I’ve gotten a lot of questions and requests to show how I make a dress. So I finally put together my process of dressmaking. I honestly have been nervous to do this. Why? I’m not trained in what I do. I’m a self taught designer/sewer. So the way I do things is the way I like to do them and the way that has worked well for me. So I want to add a disclaimer saying just that. Maybe the way I do things is different, or maybe it’s not, I really don’t know! But none the less, I’ll gladly show you my dressmaking journey.
The first thing I do is come up with a design. You all know how I can’t follow patterns. It’s a problem. They’re like reading a foreign language to me. But I DO recommend them for people who are more “normal” than I am. When I design I don’t sit down and decide to come up with something. It’s an idea that’s already come to me. Most of the time, I work really well if I can go execute the idea immediately. It’s like a pressure that’s added that I function well under. After I think of the idea, I “sketch” it. I say that soooo loosely. I’m a TERRIBLE sketcher.
It’s mostly just a catalog of my creative journey.
Then I mach it on my dress form. You DO NOT need a dress form to make a dress. I started out just laying things on myself, or tracing an existing dress I already had. Does a dress form make things easier? For pattern designing, yes. I have a Uniquely You dress form and I love it. It’s a great form for the money and far superior to the Dritz or Singer’s. Do I still sometimes I hope one of these falls into my lap? Absolutely. But I first started out with a duct tape dress form and I honestly thought it was a great beginning! The tutorial I used is here.
I use tape to decide the pattern pieces I’m going to cut out.
After I figure out how I”m going to lay out the dress, I cut out my fabric to those pieces. I don’t pre-do it muslin. I should, but I don’t.
Then I put those pieces back on my form and pin them in the places I’m going to sew them. NOTE: This is when I make a style dress for the first time. If I like the dress I made and want to make more for sale, I will then create a pattern from muslin so I have a prototype and don’t have to do this process every time.
Then I will first sew my shoulder seams together. I sew it one of two ways, depending on the fabric. First, is with a serger. You could also use an overcast stitch or a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine.
TIP: Look at some garments you have. Study the way they were sewn and put together. I find this a really helpful learning technique.
The second way is with a french seam. I use a french seam on delicate fabrics. I like the serger because it creates a clean edge. That’s why I like a french seam. It looks absolutely clean. I love the way they look!
Here’s how I do a french seam.
Pin your fabric pieces with the insides together (or right sides out).
Sew a 1/4 in. straight edge stitch.
Trim along the edge of the fabric so bit’s left to about 1/8 of an inch.
Open the seam and lay your fabric flat. Iron the seam down.
Now fold it with the insides out. Iron it flat.
Sew it with an approximate 3/8 inch stitch. You don’t want to do it too close or else the fabric from the first seam will come through this seam. When you’re done it will look like this.
That’s how to do a french seam! Aren’t they pretty? They are pretty tricky on anything curvy like armholes or a rounded neckline. So start with straight seams.
After I sew together the shoulders, then most of the times I’ll pin and sew the sides of the dress. ( I know. This just looks like a piece of fabric I laid on here. This dress is a wide neck, boxy style so it looks REALLY ugly before it’s sewn together. The end result’s cute. I promise.)
If I’m doing a certain style sometimes I’ll put the sleeves on, then sew the sleves and sides of the dress in one seam. But most of the time I do the sleeves after.
Enough info for one post! Please let me know how you like this post and give me any questions that I’ll answer in the next post. Next time, I’ll briefly go over darts, how I do different hemlines, different closures and maybe pockets if I’m feeling crazy!!
I hope this wasn’t too boring and that you enjoyed Part one of Dressmaking with Lex!
Tags: dress, dressmaking, french seams, techniques, tutorial
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