Friday, December 30, 2011

The Ruby Slip #6 - Sewing the Lace Bodice

In #6 of the Ruby Slip Sew-along we are going to sew the lace bodice - isn't it pretty?!

Let's start at the centre front.  Lay the R and L Centre Front Bodice face up, then lap the R side over the L, matching the CF dot at the neckline, and the CF notch at the underbust seam:

Machine baste the two layers together along the underbust seam:

Then stitch following the outline of the scallops on the R side overlap to attach the two layers together:

From the wrong side, carefully trim away the underlap of the L side piece:

Now admire how pretty it looks - see how the CF neckline is a mirror image on both sides?

Stitch the side seam.  For this lace I decided to do French seams because it is very fine and overlocking would have shown through.  To French seam, place wrong sides together and sew at 4mm:

You can see the lace border will match perfectly at the at the stitching line when it is sewn at 1cm:

 Then turn the panels so the right sides face together, and stitch at 5mm:

When you press the seam allowance to the back, you might have a bit of seam allowance sticking up:

Fold it down so that it is hidden between the seam allowance and the shell and tack it in place.

Because this lace is so sheer and the seam allowances are visible, I like to topstitch the seam at 4mm - you can hardly see the topstitching, and it holds the seam allowance in place so it doesn't flip to the other side and always looks straight!

Now French seam the Side Front to Centre Front:

Because the scalloped edges meet at a sharper angle here, you end up with a bit of a knob at the top edge:

Turn it back on itself and tack it in place between the seam allowance and shell, as neatly as you can:

Topstitch the seam as before.  You should end up with a continuous scallop shape around the upper edge:

Here's the completed bodice, all ready for straps and skirt to be attached:

If your lace is thick in parts, then a French seam is not suitable.  For my black embroidered net I sewed a normal seam:

Matching the scalloped edge perfectly:

I overlocked the seam allowance, trimming it to 5mm:

 Leave a tail:

Back at the sewing machine, turn the overlocking thread tail down and tack it in place:

Tack it so that it is enclosed between the layers:

Ensure no parts of the seam allowance show above the top edge:

I topstitched my seam at 3mm:

Topstitching makes the seam really flat, so you won't need to press it every time you wash it!

If you have chosen to use a heavy weight lace, it will need to be open seamed to reduce bulk.  I would overlock each edge, trimming it to 5mm, then sew the seam at this narrower width, and edgestitch each seam allowance open.  (Heavy weight laces are often not as suited to cut and sew techniques like I've demonstrated, but are usually ideal for cut and overlap techniques similar to the CF seam.  However each lace is totally unique and it takes some experience and planning to do this - I am probably not going to be much help from my laptop!)

We're almost finished - remember you can ask questions in the comments if you have any!  I hope to have the post on variations to the bodice up next.  In the meantime here is a summary of Ruby Slip Sew-along posts so far:

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gone Fishing!

We've taken a few days out to go camping on the Coromandel - a peninsula of bush-clad mountains and sandy beaches just 90 minutes drive from Auckland.

This is gorgeous Whiritoa Beach, just south of Whangamata on the east coast - on Boxing Day before the hoardes of holidaymakers arrive!

I'm sure you can understand that sewing isn't really on my mind while I'm here, but I'll be back with the rest of the Ruby Slip Sew-along soon!  Hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season too!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Ruby Slip #5 - Sewing the Bias Skirt

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Ruby Slip #4 - Full Bust Adjustment

The Ruby Slip bodice is drafted for a B cup, and in this post I'll show you how to enlarge the cup size for a larger bust.

For each increase in cup size, you need to add an inch to the front.  Because the pattern pieces are only half a front, we need to add half an inch total to the pattern pieces per cup size.  If you regularly do an FBA, you are probably already aware of how much to add!

Altering for a full bust involves adding not just width to the pattern, but length as well.  This is because a larger bust has a longer Neck Point - Bust Point - Waist length than a smaller bust.

Here are the pattern pieces:

I've cut my pieces directly from the pattern sheet, so excuse all those lines!  You can ignore all lines except the Centre Front Line.
On the Bodice Centre Front, square across from the Centre Front Line to the notch at the bust point (red line):

Do the same thing to the Bodice Side Front, this time squaring from the side seam:

  Mark the 1cm seam allowance at the side seam, and slash to this point from both sides:

Spread the pattern the amount you need to add vertically to the cup, and tape in place:

About 1/2" per cup size should do it.
The next step is to add some width to this piece:

Add 1/4" per cup size to the bust point, tapering to zero at the upper and lower edges.
The same amount of width is now added to the Bodice Centre Front:

The last major step is to increase the Bodice Centre Front length.  Determine the amount it needs to increase by first lining the pieces up at the lower edge as if you are beginning to sew...:

...then pivot the pattern along the seamline (not cutting line) - I press down with a pen on the stitching line as I pivot the upper pattern piece along the seam:

When you reach the end, the difference in length of the stitching lines is the amount we need to increase the CF length by - in my case 15mm:

Slash along the red line and spread the pattern by this amount:

Square a line up from the slashed line (arrow) so you don't move the piece sideways as well
Redraw the CF neckline, starting at the upper stitching line, and intersecting the CF dot - so this point on the body does not change:

Notch the Side Front at the bust point:

And pivot along the seamline to determine the notch position on the Centre Front:

Here are the final pieces:

The angle at the side seam should really be filled and smoothed into a gradual curve - this example only needs about 1mm but larger increases will require more.

