Sunday, July 10, 2011

Shout Out to the Experts: Easing Full Hems and Facing Debacles

This weekend I've spent quite a bit of time on Vogue 8379. My goal: to be all zen and relaxed. I've been doing careful, neat work. I'm working with some nice, orange rayon jersey. I've stopped to eat (0ccasionally).

But I have to tell you this pattern is really pissing me off.

Let me start by saying I've never met a wrap dress that didn't suit me. I'm like the model body-type for the style. I own many. I wear them often. When wearing them, I receive compliments. I feel chic. It's win-win.

Let me say, also, that I have done my research. I know the issue, in this pattern, about the neck and front facings flipping out. I read about it a dozen times on Pattern Review. But I was slow and considered. I pressed, understitched, massaged the fabric. And still, the facings flipped. Then I topstitched. The facings? On wearing, they still pull and threaten to flip. (Of course, they flip much less than they did before I topstitched. But if one moves, the facings are unpredictable.) I can't very well topstitch at the outer edge of the facing (the part that's 2 inches away from the seam). That would just look weird. I did try to catch stitch the facing to the bodice, but you could see the little thread-pricks from the right side, despite my most careful efforts.

It does not fit small - I made the 12 and it was the right size. If I'd made it in a 14, it would be too big and those facings would still flip. Jersey facings are STUPID. Will never use them again. In the future, I'm all about the seam binding.

OK, here's Question 1- as I know many of you have made this dress and you love it, facing-challenges notwithstanding: How did you get them to lie flat?

Then there's the matter of hemming the very full skirt. Easing will be necessary, I imagine. But since I may not wear this thing (jury's out), I don't want to spend a zillion years hand sewing (per the instructions).

Question 2: How do you recommend easing the hem so that it will lie flat when I machine stitch? I did run a row of basted stitches and pulled up the bobbin thread but it did not work. I just ended up having to pick out a mile of basted stitches. Maybe my tension was too tight? Maybe I need to do it in sections i.e. not one long baste but multiple ones? Is there some kind of Stitch Witchery product that can do this for me :-)

Any feedback on hemming would also be appreciated.

Final thoughts on the Vogue Wrap Dress:
  • It's designed for a short-waisted, short person and still it doesn't fit right in the torso on me.
  • Furthermore, it seems to highlight one's waist shortness.
  • I lengthened the ties and now they're too long - not a disaster but I scarcely need more drag on this thing.
  • Those tucks that start at the waist and move up towards the shoulders over the bust are just weird. I know they're meant to shape but they tend to make one's bust look low.
  • I gave it 3/4 sleeves and I like them, but the easing of the sleeve into the cap is fussy and yields a gathered cap. I appreciate that look, but I don't like it when I'm pushed into it because of bad drafting.
Depending on your feedback, and a bit of chill time, I may get over my issues with this thing and wear it happily, or I may put it out on the lawn. (Note: It does get sadder and sadder to put things on the lawn as my technique improves...) I doubt I'll make it again, but if I do, I'm going to bind the edges, not face. And I'll make it sleeveless (arm holes bound too).


  1. I have no experience with facings on knits---I wish I could help.

    As for the hem, a) I wouldn't do a wide hem on a knit. Using a narrow hem will largely eliminate the need to ease anyway. I have no idea what the pattern's suggested hem is, so this is just me babbling. b) There's a product called "Steam-a-Seam 2 lite" that comes in long, narrow rolls (I got mine, predictably, at Fabricland, but it seems to be widely available). It's basically a (barely) double-sided tape of extremely light fusing. You place it, peel the top off, fold it over, iron it into place (which is more or less permanent, and then twin-needle or whatever. It adds a tiny bit of body to the hem (not noticeable in most knits), keeps it in place while stitching, and is at least as stretchy as your twin-needle stitch. Although it doesn't solve every problem, it makes knit hems much more fun.

    Good luck!

  2. I have this pattern too, so thanks for the feedback on the facings. If you have a serger with differential feed, then one thought re the hem would be to serge the edge, increasing the differential feed slightly, causing it to very gently shorten. Then sew the hem as usual, with a double needle or stretch stitch.

  3. I use my walking foot on the hem with a longer straigh stitch. It doesn't need to stretch since it's so floaty. I've never had one pop. Sorry you're having so much trouble with this pattern. Yeah, it has some quirks with the facings but I've always really liked the pattern.

  4. Couple thoughts on the facing. Try stitching in the ditch on the shoulder seam. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Otherwise I'd try to cut the width of the facing down close to the topstitching.

    Use a narrow hem with a twin needle. It eliminates the need to ease the hemline.

  5. How annoying for you.
    I love this pattern (all 4 of dresses), but I did not use the facings. I don't often face knits, as IMO they don't work in most garments, they, um, flip, or bunch. Binding x1, turning over clear elastic x3.
    For the hem I turned under the smallest possible amount and stitched with a twin needle (x2) or a coverstitch (x2) I didn't try a large hem that needed easing, too tricky for me on a knit. I am sorry this pattern is not working for you, sometimes sewing is like that. I hope you can fix it!

  6. Cutting out strips of temporary iron-on stabilizer and using them to fuse the hem up THEN stitching it is what has been recommended to me. A small (or narrow) hem is always best. Is there anywhere on the dress you can stitch in the ditch to keep the facings from flipping up?

    As far as the gathered sleeve, you can unpick the top part that is gathered and press the gathers out then pin and sew to take out the excess ease. When you take out the stitching in only the gathered area, it should be easy to see where the excess fabric is, then sew and trim the fabric off.

  7. Y'all are coming up with the best potential solutions.

    OK, I'm def going to go narrow on the hem. I do have some stabilizer (I don't know if it is temporary). And I'll prob use the twin needle. What did I do without the twin needle?!

    k: I don't quite understand what you mean about the binding x1 and clear elastic x3 (I think my brain is utterly fried between heat and sewing so sorry if it's totally simple and I'm just not getting it.)

    Debbie: I tacked at the shoulder but I'll try stitching in the ditch too... I did think of cutting the facing but that seems so extreme!

    Dilliander: You're right about the differential feed on the serger. Of course, I've already serged the bottom of the skirt and I'm a bit afraid, in truth, of the differential feed option.

    T: I think my stabilizer may be Steam a Seam - or maybe I have that stuff and stabilizer. Those strips of tape confuse me.

    Kim: The dress looks terrific on you. You should keep making it!

  8. One other option for the hem on a knit - don't hem. It isn't going to unravel and no one will ever notice. Just cut it the length you want and no worries particularly if you might not wear this dress given the facing problem. Or you can get really fancy and use pinking shears or a rotary cutter with a wavy blade for that fancy yet super quick look.

    If you are hemming it, a narrow hem is the way to go. If you are using a twin needle to hem it, I like to use wooly nylon (hand wound) in the bobbin. I don't know how I dealt with knits BTN (before twin needles).

  9. "Jersey facings are STUPID. Will never use them again."

    I was going to suggest using a different fabric, like silk. Something that would lay flat.

  10. What about a lettuce edge hem? I'm not sure if you'd like that look or if it really suits the style of your dress, but it's just another option. Good luck!

  11. Diana: I seriously considered that. If only I hadn't serged it before thinking straight. BTW, in the end it worked out really well with a narrow hem...

    Susan: I think I may have had it with all facings (except waist ones). It remains to be seen.

    Mary: Very good idea. I think there's so much volume in the dress skirt, that it would be strange-looking. But on another skirt, I'd really like it.