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Tailor's Tacks for Dalloway...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tailor's tacks are a super little way to transfer pattern markings onto your fashion fabric.

Because they are essentially a loop of thread, they stay in place where you need them to (and don't rub off!) and you can remove them easily, without leaving a trace.

When I talk about using tailor's tacks for marking the horizontal pleat lines on the Dalloway skirt, I'm not talking about the little teeny ones you might use on a bodice (though the technique is exactly the same). Nope, I'm talking about heavy duty tailor's tacks here guys.

They should be at least 2cm (3/4inch) long or bigger to be of any use to you when assembling and pressing in your pleat folds. So, how do you make a tailor's tack for the Dalloway skirt horizontal pleats?


  • Dalloway skirt paper pattern (both the skirt and underlining pieces)
  • Fashion fabric
  • Needle
  • Contrasting thread (using a contrasting thread makes it so much easier to see your tacks!). You can use silk if this if your preferred thread for pattern marking, but I use regular ol' polyester thread.

1. I talk about using 3-4 tailor's tacks per 'line' to mark your Dalloway skirt horizontal pleats. The important thing is that they all sit horizontally, directly on top of a marked pattern line. They do not need to be neat and all matching up to each other between the different lines though.

These markings are there for you to be able to fold and stitch your pleats in accurately and will be taken out eventually, so there is no need for neatness (except along each individual line).

The red lines on top of the skirt underlining pattern above mark out where you might choose to place your heavy duty tailor's tacks. As you can see, while they don't have match up between each line, they are all placed accurately along each line.

You are also more than welcome to use more or less, depending on how confident you are feeling. I have found that 3 is perfect for me, but when I was first testing Dalloway, I think I used 5 or 6 per line!

2. Take your needle and thread it with one long piece of your contrasting thread (you will need to re-thread as you go, so how long you make it is up to you!). Don't knot the end.

Generally you'd double thread your needle for small tailor's tacks, but because you'll be doing so many, I tend to use a single thread.

3. Take your needle, line it up with one of the skirt pattern lines and thread through all layers of paper pattern and fabric (since the skirt is cut on the fold, that will be three layers total). Leave a long tail.

4. Since we're making big tacks, move along the line 2cm or so and come back up, making sure you are coming through the marked line on the pattern. Don't pull too tightly, you'll want a little loop at the back.

5. Go back through the first stitch you made, and then come back up the second - again, don't pull too tightly. Then, leaving a long tail, cut your needle loose.

You've now made a tailor's tack! Repeat these steps for as many tacks as you need before proceeding.

6. Cut the top loops of your tacks and gently remove the paper pattern sitting on top.

7. Gently pull your two layers of fabric apart, being careful not to pull your thread all the way past the top layer (this is why you should leave long tails), and cut to divide your tack.

Now you'll have a bunch of nice little neat rows of tailor's tacks spanning across your entire skirt ready for you to press in your pleats!


The Dalloway Pattern - Grading the Hips

Friday, September 12, 2014

As I mentioned when I released Dalloway last week, grading the hips is one of the trickier things that you might need to do to the pattern. This is because the skirt is one length of fabric, with no side seams.

But that's what makes it interesting right?

When I was making the pattern, I deliberately left a lot of ease in the hips to hopefully accommodate a large portion of people making Dalloway, but with that said, I still completely understand that some people may need more room, while others need less room. So hopefully, this little tutorial will help those of you that need to do some adjusting around that area, and you'll see that it's not too complicated and that actually, the method I'm about to show you means that you can play around with the proportions to get the perfect fit for you.

So, what's the trick to adding (or removing) hip ease in the Dalloway skirt?  Basically, you want to adjust the depth in the pleats along the skirt that shape the waist.

What you don't want to do is move the legs of the pleats along the skirt with the intent of adding ease in between the individual pleats, especially when making the dress, as the pleats match up with certain parts of the bodice. With the skirt version, it probably doesn't matter as much since you're just adding a plain waist band, but moving the pleat legs accurately would be the harder way to adjust the hips in my opinion.

Onward to the tutorial...

  • Dalloway pattern (either the skirt or the underlining pattern piece - it doesn't matter)
  • Muslin or scrap fabric to make up a test skirt
  • Scissors
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Cello tape
  • Extra paper if you are adding ease

1. Make up a muslin of the skirt piece using pattern piece D (this is the skirt underlining piece and matches up with the skirt piece exactly once the horizontal pleats have been sewn into the skirt).

2. Work out how much ease you need. Take note of where the skirt is pulling (or bagging if you need to reduce ease). The great thing about adding ease to the skirt my way is that you actually get to choose where you add in your ease. Is it pulling at the back? Or at the front? Add your extra ease here only. Or if it's too tight in general, you can divide your extra ease up and add it all over. 

For the sake of this tutorial, I'm going to say I need to add a total of 2.5cm extra (or 1inch) to the back pleats.

3. Once you've got how much extra you need to add, it's time to divide that number up equally across all the affected pleats.

Since I'm just going to be adding ease to the back pleats only, and there are a total of 6 of them (I've included one side of the side box pleat that sits to the back - though it's totally up to you if you include that pleat, or the entire side box pleat or none of it!!) - which works out to be about 4mm for each pleat (aka slightly bigger than 1/8inch - sorry guys, I'm a metric lady and have no idea how to write that in inches!!).

