Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tutorial--Assembling A Square Yoke To A Smocked Dress

Linking up to www.freshlypieced.com for my WiP Wednesday!

You may have seen in an earlier post, the beginnings of this project that tells the AS&E Issue this smocked sailor dress was in. To create the dress, I am used the Sea Urchin pattern in pages 36-39 of Australian Smocking and Embroidery Magazine Issue #33 from 1995 (C) Country Bumpkin (now out of print).

Today's tutorial starts out with tips for creating the sailor collar (and some errata I would change in the pattern instructions regarding the collar) and then will proceed to attaching the square yoke bodice to the smocked skirt of the dress.  I still haven't set in the sleeves, but hey, it's Work In Progress Wednesday--so maybe by Wednesday night, I'll set the sleeves in and update this post!  :)

The first thing needed to be done was to iron fuse interfacing to linings of the collar pieces--both the lining and outer pieces.  I like to fuse the interfacing with the fabric down and interfacing on top (with glue dots touching the fabric).  The reason is that the glue dots will not gum up your iron and it protects the finished outer fabric from possibly being scorched.

Applying the ribbon to the outer sailor collar can be troublesome.  If the ribbon is simply pinned in place, it bubbles, the corners won't miter and it will--yikes---MOVE under the presser foot of your sewing machine.  I got around this problem by glue-basting the ribbon in place using a Dritz water-soluble fabric glue.  It washes out.  I pinned the mitres of the ribbon corners and glued the straight lines of the grosgrain ribbon down.  I chose to sew the inside of the ribbon down first as it caught the inner puckers of the ribbon's mitre which created a finer finish.

This step is where I had some trouble with the instructions.  The pattern said to baste the collar (triangle pieced) insert to the two large collar pieces then attach the yoke to this collar by sewing the outer fabric and lining on top.  Ummm, if the collar insert is basted there, you can't flip the lining into the dress!!!  Annoying, it took me two hours to figure that out--so hopefully this post saves someone some time!  :)  I finally un-picked the triangular collar insert, attached the right and left yokes to the collar and then sewed in the collar insert.  It was necessary to insert it in between the yoke and the yoke lining then whip stitch the lining closed.  Alternately, if you don't mind a raw edge on the inside of your garment, you can just top stitch it on, by stitching through the yoke with the collar up.


Needless to say, I was very happy by the time I got to this step--something I was familiar with!  To attach the skirt to a square yoke, place the yoke and the skirt right sides together.  Put the smocking on top to ensure that the pleats do not get crushed under the sewing machine.  If you choose to use piping, you will need to use a zipper foot to get the straight stitch close enough.  Use the upper-row holding thread as your seam guide so that no hand stitching gets caught in the seam allowance.  Sew a straight stitch down, then neaten the edge with a  zig-zag stitch.  If you're a heirloom sewing perfectionist, sew this line only to the outer yoke, then flip down the lining to whip-stitch it in place.  If you're short on time (or annoyed as I was by the collar mess), it is okay to use the modern technique of sewing both the lining and yoke as one piece into the same seam and skipping the hand-stitching as long as the raw edges are treated with a zig-zag finish (as shown in the photo).
This photo shows the square yoke attached correctly to the smocking.  The left hand side collar is lifted up to show the completed seam.
 Attaching the back square yoke to the skirt is the same for all square yoked dresses, both smocked and plain.  First, I ensure that there is a 1 inch wide strip of interfacing ironed to the lining of the center of the back-yoke piece.  This not only  helps with turning, it also provides stability for the button band in the dress and structure while sewing in the button holes.  When attached the back skirt, I sew the placket according to the pattern directions, sewing it to the inside then flipping it to the outside and top-stitching it closed.  The back skirt is gathered and the placket is then aligned with the center pieced of the dress back (aligned over the interfacing).  In this step, I do not treat the yoke lining as one as I did the front.  I've tired it before and it leaves a raw edge on the opening--instead I do use the heirloom method here.  The skirt is sewn to the back bodice piece, then the back bodice lining is flipped over onto the back piece and whip-stitched closed.  This encases the raw edge created by the placket and seam allowance.

Because this dress is eyelet lace, I wanted to ensure that the bottom seams of the lace aligned.  To do this, I used a French side-seam, starting at the bottom of the lace and sewed backward to the arm holes; thus allowing any ease to be taken or given in the arm hole area.  Traditional methods have you sew the sleeves in first, then sew down the sleeve and dress length, but this creates ease in the hem which would make the lace possibly not match at the bottom.  I'll have to set the sleeves in later...but since it's WiP Wednesday--here's my post for now.  Hopefully later today I can update this showing how I set in the sleeves.  Also, if you were to sew a French "Fancy Band" in an Heirloom sewing skirt, this bottom-up seam would be necessary to ensure all of the pin-tucks and lace inserts align.  Then the sleeves would have to be set in as well.

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