By Eleanor Thomson (https://nelnanandnora.wordpress.com/)
Wax print fabric from an African fabric stall in Kirkgate market, Leeds
A 22” concealed zip
Matching thread – a little tricky here – so I chose the dominant colour, blue
(NB: I chose not to use interfacing as this fabric holds its shape well even when washed and I felt it might be too stiff.)
Launder, dry and press the fabric.
NB It is possible to use 45” wide fabric if you cut two pieces rather than one and add 1.5cm seam allowance alongside where the fold would normally be. This would be easier with a plain fabric or one with a less obvious repeat than the one I used! I gave up on pattern matching and instead chose to use blocks of colour.
Sally has already written a great tutorial so I’ll keep this brief. This dress is a surprisingly quick sew. However, I’ll look at some of the areas that need good preparation and care.
Before sewing, work out (roughly at least) which edges will be left exposed so that you can pre-finish them with a zigzag stitch or overlocker/serger. In this case it will be:
Curved bodice seams (not the armhole and neckline edges or shoulder seams)
Lower edges of facings
Bodice Side seams
Waist edges on skirt and all 4 bodice pieces
Skirt back seam and side seams
Firstly, some of the pattern pieces are strange looking shapes, which might be confusing, with sticky-out points and quirks. These need cutting carefully as they enable good matching at seams and they will make sense when you have stitched and pressed the seams open, especially the curved bodice seams.
I find it works well to pin the top and bottom of the pieces together first, then match the notches, and then fill in the gaps with more pins, easing the pieces along the stitching line as you go. (On curved seams, I place most of the pins at right angles to the stitching line, with a few extras crosswise to reduce slipping.)
Remember to check your seam allowances! For the neckline and armholes, this pattern has a 1cm seam allowance, rather than 1,5cm. Once you have stitched the seams, you then trim away some of the excess (5mm in this case) and snip in towards the curved seams. This allows the seam allowances to ease out when you turn the bodice right sides out.
Alternative order for steps 9-12:
I find it easier to stitch the neckline seam first, trim, snip, then open out the neckline and understitch it, and only after that to sew the armhole seams and trim and snip those. For me, it makes for much easier access to the stitching lines and therefore neater stitching.
For inserting the zip, I’d recommend the Simple Sew video tutorial. I use a special roller foot that is designed for concealed zips, but it is possible to use a standard zip foot and obtain equally good results, with some practice.
This is the trick I use to make sure that the zip lines up properly at the waist seam:
Stitch the first side of the zip to the dress back, fasten the zip and then mark on the other zip tape – with a pin, pen or chalk – the seam position. Then, when you pin the other the zip tape to the dress back, start pinning from this point, then check the alignment at the top of the zip before pinning and tacking the remainder.