I’ve sadly neglected my blog. That said, I have been busy sewing, designing and such. I hope to do a better job posting in this year to come. 😊
Today I was contacted by someone that was going to make my Annalise top and she wanted to find the heart design that she had seen somewhere – probably Pinterest. It turns out that this was something that I designed MANY years ago when I used to make and sell custom garments on Ebay.
I designed the heart smocking to match the fabric on the pants, which was a crooked heart. Isn’t she the cutest model!!! I’m sure that she’s in college by now!
I had to do a bit of hunting to find the design. Thankfully I had saved the pencil graph of the heart. With that, as well as the pictures to go on, I graphed out the heart design on the computer and wanted to offer it to my followers so that it can be smocked on a Valentine outfit for this year!!! I have graphed out the smocking design that fits perfectly on the Annalise top (available in my Etsy shop – just click on the name and it will bring you there) as well as offering it in a regular yoke design.
This is a relatively simple smocking design and suitable for someone that has mastered reading the picture smocking graphs
In this sew-along we will be finishing up the gown by doing the Madeira hem or alternate hem.
First, I have to apologize as I’ve created a minor problem with the construction. For the original gown, I sewed the sleeves, inserted them into the gown, pleated the gown, did the hem treatment and finished with finishing the back of the gown and attaching the bias band. It seemed to me that it made more sense to do the hem last, as is done on most dress/gown projects. Obviously, I didn’t consider the full implications of changing the construction order. 🙄
To create the Madeira or alternate hem treatment, the back of the gown needs to be unfinished. So, for those that have finished the back of the gown already, you will need to remove the stitching in the hem area so that the Madeira hem can be sewn. I’m sorry for the un-stitching required, but thankfully, it’s a small amount. You will also need to add that hem allowance to each side of the pattern piece that you’ve created so that the contrast band pattern and fabric will be the same width as the unfinished gown.
The first step will be to cut 2 contrast bands of fabric, at least 1″ deeper than the highest point of the hem pattern created and as wide as the gown. Starch the bands as well as the skirt fabric. Then place the scallop pattern of your choice on top of one of the contrast bands, and trace around the scallop shapes with a blue wash-out marker.
Place the 2 contrast bands with right sides together and pin to secure. Put the water soluble thread on the sewing machine (top only) and stitch along the blue lines with a 2.0 stitch length. Be sure to take one diagonal stitch across each scallop peak before continuing stitching along the scallops. The diagonal stitch will result in a better looking point at the peak. Accuracy is essential – the way that the scallops are stitched now will be the way that they look on the finished garment.
After stitching the scallops, trim away the excess fabric from above the stitching line with an even seam allowance. Clip across the point. Then clip the seam allowance of the curves at 1/4″ intervals.
Turn seam allowance to the back (see video) on each side of the point, insert the long tweezers, pinching the folded seam allowances, and turn the point/fabric right side out. Press with a dry (NO STEAM) iron. Do this along the length of the contrast band until all points are turned and pressed. Ensure that you are satisfied with the points along the band, if not, make any adjustments.
IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED THAT THIS TECHNIQUE IS PRACTICED ON SCRAP FABRIC PRIOR TO WORKING ON THE CONTRAST BAND!!! Use some of the leftover fabric from the project to try the techniques and then save the practice piece to practice the pinstitching on.
Place a damp linen press cloth on top of the fabric and press until COMPLETELY dry. Once it is completely dry, the 2 layers can be separated easily. If some places are still stuck together, repeat the process with the damp cloth.
Change the sewing thread to 60 wt. thread. Sew the contrast band to the gown with the right side of the contrast band to the wrong side of the fabric. Trim seam allowance. Understitch. Then press the contrast band to the right side of the fabric and pin the band to the gown along all the scalloped edges/points.
With 80 wt. thread in the top and bobbin, stitch the contrast band to the gown along the folded edge.
PINSTITCH HEM TREATMENT
To prepare the gown for the pinstitch, heavily starch (NOT ELLEN’S BEST PRESS) the hem of the dress. Allow to dry. Then press.
Cut 2″ strips of water soluble stabilizer (Sulky Fabri-Solvy) to the wrong side of the dress centering over the scallops and overlapping the stabilizer as needed.
Set the sewing machine to a pinstitch/hemstitch. The correct stitch will go back and forth 2x and then zigzag once. Use a #110 needle, 80 wt. thread on both the top and the bobbin and the open toed foot. Set the stitch to 2.5 L and 2.0 W. Stitch along the scallops, pivoting as needed and pivoting at the points (see video).
