Jamie Lau’s Dress Project: A-line Shift Dress with Sleeves, Part 2

OCT 7, 2013 updated Jun 3, 2021

HandCraftedClothing

Over the past few weeks fashion writer, designer and sewing instructor Jamie Lau has shown us how to take an idea and turn it into a textile design for a custom dress! Today we wrap up her series as she shares how to put the finishing touches on an A-line shift dress. 

Jamie Lau Blue Gradient Shift Dress

Jamie: Last week, I began to cut and sew my A-line shift dress using an original textile print I designed, which was inspired by textured gradients in a blue-green color palette. I walked readers through sewing bust darts, attaching the front and back dress pieces, and sewing set-in sleeves. This week, I will complete the garment construction of my dress design and walk you through two finishing techniques that will be useful in current or future projects you may be working on at home.

Applying a neckline bias facing:
 
1. First, I am going to show you how to finish a neckline by applying a bias facing. The length of the bias strip should equal the length of the edge being faced (neckline measurement) plus 2” for ease and finishing. I want to avoid neckline bulk since the linen-cotton canvas fabric is rather thick, so I’ve decided to go with a finished width of ⅜” with ¼” seam allowances. Thus, the width of the bias strip will be the desired finished width (⅜”) plus two seam allowances (¼” x 2 = ½”) for a total of ⅞” (⅜” + ½”).
2. To create your bias strips, find the bias on your fabric by placing the 45-degree angle from your clear gridded quilting ruler on the selvage of the fabric and mark. (Since I cut the body of my garment on the bias last week, I’ve been left with some convenient fabric cut outs that work perfectly for this step – great for eliminating waste and maximizing my fabric scraps.)

Creating bias strips

Creating Bias Strips

Next, draw a parallel line ⅞” from the first line and cut along the true bias edges, creating a ⅞”-wide strip of bias fabric.

Sewing on the bias 

3. When pinning the bias facing around the garment neckline, pin the strip open at least 1” away from both sides of the shoulder seam, leaving 1” to 2” of the strip hanging on both ends. 


Finishing dress neckline

4. Sew at a ¼” seam allowance along the neckline, removing the pins as you go.

Jamie Lau Designs Sewing Tutorial

5. Once you finish sewing around the circumference, pin the two ends of the bias strip together over the gap at the shoulder seam so that the bias strip fits the opening and lays flat against the garment.


Jamie Lau Designs Sewing Tutorial

Sew together and trim the seam allowances down to ¼”, then press open.


Jamie Lau Designs Sewing Tutorial

Sew the remainder of the bias strip to the garment at a ¼” seam allowance where it is still unattached near the shoulder seam and press again.


Jamie Lau Designs Sewing Tutorial
Jamie Lau Designs Sewing Tutorial

6. Next, I am going to understitch the seam allowances to the bias facing. This is a technique that will help the neckline lay flat and allow the bias facing to roll neatly to the inside of the garment so that no seams or bias facing will be visible on the outside of the garment. To do this, first press the seam allowances away from the garment and toward the bias facing. Next, understitch the seam allowances to the bias facing by sewing between 1/16” to ⅛” away from the seam line.


Jamie Lau Designs Sewing Tutorial

7. Press the bias facing toward the inside of the garment, rolling the seam line to the inside the garment.


Jamie Lau Designs Sewing Tutorial

8. Fold the remaining ¼” seam allowance under. Pin and press in place. Next, sew around the neckline between 1/16” to ⅛” away from the bias facing edge, removing the pins as you go. Sew through all layers of bias facing and fabric, then press.


Jamie Lau Designs Sewing Tutorial

Blind stitch hemming by machine

9. Now I am ready to move on to the final step – sewing the hem. First, finish the raw edge of the dress hem with a serger (overlock sewing machine). Then, change the settings on your sewing machine to blind stitch hemming and switch to a blind hem foot. On my machine, I turned the pattern selector dial to “8” (this consists of two or three straight stitches, then one wide zigzag stitch) and my zigzag width control from “0mm” to “2.5mm.”

Jamie Lau Designs Sewing Tutorial

10. Fold the serged hem edge under ⅝” toward the wrong side of the garment and give it a press. With the wrong side up, fold the hem back under toward the right side of the garment with the hem edge projecting ¼”, as pictured, and pin in place. Position the fabric on the machine so that the needle just pierces the folded part of the fabric when the needle comes over to the left side and lower the presser foot. Turn the guide screw on the blind hem foot and move the sliding guide next to the folded edge. Sew guiding the folded edge along the sliding guide, removing the pins as you go. (Tip: Do a few sewing tests on scrap fabric to figure out the best settings and placements first.)

Jamie Lau Designs Sewing Tutorial

The machine will sew a pattern of two or three straight stitches, then one wide zigzag stitch. When completed, the stitching is almost invisible on the right side of the fabric (there will be tiny tacks of thread from the zigzag stitch).

Jamie Lau Designs Sewing Tutorial

Jamie Lau Designs Sewing Tutorial

It feels so rewarding to create an entire dress design from start to finish – from drafting the pattern to designing an original textile print and sewing up my design. I am very satisfied with how my dress design turned out and look forward to making more in different sizes to add to my web store, as well as designing more of my own fabric prints for my dress designs.

Jamie Lau Designs Blue Gradient A-line Shift Dress
Jamie Lau Designs Blue Gradient A-line Shift Dress
Jamie Lau Designs Blue Gradient A-line Shift Dress
Jamie Lau Designs Blue Gradient A-line Shift Dress

If you have any questions about any of the above, feel free to comment below!



About
Our Guest Author


About-JamieJamie
Lau
is a designer, sewing instructor, and fashion writer based in
Brooklyn, New York. She received a sewing machine for her
twenty-fifth birthday and hasn’t put it down since. For her line
Jamie
Lau Designs
,
Jamie transforms simple silhouettes into fashion-forward frocks sewn
from Japanese prints, luxurious brocades, ikats, and her
soon-to-be
own original textile designs. In addition to doing custom work
(including bridal), she teaches sewing, draping, and patternmaking
courses at Textile Arts Center and across the country. Follow her
blog,
Facebook,
Instagram,
and
Pinterest
pages for the latest updates and inspirations.

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