Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Practial Addendum to All Nighter

I just hemmed Babydoll's dress, and I wanted to tell you a couple of things --

On the matter of draping -- or, the way a dress or skirt's fabric should hang --

I did a narrow "shirttail hem" on the dress because it was already the length she liked.

However, most of the time, you need some weight at the hemline to make the dress drape/hang as it should. Also most of the time, a wider hem (like 2-3 inches) is enough fabric weight to do that.

You can tell when a dress or skirt hasn't been hemmed properly, because it won't hang right. It looks cheap, or homemade. Usually the fix for that is simply to make the hem wider. If you don't have enough fabric to do that, you can use packaged bias tape from the fabric store.

Since these particular skirt pieces in Babydoll's dress were cut with the edges/seams having a bias (diagonal) drape, it was important to have that fabric weight at the hem to make it drape right. If it didn't have some weight, the sides would stick out and it would just look silly.

Brief aside for the newer sewers --
Let me explain the edges having a diagonal drape -- it's like the skirt pieces were triangles, with the point at the waistline. So when you laid them out on the fabric, the big arrow on the pattern pieces said to lay them from the point of the triangle to the center of the bottom line of the triangle.

That's a really basic explanation -- but you can see in your head how the sides of the triangle would angle against the grainline of the fabric.

So, to create more weight within the narrow hem, I double-stitched the hemline. I stitched the folded edge of the hem on the inside, and stitched again on the edge of the bottom of the hem. This stiffened the hem just a little, and the thread used also added some weight.

Both these things adjusted the weight of the hem to make the dress drape just right. No side seams sticking out -- hooray!

On making it look professional, or store-bought --

I did something stupid, and I should have known better.

First off, when you put in the zipper in the back, use an invisible one. I used a regular zip, so that made it look less professional. An invisible zip makes it look like there's just a seam rather than an obvious zip.

Secondly, I didn't run the actual zipper all the way to the top of the dress. Instead, I ran the fabric edges of the zip up to the top of the dress. This creates about a 3/4" gap between the top of the dress and the place where the tabbed pull of the zip actually stops.

To fix this, you should always cut (or fold down) that top of the fabric part of the zip to within about 1/4" of the place where the tabbed pull of the zip stops. This way, you can put a hook and eye at the top of the dress as a finishing touch, and there won't be any noticeable gap between the top of the zip and the top of the dress.

You know, if you're going to take the time and energy to make a garment, you should take the time and energy to make it look as professional as possible. You don't want your stuff to look homemade.

I hope these two tips help you in future projects --


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