How to Make a Dress: Part 5 - How to Prepare Facings and Sleeves for Sewing into the Dress

If you follow sewing pattern instructions you will make the garment pieces as and when you need them. That's fine, but if you are an organized sort of person or you want to be, you can make the smaller parts up before-hand so that you can just apply them when the time comes, kind of like they do in factories, except you're make only one item (or so I presume).

We'll start with the facings.

How to Prepare a Facing
It's easy really. Once you have stay-stitched the edges and interfaced the facing, you put the seam allowances that are to be joined RS together and stitch. On this dress there was a neckline facing and the seams were shoulder seams.

Here the front neck facing is underneath the back neck facings, which overlap because of the seam allowances:

Once you have stitched the seams of the facing, you press them flat (as they are when you take them away from your sewing machine), then you press them open, and overcast or zigzag their raw edges. The interfacing is trimmed in the seam allowances to reduce bulk:

We'll apply the facing later.

How to Make a Sleeve
The sleeve on this dress is a simple short sleeve with a hand-stitched invisible hem (machine-sewn invisible hems are seldom actually invisible). The front of each sleeve has one notch and the back has two notches (also called a double notch). This is so you know where to start ease-stitching, and also to help you put the sleeve in the right way round. There is also a notch at the top of the sleeve to match the shoulder seam.

Here I have sewn the seam (you can see the hem area is interfaced for a better finish) and trimmed the seam allowance in the hem area to reduce bulk.

(You can see in the seam allowance of the sleeve cap I have clipped one of the notches rather than cut a notch shape outwards of the seam allowance. I do this because it's quicker and easier.)

Now we shall sew the hem of the sleeve. If you were making the garment for someone in particular, or for yourself, you could leave this part until you try the garment on to make sure that you get the sleeve the right length.

How to Sew An Invisible Hand-Hem
This hem allowance is 1 1/4 inches deep (about 3cm) and there will be two turnings: one deep one (1in deep), and the other (1/4 inch) to fold under the raw edge.

First, fold the hem allowance up 1 1/4 inches all the way around. This is a good place to use your sewing gauge if you have one (I made mine) or you can use a tape measure if you prefer. Once that is level, turn under the remaining 1/4 inch so that the hem is 1 inch all around when viewed from the inside (as shown at left). Now pin in place and baste if you wish.

On the seam allowance of the sleeve seam (which I probably ought to have overcast earlier) secure your thread for hemming as in the top photo below.

Then go into the hem allowance and bring the needle through about 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch along. Pick up one thread of the sleeve and then repeat. Keep going until you get to the starting point again. Then you just secure your thread and cut it off.

If you have to start a new thread as you go along the hem, secure it in the hem allowance so that it is invisible.

Et Voilá! You have your hem, and it is invisible from the RS.

When it comes time to set the sleeves, I will show you a neat trick that I learned from Power Sewing by Sandra Betzina for easing the sleeve caps much more easily.

I had planned to include the collar, bow and pockets in this post, but I haven't time. Never mind, we will continue next week.

Until next time, Happy Sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner Haberdashery, Hornsea, East Yorkshire, HU18 1AP

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