Shape your skirts with ease
Once you’ve mastered all of the seams and hand stitches, it’s time to put those skills to use. Here you’ll find all the info you need to get started on those features that, when combined, help you create your skirts.
Darts are used to add dimension and shape to flat fabric, and are typically found at the waistline of a skirt (and at the bustline in a full dress).
To sew a dart, fold and pin the garment in the center of the dart with the right sides together and the dart “legs” aligned. Begin sewing at the garment raw edge and finish by sewing straight along the dart leg and off the dart point. Hand knot the thread ends or run the thread for a couple of stitches beyond the dart point to let the threads twist.
Press the stitched dart flat to set the stitches, but take care not to press a crease beyond the dart point. Then, working on a tailor’s ham, press the dart toward either the center back or center front to set the garment’s curve. To finish, press the dart again from the right side using a press cloth between the garment and the iron.
Garment details, such as sharp corners, create an interesting predicament. When the fabric pieces are placed right sides together, their raw edges don’t line up. This will come up in the Piece Gathering Skirt, when you sew in the gathered panel.
1). To sew these edges together, first mark their seamlines with a temporary fabric marker. To prevent tearing
and stretching, stitch just inside the seamline, pivoting at the corner (this is called staystitching). Then clip into the inside corner piece as shown, being careful not to cut through the marked seamline.
2). Pin the pieces with the right sides together and raw edges aligned. Stitch one long edge up to the corner. With the needle still in the fabric, lift the presser foot.
3. Pivot the fabric, and gently pull the clipped piece underneath to match the top layer. The clip in the seam allowance should open up, allowing you to align the pieces with ease. Lower the presser foot and complete the seam.
Like sharp corners, curved seams do not match up perfectly when they are positioned with the right sides together.
1). Mark the seamlines directly on both garment pieces with a temporary fabric marker. To prevent tearing and stretching, stitch just inside the seamline close to the curve (this is called staystitching).
2). Cut tiny notches into the seam allowance of the concave piece, taking care not to cut through the marked seamline. These notches will allow the curve to spread and fit the opposing piece better.
3). Spread the seam allowance of the concave piece to match the convex piece, pinning them together with several pins. Machine-stitch the seam as usual, taking care not to stitch any of the puckers.
Topstitching is sewn from the right side of the garment and is meant to be visible on the finished garment. Regular sewing thread is used for most topstitched details, but for decorative work, topstitching thread stands out more. If you use topstitching thread, switch your machine setting to a longer stitch length (about 3.5 mm) and use a topstitching needle. This special needle has a larger eye to accommodate the thicker thread, and is stronger and sharper to enable it to penetrate several layers of fabric. The Twiggy Skirt is an example of a skirt topstitched this way with contrasting thread.
Edgestitching is created by sewing close to a garment edge or fold, typically no more than ⅛” away.
Understitching is a simple extra step that goes a long way toward helping your garment look its best from the outside. It may seem like an annoying extra step, but trust me; it is well worth the time and effort. Typically done on facing and waistband seams to prevent the seamline from rolling to the right side, understitching holds the facing (or other interior piece) in place.
To understitch, machine-stitch the seam as usual and then press the seam allowance toward the facing (or the piece that is being turned inside the garment). Then, edgestitch the seam allowance in place just inside the seamline. You’ll be amazed at how easily the seamline then turns under, without rolling to the garment’s right side.
Gathering can be used to create ruffles or ruched details. It’s really easy to do using a machine basting stitch. To start, stitch one or two basting stitches inside the seam allowance along the edge you’d like to gather. Backstitch at one end and leave the other end of the thread tails long.
To gather the edge, pull the bobbin thread’s long tail. Push the fabric along the thread and gather it to your desired length and fullness.
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