Thanks for your lovely comments on my last post – it means so much to know that people are willing me on in this mammoth enterprise!
So, a challenging aspect of the dress is that the whole thing has an organza overlay. Of course, this means that beautiful, thin, hopefully perfect seams are in order! (- Sue said she knew I’d be able to replicate the original design, as it is very clean and ‘simple’. I know that you will understand that the major flip side of this is that there is absolutely no room to hide anything! Oh for some frills and flounces!)
Anyway. The skirt and bodice have 7 panels each, with princess seams on the bodice and fairly curvy ones on the skirt too. I love a nice French seam, but they apparently don’t work on major curves, so I had to find another option. Mock French was a possibility, but to be honest the thought of folding in all those tiny seam allowances did my head in without me even trying it! I had a look at Kenneth King’s techniques in his book and on Threads, but my addled brain couldn’t really cope with them.
So I came up with a variation on / combination of his technique and the French seam. I’m sure I’m not the first or only person to have used this, but I didn’t see it anywhere in my various searches. For now (until anyone advises me otherwise) I’ll call it The Satin French Seam.
For me it nicely combines the neat, clean, crisp finish you want on this kind of fabric, the ability to make lovely thin seams (mine are about 3.5mm), and avoidance of hours of fiddly folding. Again, this is not a quick technique (3 skirt seams took 2.5 hours), but I’ve given up expecting anything on this little project to be speedy!
Here’s what I did:
- As in a normal French seam, start off with wrong sides together. Using a straight stitch foot and a 2.6mm stitch, I sewed a seam with an allowance of 15mm (my cut seam allowance was 20mm). I stabilised the organza by sewing the seam over a strip of tissue paper.
- Press the seam flat to ‘set’ the stitches.
- Change to a zigzag foot and sew a tiny zig zag to cover the straight seam. For mine, I used a setting of 2mm width, 0.3mm length.
- Press the seam flat again.
- Cut the seam allowance off, as close to the stitches as you dare! I suppose if you accidentally snipped one it might not be the end of the world, because (a) you could probably fairly unobtrusively just stitch over that bit again and (b) it will be enclosed after this, but happily I haven’t needed to test that theory. YET.
- Press the seam to one side, then turn so the right sides are together and the seam is enclosed, and press again.
- Back to the straight stitch foot, I used a 2.2mm stitch length to sew the final seam – again as close as possible to the stitching.
- Press three more times – first flat to set the stitches, second to one side and third on the right side to make sure the seam is perfectly open.
Tada! The final result. Skinny seams!
Here’s an approximate idea of what it will look like on the finished article – here just a practice one, posed roughly over my arm – this is quite tricky with two slippery fabrics and the other hand holding the camera!
Let’s hope it works as well on the bodice!