Wednesday, March 11, 2015

No-Pattern Wing-it Chemise Tutorial Part 3

Continuing from last time, it's time to tackle the front facing! I learned this technique from the same place I learned about the sleeve gussets and Elizabethan seams. It was used to completely finish a neckline on the surviving 16th century smock, but I'm pretty sure I can wing it and and use the same method to finish the front slit.  

Pin the front facing to the outside of your chemise, right sides together.

Line up the bottom of the slit of your front facing piece to the outside of your front slit, right sides together. If you measured with me, you should have about 2.5 inches to the top of the chemise after the edge of the front facing. Fold over the top edge a half inch or so towards you, so there are 3 inches on the front piece with no front facing. This fold will create a bit of a hem, which will help in later steps, and still give you 3 inches of fabric to work with when it's time to tackle the neckline. [IMPORTANT NOTE! If you extended your front facing piece to 15 inches long to avoid the extra step later, line it up with the top of the slit and don't fold over a seam allowance at the top. Continue below as usual!]

All pinned and folded over.
Work carefully, line up those cut edges as evenly as you can; this is going to be very important for the next step. 

Sew! Stay very close to the edge here, but take care not to go off.

Time to sew! Sew very close to the edge around the cut slit, keeping the fold you made when you pinned, and reinforcing as you round the bottom. Work slow, you want to be very close to the cut edge without going off, and you want to be sure to get both layers together. You might miss small bits here and there, and that's fine, we'll account for them in the next step.

Reinforce this part (sew back and forth a few times). It will take a lot of pressure and we don't want it to tear.
Work slowly as you go - I seem to be saying that a lot!- there is a lot of fabric to manipulate around as you turn corners on that edge. We'll end up making two more passes around the slit when all is done. In hindsight, I might have done the front facing before shoulders and sleeve gussets because of this. I'll remember that for next time.

Up the other side, be careful going over the fold at the top.
Finished seam around the edges. Remember, we're still looking at the outside of the chemise.

Turn the front facing to the inside, now wrong sides together, and press. Carefully press around the bottom of the slit. You will probably get a few little darts and that's okay. If you missed any little bits, just turn them in and press them down. Turn under the raw edges all the way to the seam you just created and press again. [If you want to add interfacing for stiffness, do it here. Cut two strips less than 1 inch by 10 inches and fuse to the inside, very close to the seam. I did not add interfacing.]

Turn the facing inside and press.
I have one dart from turning. This is fine. Try to keep the front looking flat if you can.

Turn under raw edges all around and press again, just like we did when finishing the shoulder seams.

Go back to your machine and top stitch around the seam you just created, all around the slit. Sew very close to the fold all around. You can see I pinned the outer fold from the back. If you pinned like I did, just be mindful of where they are as you're working with the front. [If you want to add a thin boning, unfold that outer fold before you top stitch.]

Top stitch over the folded edge down one side...

...around the bottom and back up the other side.
[If you're adding boning, you only have about an inch to work with for bones and grommets. Place your bones (10 inches long) very close to the seam, refold the outer fold, and stitch your channel. I did not add boning.]

Next, we're going to sew the outer fold. Start at the edge of the slit and sew across the top, down the side, around the bottom, back up the other side, and across the other top. Sew very close to the fold again.

Sewing the outer fold, where we turned under the raw edges.

The addition of the front facing here not only allows you to hem that center slit, but also gives a more sturdy, multi-fabric layer area for grommets. You should have about one inch from seam to seam here. We'll take care of the grommets later.

The finished slit from the front.
Now all the pieces we cut in step one are sewn together! Coming up: sleeve cuffs, side seams, neckline, hem, grommets, done!

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