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COLFAX SEWALONG DAY 5 – STEPS 25 – 32

April 15, 2016

Today is the last day of the Colfax Sewalong. It’s going to be a quick finish. Just the hem facing left. Views A and B finish in different ways so make sure that you are following the right instructions.

Step 25 – With right sides together, line up the two short edges of the front hem facing with the corresponding edges of the back hem facing, matching notches. Stitch at 1/2″ seam allowance.

Press seams open.

Step 26 – Turn down the unnotched edge of the hem allowance by 1/4” towards the wrong side of the fabric. Press.

VIEW A ONLY (VIEW B SKIP TO STEP 30 )

Step 27 – With right sides together, pin the notched edge of the hem allowance to the bottom of the dress, matching notches.

Stitch at 1/2″ seam allowance.

Step 28 – Trim the seam allowance to reduce bulk.

Turn your dress inside out and press the hem facing up towards the inside of the dress (the seam allowance will be sandwiched inbetween). The wrong side of your dress will be facing the wrong side of your hem facing. Pin generously around the folded edge of the hem facing.

Step 29 – Finish your hem by edgestitching along the top folded edge of the hem facing. Give the whole dress a Final press.

Congrats! View A is finished.

VIEW B ONLY

Step 30 – Turn your dress inside out. With the right side of the hem facing touching the wrong side of your dress, pin the bottom edge of the hem facing to the bottom of the dress, matching notches.

Stitch at 1/2″ seam allowance.

Step 31 – Trim the seam allowance to reduce bulk. Turn your dress right side out and press the hem facing up towards the right side of your dress. Pin generously around the folded edge of the hem facing. Make sure that your pockets are lying at and still pinned.

Step 32 – Finish your hem by edgestitching along the top folded edge of the hem facing. Catch the bottom edge of your pocket seam allowances within the stitchline by about 1/8″. This will help support the weight of the pocket and keep it in place.

Here is what the inside of the dress should look like with the pocket in the stitchline.

Give the whole dress a final press.

Congrats! View B is finished.

I will be sure to take some pictures in both of these dresses and post them next week sometime. Thank you so much for following along. I can’t wait to see all of your versions. Be sure to enter the Colfax Dress Contest by either posting your dress on instagram with the hashtag #colfaxdresscontest or sending me an email with the photo. The last day to enter the contest is Thursday April 28th. The prizes are gift certificates to My Fabric Designs. Click here for more details.

You can find the Colfax Dress pdf pattern here. Use the code COLFAXCONTEST for a discount for the rest of April. You can find the fabrics used for the sewalong here, here and here. Use the code TRUEBFS for free shipping with My Fabric Designs for the remainder of the contest.

SEWING

COLFAX SEWALONG DAY 4 – STEPS 12 – 24

April 14, 2016

Welcome back for day 4 of the Colfax Dress Sewalong. Today we will pick up where we left off and finish up the side seams and armholes. Let’s get going.

First we will finish the side seams for View B. If you are doing View A (no pockets) then skip ahead to step 17.

Step 12 – Finish the seam allowance of all side seams and pocket pieces separately before stitching them together. We have to do this now because the way that the pockets are constructed, you won’t be able to finish all of the seams after construction. You can finish the seam allowances in a few different ways such as pinking or zigzag stitching. I am going to serge because it’s fast and effective.

With right sides together, pin one pocket piece to a coordinating dress front side seam, matching notches. Stitch at 3/8” seam allowance (The seam allowance is less than the 1/2″ for the rest of the dress so that the pockets will sit slightly inside of the dress and not be visible.). Stitch from the top of the pocket to the bottom. Repeat for other 3 pockets and side seams.

Step 13 – Press each of the pockets and seam allowances away from the dress.

Step 14 – Matching notches, pin the front and back dress together along both side seams, with right sides facing and the pockets extended.

Stitch down from the armhole, pivoting at dot, around the pocket, pivoting again at second dot, and down to the bottom of the dress. Repeat for the other side of the dress.