(optional) Trim away excess stabilizer carefully.
ALTERNATE HEM TREATMENT
If you machine doesn’t have a true pinstitch, a double needle hemstitch can be done using a double top-stitching stitch on the sewing machine. This stitch will go forward one stitch, go back one stitch, then go forward again in the same hole, repeat (so forward one, back one, forward 2). I have always called this a double stitch. Some call this a lightening stitch. Again, it is recommended that this stitch is practiced on scraps of fabric before doing it on the gown.
Starch the hem of the gown before beginning. Cut 2″ strips of water soluble stabilizer and pin them behind the scallops of the gown, overlapping as needed.
With 60 wt. thread on top and in the bobbin, the double hemstitching needle and an open toed foot, center the fold of the scallops between the 2 needles and stitch the double top-stitch, pivoting as needed. When the peak of a scallop is reached, leave the needles down, raise the pressure foot, pivot, set the pressure foot down and continue stitching. The fabric will look distorted when you pivot at the point, but as soon as the stitching continues, it will flatten out and look right.
Trim away excess stabilizer.
Regardless of which hem treatment was used, the remainder of the back of the gown can now be finished with a narrow hem.
Soak the gown in cold water for 5 minutes to remove all of the blue wash-out marker. If this doesn’t remove all of the stabilizer, then hand wash the garment in warm, sudsy water and agitate a bit. Rinse completely. Hang to dry and press as needed.
To finish the back of the gown, cut a length of 1/8″ ribbon (32″ – 40″, depending on size). Thread the ribbon into a tapestry needle and insert into the bias band at the neck. Begin at the edge of the bias band at one end and come out at the end of the smocking at the opposite end.
Sew 2 snaps on the back of the gown, the first snap 1″ below the bias band and the second snap 1″ below the first.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the sew-along and have gained some new tips and techniques that can be used in future projects! Please ask any questions you may have and I’ll be glad to answer!
Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.
After downloading the pattern, follow the instructions and cut out the gown fabric/rectangle as directed. Fold the rectangle in half, and then in half again in order to cut out the armhole curve.
The armhole curve has TWO placement lines. For the gown that has NO SIDE SEAMS, use the inside line!!! Place this line on the fold and cut around the armhole.
Next cut the sleeve rectangles. If you plan to use the boy’s pleated sleeve pattern, add 1″ to the depth of the rectangle. Using the same armhole curve, cut the sleeve armhole on the OUTSIDE placement line.
Decide on what sleeve treatment will be used. For a smocked sleeve, pleat the sleeves with the desired number of rows (I usually pleat 5 half spaces, 7 for a NB) and be sure to leave the pleating threads long enough to flatten the sleeves out in order to finish the lower edge of the sleeve with a narrow rolled hem or with lace.
Before attaching lace, it is best to starch the lace. For this, use starch, not Ellen’s Best Press. Ellen’s Best Press is a starch alternative, not starch – you won’t get the same crisp results with it as you will with real starch. I use Faultless Heave Spray Starch (link below). It is also available at grocery stores, WalMart, etc.
Attach lace or hem the sleeve bottom. If you need a refresher on how to attach lace, I do have an e-book available on my Etsy site.
For a boy’s pleated sleeve, follow the instructions on the file below (click on the blue PDF) to download the file. This includes instructions for all sizes. Read before cutting out and making the sleeve!!!
Stitch the underarm seam allowance with a TINY 1/4″ SEAM. I have a Youtube video on how to do this:
With the sleeves completed, stitch the sleeve into the armhole. If you have cut & stitched accurately, the sleeve will fit into the armhole perfectly.
Of course, all of the instructions and demonstrations can be seen on my YouTube channel:
This is a longer video, so if you already know how to attach lace, roll & whip, etc., you can fast forward through those parts! 😊 I just wanted to make sure that someone new that wanted to try this would have enough information to apply lace correctly.
You are ready to pleat at this point. Please follow the pleating video if you would like to see how I pleated the gown. Pleat with the number of rows recommended or desired.
Stay tuned for the hem instructions!!!
Links for some of the additional supplies I used – you may already own these:
Keep on stitching!!!! If you have questions, please ask and I’ll answer them here.
Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop – it gives me a little bit back for my time producing these videos! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.
