Sunday, 1 November 2015

Sun Frock Sew-Along Part 4

We're almost done! This week it's onto the Skirt, Pockets and the Finishing touches.

To Catch up:
Part 1 can be found here
Part 2 is here
and Part 3 is here

Firstly, lets get that skirt together! Sew up the 2 side seams  (and front center seam if you have one) and press open.

Now, grab your bodice from your Mannequin/Clothes hanger/pile in the corner and pin and sew it to your skirt, matching the sides seams as best you can. I did have to stretch my skirt a little to get it to fit my bodice, but my fabric has enough movement in it to allow that. If you cannot get your skirt to fit, you can trim a little from the top of it until it fits.

Grab your little neglected facing pieces, and iron on (or sew on) some light interfacing. I stupidly forgot to do this before overlocking around the pieces, so I have overlocked along 1 long side and 1 short side again (the sides that will be free)

Now pin your facing pieces, right sides together with the back 2 edges of your dress, leaving a 1/2" overhang at the top edge (which you will hand stitch down later) and sew straight down.

Turn your facing pieces to the inside of your dress and press.

Fold down the seam allowance at the top, in between the facing and bodice, and carefully hand stitch in place. Do this for both sides.

As for the button holes, the original instructions from the magazine call for bound button-holes. Now I have nothing against bound button-holes, but I personally just don't feel this garment needs them. As a summer dress I don't really want any extra layers of un-needed fabric, so I will be doing very basic zig-zagged button-holes with my sewing machine. Should you choose to do bound button-holes, head over to my friend Beccie's Blog, Sew Retro Rose, for a wonderful step-by-step tutorial. If you are doing bound button-holes, you may want to leave the hand stitching down of the top of the facing pieces until afterwards.

If like me you'd rather just have plain old machine buttonholes, go ahead and sew them as you usually would. But here's something I have to admit. I have not mastered (or even attempted) my machine's automatic buttonhole feature. Instead, I mark the length of my buttonholes and zig zag where I want them. You want your buttonholes to be as wide as your buttons (a little wider if they are particularly thick buttons) and I usually have my machine set at 3 for width and 0.2 for stitch length, but of course all machines are different, so find what works for you. I have marked my 4 buttonholes with a lead pencil, the first 35mm from the top edge, the next 3 after 56mm each, which makes the last one located 10mm from the waist seam (keeping in mind that I have shortened my bodice)

 I zig zag to one side of my marked line, lift my presser foot and pivot around, do a few straight stitches at the short end, going backwards and forwards a few times. then go back to the zig zag stitch and go down the other side of the marked line, going close to the other stitching, but making sure there is about 1-2mm in between so you dont cut any stitches when you cut open the buttonhole. Repeat the straight stitching at the other short end, tie off your threads and carefully cut through the middle of the buttonhole to open it.

Mark the button locations using the same spacing as the buttonholes, 1 inch in from the edge and sew in place. Sometimes, I am too lazy to hand sew on buttons, so by setting my zig zag stitch to a length of zero, and carefully placing the button in place underneath the presser foot and testing the width by turning the machine by hand, then sewing as many stitches as needed, I can just attach them quickly with my sewing machine. If you do use your machine, make sure your stitch width matches up with the holes in the button, otherwise you may break your button or even your needle. 

Now give those buttons a test run and ensure they line up nicely.

Now, with your buttons still done up, turn your dress inside out and lay flat. Line up the 2 back edges as evenly as possible.

Carefully lift up the edge near the bottom of the piece of facing, lifting the seam allowance of the piece underneath at the same time.

Pin the 2 pieces together in line with the stitching that attached the facing, 1/2" from the edge of the closest piece and sew together.

With right sides facing out, pin 1/2" from the bottom of where the facing pieces reach to. Run a short line of stitching across the width of the facing, then trim the excess fabric from the back seam if you wish to. I used my overlocker to do it.

Decide how many fasteners you want to use, and if you are going to use hooks and eyes or snap fasteners. I decided to do with 2 snap fasteners. I didn't measure to work out where I wanted them, just placed them where I thought looked right. I sewed them close to the open edge, and didn't make the stitches go through to the outer layer, just the facing and seam allowances

Now find your pocket and pocket trim pieces as well as the rest of your piping. I made a slight mistake in the cutting diagrams, which you may have picked up on if you looked at the original one from the magazine, although we are doing things slightly different from the original. Instead of just 2 of the pocket trim pieces, we were supposed to cut out 4. These are pretty small pieces, so hopefully you can squeeze 2 more out of your scraps, but if not, you can either use some other plain scrap from your stash (it wont be seen) or you can sew the trim piece directly onto the pocket piece. As I didn't want to topstitch along my piping, I chose to pull out my scraps and cut 2 more.

Start by sewing your piping along the edge of 2 of the pocket trim pieces, as you did for the bodice trim.

Then place the other pocket trim pieces on top and sew together.

Clip the curves, turn right side out and press.

Now lay each of your trim pieces over a pocket piece. Then put the pocket lining face down on top and pin. 

Sew around the pockets, leaving an opening at the bottom to turn them through. Clip the corners, turn the right side out, ensuring the trim is sitting on the side you wanted it to, and press.

Try your dress on, and while wearing it, pin your pockets on where you think they should go, then take it off carefully and lay out flat, matching skirt side seams and average out the positions of your pockets so they are both the same. Mine ended up being 4 inches down from the waist seam. Neatly topstitch into place.

Lastly, the hem! I know curved hems can be a pain, and I did initially want a much deeper hem, but I really liked the length my dress turned out to be, so I pressed a fairly narrow hem, and my fabric behaved perfectly! If your fabric has less movement or you want a deeper hem, you can ease the fullness in using a running stitch, or alternatively you could use bias binding to hem your skirt. My hem was top stitched in pink, the same as the pockets, trim and buttonholes.

I finished sewing my dress yesterday afternoon and wore it for the rest of the day. Today I am wearing it to church, and also to the CWA rooms where we will be serving tea, coffee and cake during the Postie Bike Grand Prix. It is a lovely comfy and lightweight dress that I will be getting a lot of wear from this summer, but I will be leaving the final completed reveal for the round up post.

So now the rest of you have until November 30th to finish your own versions of this Sun frock. I am trying to come up with a giveaway or prize or something for those seamstresses who are done in time, but I'm not making any promises yet.



  1. I have prepped my fabric and it is ready to cut out tomorrow. Hopefully I can really make some good progress on it! I'm excited to see every ones dresses, that is always my favourite part of a sew along!

    1. So glad to hear you are going to be sewing along! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's creations as well :)

  2. Your buttonholes look good to me. Work it, honey. Me, I'll be doing a zipper; hopefully invisible, just depends upon what I have on hand.



    1. My next one that I am working on will be a zipper too, much more functional, just not as pretty as those floral buttons