Step 15 – Clip the seam allowances for the back dress above and below the pocket. Press the seam allowances above and below the pocket open and press the pocket towards the dress front.

Step 16 – On the right side of your dress, press your pocket opening flat, with the pocket still lying against the front of your dress.

Put a few pins in to secure the pocket to the front of the dress. The pocket seam should hide about 1/8” inside the pressed fold of your pocket opening.

Make a small bar tack (about 3/8” long) through all layers just above and below the pocket opening. This will help support the pocket and keep it towards the front of the dress.

Repeat for other pocket. Keep pins in to help when hemming.

This next step is for View A (no pockets) only. If you are sewing View B skip to step 18.

Step 17 – With right sides together, sew up the side seams of your dress. Finish the seam allowances in your desired manner. This could be pinking, zigzag stitching or serging, but I highly recommend doing french seams for View A. The side seams are the only  exposed seams on the whole dress, so if you use french seams then it really will be as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside. I am going to take you through the steps for french seams.

First stitch the sideseams together with wrong sides touching at 1/4″.

Trim the seam allowance down to 1/8″.

Open up the seam. Press the seam allowance to one side.

Turn your dress inside out and press the seam, right sides touching.

Stitch the edge at 1/4″.

Open up and press the seam towards the back.

Step 18 – Prepare your armhole binding by folding it in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and pressing.

Open it back up, fold each raw edge back in to meet the first foldline. Press.

Fold the whole thing back in half along the first foldline. It should look just like double fold bias tape.

Step 19 – Turn your dress inside out. Take one of the armhole bindings, and open one of its folded sides. Starting at the underarm seam, with about 1” of binding overlapping towards the dress back, pin the long, open edge of your binding around the armhole so that it is flush with the edge. The right side of the armhole binding should be touching the wrong side of your dress.

Step 20 – When you get to the underarm seam again, pin the armhole binding together, right sides touching, so that it fits snugly against the armhole. Mark the point where they meet up with chalk or a pen. Trim off the excess binding so that there is about 1” left on either end past your marking.

Step 21 – Unpin the binding just a couple of inches to the front and back of the underarm seam and pull the binding away from the dress. Unfold the binding and stitch it together where you previously marked it.

Step 22 – Trim the seam allowance to 1/4” and press open. Repin the binding to the bottom of the armhole and stitch around the entire armhole at 1/2” (within the crease).

Step 23 – Trim the armhole seam allowance to about 3/8” to reduce bulk.

Turn your dress right side out. Refold the armhole binding so that it is covering the seam allowance completely and reaching over onto the right side of the dress.

Make sure that it also covers the stitch line. Pin and press around the entire armhole. The armhole binding will slightly overlap the neckline facing and completely cover the visible shoulder seam and seam allowance.

Step 24 – Carefully edgestitch along the open edge of the armhole binding on the right side of your dress.

Repeat for other armhole. Press.

And that’s it for today. Tomorrow we will finish up the dress with the hem. Please let me know if you have any questions at all and tag your photos with #colfaxdress so that I can see your progress.

SEWING

COLFAX SEWALONG DAY 3 – STEPS 1-11

April 13, 2016

Welcome back for day 3 of the Colfax Sewalong. Today we will be focusing on the yoke and neckline. The yoke is really the focal point of the dress, so if you go slowly and follow the directions carefully today then the rest of the dress should come together really quickly. Let’s get started.

Step 1 – Make sure that you have transferred all notches and symbols from your pattern pieces to your fabric. Prepare your front and back dress pieces by staystitching the armhole and neck edges at 3/8” seam allowance. Sew all of these seams from the shoulder down. The neckline stitches should be done in separate stitches from each shoulder, meeting at CF and CB.

Step 2 – Sew each of the darts on the dress front and press the allowance down towards the bottom of the dress. It’s best to press these on a curved surface such as a tailor’s ham or rolled up towel to get a nice shape to the dart.