Sidenote 1:
Now, if you are enlarging by more than a couple of sizes, the new shape of the seam on the Bodice Centre Front will start to look too accentuated.  The shape of this seam is important as it will be how the seam appears on the body.  If this is starting to look too curvy for your liking, add the 1/4" not just to the bust notch but to the upper edge as well, like I have done in green:

To retain the same fit along the upper edge, you will need to shave this additional wedge off the Bodice Side Front. Yes, this piece gets even curvier, but that is cool - it is your shape!
Note that this also widens the strap placement, so consider that if you have narrow shoulders.

Sidenote 2:
Another important point to mention for larger cup sizes is that the underbust seam has to be large enough to slip over your bustline.
To check this, measure the pattern from the Centre Front Line to Centre Back Line, omitting seam allowances, and double it.
Wrap your tape measure around your under bust area and holding it fixed at the pattern measurement, slide it up over the bustline.  If it doesn't go, you need to add more to the underbust line!

To add an extra 1" total to the underbust, add 1/4" all the way down to the underbust seam, as shown in red here:

If you do this you will also need to alter the Front Skirt by cutting the part above the waist in the next size, and tapering the side seams gradually to your true skirt size at the waist/hip.

Well, that must be one of the most colourful patterns I've produced!
Don't forget you can whip up a quick bodice calico if you want to check the fit before cutting into your lace - it will only take a few minutes and will ease any lace-cutting nerves.
Good Luck!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Ruby Slip #3 - Cutting the Lace Bodice

Welcome back to the Ruby Slip Sew Along!  Today I'll show you how to cut out the border lace so that the scalloped edges line up perfectly at the seams and other important points.

Just in case you are wondering, I took these photographs while I was cutting the lace for my pale blue knee-length version - here is the finished result:

I used a polyester crepe backed satin for this version, and it has sewn up really nice on the bias.
(You might notice the bodice is larger on this version, I have altered the pattern since.)
It is best to run through the process of planning your layout to make sure you have enough lace before you do any cutting, then you can make any adjustments as necessary.  

Lay your lace out right side up
Starting with the Centre Front Bodice piece, lay the neckline edge (scallop edge) along the edge of the lace.  Place the cut edge of the pattern piece in line with the inner concave part of the scallop for each piece:

When the Centre Front Bodice is sewn to the Side Front Bodice, the scalloped edge needs to retain a good shape where it meets the strap:

So careful placement is required at that point.  I chose to place my seamline at the inner corner of a scallop (remember we are aligning the stitching line, not the cutting line): 

Now check where the Centre Front Line meets the scalloped edge - this is where the two Centre Fronts will overlap.  Mine conveniently corresponds to the inner part of a scallop, but most positions will look fine.  In other words let the strap end determine the exact position:

Now (unless you are still planning your layout) you can go ahead and cut this piece out:

Before we cut the Side Front, let's look at how the pattern pieces are sewn together:

At the point on the scalloped edge where the stitching lines meet, we need to match the lace pattern.  On the Centre Front Bodice this point was placed at the inner corner of a scallop, so the Side Front Bodice stitching line is placed at the same part of the scallop:

Once this is done you can cut this panel out.  I've laid mine together here as they will be sewn - now we are starting to see how it will look:

The next piece to cut is the Back Bodice.  Place the seamline in a position where it matches the Side Front Bodice seamline.  For my lace that is the outer convex point of the scallop:

It is important to stop here and check where the Centre Back is located.  Whoops - it is not quite centred on a scallop here! This is a good reason to run through the layout briefly beforehand - so you can plan the best outcome.

I choose to centre the Centre Back Line over the nearest scallop:

The side seams still match closely enough - this is the least important join as it is under the arm, the Centre Back takes priority:

I cut half the back piece, then fold it along the Centre Back line - ensuring the scallops align perfectly - then cut the remainder.  Even though your pattern has a full back piece, I still recommend doing this.

Check your cutting by laying your pieces together as they will be sewn.  My side seam scallop is slightly smaller, but the run is smooth:

Now for the opposite Side Front Bodice.  Lay the one you have already cut face down on the lace, ie right sides together so that you have a pair.  Arrange the top piece so the pattern matches along all edges:

Every lace is different - notice I am using the opposite edge of the lace to get a perfect mirror image.  If you are unable to do this just match the scallops.  Notice also how some lace is wasted because of the large pattern repeat.

Carefully cut around the piece - now you have a perfectly matching pair:

Do the same thing for the Centre Front Bodice - cutting right sides together so that you have a pair:

And finally - I like to lay them all out and double check everything lines up and the patterns match, and generally admire!

At this stage I usually can't wait to get to the machine!  I really enjoy cutting lace and seeing how it all comes together.  Don't forget to ask questions if you need to, and let me know how your skirt cutting went too!

Next up I'll show you how to do an FBA, and then an alteration for using a narrower lace.

And shall I start a Flickr group so we can share pretty pictures of all our fabrics?  It could be helpful for lace cutting queries too.  Let me know in the comments!