Saturday, December 17, 2011

Simplciity 2771, LRD continues...


 There are many different ways to do things in the sewing universe and I have been known to even do the same thing several different ways. What's the  Bobbi Brown song say? "That's my prerogative".   I  appreciate all the comments regarding passing on via the blog the details of sewing this dress so I will continue with something you may not have seen anywhere else. It's sort of not kosher, that's why, but it works, and I think it looks good. A little background:

The late Roberta Carr's book, " The Art of Fine Sewing" is one of my favorite references. It is all about couture techniques. She teaches in a down to earth manner and preaches in a repetitive way that makes you learn so much from reading her book. I think  I have read it cover to cover at least three times. One of her cardinal rules that oft gets repeated is "reduce bulk whenever possible". In parts of the book she may pose a problem and she goes back to that commandment to explain how to treat the issue. This saying has so stuck in my head and more than once I have dug in and followed those directions, despite what others may have taught me.  How I handled the bias on this dress is an example and I am glad I did it this way. I have also used this technique on some of my bias heirloom collars and they have worn and washed beautifully. But it is unorthodox. I warned you.

The problem: The combination of lace, lining,  and a "stay" selvedge" on the neckline is a bit of bulk. Adding the bias cut strip of poly (instead of a facing) adds still more bulk, particularly once turned to the inside. Here's what I did: Seams were graded with a pair of pinking shears. The bias strip was understitched and turned to the inside. Then came a good press to keep it there. If I turned under the raw edge of bias to sew it down to the lining there would be more bulk and a possible ridge from pressing. I DIDN'T TURN IT UNDER. I LEFT IT RAW.  No, the bias police did not haul me away. Bias does not ravel. Its edge will stay clean. So I just sewed that one layer to the underlining with a catch stitch (my favorite hand stitch) and ended up with a smooth neckline. I like this simple clean finish.

In the picture above you can see the understitching, the raw bias edge, and the catchstitching securing it to the underlining. There are many ways to do many things and I am liking this way more and more every time I use it. Point here: don't be afraid to think out of the box, particularly if an expert like Roberta Carr is nagging you from the back of your subconscious. You may come up with your own way of doing things that works just as well or  even better than somebody  else's....Bunny

Lunaloo asked in yesterday's comments:  "When you hand pick a zipper, how close are the picks to each other and does fabric choice figure in the decision to pick or not to pick?"  Fabric choice definitely plays into this decision but there are no hard and fast rules I am following here. More important is dealing with the zipper below the waist with the lace and underskirt. What I will end up doing are some samples before I commit the zipper to the dress. I will try out 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch stitches. I also purchased some beads for the zipper. I am not sure they won't just sink right into the lace so we will see. I have two size beads to work with. And after all that I may decide that I don't like the samples and may just do a plain pick. Remember what Bobbi Brown sang?....Thanks for asking, Lunaloo...Bunny


  1. I have to tell you, Bunny, I learn so much from your blog. Someday I'll get more into sewing for myself...

    Right now I'm just doing some simple Christmas stitching.

  2. I used to take classes from Bobby Carr. She was unique. :)

    This is looking beautiful!

  3. Top quality work!
    Beckie in Brentwood, TN

  4. Thank you for showing this way of handling bulk at a neckline. On the subject of handpicking a zipper, I did my first one on a plaid skirt last week and it was so easy, much easier than I thought it would be, and looked beautiful. I was determined to get the plaid lined up right, and it worked. Tami

  5. I am so glad that you have the opportunity the make yourself a pretty party dress! I love red, and the pattern you chose is so elegant with your fabric. You continue to remind me there is more Han one way to "skin a cat", and sometimes I find myself thinking in GE sewing room, "what would Bunny say?" Can'tbwait to see the finished dress!

  6. What a beautiful way to finish a neckline! On first glance, I didn't even notice that you hadn't turned under the bias. After I read your post, I went back up and looked again. I see it now. I love studying the "inards" of a beautifully made garment!


  7. Thanks so much for this tip! As always, your work is so inspiring.

  8. This is going to be a SMASHINGLY beautiful RED DRESS, Bunny! It will look great on your figure, with your tiny waist & especially pretty with your dark hair, too.

    Thanks for the info on doing a bias strip for a facing. I'm going to see if I can find that book you mentioned.

    You know, you could earn a good living TEACHING this sort of stuff to people!!! Have you ever considered it? Community ed programs, maybe??? Pre-paid attendees at a sewing retreat up there in the Adirondacks?? What FUN that would be!!

    To answer your question, the gold foil wrapped balls are orange chocolate favors, doubling as place cards. They are made by the Terry company. You whack them on a hard surface while they are still wrapped & that will separate the orange shaped segments into individual DELICIOUS orange flavored chocolate morsels. YUMMO!!



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