Step 3 – Fuse the yoke interfacing to the wrong side of your yoke piece, being careful to center it within the circle markings and 1/4” from the top. Pretty much you are leaving the seam allowance without interfacing to reduce bulk.

Fold the edges of the yoke towards the wrong side by 1/4” on sides and bottom (leaving the top flat). Press.

Step 4 – Pin the right side of the yoke to the wrong side of the dress front, matching circle markings and notches, and making sure that the top of the yoke is flush with the neckline of the dress. Pin generously. Be careful to make sure that you are putting the correct sides together in this step. Otherwise you will end up unpicking very very small stitches down the road (I know this from experience.)

Step 5 – Reduce your stitch length to 1.5 on your sewing machine. Starting at 1/4” seam allowance, stitch down one side of the cutting line marked on the yoke piece, reducing the seam allowance as you go until you are at 1/16” at the bottom.

Pivot and stitch just below the bottom of the line for 1 or 2 stitches.

Pivot and stitch back up the other side in the same manner as the first.

Return your stitch length to normal. Starting just outside of center front and stitching out in both directions, sew along the top of the yoke at the neckline at 1/4” seam allowance. Backstitch securely at both ends. The reason that we need to stitch out from the center is because we will be cutting down the middle in a few steps. The stitch would be too weak and without backstitching if we didn’t do it this way.

Step 6 – Pin the shoulder seams together with wrong sides touching (This is opposite than normal. Because the neck binding is on the outside of the dress, the seam allowances for the shoulder will be covered and therefore it provides a cleaner finish by having them on the outside of the garment.) Stitch at 1/2“ seam allowance.

Trim seam allowance to 1/4” and press open.

Step 7 – Prepare the neckline facing (note that this is thinner than the armhole bindings) by folding it in half lengthwise, wrong sides facing, and pressing. This first press is just a guideline. You will not be folding it again.

Open it back up, fold each of the long raw edges back towards the middle fold by 1/4” and press.

This is what your neck facing should look like. Just like single fold bias tape.

Step 8 – Turn your dress inside out. Starting and stopping about 1” in from the edge of the yoke, pin the right side of an unfolded edge of your neckline facing to the wrong side of your dress neckline, matching raw edges.

Stitch in the crease at 1/4”.

Step 9 – Cut down the middle of the neckline slit, snipping very carefully close to, but not through, the stitches at the bottom.

Trim the seam allowance and clip each of the neckline corners to help you get a nice point once turned.

You may also want to trim the seam allowance of the neckline all the way around to reduce bulk.

Step 10 – Turn the yoke to the front of the dress through the slit you just created.

Line up dots and press flat, gently rolling the seam so that the inside of the dress is not visible at the neckline or slit.

Be careful to get a nice point at the center front corners. Pin in place. Press and pin down the facing around the rest of the neckline, slightly rolling the seam towards the inside of the dress so that it is not visible.

Step 11 – Edgestitch carefully along the outside edge of the yoke, starting and stopping at the neckline, pivoting at all corners.

Edgestitch carefully along the open edge of the neck facing, starting and stopping at the yoke. Backstitch securely at all ends.

 

And this is what your neckline and yoke should look like.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow we will focus on the side seams, armholes, and pockets if applicable.

In case you need it, you can find the Colfax dress pattern here, and the fabric used in this sewalong here.

OTHER SEWING

COLFAX SEWALONG DAY 2 – ADJUSTMENTS / MARKING

April 12, 2016

Welcome back for day 2 of the Colfax Sewalong. Today we will be going over a few common fit adjustments that you may want to make, as well as transferring all markings from your pattern pieces to your fabric and cutting everything out. By the end of today we should be ready for sewing up our dress tomorrow. Make sure your fabric is washed, dried, and ironed so it’s ready to go. I will be making two dresses with the sewalong (one for View A and one for View B). The fabrics that I am using for the dresses were designed by me and made through My Fabric Designs.

