Flower Girl Dress, Part 3: Lining Skirt

The first thing I did differently than usual was I actually took the time to pre-wash my fabrics (except the tulle/net). I even -- and I can hardly believe it myself -- zig-zagged the raw edges before washing so that they wouldn't unravel everywhere. And then, I ironed everything.

Usually when cutting time comes I just plunk my fabric down and get started and then later on wonder why my work is covered in hair, dust-bunnies and other mysterious smutz. This time I remembered to do a thorough cleaning whenever setting my nice clean ivory fabric down on a (multi-use) surface. Well, almost whenever!

The other thing I don't usually do is spend a lot of time trying to get the tension on my machine just right on a swatch of the fabric I am about to sew. Mostly because I know from experience that this particular machine almost never sews a perfect stitch. It is in fact my mother's 60s-era portable Elna, and while it is a great little machine (on which my own baby clothes were sewn) the top stitch never looks quite right. The bottom thread always pulls up a bit to the top, and if you loosen the top tension to try to nix that, the top thread merely becomes loopy and the bottom thread STILL pulls through. Even adjustments to the bottom tension do not seem to help the situation. I'm guessing it could use a professional tune-up. Alas, the budgetary outlook for that particular line-item does not look good at the moment, so instead I spent a half hour stitching little lines into scraps and trying not to curse. I finally managed an acceptably strong stitch, which while not quite the looker I would have liked, will hopefully get the job done. Fortunately there is no visible top-stitching on this particular dress, so as long as it holds together and isn't too ruffled, it should be okay.

I kicked off the actual sewing with the lining skirts. Though usually dresses are lined in something slippery, I had decided to go with a light-weight cotton broadcloth just because I'm more used to working with cotton and it's less prone to fraying. I designed the two A-line lining skirts (one has a net flounce attached to it, petticoat style) to be composed of 4 equal panels each, with the 4th divided into two pieces to accommodate a lapped opening for the zipper. So, after cutting, the first step was a lot of French seams to connect the pieces.

I've done a few French seams in my time, but usually just a little bit here or there, so I was not quite as brave as I might have been. My seams ended up being シ" wide because I really didn't want to risk exposing little threads from the raw edge on the finished side. I also found that I did not have much patience for all that trimming. 2 feet times 8 seams was a bit tedious. But I dutifully stitched, and pressed flat, and pressed open and trimmed and stitched and pressed each skirt into an arc, and then edge-finished the final (center back) seam allowances and stitched wide regular seams to accommodate the zipper lap at the top.

Probably I should have waited until the skirts were attached to the dress to hem them, but as they were lining skirts to be covered by yards of net and tulle, I decided to take the easy way out and hem them before having all that net and tulle getting in my way. My narrow hem was perhaps not as narrow as it might be with practice, but narrower than I usually do, thanks to more tedious trimming along the first stitching line.

Then I zigzagged along the raw edge of the waist, making sure to catch the French seams in the same direction as they had been caught in the hem.

Continue: Part 4, Bodice Insets.

- Victoria, 2012-04-21

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