Thursday, 29 October 2015

Sun Frock Sew-Along Part 3

Trim and Bodice Construction

In case you need to go back Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here

and now that it has been posted, Part 4 is here

Yay! We're finally up to the fun stuff!!!

To start off with we are going to encase our piping cord in our bias binding. If you are using lace, ready made piping or some other type of trim (or no trim) you can skip this step.

This can be a little tricky if your binding is narrow, but luckily, this stitching will be hidden later, so no pressure to get it neat and straight. Unwrap you binding from it's cardboard (which it already should be if you've prewashed it) and unfold the end with your fingers. You may wish to iron it flat at this point, but I don't bother

Place the piping cord in the middle, with a little bit overhanging the end.

Pinch the bias binding around the cord and hold the edges flat and pin.

You can just start sewing it at this point at arrange the binding around the cord as you go, or if you prefer you can go ahead and pin it all the way along. I like to sew across the piping cord an the end to anchor it, then sew down the length about 2-3mm from the piping so that the stitches will not be seen later. Once you get to the end, make sure the piping cord is sitting evenly within the bias and stitch across the cord to anchor it again. Now put this aside for later.

As is usual for most bodice construction, start by sewing the darts in the front and back pieces. I like to mark the point and the edges of the dart with tailors chalk, fold my fabric so the edge marks line up, put in a few pins and start from the edge and work in towards the point. Generally I sew my darts in a slight S shape, but you are free to do what works for you. Finish off the point nice and gradually, no you don't get the dreaded "nipple" of fabric at the end. I think the general rule for finishing the end of your dart is to not back stitch, but to run straight off, then to tie the treads together before you trim them. Beccie from Sew Retro Rose once mentioned she likes to use teeny tiny stitches for the last little bit of her dart for extra security, and I have been copying her ever since!

Once your darts are sewn, sew the side seams (seam allowance is 1/2 inch), and check the fit. This is best done with another person to help, but I generally hold the garment onto myself and check a mirror. Make sure there is plenty overlap in the back if you are using buttons, and make sure the bottom of the bodice hits at about your natural waist line (remembering seam allowance and that the weight of the skirt will pull it down a little bit) If you feel you need to shorten the bodice you can do so now, or if you need to take in the side seams a bit, or lower the underarm edge. If you do make changes to your side seams or underarm edge, make sure you copy these changes onto your trim pieces. Sew the side seams in your trim, then spend a bit of quality time with your iron and press all those darts and seams that you have sewn so far.

Now for the fiddly bits! Take your piping and pin it to the bottom edge of one of your trim pieces (I chose to sew it to the facing pieces first, but it doest really make any difference) You could at this point sandwich your piping between both sides of your trim and sew the lot together, but in an attempt to get it as neat as possible, I am sewing one side first, then sewing the other one on top. Your piping meeds to be pinned to the right side of the fabric, with the cord on the inside and the open edges of your bias just in from the edge of your fabric. Try to line it up so that you will be ending up with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Try you best to pin carefully around the scallops

Sew the piping on, just inside of the stitching line you already made on the piping. Lift your presser foot with your needle down to pivot and sew across your piping to anchor it down, then trim off the excess (which you will use on your pockets later)

Now you want to place the other side of your trim on top so the right sides are facing in. Turn this upside down, so the piece you just added is on the bottom and your previous stitching is visible, and pin.

Now you are going to stitch about 1-2mm in from your previous stitching line. As you stitch along on your sewing machine, you should be able to feel with your fingers where the piping cord is laying, and you want to stitch close to that, but not into into it.

Now clip along those scallop curves, making sure you don't cut through the second stitching line.

Turn your piece right side out and press. If you want to top stitch along the piped edge, now would be the time to do so. Then feel free to pin it on your mannequin with your bodice and admire your handiwork.

Now sew your shoulder straps down one side making them into tubes, turn right sides out and press.

Next up, sewing your trim to your bodice. The easiest way to do this would be to pin and sew your trim with it's right side against the WRONG side of your bodice, with your shoulder straps pinned in place between the trim and bodice. Clip the curves, turn the trim the the outside and press.


I don't like raw edges if I can help it, so I will be sewing my trim on to conceal all the raw edges at the top. To start with, I have pinned the underside of my trim to the right side of the bodice and sewed it on.

Next up is where it gets a little tricky. you'll need to clip the underarm curve of all 3 layers (including the one you haven't sewn down yet) then with your iron, press the seam allowance of the bodice and underside of the trim down so that it will be between both layers of the trim.

Then, as neatly as you can, fold the seam allowance of the outer side of your trim into itself and press. 

Pin your shoulder straps into position, checking for fit as you do, and pin along the rest of the top edge. Carefully topstitch through the trim and seam allowances only, leaving the bodice and shoulder straps free.

Give the whole thing a nice press, then put back on your mannequin/clothes hanger/pile in the corner, ready for next week when we will be sewing on the skirt and pockets, plus all the finishing touches (such as the dreaded buttonholes)

(Ok, I confess, I did not press mine just now...)


Part 1 of the Sew-Along can be found here
Part 2 can be found here


  1. For some reason I am SOS (stuck on stupid) with attaching the trim to the bodice. I have read it here now, I read it a gazillion times earlier today when sewing so here's what I am going to do . . I will sew the puppy right side of trim to wrong side of bodice, enclose anything hanging out that I don't like with bias trim and keep it moving.



    1. Sewing the trim with it's right side against the wrong side of the bodice is the much easier way to get it done, I just don't tend to do things the easy way, lol

    2. OH snaps, I just saw your reply, Dix. Thanks for taking the time to, hon. :-)

  2. Okay, I think I get "it" now. Still gonna do it way no. 1 above, LOL.