Greetings to all my happy frock-alongers! If you haven’t caught up, never fear. There is still plenty of time to finish your dress and still be in the running for one of our amazingly generous prizes!
As a quick reference, here are all the posts in order – if you follow along from start to finish, you should have a beautiful frock at the end!
Frock-along Kickoff ~ Jess @ Scrappy n Happy – Measuring, marking, cutting out
Frock-along – Pleats and Pockets Part 1 ~ Cassandra @ Cassandra Madge – Moving/adding pleats, inseam pockets, ties
Frock-along – Seams, Neckline and Sleeves ~ Jess @ Scrappy n Happy – French seams, shoulder pleat options, applying bias tape
Frock-along – Interview and Inspiration ~ Jess @ Scrappy n Happy – Sleeve modifications and some more frock ideas
Frock-along – Hems and finishing touches ~ Cassandra @ Cassandra Madge – YOU ARE HERE!
On Monday Jess will wrap it all up with a linky-party where you can add your blog post or instagram picture of your finished (or nearly finished) Dottie Angel Frock, and you will be in the running to win one of our 4 prizes!
Let’s get sewing then – on to the final touches.
If you haven’t added pockets into your side seams, the neatest finish for them is a french seam. Jess explained it beautifully HERE, but I will just quickly recap as french seams are not common, but they are a very useful little tool to have in your sewing arsenal. They are ideal for light gauzy type fabrics when you don’t want to see the seam finish through the fabric. I have also seen them used on high quality baby and toddler wear, so as to keep the seams smooth and not irritating to skin. They are even just great when you want that little bit of luxury feel to your garment. I used a french seam on all my shoulder seams, as well as my side seams when I didn’t insert the pocket.
This is my third Dottie Angel Frock, although it’s a heavily modified version as you will see at the end. Stitched in a lightweight lawn or voile (the fabric came from the thrift store so I don’t know exactly), it was an ideal candidate for a french seam. Remember to stitch the first seam with the WRONG SIDES TOGETHER. That bit always trips me up, and I usually have to repin it at least once.
You can see here my initial 1/4″ seam and how far down from the large sleeve dot it is. Neatly trim this seam almost in half, then turn your frock inside out with the right sides together to sew the second seam.
The pattern doesn’t tell you how wide to make this seam, but you can work it out by subtracting the 1/4″ seam (which is 2/8″) from the standard seam allowance of 5/8″. So the second seam should be sewn at 3/8″ width. This will bring it fairly neatly up to the dot on the sleeve binding. Also, the pattern instructions don’t mention pressing, but I find it much easier to stitch my second seam if my first one has been well pressed along the stitching line.
It’s worth laying both of your sides next to each other to make sure that you have made your seams approximately even.
I would like to take a quick detour here back to the neckline of this top. Due to the extremely fine nature of the weave, after I finished stitching the bias down I discovered that a combination of weight and stretch had led my neckline to sit out and away like a shelf instead of laying flat.
I found that adding a couple of tiny pleats, spaced under one inch on either side of the very centre front of the neckline, helped to coax the binding to lay flat and tamed some of the extra fullness in the top. You can see my dots measuring one inch in the top photo, then I used those as my fold point in the second photo, taking a very tiny fold but keeping the line of the neck smooth.
Less than an inch of top stitching from the neckline down into the top and it lay neatly around my neck (Modelled photos at the end of the post).
So now we come to the hemlines. I included here two versions, neither of which are the same as the pattern for two reasons – firstly I liked my hems as long as possible, so I didn’t use the full hem allowed in the pattern, and secondly, I had developed a strong disinclination to use bias binding. It seemed an extra unnecessary step.
For my red dress, I had purchased a crochet like lace trim, already gathered, that I wished to attach underneath the hem. This gives the cute effect that a petticoat layer is peeking out.
Firstly, I over-edge stitched the entire hem, because this vintage fabric was fraying very badly. This isn’t an essential step, especially if you are using a firmer fabric such as poplin or quilting cotton, as we are going to turn the hem over twice, so the raw edge is completely enclosed. However I just needed the extra security and not to worry about it fraying as I was pressing and stitching it.
After overedging I pressed up and pinned a 1 cm (3/8″) hem all the way around. I placed the pins at a slight angle so that they would be easy to pull out as they were coming under the machine’s presser foot. Sew right at the edge of the hem, just under 3/8″ in from the fold.
On the RIGHT SIDE of your frock, pin your lace trim. If it has a right and wrong side, make sure the RIGHT SIDE OF THE TRIM is facing towards the RIGHT SIDE of your fabric, and have the trim pointing up into the skirt instead of away from it at this point. Pin your trim all along the stitching line of the previous step. If you are a more confident dressmaker, you can combine this step with the previous step, and stitch the lace on with the first pass of the hem. Leave a little bit unstitched at each end of the trim – I usually aim to have my join right on a side seam as it will be a lot less obvious there. Avoid joining the trim anywhere along the front of your dress where it will be most visible.