A beautiful hemline is a lovely way to compliment a bodice – smocked, embroidered, tucked, etc. There are so many ways to embellish a hem. Some are more time consuming and difficult, others are quicker and easier (relatively speaking). This post will address some of the many options of interest to anyone that enjoys heirloom sewing. Hopefully it will inspire some creative thinking for your next sewing project!
A smocked bishop dress is deserving of a beautiful hem treatment. This hem was stitched with a pin-stitch, done by hand and then embroidery was added above the hem. While I nearly always will choose a machine method of hem finishes, I do love hand-work and wanted to test the waters with a hand, pin-stitch. With a small sized bishop dress, this didn’t take too long. This is a cost effective treatment and only requires a lightweight thread for the pin-stitch. Any book on heirloom techniques will include instructions for this stitch.
For reference, this dress was made from Imperial batiste. The smocking design is a variation of Ellen McCarn’s “Cary Anne” smocking plate – I made a few changes. Contrary to the opinion of many heirloom stitchers, it IS possible to do a hand pin-stitch on a poly/cotton fabric. Because of the easy care of this fabric, this dress is likely to get more wear than one that requires special laundering as well as ironing.
As mentioned, my “go-to” methods are almost always a machine method and I love including color in the hem and bodice of a dress.
Scalloped hems always look beautiful!!! Of course, they are more work and will take more time. The finished result is always worth the extra effort! This dress has a scalloped, contrast hem that is machine pin-stitched. Machine pin-stitching also takes time, but goes much more quickly than doing it by hand. Pintucks and embroidery above the hem elevate the design, making it even more beautiful. Pintucks are an easy way to embellish a hem and no additional cost is incurred!
This pattern is available in my Etsy shop.. The fabric for this dress is satin batiste – both the white and the yellow fabric. It is dreamy to work with and creates a keepsake heirloom.
This dress is similar to the yellow/white dress above, but a little quicker to complete. This is a Madeira hem in a contrast color that is machine pin-stitched to the skirt. It has hand embroidered shadow work above the hem – both of these elements are repeated in the bodice.
This dress is made from Imperial batiste for the easy-care that the fabric offers. Because of that, it was worn often, washed frequently and still looks beautiful. As you can see, the machine pin-stitching can also be done effectively on a poly/cotton blend. The pattern and instructions for this dress is available in my Etsy shop.
This is another example of a contrast hem – a shadow Madeira hem, done by machine. The technique for this hem is a bit different. A heavy contrast fabric (hot pink) is used underneath the batiste skirt to shadow through as a pastel pink. This method is much quicker and easier than the previous 2 dresses shown and only requires a pintuck needle and foot and a wing needle. The dress features hand embroidery above the hem. The contrast fabric and embroidery are repeated on the dress bodice.
For an heirloom look with less hours invested, this style will fit the bill. This dress is also made from Imperial batiste, so another easy care dress that should get worn frequently. The pattern is available in my Etsy shop.
Shown below is the same hem technique done with a simple scallop design and with silk ribbon embroidery at the peaks. It is such a versatile technique!
This is yet another dress using the same technique.
Swiss batiste blue dress with lace.
Satin batiste lace dress with lace overlay bodice, sleeves and a lace scalloped hem.
Pima cotton lawn dress with lace bodice and hem.
It goes without saying that you can never go wrong with a traditional heirloom dress and LOTS of lace! Each of these examples show how the lace hem is a repeat of the lace bodice.
The blue dress is a basic yoke dress using heirloom techniques to add lace. The white dress is a basic yoke dress, smocked, and with heirloom techniques to add a lace overlay bodice, lace sleeves and a scalloped lace hem. This dress was featured in Sew Beautiful magazine several years ago. The pink dress is a pattern available in my Etsy shop.
Sometimes a single lace edging is sufficient as a hem. This adds a touch of elegance without taking away from the dress bodice embroidery and the lace sleeves. This vintage inspired dress pattern is available in my Etsy shop.
To create an heirloom dress with lots of appeal and a little less expense, ribbon can be used in the hem and bodice paired with lace for a stunning dress. This is a great way to learn and use heirloom techniques without breaking the bank! These dresses are made of Swiss batiste, ribbon and lace. It does not require a lot of fabric and could also be made with Imperial batiste if easy care and savings is a factor.
With Easter fast approaching, consider a beautiful hem to compliment whatever you might be creating for someone special!!! You can’t go wrong!