For View A I am using this pastel geometric print that I had made up in silk crinkle linen. I love the texture of the fabric and am really excited to see how it comes together. I think this dress will end up looking a little more expensive with the one fabric and silk component.

For View B I am using two coordinating blue / black graffiti type prints that I had made up in the faux linen slub. The fabric on the top will be the main fabric and the bottom one will be the contrast. I like how the two fabrics are different, but not complete opposites. I am looking at this dress being more of an everyday with sandals type of garment, but we will see.

If you are sewing up View B with the pockets and your fabric is on the stiff or heavy side like mine, you may want to consider using a lighter weight fabric for your pocket pieces. I am going to use some cotton lawn from my stash. Otherwise the pockets can get a little heavy and cause some extra bulk in the hip section. This is totally up to you, it’s just a little tip. It’s also just a good way to save a bit of your nice fabric since the pockets are not visible.

 

LENGTHEN / SHORTEN

I think that the most common adjustment that most of you will want to make is to lengthen or shorten your dress. The pattern is drafted for someone who is 5’5″ tall and is designed to hit a couple of inches above the knee. One thing to think about is that not all of your height resides in the area covered by the dress. So for instance, I am 5’3″ which is a difference of 2″ from the model. I figure that the dress covers about half of my body, so I will shorten the pattern by 1″ total (not 2 inches like you might first think). You may be tempted to just add length to the bottom of the dress. Be aware that this will affect the fit and intended width of the dress so I recommend lengthening or shortening the dress on the indicated marking on the pattern. Also be aware that this will cause your pocket openings to move up or  down. This may be accurate if you are long or short torsoed, but you may want to adjust where those markings are if you are making View B and adjusting more than an inch or two. To begin, cut along the horizontal lengthen / shorten line on your pattern piece.

To lengthen, get another piece of paper and draw two parallel lines the width that you want to lengthen your pattern (I am doing 1″ here). Tape your pattern pieces to the paper, on either side of the lines you just drew. Make sure that the CF / CB fold line stays lined up on the fold side.

Use a straight edge to join the bottom and top sections on the side seam, creating a new, smooth line to connect them.

To Shorten, draw a horizontal line below the lengthen / shorten line on the bottom piece. It should be the same distance from the lengthen / shorten line as you want to shorten the dress (I am doing 1″ here).

Take your top section and tape the bottom edge on top of the bottom section so that it lines up with the line you just drew. Make sure you keep the CB / CF edge lined up.

Using a straight edge, redraw and trim the portion of the side seam that is no longer smooth because of the adjustment.

That’s it. Super simple. Be sure to make the same adjustment on the front dress as you do on the back dress pattern pieces.

 

FULL BUST ADJUSTMENT

The Colfax dress is drafted for a C cup. My other patterns have been much more loose and forgiving when it comes to fit. Because the Colfax is more fitted in the bust area, I highly recommend doing an FBA if you wear a D cup or larger. Otherwise your dress will not only hike up in the front, but it will also pitch away from your body in the front, creating an unflattering silhouette. If you take your high bust measurement (right under your armpits and above the natural curve of your bust) and your full bust measurement (across the fullest part of your bust), the difference should be between 2″ and  3″ for a C cup. If the difference is less than that then you may want to consider a small bust adjustment (SBA). I won’t be covering that in this sewalong because I have found this to be less of a pressing problem. My testers with smaller chests still had a pretty good fit with the dress sewn up as is. Also, there is always the option of wearing a more supportive bra to make up some of the difference. If the difference between your high and full bust adjustments is more than 3 inches, you are going to have more visible and unflattering fit issues. So, we will focus on that one today.

Imaginary measurements for our purposes today- High bust – 33″, Full Bust 37″ (difference of 4″)

To figure out what size you should cut for your pattern, take your high bust adjustment and add 3 inches to it (pretending you have a C cup). This would make my imaginary bust measurement of 36″ which puts me in the size 8 and needing an extra inch of bust room across the front for a good fit.