After you have finished the first row of stitching, go back to your start/finish, and folding the dress out of the way, join the two lace ends with a straight seam. Use a matching thread and a very small stitch length to catch as much of the lace in the stitching as possible.
Now you can trim the lace close to your stitching, finger press the seam open, and then sew the joined section down onto the hemline to match the rest of your attached lace.
Being careful to keep the iron away from any polyester/nylon lace which would melt, gently coax the hem to fold up under the skirt, pressing a foldline along the bottom edge just before the trim is attached all the way around. You then want to sew this hem, making sure to catch the folded up section on the wrong side of the skirt, keeping the seam an even distance from the edge and the trim laying flat. The lace should hang neatly and evenly straight down from the skirt.
Underneath it looks like this. I used a basically identical process to attach the white lace to the hem of my original Dottie Angel Frock.
For my third frock, which is actually greatly shortened, I didn’t want lace or any other trim, nor did I want to use bias because the fabric was so light and fine. One alternative would have been a rolled hem, which is an excellent way to finish very fine cotton fabrics. For speed and the sake of keeping it simple, I opted for a single turn hem, with an over-edge stitch to protect the raw fabric edge from fraying.
After using my Janome’s over-edge stitch and foot to secure the raw edge, I simply under 1/2″ hem and pressed a crisp fold line, before top-stitching the hem all the way around. I used the seam gauge markings on my machine to keep an even depth of stitching.
Here are my two finished dresses, with photographs courtesy of my DH who was able to capture all the details and the changes that I had made to the patterns.
The red dress with it’s three pleats (2 inches lower), wider ties, inseam pockets and lace trimmed hem has become an instant favourite. I wore it out all day on Wednesday and I can vouch for how cool and comfortable the style is, with the handy in seam pockets being the perfect size for my phone!
My third Dottie Angel Frock/Top, made of very light cotton, was a big experiment for me. I omitted the ties, and I shortened it by cutting the C version as the hem, after changing it from a straight line to gently curving up approximately 3/4″ on the side seam edge. I also cut the back neckline higher as I do find I spend a lot of time adjusting the shoulders on the red and pink dresses. I was going to insert a piece of elastic into the centre back to compensate for the missing ties, but after trying it on, realised that it was lovely and light and loose and didn’t need the extra shaping. I love how the three pleats I used again give me some beautiful bust/waist definition, and the quirky addition of a pair of vintage buttons turn the oooopsie pleats into a funky feature. Obviously because of the length and shape, I left off adding pockets at all. I designed this version as a top to wear with jeans so I won’t miss the extra pockets. I must admit to being completely in love with this top, and as you read this, I will be swanning about in the city wearing it.
Please support our last two sponsors, who have been so generous with their donations so that we can offer you all some treats for sewing along with us!
There is nothing that I love more than a good solid. I mean, white is great, but give me COLOUR!! This is where Emily from Handmade by Emily comes in…. Her store is bursting with hot fabric trends, solids, and all the fabric that we love to
stash ahem, use. Sorry, that word just keeps on slipping out! Just a quick look in her store and she has some gorgeous Linen and Voiles which would make fabulous frocks!
I’ve been sewing since I was 2.5 – embroidery, dressmaking and quilting. I was introduced to my love of stitching by my wonderful grandmother. After almost 15 years of legal, accounting and medical admin work, in January this year I gave up full time work to pursue my dream of running my own business while giving me the flexibility of caring for my young daughter. Handmade by Emily is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of stitchers. Currently I make custom clothing, bags and quilts as well as selling fabric and craft supplies. I specialise in Tula Pink, Kaffe Fassett and Kona. I run a monthly fabric club, #aussiekonaclub and in 2016 I will be announcing an exciting partnership with a leading brand, after my new studio is built. I am excited for all of the good things to come!
One of the best features of Emily’s store is that shipping is included in the price – I hate the shock of filling a cart and then seeing what the shipping will be. Emily listens to her customers and is always improving her features and her range! Speaking of stash building, her #aussiekonaclub is ideal for building up a curated collection of the best solid colours around in quality Kona cotton. Emily has partnered with expert quilting bloggers as well as especially selecting colours that will go with the current ranges – November’s bundle, Cupcake, is just perfect for matching with Tula Pink’s Eden range. Emily has generously offered a $25 voucher to one lucky frock-along linker – the hard part will be choosing what to spend it on!
Introducing our final sponsor, Raylee of Sunflower Stitcheries and also Sunflower Quilting. Raylee is a talented quilter with a busy long arming and teaching schedule, as well as her second passion of embroidery patterns and tutorials. She’s one busy lady, but always ready to help a fellow quilter out!
Raylee has generously donated a prize of thread and notions to help you get your dressmaking journey off to a flying start, including 3 spools of Rasant thread, which is my favourite thread to sew with, it stitches like a dream!
We would love to hear how you are going, and especially if you have any questions that we haven’t covered. Use the weekend to ask us anything frock-related, so that Jess can add your questions into the final post on Monday! Then the link-up will begin and we can see all the great frocks we know you’ll be making!
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