2.5cm/6 = 0.41cm (I've rounded to 4mm)

4. Now I need to divide that 4mm by 2 because I'm only working with half a pattern and I wanted to add 2.5cm total to my skirt.

4mm / 2 = 2mm

So all up, I'm only going to be adding 2mm to the depth of each pleat (slightly less that 1/8inch). And while it might not sound like a huge amount, as we all know with sewing, the tiniest changes in fitting all add up.

5. Now the fun part! Cut off the top strip of the skirt that has all the pleat markings on it.

6. Cut all the affected pleats in half and pull apart by the required amount.

7. Place paper underneath each section to fill in the gaps and tape up.

8. Tape your adjusted strip back onto your skirt and fill in the extra length added to the end with spare paper.

9. Draw in the new ends of your skirt pattern Sew Lines (including the end notches) then transfer the new markings/adjustments to your other skirt pattern piece.

TA DA! A nicely adjusted skirt pattern. This tutorial works exactly the same for taking away ease, you just want to do the opposite.

See, totally not as scary as you thought right?

Any questions? Please feel free to pop them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them :)


The Dalloway Tutorial Series

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Howdy Folks!

First off, thank you so much for all o' your kind comments on the release of The Dalloway Dress & Skirt Pattern. I'm so happy you like it AND it made me even more happy that you like that it's different to what's out there at the moment and that it's aimed at intermediate to advanced seamstresses. I have more beginner patterns coming, but it's always nice to sink your teeth into a little something pretty that's a bit more complicated.

As I mentioned when I released the pattern, I'm not going to be running a sew a long (unless there's a big push for it!) but I am going to be running a series of tutorials for the pattern. The dates for the tutorials are below - starting tomorrow with the Hip Grading tute. I kind of figured that those of you who already have the pattern probably know about tailors tacks and are itching to get sewing, but might need to fiddle with the hips a little first and aren't quite so sure how to tackle them (it's not as complicated as it might seem - promise!). And just in case you don't have your Dalloway pattern yet, you can purchase it here and download it instantly to your computer.

Dates for your diary...

Friday 12th September 
Dalloway - Grading the Hips

Tuesday 16th September
Easy Tailor's Tacks for Dalloway

Tuesday 23rd September
Dalloway - Pressing in your Horizontal Skirt Pleats

Friday 26th September 
Dalloway - Stitching in your Horizontal Skirt Pleats

If there is something specific you'd like to see that isn't listed, please let me know, it is by no means a comprehensive list of things you might struggle with, it's mostly the things I think you might want to know about, so I'm more than happy to add more to the list.

And just because I could, I made a wee button for you should you wish to display it proudly somewhere :)

Grab button for The Dalloway Pattern Tutorial Series by Jennifer Lauren
<div class="Jennifer-lauren-vintage-dalloway-button" style="width: 200px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="" rel="nofollow"> <img src="" alt="Jennifer Lauren Vintage" width="200" height="200" /> </a> </div>

So, onwards to some hip easing action Ladies (and Gents, if you're out there) - see you tomorrow,


Introducing Pattern No.3 - The Dalloway Dress & Skirt

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Here it is folks - The Dalloway Dress & Skirt pattern
available for purchase and instant download right here!

With the Dalloway Dress & Skirt in your wardrobe, you’ll be ready to host your own party at a moment’s notice. But which view will you choose to make first? At least in this story, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Five horizontal pleats run the length of the skirt creating the illusion of a tiered peplum while adding body and detail. Small soft pleats then gently shape the skirt around the waist and hips, giving the impression of a fitted pencil skirt with all the comfort of being able to eat your way around the buffet table. 

The Dalloway Dress is constructed with a fully lined and enclosed bodice to hide away raw edges. The skirt underlining can also act as a lining, leaving you free to wear it without a slip when the cold weather strikes and both versions are finished with a lapped zip. For extra shaping, the bodice is designed with 2 waist darts on either side.

Dalloway is aimed at intermediate to advanced sewers, but if you are a beginner, taking your time may be all you need. What makes Dalloway a tad challenging are the horizontal pleats that run around the entire circumference of the skirt. They are attached invisibly to a skirt underlining and can be a bit fiddly to sew in.

Another thing that makes Dalloway a bit harder is the fact that the skirt is one length of fabric - there are no side seams. This can make grading the hips a teensy bit harder than your traditional skirt, and while I have allowed for plenty of ease in that area, you can still grade up or down if you need too and I will be posting a tutorial on just how to do that right here.

While I do instruct you to use a lapped zip for the pattern, you are more than welcome to substitute it for an invisible zip if that is your preferred technique. You can also easily opt to leave the horizontal skirt pleats out completely by using the underlining pattern for your skirt.

I'm not going to be running a sew-a-long persey for Dalloway, but I will be posting a series of tutorials on specific aspects of the construction of Dalloway. These will include -

  • Grading the hips on Dalloway
  • Easy Tailor's Tacks for Dalloway
  • Pressing in your horizontal skirt pleats
  • Stitching in your horizontal skirt pleats


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