Let's start with what you'll need: Tadah Tea Party Dress pattern
, a 7" zip (I've been using the Boo! zips
) you will need a longer zip if you are using the full back or racer back options, 2 x 1" strips of interfacing cut to the length of your zip, fabric, notions etc as per pattern.
Cut all your pieces out and press the lining up as per pattern. Trim off 3/8" from the inside of the back bodice pieces - both lining and outer.
Follow steps 1 - 7 on constructing the bodice. At step 7 DO NOT sew the middle back (where my thumb is), just start from the middle back neckline, leaving the middle back open.
Gathering tip: if you have a preferred method of gathering, please use that. This is just intended as a tip to try out and if you like it then use it - it's my favourite method.
Using the longest stitch on my machine I run a straight stitch 1/4" from the raw edge of the fabric - leaving long tails at both start and end. I then run a second straight stitch outside of the patterns seam allowance - YES outside. Yes, you will be able to see this stitch, so once you've joined your skirt to your bodice you will need to remove this stitch). If you're wondering what purpose this serves - it holds your gathers in place nicely, as you're attaching the skirt to the bodice. Once you have the two gathering stitches in place then find your centre front of the skirt piece and pin it to the centre front of your bodice, pin the side seams to the bodice sides seams and pull the bobbin stitch to gather the skirt to fit your bodice - once you have the correct length, tie off your gathering stitches at the sides and then adjust your gathers so they are evenly dispersed.
Complete step 14, don't sew down the lining in step 15 just yet as from here you'll need to do some measuring to get your zip placement accurate
Iron on your interfacing to the inside middle of your bodice and skirt (not the lining). USE the interfacing: trust me, I didn't and it's floppy now - learn from my mistakes :-P
Lay your dress, front side down so the back is facing up. Measure 5/8" in from the edge and draw a line, repeat for the other side too.
Fold your dress along this line, wrong sides together and pin, repeat for the other side. The only purpose of this step is to line up the zip in the actual spot it will eventually sit - if you skip this step, you will find that your zip doesn't sit in the right spot once you sew up your zip allowance (this is another one of those "trust me" moments).
Take your zip and fold over the excess at the top. Line it up with the top of the inner back and pin. Make a mark on the dress where the end of the zip sits. Do the same thing on the other side - making sure they line up. Unpin the zip.
Zip cheats tip: Using either tailors chalk or a fabric pen draw a straight line 1/4" from the edge of your zipper - repeat for other side - this isn't necessary, however it makes lining your zip up later sooooooo much faster!
Starting from the top of the bodice (lift the lining out of the way) and sew down the line you drew earlier that was 5/8" in from the raw edge. Sew a straight line down to the zip end mark and with your needle down, pivot and sew in toward the raw edge. Repeat for the other side - make sure your zip end is the same on both sides of the bodice!
Fold your dress, right sides together and line up the zip end and put a pin in there to prevent you from sewing past this seam line accidentally. With a 3/8" seam, starting at the zip end spot sew down to the hem of the dress.
On a roughly 45 degree angle snip into the corner of the zip end stitch line (do each side separately) press the little triangles down out of the way.
Press all seams to the inside of the dress using the stitching as a guide.
Start by positioning the zip between the outer bodice and lining, using the lines you drew on it earlier, tuck it under the lining so it's sandwiched between the bodice, interfacing and the lining. Use fabric glue to hold the zip in place - turn it over and make sure it's straight from the outside - readjust if necessary.
Use your machines zip foot to sew down the zip - use a 3 or 3.5 length stitch and start at the top and with your needle down when you get to the bottom of the zip, pivot and sew across the bottom of the zip, pivot and back up the other side. Make sure you back tack at the start and end of the zip.
My biggest tip here is to GO SLOWLY and readjust as necessary, it's not a race and you want to be able to admire your awesome zip after!!
Flip your lining over and line up with your skirt seam. Unzip your zip to give you extra space and sew down your lining as per pattern.
Hem as per pattern and Tadah!!!
To read more of Tanya's fabulous patterns hacks and sewing related musings head over to her blog Sewvolution