Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Summer dresses - New Look 6457

In an act of stunning practicality (and after a fit of rage at my Edwardian corset), I decided that the Edwardian corset/costume was more of a fall/winter project and that my time would be better spent in making cute sundresses out of the fabric and patterns that have been side-eyeing me from my stash all summer long.

The first dress I made was from New Look 6457, view A.

I'd never made a dress with a fitted bodice, but it was actually a LOT easier than I thought it would be!

Gathering the skirt to fit the bodice was actually a LOT harder than I thought it would be!

I struggled for two hours to gather that damn thing and pin it to the bodice, and when I finally sewed it all together, I realized that the bodice was too long in the waist and I was going to have to take it apart and do all that gathering all over again. I immediately turned to my beloved genius sewing friend to bitch about it and she gave me this advice:

First I mark the center and quarter marks of each piece (I mark center and the fold and find the center in each of the half pieces) – I do this for both the skirt and bodice pieces.

I do the two rows of basting stitches on the machine (longest stitch) – using the throat plate markings and foot for gauging.  Leave long tails of thread. – the more rows of stitching you do the more ordered your gathers will be, but they will not stay that way once you removed the basting stitches after the bodice is sewn to the skirt.  I find two rows is good, and saves you if one row breaks – which does happen at times. 
I pull the threads and gather the skirt – pull it up to be just a touch smaller than the bodice.  Place a straight pin at the end of each side of the skirt and figure-8 the thread around the pins to lock the gathers as you work. 
Start pinning the skirt to bodice by first matching side seams then center marks and finally quarter marks – while adjusting the gathers evenly within each quarter section. 
This process shouldn’t take long at all.  

And by golly, she was right! It was SO EASY to gather the skirt and attach it to the bodice using her instructions! Absolute genius!

This dress was also a challenge for me because I had to set a zipper, which I've only done once--on my pirate costume overskirt, and it came out off-center but you couldn't tell because of the flounces. I've been avoiding it since then. My beloved genius sewing friend gave me instructions for that, too.

First you baste up the seam where the zipper will be and press the seam open. 
Lay the zipper, pull side down, against the basted seam – lining the teeth up with the seam line – using scotch tape to hold the zipper in place.  Place the scotch tape across the zipper when you lay it down, and long enough to hold the zipper and seam allowance to the back of the fabric piece.
Once you have the zipper in place securely, flip the section over to face up. Pull a piece of scotch tape the length of the finished zipper opening (or do smaller sections at a time and piece it together).  You need to fold the tape down the center back on itself – ON THE UNSTICKY SIDE.  What you want to do is make a center fold down the tape so you can line the center fold up with the seam line. 
Do this down the length of the seam line until you have the end of the tape at the end of the zipper opening.
This becomes your stitching guide on the right side of the fabric – the tape is the PERFECT width.  No guessing, no sewing from the back side so bobbin stitches are on the top. 
You just stitch around the top scotch tape and pull all of the tape away, rip the basting seam open – plain zipper set.  It is the only way I set a plain zipper.  Always have tape in your sewing kit.


So, here are the results. 

Please ignore my grody dog-walking shoes. I forgot I was wearing them. I'd have cropped them out but thought it would look too strange to have a headless and footless dress model.

Yeah, the dress is supposed to have a hook at the top and I set the zipper too low. So what??? I was sick of the dress by then and ready to move on. #idgaf

I added the ribbon belt because for some reason the bodice stretched out a lot after a few hours the first time I wore it. But ribbon belts are just really cute with that style of dress, and I was lucky to find something that matched perfectly. 

Mayyyybe the skirt is a little uneven at the hem. It might be slightly uneven at the top edge of the bodice too. But, I don't think it's too noticeable. I'm really happy with this dress!


  1. How long did this take you? I'm making the same dress and i can't understand the stay stitching bodice part. Step 1 lol

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  3. Hey Steph! I made so many of these dresses. You could make this dress in a day, I think. The stay stitching on the bodice, if I remember correctly, is just on the curved front piece, correct? You need to stitch a line about 1/2" from the edge of the fabric. This will help keep its shape when you manipulate it to sew it to the other front bodice piece. After you've stitched that line, you need to snip the fabric in regular intervals, going as close to the stitching as possible but not cutting through it. This will enable you to spread the fabric to pin it against the straight-sided piece that attaches to it. I'm afraid I'm not very good at explaining these things!