Thursday, December 31, 2015

Nursing Dress Part 2: Sewing

 Yesterday I talked about drafting the nursing dress pattern, and today I'll cover cutting and sewing it. If you follow along you should have a finished dress by the end! Again, here is one of mine made in this style:

But first, a little about fabric.

  You will want to use a knit with at least 40% horizontal and 20% vertical stretch for this dress. My dress took about 4.5 yards of exterior fabric. You'll also need lining fabric. If your fabric isn't sheer at all, or is a solid color, you may be able to use the same fabric for the exterior and lining, but I like to use swimsuit lining for the skirt portion of the dress because it has a lot of slip and keeps the skirt from sticking to me. Swimsuit lining is tricky to cut though, and a bit of a pain to sew because of the stretch and slipperiness, so that's something to keep in mind. I used about 2.5 yards of lining fabric.You will also need some clear elastic.

Now, let's cut that fabric! 

Cut 2 waistbands on the fold, 1 of exterior and 1 of lining fabric.

Cut 4 skirt pieces, 2 of exterior and 2 of lining fabric. I cut the skirt lining knee length to help keep it from weighing things down.

Cut 2 back pieces on the fold, 1 of exterior and 1 of lining fabric.

Cut 1 nursing front on the fold of exterior fabric. Mark the fold on the waist edge.

Cut 2 mirrored sleeves of exterior fabric.

If using, cut 2 ruffle pieces of exterior fabric.

If using, cut 2 cuff pieces on the fold of exterior fabric.

If adding sleeve flounces, fold a piece of exterior fabric in quarters, place the flounce as shown below, and cut only along the curved lines. Repeat for 2 flounces. If done correctly your pieces will be doughnut-shaped once unfolded. If your fabric is printed, you may want to cut two more flounces of exterior fabric, for a total of 4.

Cut 2 mirrored front crossover pieces of exterior fabric, and 2 mirrored pieces of lining fabric. Make sure to mark the fold line, as well as all of the pleat lines or gathering marks if using those versions.

I think that's all.... =) Now for the sewing! You'll want to use a stitch that stretches well. I used a serger, but it isn't necessary. We'll start with the nursing front.

 1. Finish the neckline of the nursing underlay. I like to bind it, but choose your favorite finishing technique.

 2. Cut clear elastic to the length of the nursing cutouts and sew it on. (This isn't absolutely necessary but helps it to bounce back to the right place after nursing. It does make it a bit more difficult to nurse.)

 3. Lay the lining back face up in front of you. Add the nursing underlay, face up, matching the outer edges of the shoulders. (The nursing underlay will not meet the neck edges along the shoulders).

 4. Place the two front crossover linings on top, face down. Pin the shoulders of all three layers together, sew. Press seams toward the back

 5. Pin the shoulders of the back exterior and front crossover exteriors right sides together. Cut two strips of clear elastic the same length as the shoulder pieces and sew them onto the seams. Press seams toward the front crossovers. If adding a ruffle, sew your two ruffle pieces together along one short end. Fold the entire ruffle in half along the length and press. Run two rows of gathering stitches along the long edges. Lay the bodice lining face up in front of you, with the nursing underlay to the back.  

 6. If using, gather the ruffle to fit the neckline. Pin along the neckline of the bodice lining, matching raw edges. Baste around neckline.

 7. Lay the exterior bodice on top of the lining, face down. Pin around the neckline, avoiding pinning the underlay. Cut a strip of clear elastic the same length as the neckline and sew it onto the seam. 

 8. Turn everything right side out and press. From here on you will treat the lining and exterior layers as one. Baste the armscye together, making sure the nursing underlay is included in the front basting. Lay the bodice down with the exterior facing up.

 9. Place the sleeve on top, facing down. 

 10. Pin the sleeve to the armscye and sew. 

 11. Repeat steps 9 and 10 for second sleeve. Press seams toward sleeves.

 12. Fold bodice with the exterior sides together and sew the side seam from the waistline to the underarm, then continue to the end of the sleeve. Repeat for the opposite side seam.