Let’s make a few markings on our front dress pattern to get started.

First, find your bust apex. To do this draw a line through the middle of your dart, starting at the side seam, and continue out 1 1/2″ past the dart point (We will call this line A). This is your apex. Mark with a dot (marked B).

Now, draw another line from the armhole (about half way through) to your apex (this line is marked C), and then down to the bottom of your dress, staying parallel to the grainline ( mark it as D).

Lastly, darken the lengthen / shorten line between the CF fold and line D (we will call it E).

Starting at the bottom of your dress, cut line D up to the apex (B), pivot and continue cutting to the armhole along line C, keeping a bit connected at the armhole to serve as a hinge.

Cut line E.

Take another large piece of paper and draw one long vertical line. Draw another line, parallel to the first, and draw it half of the distance your want to add to your bust measurement. So for instance, I need to add one whole inch to the front of my bodice at the bust. Since I am working with a pattern piece that is cut on the fold, I only need to add 1/2″ to the pattern piece.

Tape the right side of line D (top section) along the right line on the piece of paper.

Cut line A on your pattern piece, keeping a small piece connected at the apex (B) to act as a hinge. Line the apex (B) and the left side of line D along the second line and tape. There should now be a 1/2″ (or whatever your measurement is) gap between the two sides of line D.

Tape the bottom piece of Line E so that it lines up with the lengthen / shorten line on the left section of the pattern. For me there is only an 1/8″ gap, but for a larger FBA it would be much more noticeable.

Mark a small marking in the middle of your dart legs at the side seam.

Draw a line between this marking and your apex. Mark your new dart point 1 1/2″ in from the apex. Draw your new dart legs out from this point to side seam dart leg points.

Fold your new dart up, with the excess being folded down towards the bottom of the dress. You will notice that the sideseam is no longer straight. You will want to straighten this out with a ruler.

Trim along the new side seam line and open your dart flat.

The last thing to do is adjust the hem. The bottom hem line may need to be smoothed out and you will need to adjust the width and shape of the front hem facing to match the dress front.

 

TRANSFERRING MARKINGS

If you made a lot of adjustments, it’s always good to sew up a muslin before cutting into your nice fabric. Once you feel confident about the fit, lay your pattern pieces out on your fabric according to the layouts on your instructions. Cut all of your pieces out of your fabric and cut the interfacing yoke piece out of lightweight fusible interfacing. Now it’s time to mark your pieces. There are lots of ways to do this, but I will show you a few of the ways I use.

CLIPPING

Because the seam allowance on the Colfax Dress is 1/2″, there is plenty of room to make small clips where needed for markings. It’s amazing how fast and effective a simple little clip can be. The best place to do this is every time that you see a triangle marking within the seam allowances of the dress.

PENS

Another great way to transfer a marking is with a marking tool such as a chacco pen. Believe me, if you don’t have one of these, invest in one. They are the best. It leaves a small line of chalk dust where ever you roll it and the chalk dust is easy to get rid of once you don’t want it to be visible anymore. This is especially nice when you need to transfer a line such as the cutting line on the yoke and the legs of the darts.  A disappearing ink pen is also a good solution in these instances.

TAILOR’S TACK

One last way that I often mark things is with a tailor’s tack. It’s especially useful when the marking is in the center of the pattern piece and in a very visible area. The tailor’s tack won’t run you the risk of leaving a mark behind and is very accurate. To make a tailor’s tack, thread a sewing needle with a long piece of thread. Sew it through your desired spot a few times leaving long (about 2-3″) loops between each stitch.

Cut each loop so you are left with a few long threads at each marking.

If your fabric is doubled up you will want to carefully pull them apart and snip between the layers so there are tacks on both sides.

Now that all of our pattern pieces are adjusted, cut out, and marked we can start sewing tomorrow. I know that today was a bit of a long post, but doing all of the prep work will pay off when we are sewing the next few days.

