Stitching up Felicity: Stay-stitching, Stitching in darts and Assembling the Front bodice (to clip or not to clip?)

Monday, August 3, 2015
Okay people, the Felicity Sew Along is back on!! So, let's start assembling the Felicity Dress shall we? Today we'll be going through stay-stitching, sewing in darts and assembling the front bodice.


Stay-stitching is an extra little step that you may want to take to avoid any pieces of your pattern that are cut on the curve, from stretching out or distorting (which they are prone to do).

This would be particularly noticeable on your Felicity armholes, especially if you're like me and like to try things on at each stage (no matter how many muslins you've made!). Since Felicity is sleeveless, trying the bodice on multiple times, without stay-stitching the armholes, will more than likely result in them stretching out (I say this from experience...) and that will then make them sit out from your bodt, rather than flat against it.

Stay-stitching will also provide a stable seam for when you're attaching your bias binding, again, preventing you from stretching the armhole when you are attaching it (and yet again, I speak from experience).

Stay-stitching is really easy, all you need to do is use the longest straight stitch on your sewing machine (a basting stitch), and keeping within the seam allowance, simply start from one end of your curve and stitch to the other. In the photo below, I've just done it as a part of attaching my underlining - do it to both the front and back bodice pieces.

In other woven garments, you might also like to stay-stitch the neckline, but since Felicity has a gathered neckline, you don't need to worry about that just yet.

Sewing in Darts

Felicity only has two little darts at the back to help shape around the shoulders. Below is how I like to mark and sew in darts, though everyone likes to do things differently, so do it how you feel most confident.

You'll need - 
Needle and thread (preferably contrasting thread!)
'Temporary' Fabric Marker (more on this later in the post)
Fabric scissors

Note - I'm showing you how to do this with the underlined version of Felicity, but the technique is still the same whether you choose to use an underlining or not.

1. Mark the dart legs on your fabric by snipping slightly into your seam allowance (indicated by the two arrows below). Remember, your seam allowance around the neckline for Felicity is 1cm (or 3/8in), so make sure your snips end well before that - they are only there for a guide, nothing else.

2. Take your contrasting thread and mark the tip of the dart by piercing the pattern layer and going right through to the underside, leaving a long tail on each side.

Note: you could use a tailors tack, but I find that as along as you are careful and aren't too stingy with the amount of thread you leave either side, you'll be fine. You could also knot the bottom of the thread, but again, this is only a marker thread and isn't really in your pattern piece for very long, so I like to do the minimum amount possible (tehee!!).

3. Carefully remove your paper pattern piece from your fabric, being careful not to pull your dart thread all the way through.

4. Gently separate your two layers of fabric until you reach your thread, then snip the thread in the middle.

5. Right sides together, fold your fabric in half, matching up the snips you made for your dart legs and making sure the thread marker for the dart is at the tip. Press.

6. Take your ruler and fabric marker and draw a line from the snips in the neckline to the thread at the tip of your dart.

Note - I'm using a ball point pen and no, it's not just for show on these photos, because sometimes, I use one in real life. I KNOW, I'm a bad seamstress. But at the end of the day, the line you just marked is the line that you'll be sewing over to make your dart, so you generally won't see it. Plus, nobody except you will see the inside of your dress and if they did, they probably wouldn't even notice it. And sometimes, those fabric markers are either really hard to see anyway OR they rub off in 2 seconds, so, using a ball point pen just makes sense really.

Of course, use your judgement on this one because if you're using a light coloured fabric and grab a felt tip pen, as it's more than likely going to bleed through to the right-side of your fabric.

7. Starting from the end of the dart legs, stitch toward the dart tip (back tacking at the start) and sew all the way off the end - don't back tack at the tip (you'll probably find that your sewing machine will eat it anyway since there isn't enough fabric for it to grab) otherwise you generally won't end up with a nice pointy tip. Instead, leave long tails and knot them.

8. Press your dart flat, then press it towards the centre back seam. Repeat for the other dart.

Note - if you do use a more permanent way of drawing in your dart leg, to hide it even more, make sure it's on the side of the dart that gets pressed toward the centre back seam, like I've done below. You definitely won't see it this way :)

Assembling the Front Bodice - to Clip or not to Clip

The front bodice of the Felicity dress does have a slight curve, which may make you think that you need to clip it. Please go a head and do this if you feel you need to, but I found with all the versions I made, especially with the type of fabric that I suggest you use, that the curve was slight enough that I didn't need to and that it didn't really effect the overall successful outcome of the dress.

For a smooth centre front seam, use lots of steam and a tailors ham.

1. Right sides together, stitch your front bodice centre seam together.

2. Press seams open and finish raw edges separately

Note: I do talk about when to finish the centre front seams in the instructions and my reasons for why I have you finish them after you've stitched your seam closed, but the short version is that because the seam is on a slight curve, finishing them before you've stitched them shut could result in you accidentally stretching them out of shape. But, if you want to finish them first, by all means go ahead. You could always baste them first to prevent this - and since I was using an underlining for this version, attaching that to my fashion fabric has meant that I've essentially done this (this is the dark brown stitching you can see).

So, how are you going stitching up your Felicity? Do you have any questions so far?

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