Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gathers and Ruffles and Pleats, Oh My!

So, I really was hoping to be done with at least the Christmas dress today but I still have a few things to finish.  At least we are still a few weeks from Christmas, right?  I was just really hoping we could get a couple of wears out of the dress that has taken so long to put together...  Well, we'll figure something out!
Let me tell you though, it will be a long time (I say knowing the real truth) before I take on another task with this many gathers and ruffles!  The pleats aren't actually that bad.  I really kind of like pleats.  But those gathers and ruffles!  You'll see below in some of the pictures, and my mom even came in to look at my progress the other day and commented that I do not take on "little" projects.
Here's the lay-down of it...
The sleeves have three ruffles, each.  Each "ruffle" is cut as a strip of fabric which first has to be hemmed, a tiny 3/8" rolled hem, and then two rows of loose stitching along the top of the strip in order to gather the fabric to make it a ruffle.  Then, each ruffle has to be sewn, one-at-a-time, onto a piece of fabric that acts at the sleeve.  All the while, the ruffle has to be adjusted to fit the length of the sleeve.  First the bottom ruffle, then the middle, then the top, for each side.  Actually not so bad, except that once the fabric is gathered it is more difficult to line up and sew, but the strips are only about 8-12" long, so not a lot to work with.
Then we move onto the skirt!  Three rows of "ruffles" that have to be made.  This is the fun part!  First of all, the pattern calls for four strips of fabric to be cut, about 4" wide and 43-45" long.  Then I sew all the strips together at each end.  The hem has to be sewn in, another 3/8" rolled hem, and then two rows of loose stitching along the top to make the gathers.  I ended up using a "border" for one strip, and had enough fabric to simply make one continuous cut.  I also was able to cut another strip just below my border piece, so again, saved a little (very little) time skipping the step where I sew the strips together.  I only had to sew one set of strips.  The hems, well...  They just are what they are.  Basically for that "rolled" hem, I press the end of the fabric up 3/8" and then roll the raw edge into the fold and pin it, then sew it in.  It takes quite a bit of time but I ended up doing one strip a night while watching t.v., so not too bad all-in-all.  What took forever was getting the strips gathered and attaching them to the skirt band.  Thankfully the pattern had me cut a strip of fabric the same length as the hem of the skirt.  I just needed to attach all the ruffles and then sew the one piece to the bottom of the skirt.  Easy, right?  Uh-huh...  The first ruffle took me about two hours to gather and pin, and about 10 minutes to sew.  Anyone that tells you "sewing" is hard, it's not the "sewing", it's the prep work!  Last night the next ruffle took me almost as long, but thankfully the last ruffle I put on today might have only taken me an hour.  Got them sewn onto their strip, pinned and attached the strip to the skirt, moving along quite well!  That's when I realized how much more gathering there would be!  The skirt itself had to be gathered in order to attach it to the bodice.  Okay, done.  Then there's the petticoat on the lining!  Three strips of nylon netting, 12" wide by 72" long, sew them together to make one long strip, then fold them in half, sew two rows of stitching at the top to make the gathers and sew them onto the skirt lining in just the right spot.  I cheated with that...  Maybe?  Basically I knew no one is going to see the lining unless I show it to them, so I used a pen and marked up the "sewing line" where I needed to pin my netting.  It may have taken me 5-10 minutes of measuring and marking but I'm sure it saved me some time in the end!  So, the lining has been hemmed, the nylon netting gathered and attached, now I still need to gather the top of the lining to sew it into the dress!  I also have to install a zipper still.  I really hate it when that is the last thing to put in.  I like getting zippers done quickly and this one has "special" instructions on how it goes in.  I'm not looking forward to that.  The final thing to do will be to cut out part of the design, the Scottie dogs, in order to applique them to the front of the dress.  Oh, and I have to go over the dress to remove any noticeable basting stitches.
So, I should be done with the dress tomorrow, then I will got back to the coat to get that done.  I decided that I don't like the way the collar went in, so I'm going to adjust that before finishing the hand sewing.  Thankfully most of what's left is finish work.  Hem the coat and lining, all by hand.  Hand sew the sleeve lining and lining on the hat.  The final step will be to add the buttons and button holes!  I have not done button holes in years!  I gave away a machine, maybe 5-10 years ago, that I used for buttonholes, and my old Kenmore was missing pieces for the buttonhole foot.  Now I've got my Futura and I have to figure it all out again!  Good thing I've got lots of scrap pieces so I can practice before I ruin my project.  Oh, and I still have to find buttons I like for the silly thing!
Whatever I finish tomorrow I will stick on the kid and take some finale pictures!  Then we will finally be able to move onto some Christmas gift projects!
When I finished the top I just had to try it on her to see how it fit!

Five yards of ruffles all gathered and waiting to be sewn!

Sewing the gathered netting for the petticoat!

The applique will go on the center front of the bodice. 
The lining/petticoat have not been sewn in yet...

And still have to put in the zipper.

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