A while back, I made a tiered skirted dress for my niece. When I asked her mom how she liked the dress, the response was that she had not wore it yet because they needed to buy a slip for it. This was very disappointing to me. I had made the dress from yellow knit fabric and it was suppose to be a play dress, something she could run in or jump in or maybe even ride her bike in. Now, it needed a slip to be worn. Now, it was going to be a burden to have her wear it. I then remembered the last little girl’s dress that I had made from the thin yellow fabric/kitty print that the little neighbor girl’s mom has had to worry about finding a way to keep her panties from showing through at the top of the skirt through the thin yellow fabric. And this was disappointing to me as well.
So in remembering all this, I decided that I wanted to make another little girl’s play dress but this time I would add a lining so there would not be any worries when it came to someone wearing the dress. I wanted to make a dress that would be nice enough to wear to school but still fun to wear on the play ground too. This made picking my pattern to use for it easy. I picked a sleeveless short waisted bodice dress with a gathered skirt and buttons down the back. The pattern already called for the bodice to be lined, so I just had to line the skirt too.
I picked a fun yellow fabric with animals on it that has been living in the stash for many years for the dress fabric and the yellow lining fabric was a Walmart impulsive purchase because it was just $1/yard. At the time of purchase, I did not know what would become of it but I knew I needed it so I had picked it up. You see sometimes those fabric purchases do pay off! So luckily I had all the fabric I needed for this project on hand. Because the lining fabric was a Walmart special, I had no idea how it would launder. But I wanted this play dress to be machine washable, so I threw both the dress fabric and the lining fabric in the regular cycle of the washer and dryer. The dress fabric laundered just fine, and luckily the lining fabric washed and dried great too. It was now time to start cutting.
I followed the pattern to cut the bodice from the dress fabric and the lining fabric. I then cut out the skirt from the dress fabric as the pattern called for and then I cut a duplicate from the lining fabric. It was now time to start sewing.
Following the pattern guide, I sewed the bodice together first and then the skirt. I sewed the lining for the skirt the same as I had the dress fabric. I then placed the dress fabric and the lining of the skirt together with wrong sides facing and continued to sew as it as if it were just one single piece of fabric.
When that was done, I used the floss method to make the gathers for the skirt. I stitched zig-zag across the floss, being careful not to catch the floss in the stitches, and then pulled the floss to make the gathers. This is a great method for making gathers and It is so much easier than pulling stitches.
The most difficult part of making this pattern was the step after attaching the skirt to the bodice. Only the dress fabric of the bodice is sewn to the gathered skirt. The next step is to fold the lining of the bodice up, press then pin it in place over the seam that attached the bodice and the skirt. The next step is stitching on the top side of the dress fabric and catching the lining underneath. It sounds simple but it was not. After completing this step, I had a mess. Because I was using a slippery and stretchy soft lining, and despite the pins, the lining did not stay in place when I was sewing. In some places the seam missed the lining altogether. In other places, the lining slipped and the seam missed the fold so I had a raw edge exposed. So I started to unpick, trying to save any part that stitched ok. I restitched the bad parts and some came out ok and other parts still had the same problem. It was hit and miss all over the place again. So I unpicked and sewed some more and I finally got an acceptable seam. It does not look great to me, but it will have to do. And after this experience I decided that this is definitely a technique I need to work on to increase my skill set.
About half through the unpicking and restitching process I started to think about how this could be done simpler the next time I do this type of sewing. And my first thought was to sew both the dress fabric and the lining of the bodice to the skirt first and then serge them to finish off the edge. Why not? Except for the exposed serged seam, it would be the same as what I had just sewn. Exposed serged seams are not a problem for me on my personal clothing, even though I have read that it is not a very professional finished look. And by exposed seam I mean that it can be seen from the inside of the garment not the outside of it. I then decided that this technique was a sewing skill that I needed to acquire, and that although the serged method would be simpler and faster, I would continue to work on this sewing skill to see which way would work out the best for me.
It was at this point that I realized that I had not used my serger a single time when making this dress. This was very odd for me. I always serge my seams as I sew clothing for myself. But since all of the seams had been concealed so far in the making of this dress, I had not needed to serge the seams a single time.
The last step was the hem of the skirt. I had not yet finished the seams of the skirt because I planned to hem the dress fabric and lining together in one single hem. I had thought about serging the dress fabric and lining together before hemming but instead I decided to follow the pattern guide. So I folded up 1/4 inch at the hem, pressed it, folded up the hem, and then stitched with the dress fabric and lining held together as one piece of fabric. But once again because of the slippery, stretchy, soft lining this was a challenge when it should have been really simple and quick. After some very slow sewing and the use of a lot of pins, I finally completed the hem. Serging the two pieces of fabric together first would probably had made this much easier and quicker to do. Unlike the bodice/lining seam, this was not “a need to acquire” sewing skill. I should have just used my existing knowledge and sewing tools, the serger, to make this process easier.
While making this dress, I did some reading on linings and by definition, I had not technically “lined” the skirt. Instead I had “underlined” it. A lining by definition is only attached at a couple of points, generally at the shoulders, and/or at the waist. An underlining is done by using two pieces of fabric as one to make an a single item. So, technically, I guess had done both. I had lined the bodice as the pattern had called for and I had underlined the skirt when I hemmed the dress fabric and lining together. Regardless of what you call what I had done, I had completed this pattern and made a really cute dress for a size 6 little girl that hopefully is a fun play dress with no yucky fussy issues while she is wearing it.
Until next time, Sew forth and sew on!