You can purchase the Colfax dress if you want to sew along here. Also, don’t forget to enter the Colfax Dress Sewalong with prizes from My Fabric Designs. More details about that here.

SEWING

COLFAX SEWALONG DAY 1 – PRINTING / ASSEMBLING YOUR PATTERN

April 11, 2016

I am so excited to start the Colfax Dress Sewalong today. It is going to be a pretty easy day of prep where we will print out the pattern, assemble it, and then choose our size. Let’s get started!

 

PRINTING YOUR PATTERN

After purchasing your Colfax dress you will receive an email with a link to download your pattern. Make sure that you are not downloading it on a phone or ipad as they have a hard time supporting the zip file. Download it instead on a computer. Once downloaded you will need to unzip or uncompress the file. Once it is unzipped you will find three files – the PDF pattern, the copyshop pattern, and the instructions. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of assembling the pattern at home (which I totally understand), you can always take the copyshop pattern to a printshop such as Kinkos or Staples and have them print it on one large sheet. Just make sure that you measure the 2 by 2 inch square at the top left hand corner to make sure that it has printed to the correct size.

If you are good to print your pattern at home, you can follow the next steps.

First, open your print at home pdf pattern in Adobe Reader or a compatible software. Set up your printer to print at 100% with all scaling turned off.

Print just the first page and measure the 2″x 2″ square to make sure that it printed accurately and to scale. I highly recommend not printing in draft mode to save ink. If you print in a higher quality mode,then your printer goes slower and is more accurate. Your borders will be more consistent and the pattern will assemble more accurately.

If all looks good then go ahead and print the rest of your pattern.

 

ASSEMBLING YOUR PATTERN

There are lots of ways to assemble pdf patterns, but I will show you how I do it. I have learned to love assembling patterns. Mostly because it is pretty mindless and I can do it in front of the TV. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really not bad.

First, I cut off the top and right side borders of all 24 pieces. You can either use scissors and do it one page at a time like you see below,

or you can use a paper cutter and cut a few pages at a time to make it go faster. This is the method I prefer.

Once the top and right borders are cut off of all pages you can start to tape them together. Any kind of tape will do, although medical tape or masking tape is what I prefer so you can iron over it later if you need to flatten out your pattern for future use.

Tape together a whole row (6 pages).

Tape together another row and tape it to the first one. Continue until your entire pattern is assembled. It should look like this. Don’t worry if the pattern gets off by a small amount as you go. It’s inevitable. Just readjust as much as you can and realize that 1/16″ is not going to make any difference in the fit of your final garment.

 

CHOOSING YOUR SIZE

My other patterns have been a looser fit and were therefore much more forgiving when it comes to choosing your size. The Colfax Dress has a fitted chest and so I highly recommend choosing your size according to the chart below. The dress is drafted for a C cup. If you are a D cup or larger, I would choose your size according to your high bust measurement and do an FBA (more details on that in tomorrow’s post).

Because the dress is A-line in shape, you don’t need to focus much on the waist measurement. Focus mostly on the chest and hip measurements to choose your size. If they fall in two separate sizes then you can cut one size for the chest and then grade gradually to another size in the hips.

Once you have chosen your size, check the size key on page 24 of your pattern and cut out all pieces accordingly.

Cut out all of your pattern pieces like the image below. Note that if you are sewing View A then you will not be needing piece 5, the pocket.

Tomorrow we will talk about some common adjustments that you may want to make to the fit of your pattern including a full bust adjustment and adjusting the length. We will also cut out and mark our fabric. Make sure that you wash and dry your fabric according to it’s instructions so that it is preshrunk and ready to go before tomorrow. You may also want to iron it if necessary.

Just a reminder that if you want to participate in the Colfax Sewalong and / or  Colfax Contest then you can purchase the pattern right now at a discount with the code COLFAXCONTEST.

See you tomorrow. I can’t wait to work with actual fabric.