 13. Turn right side out and press the seams open, or if serged together, toward the back.

 14. If using the gathered front crossover, run two lines of basting stitches between the marks on each of the front crossover pieces. and gather down to measure 3 inches. For either smooth or gathered fronts, overlap the right piece over the left piece, matching the center front marks. Match the pieces to the center front of the nursing underlay, and baste through all of the front bodice layers.

 15. If using the pleated crossover front, fold the pleats by bringing the outer two marks on the exterior of the bodice together (right sides facing) and press the fold formed on the inside of the bodice toward the side seams. Repeat with the middle two marks, then the inner two marks, and repeat all of the pleats on the opposite crossover piece. Overlap the right front over the left front, matching center front marks. Match to the center front of the nursing underlay and baste through all of the front bodice layers.

 16. With right sides together, sew the side seams of the skirt exterior, shown below. Press the seams toward the back. Sew the side seams of the lining, pressing the seams toward the front. Turn both skirts right side out. Slide the lining inside the exterior and baste together at the waistline, matching the side seams. Mark the center front and center back at the waistline.

 17. Baste the waistband lining to the exterior waistband wrong sides together. Fold the waistband in half, exterior sides facing, and sew the short ends together. Mark the fold and press the seam open, or to the side if serged.

 18. With skirt wrong side out and waistband right side out, slide the waistband inside the skirt matching the back seam to the center back mark, and the fold mark of the waistband to the center front mark. (Lining not shown.)

 19. Sew the waist seam and press toward the waistband.

 20. Keep the skirt wrong side out, and pull the waistband up, so it is also wrong side out.

 21. With bodice right side out, slide inside the skirt, matching the center fronts and center backs. Pin to the un-sewn side of the waistband. Stretch the waistband to match the bodice waist and sew the waist seam, then press the seam toward the waistband.

 22. Turn right side out. Let the dress hang for at least 12 hours, level any parts of the skirt that have stretched, and hem the skirt. I did a lettuce-edged hem using my serger. If you aren't adding cuffs or flounces, hem the sleeves as well and you are done!  If adding cuffs, continue to step 23. If adding flounces, skip to step 28.

 23. If adding cuffs, fold the cuffs right sides together and sew the short ends to form a tube. Press open. Fold the cuff inside itself, right sides together, so that the two long edges meet.

 24. Directly opposite the seam, mark and sew a half-inch tall triangle, using a straight stitch on the sewing machine. Cut up to the point of the triangle.

 25. Turn the cuff right side out so that the long edges meet and the seam is hidden inside, poking the corners of the notch out and pressing the top fold. Repeat steps 23-25 for second cuff.

 26. Slide the cuff over the sleeve, matching raw edges, and sew around the sleeve opening.

 27. Press the seam toward the sleeve and the cuff away from the sleeve. Repeat steps 26 and 27 for the second sleeve cuff and you are done!

 28. If you are using printed fabric and decided to cut four flounces, place two flounces wrong sides together and treat as one layer. (I spray-basted mine together so they wouldn't shift.) Slide the sleeve inside the flounce, right sides together

 29. Pin well and sew around the sleeve opening.

 30. Turn the flounce right side out. Press the seam toward the sleeve. Hem the flounce, repeat steps 28-30 for the second flounce, and you are done! I lettuce-edged my flounces. To lettuce-edge, sew along the edge of the fabric using either a rolled hem setting on your serger or a wide and very short zig-zag on your sewing machine, stretching the fabric firmly in front of and behind the presser foot.

 For fun, here are two more versions of this dress that I've made. This grey version has slightly different pleated crossover fronts, neckline ruffle, and sleeve cuffs. (I'm pregnant in this photo, but but I prefer the way it looks when I'm not.) Also, I forgot the clear elastic in the neckline on this version, so yours shouldn't gape like this.

