Episode 506


Shift in Thought by Brini Maxwell

Learn how to create a classic dress with couture touches.


Lined shift or sheath dress pattern

Fabric and notions (according to the pattern envelope)

Neutral-colored lightweight cotton (interlining; same amount as dress fabric)

Package of coordinating piping

Zipper foot

Coordinating all-purpose thread

Hand sewing needle

Cut It

From the main fabric, lining and lightweight cotton, cut out the dress body. If working with particularly lightweight fabric, use the facing pieces to cut interfacing, if needed. When cutting out the lining pieces, fold in any extensions meant for pockets.

Stitch the interlining to the main body piece wrong sides using a 1/4" seam allowance; press. Reposition the pattern and transfer the pattern markings onto the interlining.

Sew It

Assemble the dress body according the guidesheet.

Use an invisible zipper, if desired, or pick the zipper in for a nice finish. This technique is a traditional couture finish and looks lovely. Insert the zipper using a lapped application, following the instructions on the zipper package.

Thread a hand sewing needle with all-purpose thread. Instead of topstitching the zipper, stitch through all layers from the wrong side, then stitch back to the wrong side just behind the previous stitch. The backstitch gives the running stitches stability and the small stitches on the fabric right side leave only a row of tiny specks on the surface.

Adding piping to the neckline and armseyes is a traditional finish frequently used on dresses from the '60s. It's easy to do and gives some body to the edges. Make your own piping using a contrast color or even a print, or use beaded trim for a fun effect. Ready-made faux patent leather piping was used on the featured dress.

Install a zipper foot onto the machine. Stitch the piping to the dress body along the neckline and armseye edges, aligning the dress raw edges with the piping straight edge.

Construct the lining as per the dress body, leaving the back seam open to match the zipper. The lining acts as the facing for the dress.

With right sides together and raw edges aligned, position the lining over the dress, sandwiching the piping. Stitch the neckline, and then clip the seam allowances. Topstitch the lining to the seam allowance, and then turn right side out; press.

Fold the armseye seam allowances toward the wrong side, using the piping as a guide. Fold the lining armseye seam allowances toward the wrong side and align the fold with the piping stitching; hand stitch the fold to the piping. Repeat to fold and hand stitch the lining to the zipper opening.

Featherstitch the pockets and hem to the interlining instead of the fashion fabric so the stitches won't show on the dress right side.

Fold the lining hem 3/4" shorter than the dress hem; slipstitch the lining in place, leaving a pleat for ease as in a jacket sleeve hem.

Products used in this episode:



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