around the house because the shoulders are too narrow and the facing doesn’t drop far enough (show-through is ugly)


  4. sew2pro says:

    Happy New Year Pella!

    Just hiding my stash more successfully so that my loving partner never finds it is ambition enough.


  5. I have come across a variation of the open shoulder method where you don’t need to hand sew. Sadly I can’t find the Burdastyle tutorial I learnt it from now! It’s hard to explain. You turn one strap inside out and slip the matching strap inside it to sew the shoulder. You still need to be pretty accurate or it looks bad, but no hand sewing.


  6. Pella says:

    I have to try this! Its seems logical….


  7. grtescp says:

    It looks like you already have a bunch of techniques under your belt before you even start the year! I have never been a resolution person, always thinking every day is a new day to try and do better and have more fun than the previous, why wait for 1x a year!


  8. mrsmole says:

    If only we all had the time to make samples of these slick techniques! Sadly my time is spent opening up things like this and shortening and hand sewing back into place…what a dream to start from scratch! Thank you, Pella for such a neat tutorial! Happy happy New Year!


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