Sew Along Week 4 ~ Sewing the blouse pieces together.
Now comes the fun part…the sewing!
First we will fuse our interfacing onto our facing pieces. If you are adding the collar you will need interfacing for that piece too.
You will fuse your interfacing by following the manufacturer’s instructions for whatever interfacing you have purchased.
Lay your facing fabric onto the ironing board with the wrong side facing up. To make sure your fabric hasn’t twisted or gotten out of shape take your facing pattern piece and lay it on top. If you are using a drapey fabric like Rayon you will definitely need to do this. Once you fuse it, there’s no going back and you want to make sure it is in the right shape. Make any adjustments you need to make and then take the pattern piece off.
Lay your fusible interfacing with the glue side down. Place a pressing cloth over the piece and press the entire piece, making sure you lift and press, overlapping to get the entire piece fused. Use the pressing time suggested by the manufacturer’s instructions.
A note about fabric. If you are using a fabric like a batik (like I am using) your fabric looks the same on the right side and wrong side. Be careful. You don’t want to sew any pieces backwards. Ask me how I know! Choose a wrong side and then mark it in some way. I used my chalk marker. You can also use painter’s tape or the adhesive dots you get from the office supply store. Whatever you need to use just make sure you have your pieces marked correctly. You should have mirror images of your side pieces and your back.
Choose a good all purpose polyester thread that closely matches your fabric.
First order of business is stay stitching. This will help to keep your neck edge from stretching as this area is bias and will stretch easily. It’s important when sewing in your stay stitching to go in the direction that they show you in the picture on the guide sheet and also be careful not to stretch as you sew.
Note the stay stitching for your particular front piece. For instance, notice that for the V neck you will start at the V and sew up to the shoulder. For the round neckline you will start at the shoulder and end at the center front. You also need stay stitching on the front piece at the side between the notches.
If you are making the style with the lace (View E) you will need to prepare your front piece before you sew it together with the side fronts. Cut out your front of fabric and your front of lace. Place them together with the wrong side of the lace on top of the right side of the fabric. Both right sides are facing up. *Baste around the entire piece attaching these two pieces together. Then you can treat this as one piece.
To “baste” means to use the longest stitch on your sewing machine and sew without any backstitching. It’s just holding the two pieces together.
(This is a different blouse in the picture.)
Next you will sew the side fronts to the front as instructed on the guide sheet for your particular style that you are making. These are called princess seams. Place right sides together. Whenever I sew princess seams together I always match the notches and put the first pins there. Notice that you will have more fabric in the side front than you do in the front. It seems that they won’t fit together, but they will.
Clip into the front (shown on top in the picture above) up to the stay stitching. I also “curl” or “curve” the fabric and then you can pin them together. Pin the rest of the seam.
Getting ready to sew: The seam allowances on this blouse are 5/8”. If you look on your sewing machine you can usually see some markings with measurements on them.
You’ll follow along with the edge of the fabric along the 5/8” mark. If you have trouble following the 5/8” mark or if your sewing machine doesn’t have the mark, you can use painter’s tape and measure from your needle 5/8” and place the tape down on your machine. It’s super easy to follow the tape.
Tip: Place the piece with the most fabric down on the sewing machine toward the feed dogs. The feed dogs are the sharp metal things under the presser foot. They will help to feed that extra fabric through. So you will be sewing with the side front down and the front up.
Now sit back and admire your beautiful seam.
After you have sewn a seam you need to decide how you will “finish the seam.” You can’t leave it all naked and bare. The fabric will ravel and make a mess. There are several things you can do.
If you have a serger, you can finish the edges with a serger.
I will be finishing my seams with a pinking shear. This is a simple way to finish a seam if you don’t have a serger and it will help to keep your fabric from raveling.
A very important part of sewing is pressing. Once you have sewn and finished your seams you will need to give them a good press. Use a pressing ham for the curved areas (especially on the front). First press your seams flat, then open your seams if you can and press from the back. Turn it over and, using the ham, press the front nice and flat.
Note: What is a Pressing ham? A pressing ham was named for its “hammy” shape. Getting hungry? Typically one half is covered with wool and one half is covered with cotton. The reason for this is that you can use the cotton side for high heat items and the wool side for lower heat. I kinda break that rule though and use my wool side all the time. I think it really holds the steam/moisture well.
Here is the result. The right side was pressed and the left side was not pressed. See the difference?
While we’re on the subject of pressing…here are a couple other tools to help you. If your seams are being stubborn and not wanting to lie flat you can use a “clapper.” It is a piece of wood that is heavy and so you can just plunk it down and hold it until it cools. You’re gonna LOVE this thing!
Another tool is just like the ham but it is long and narrow like a hot dog and is called a sleeve pressing roll. We’ll be using that shortly.
Next up is sewing the side backs to the back piece, right sides together. Use the same principle as above with the front and side fronts. There is probably not as much curve in the side backs as there was for the side fronts (especially if you are large busted).
Finish your seams and press them.
Be sure you marked your center back where the small dot is. If not, pull out your pattern piece and mark it now.
Sew up the center back and stop at the dot. Back stitch at the dot to lock in your stitch.
Time to sew the shoulder seams. I want to share something about shoulder seams (or any curved seam). Have you ever noticed that when you place the top edges of your seams together that you end up with an uneven seam?
What you want to do is place the pieces so that they are together at the 5/8” seam.
When you sew them they’ll be perfect! Finish your seams and press them.
If you are doing the collar version you’ll need to apply the fusible interfacing to it. Place the interfaced pieces right sides together with the un-interfaced pieces.
Sew them together according to the guide sheet. Tip: If you have trouble with the curves and want them to be perfect you can mark them with your fabric marker. Then just follow the lines when you get to the curves. It’s so much easier!
Trim your seam and clip the corners so it turns easily. I trimmed my seam extra small since it is white and the seam can show through.
Follow the guide sheet and place the front of the collar together.
Then pin the collar to your blouse neckline. Match up the notches and dots as the guide sheet instructs. Baste it in place.
That’s it for this week.
Next week we will add facings and do some finishing work.