July 25, 2015


Ok, that 1930's dress project is now officially driving me crazy. You know I thought from the start that styles from this decade might not work for me. And my choice of fabric proved tricky from the very start. What I haven't told you yet is that it continued to cause problems. I sewed those long skirt seams in the same way in which I've sewn other bias cut garments in the past, only to find that they pulled horribly. In the end, I had to unpick all of them and re-sew them while stretching the fabric as much as possible... While still trying to match those stripes, of course. The bodice, with all its angles and made from very soft tule, came with its own set of challenges. 

After all that, it looked like I had done it. I had sewn everything together, taken it in slightly in the process and now it was flowing smoothly and didn't look bad. I did noticed that the wide flare of the front pieces had stretched out quite a bit on the bias, so hemming would be a bit of a challenge too. So, I let it hang for a bit.

Today, I tried the dress on again so E could pin the hemline. 

And now it looks like this:

I knew the hem was very uneven. That's not really a surprise with a fabric that stretches a lot on the bias. And I don't really worry about the fact that the (un-hemmed) side seams don't even reach the ground. And ankle length dress is fine. What I do really worry about is the state of the seams though. Every bit of skirt seam that hangs freely (as in "is not also pulled at from the side") is pulling again. Of course, I could blame myself for letting the dress hang out but I'm sure it would also hang out if I would wear it. The obvious solution seems to be to re-stitch the seams again... I really don't feel like doing that though. And last time, I already tried to stretch the fabric so how much is doing that again really going to help?
Do you have any advice or should I just give up on this one? (I might try again in a different fabric but not right now)


  1. What about stabilizing the seams with ribbon or tape? Perhaps not bias tape, but ribbon might help?

  2. It seems you need to make your seam stretchy, either with stretchy threads or stretch stitch.

  3. You may already have known this method, but in the shop where I work, I was taught that vertical seams on bias skirt panels should be pinned together on a dress form, hanging loosely, ( obviously after having been left to hang and grow). Pin from the top down to the hem, allowing the hem edges to fall out as they will, since different bias angles will have stretched differently. When stitching, sew from the hem up. It may mean sacrificing your lovely stripe-matching though!

  4. Oh so sad. I think I've read somewhere that the pieces should hang after they are cut but before they are sewn. It seems like all the weight of the fabric along with the bias is what gives the pulling at the seams.

  5. I agree with PetitePear that stretch seam may be your best option. That might allow you to keep the stripe matching while allow the seam to stretch with rest of the bias cut fabric. Prob best to test on scrap first though. Also try hand back stitch which is stretchy & also softer than machine stitch I found. Is there enough width for you to stitch alongside the existing seam & cut off existing seam after you'very restitched? Might save you the nightmare of unpicking.

  6. The close up photos of the skirt portion looks really elegant. Hope you'll be able to salvage this :-)

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  8. I'm nowhere near an accomplished enough sewer to give you any advice, but that looks so, so lovely on you that I really hope one of the above suggestions works for you. It seems like a truly gorgeous garment despite the difficulties.

  9. I recommend that you take a short break from this particular dress. You'll feel less frustrated after you've had time to focus on something else. But after the break, I would cut the center front hem to where it touches the floor, but add some allowance for hemming, and blend a curved line to the hem of the side seam. The dress is coming along well! :)

    1. I would give the same advice. Always good to take a break.