  This navy version was drafted and sewn a bit differently, using the non-recommended method. ;-) It has a neckline ruffle, notched cuffs, and pleated crossover front. I made the pattern with more ease for this one, and with the waist at my natural waist. This one also has a full circle skirt, as shown in the original tutorial, instead of the half-circle skirt on the newer versions.

  Please let me know if anything is totally confusing and I'll try to clear it up. If you do make a dress using this tutorial, I'd love to see it! You can email photos to saygrrsewing (at) gmail (dot) com, or tag Say Grr Sewing on Facebook or @saygrrsewing on Instagram. =)

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Nursing Dress Part 1: Drafting

  I've said for a while now that I've been planning on re-doing my nursing dress tutorial, because the first version had some issues. I'm sorry it's taken so long! Anyway, today I'll be talking about how to draft the pattern to make a dress like this:

  If you happen to be around my size you may be able to skip the whole drafting part and download my free single-sized pattern here. It fits approximately Bust 39-42" Waist 33-35" and 5'7-8" height. My pattern includes 1/4" seam allowances. Make sure scaling is set to 'none' when you print, and print the first page first so you can make sure the 1" square prints at 1". =)

Otherwise, there are 3 places you can start from:
  1. If you have a basic crew-neck t-shirt pattern that fits you well, I'd recommend that as a starting point.
  2. No pattern, but you have a crew-neck t-shirt that fits well? Trace a pattern from it -one way to do this is detailed here.
  3. Don't have either of the above and are willing to put in more time? Draft your own shirt pattern! Learn how here... after drafting, I recommend making a mock-up of the shirt and fixing any problems before following the rest of this tutorial.
For any of the above, remove the seam allowances before continuing. I'm assuming that you'll be using a fabric with at least 40% stretch. Any less and I don't think this style will work!
This is what I started with-  a front, a back, and an elbow-length sleeve:

  Now that you have your starting point worked out, you'll need to take a few measurements. 

 1. First, tie a string around you where you want the waistline of the dress to land, shown below left. I went for an empire line for mine, but it's definitely easier to nurse if the waistline is at your natural waist. With the string still in place, measure from the base of your neck at the shoulder over your bust point to the string. This is A, shown below right.

 2. Next, measure from the base of your neck at the shoulder down your back to the string. This is B, shown below left. Measure from base of your neck at the shoulder again to a point 2” from the center point of your body on the string, on the side opposite the shoulder. This is C, shown below right.

 3. Measure from the base of your neck at the shoulder to your bust apex. This is D, shown below left. Measure from one apex to the other. This is E, shown below right.

 4. Measure from the string down to where you want your hem to end. I went for ankle-length. This is F, shown below left. Finally, measure your 'waist' where the string is. This is G, shown below right.

 5. Now it's time to start changing your pattern! On your pattern, parallel to the front fold, measure from the shoulder at the neckline the distance of D from step 3, and mark a line perpendicular to it, shown below left. Measure from the front fold on the line you just made and mark half of E from step 3 to establish your bust point on the pattern, shown below right in red.

 6. On your pattern, parallel to the front fold, measure from the shoulder at the neckline and mark A from step 1 to find the waist, shown below left. On your back piece, measure and mark B from step 2 from the shoulder at the neckline, parallel to the fold on the back piece, shown below right

 7. Draw a slightly curved line from A to B through the side seam of your pattern. Extend this line to be perpendicular to the fold in the back and front, shown below.

 8. Trim your pattern pieces at the line. 

 9. Set the back piece aside for now, and trace the full front, marking the center fold, shown below left. Mark the bust point too, even though it's not shown in the next few illustrations. Mark 2” (or however much you used to create measurement C in step 2) from the center line along the waist seam-line, shown below right in red.
 10. From the opposite shoulder, draw a line to the point you just marked, shown below left. Cut along the line and throw away the smaller piece to get a piece similar to the one shown below right.

