Friday, August 30, 2013

colorblock dress - sewing tutorial

As promised ... the sewing tutorial for the Colorblock Dress!  Sorry it's so late, but Mae has been a little stinker today :)  My usual time for sewing and writing blog posts is during her nap, and she decided she was not interested in taking one today until I laid down with her first.  And then about 1 1/2 hours later she finally fell asleep!  At least I was able to get some reading done :)

The rest of the day was quite busy as well.  One of my daughters, who will remain nameless (but will be reading this blog post later!) is trying to finish an Advanced English summer assignment four days before school starts and needs my help.  Nothing like waiting until the last possible minute ... like mother, like daughter I suppose :)

Day 1: Coloring your own dress

Day 2: Drafting the pattern

Today: Sewing the dress :)

All seam allowances are 3/8"

1. First things first, use your newly drafted pattern pieces to cut your fabric.  Cut one bodice piece for each front pattern piece on the fold and cut two back bodice pieces for each back pattern piece - make sure you cut mirror images (flip over pattern piece) for the back pieces.  Use the original pattern pieces to cut the lining since it does not need any color blocking.  Then cut 4 sleeve pieces - two of them as mirror images.  Make sure to mark the center of the sleeve (using the center line drawn in the drafting stage) so you can line it up with the shoulder seam later.

2. With right sides together, sew along straighter edge of sleeve - so in other words, not what is pictured below!  I sewed the sleeves along the wrong edge in this step which changed the way the sleeve fits in the dress, so don't do what I did.  Make sure you sew the sleeve along the edge that is not the armscye in the drafting stage.  Then trim the seam to 1/8" - I clip the seams before I trim but that is not really necessary - it's just a habit for me :)

3. Turn the sleeves right sides out and press well.

4. Sew the top bodice pieces to the lower bodice pieces, right sides together.

5. Press the seam up so they are enclosed in the armscye seams later.

6. Place the front and back bodice pieces right sides together and sew the shoulder seams.  Repeat with the lining pieces.  Press the shoulder seams open to reduce bulk.

At this point you should have the bodice, the bodice lining and the sleeves assembled.  Now let's put them all together!

7. Pin the sleeve to the bodice right sides together with the shoulders seam on the bodice and the mark you made earlier on the the sleeve lined up.  If the sleeves were sewn properly in this picture, they would reach from the color blocking on the front bodice to the color blocking on the back bodice.  Honestly, at this point I wondered why my sleeves didn't fit properly, but I still didn't realize that I had sewn them backwards.  Sometimes I wonder where my brain is :)

8. Now pin the lining to the sleeve/bodice with the right side down.  I just transfer the pins I used in the last step to pin all three layers together.

9. Sew the armscye and clip the seams.

10. Repeat steps 7-9 for the other armscye.

11. Next we will sew the neckline.  But before you start, you should fold under the sleeves to make sure that they do not accidentally get sewn into the neckline.

12.  Sew the neckline and clip the curves.  Do not sew along the back opening!

13. Turn the bodice right sides out by pulling the back through the shoulder channels.  Press all the edges well.  Notice that my sleeves are wavy.  If you sew your sleeves correctly, they will look more like cap sleeves.  Just in case you're wondering, at this point I still didn't realize that I had sewn the sleeves wrong :)

14. It's time to sew the side seams.  Lay the bodice down with the lining on the bottom and the top (so essentially inside out) and the side seams lined up.

15.  Pull up the two layers of lining so the lining is right sides together and the bodice is right sides together as well - make sure the underarm seams are lined up.

16.  Sew the side seam.  Repeat for the other side of the bodice.  Turn the bodice right side out and press the underarm seams flat.  This will finish the bodice for now.

17. Now we need to construct the skirt.  You determined the measurements for the skirt pieces when drafting the pattern, but you still need to figure out the band measurements.  In the drafting stage I decided that I want my band to be 3" finished, so I know my band needs to be cut 6 3/4" which is 6" (finished band width x 2) + 3/4" for a seam allowance on either end.  The lengths are the same as the lengths for the skirt pieces.  For the 2T, I will cut three band pieces - 1 @ 25" for the front and 2 @ 12.5" for the back.  I chose to crease the band pieces (long way with wrong sides together) at this point because I find it easier than doing it when it's a really long piece, but it can be done at the end of step 19 as well.

