Ahoy there Sewalongers! This week things start looking real good... and today we'll be getting the bulk of it done and making up the bodice of the Elisalex Dress, with sleeves. For those of you going down the sleeveless or Reversalex route, your bodice post will be coming immediately after this. So assuming you're not too traumatised by the FBA post last week, let's start sewing!
*In case you've just joined us, click here to be taken to all the Elisalex Dress Sewalong posts*
Today's post will be broken down as follows:
- Princess seams at the back
- Princess seams at the front
- Shoulder seams
- Side seams
- Repeat for lining
- Joining bodice to lining
Step 1: Princess seams at the back
We're going to start by joining the Side Back panels to the Centre Back pieces. Princess seams (the rounded seams on the bodice that hug our curves creating that beautifully feminine shape) can be a little fiddly at first, getting the hang of easing the two rounded edges together. The back pieces are much easier, so let's start with those!
Gather your Bodice Back pieces - 2x Centre Back & 2x Side Back panels, and a bunch of pins.
With right sides together, place the Side Back panel onto the Centre Back piece and begin pinning the curved edges together from the waistline, matching the notch and underarm.
*TIP: when manipulating fabric together, especially at curved seams or sleeve heads, it is important to remember that you are matching the two pieces along the line at which they will be stitched ie. 5/8" from the raw edge. Do not try to match the pieces together at the raw edge!*
Stitch into place, remembering the 5/8" or 15mm seam allowance. Don't forget to backstitch at the start and finish of your line of stitching! Press towards the side seam (yup, just noticed that we pressed it the wrong way...! Towards the side seam people! Do as we say, not as we do, clearly...!).
We have used pink thread purely to highlight the seam for your viewing pleasure - don't do this at home folks! Choose thread to match your fabric!!
Repeat this on the other Centre Back piece, and finish your seams either by overlocking/serging or trimming the excess seam allowance.
Step 2: Princess seams at the front
Now we're going to do the exact same thing to the front pieces. This will be a little trickier as we have a more dramatic curve to ease in.
Pin the Side Front panel to the Centre Front piece, right sides together, matching waistline, notches and underarm. At this point, the more pins the better! A good way to do this is to first pin at the waistline, then at the notches and underarm, then keep filling in the gaps with more pins!
Carefully stitch into place. Repeat for the other panel, press seams towards the side seams and finish excess seam allowance.
Step 3: Shoulder seams
Hard part over! Now, with right sides together, pin the Bodice Front to the Bodice Back at the shoulders.
Stitch, press open, finish excess seam allowance.
Step 4: Side seams
Still with right sides together, pin Front & Back together at the side seams.
Stitch, press open, finish excess seam allowance.
Repeat Steps 1-4 for the Bodice Lining
Step 5: Prep sleeves
Now it's time to assemble the sleeves. This will be the same regardless of whether you've cut a short sleeve, 3/4 length sleeve or a long sleeve.
With right sides together, pin the underarm seam into place.
Stitch, press open, finish excess seam allowance. Repeat for the second sleeve.
To hem the sleeves, simply fold and press the raw edge in by about 1/4", then fold and press in again by about 1/4". Pin into place and repeat for the second sleeve. Make sure your sleeves are the same length before you stitch!
Stitch the hems either by machine or by hand for an invisible finish.
Step 6: Attaching the sleeves
Turn your sleeves to the right side, whilst keeping the bodice inside out.
Pin the sleeve head to the armhole of the bodice, matching underarm seams, the notch at the top of the sleeve head to the bodice's shoulder seam, and the other notches to the princess seams. It's marked on the pattern, but you've probably forgotten by now that the double notch goes at the back and the single notch at the front!
Stitch into place, easing in the slight fullness at the sleeve head in the same way as you did with the princess seams. The sleeve is not designed to be ruched or pouffy; it should fit in perfectly with a little easing in of the curve.
Finish the excess seam allowance and press towards the bodice.
Step 7: Joining the lining to the bodice
With right sides together, put your lining onto your bodice, almost as if you were dressing the bodice with the lining. Pin them together at the neckline, matching shoulder seams, Centre Front and Centre Back openings.
Stitch into place, and snip the seam allowance at the curves - this will make turning it to the right side much easier. You could also trim the excess seam allowance at this point too.
Turn the bodice right side out, and press that beautiful neckline seam. Make sure that the lining isn't poking out over the main fabric!
You could now topstitch the neckline for added security or even as a feature - simply stitch 1/4" from the edge all along the neckline. We haven't done it this time as we're really digging the flawless finish.
And that is that for today guys! Before we go into the construction of the tulip skirt, we'll be back soon with a little tutorial on how to add side seam pockets - not just to the Elisalex Dress, but to pretty much anything with a side seam! Until the next time, ciao for now!