18.  Sew and finish/serge the skirt side seams right sides together leaving the back open.

19.  Sew the short ends of the bands right sides together leaving the back open - make sure you sew a back band piece to either end of the front band piece so the side seams will line up properly with the skirt.  This seam does not need to be serged since it will not show in the finished dress.  If you did not crease the band pieces earlier, do it now.  Fold the band in half with the wrong sides together and press well.

20.  Place the raw edge of the band along the right side of the bottom edge of the skirt - the folded edge of the band should be closer to the top edge of the skirt.  Sew and finish/serge the band to the skirt.

21. Fold the band down, press the seam up toward the skirt and topstitch is desired.

22. Use the gathering method of your choice, attach the skirt to the bodice right sides together and finish/serge the seam.  Press the seam toward the bodice and topstitch if desired. If you need help gathering the skirt, here is a great youtube video that explains an easy way to gather.

23.  I kind of forgot to take pictures of a couple of steps.  It was getting late and I just wanted to finish quickly, and I totally forgot I was supposed to be taking pictures :)  So I will just explain the best I can.  Measure the length of the back of your dress from the neck seam to the hem.  Measure carefully because this will be the color block button/snap placket and it needs to be accurate.  Add 3/4" to your measurement for seam allowances on either end.  Cut two piece as long as your measurement and 3" wide running with the grain (parallel to the selvedge edge)

Cut two pieces of fusible interfacing 1" wide by the length you measured previously and press them along the wrong side of each piece fabric strip. If that isn't clear, hopefully the picture below will help :)  Then sew the short ends of the fabric strips wrong sides together.

24.  Turn the fabric strips right sides out, fold in half and crease along the long side.  Press well.

25.  Pin one of the strips to the back edge of the dress making sure to line up the top and bottom edges.  Sew and finish/serge the seam.  Repeat with the other side.

26. Press the seams toward the dress and topstich down the length of the dress if desired.

27.  Finish the dress with buttons or snaps, which ever you prefer.  If you use buttons, sew the button holes on the right side and the buttons on the left.  Traditionally, in girls clothing, the right side should overlap the left, although I really don't think anyone notices that kind of thing anymore :)  If you ever wonder why, it's because men's clothes buttoned in the front and they dressed themselves.  Whereas, women's clothes often buttoned in the back and they were fastened by someone else so the buttons needed to be on the opposite side. And children were usually dressed by someone as well, so their clothes fastened the same way as women's.  I have no idea why they still fasten that way since women do dress themselves.  Apparently, women are just more talented then men and can fasten a button either way :)

I can't possibly publish this post without telling you when I finally realized I sewed the sleeve in wrong.  I have to admit that I didn't notice the mistake until I went to write the directions for the sleeves.  If I hadn't written a tutorial, I probably would have wondered for a really long time why my sleeve pattern didn't work the way it should have :)

Blue fabric - Robert Kaufman Interweave Chambray Lake
Dark grey fabric - Robert Kaufman Interweave Chambray Slate
Gold fabric - Robert Kaufman Interweave Chambray Mustard
Lining - Urban Zoology by Robert Kaufman
Snaps - Kamsnaps


  1. I love this dress - especially the snap placket.

    1. Thanks Renee - that's my favorite part too!

  2. this dress is so cute! it is on my list for sure! i love how you put the colors together

  3. Beautiful dress. Love the color and fabric choices and then I also LOVE those snaps.

  4. love the dress! The fabric choices are beautiful and I have to get myself some snaps!

    1. I really don't know what I would do without my snaps :) I use them on quite a few different projects.

  5. I have a question, please! I would like to do this for the Tuileries dress, but I'm also adding in scallops. Do I finish the scallops first or do the placket?

    1. Attach the placket last. It is intended to be attached to a finished hem.

  6. What a beautiful tutorial; thank you so much for everything you learn us !