 11. From the shoulder point, measure C from step 2 along the diagonal and mark. Draw a line perpendicular to the diagonal line at the mark, ending it in the waist line, shown below left. Smooth the line into a gentle curve and trim the pointed piece off, shown below right. For clarity, I've erased the line that marked the center fold of the bodice and replaced it with a red dot. If you are making a gathered or pleated bodice, continue with step 12. If you'd prefer a smooth bodice like the floral dress above, your crossover is finished and you can skip to step 16!

 12. For pleated or gathered crossover pieces, draw a line perpendicular to the waist through the bust point to the shoulder. Measure 1.5” to each side of the bust point and mark. Make sure that the mark on the left is at least 2" away from the fold line, or 3" if you are adding a neckline ruffle, otherwise you will end up with a lot of bulk. If needed, shift all three lines toward the side seam. From each mark, draw a line to the waist parallel to the first line, shown below left. Cut along the line closest to the center front, leaving a tiny 'hinge' of paper at the top. Pivot the outer piece until there is a 1.5” opening at the cut and tape the pieces down, shown below right.

 13. Cut the next line, leaving a tiny 'hinge'. Pivot to create a 1.5” opening, tape down, shown below left. Cut the final line, pivot to a 1.5” opening, tape down. shown below right. For the gathered version, continue with step 14. For the pleated version, skip to step 15.

 14. Gathered version: Trace the entire piece, marking the outer edges of the outer two cuts. Mark the fold line (red dot) and draw a smooth line at the waist, shown below. The gathered crossover is done and you can continue to step 16!

 15. Pleated version: Trace the entire piece, marking both sides of each cut at the waistline, as well as marking the fold line (a red dot here), shown below left. Don't trim off the paper below the waist just yet. Bring the first and second marks together, and fold the excess paper in the back toward the side seam. Repeat with the third and fourth marks, then with the fifth and sixth marks. While folded, cut off the excess paper along the traced line, then unfold, for a finished pleated crossover similar to the below right illustration.

 16.  On to the nursing underlay! Trace your front bodice again... no need for a full piece this time. Mark the bust point, shown below left. Widen the neckline of the nursing front by 1”-2”. From the bust point, mark 1-2” toward the side seam- shown below right with a black dot. The farther toward the side seam you mark, the smaller the chance of accidental exposure... but the more difficult it will be to nurse.

 17. Draw a line perpendicular to the waist seam through the black dot, curving to end in the armscye approximately 1” above the top of the side seam, shown below left. Cut along the line, throw away the smaller piece, and you have your nursing front, similar to the one shown below right.

 18. Next we have a half-circle skirt. Subtract 2” from measurement F in step 4 to get F1. Subtract 2" from G to get G1. (This is to keep the skirt from dragging the bodice down. If your fabric is very stretchy you may want to subtract even more, but keep in mind that this is a pullover-style dress and you will have to get your shoulders, arms, and bust through this measurement!) Divide G1 by 3.14 to get G2. Add F1 to G2 to get F2. In the corner of your very large sheet of paper, draw a quarter-circle whose radius is G2, shown below left. Draw a quarter-circle around that whose radius is F2, shown below right. (Here's a hint for this one... you can use a ruler and make marks out from the corner using your radius measurement and connect them, or you can make a compass with string as shown here.)

 19.  Cut along both curved lines. Tada, skirt! For the waistband, divide G1 from step 18 by 2 to get G3. Make a rectangle that is 2” tall by G3... the smaller rectangle shown below. If you are adding a ruffle to the neckline, measure the diagonal of your crossover piece. Measure the back neckline, add the two together, and multiply by two to get the total length of the neckline. This is H. Draw a rectangle that is 2” tall by H. This is the larger rectangle shown below.

 20. If you are adding cuffs or flounces to your sleeves, measure across the bottom edge of one sleeve to get I, shown below:

 21. For notched cuffs, draw a rectangle that is 2" tall by I, shown below.

 22. For a flounce, divide I by 3.14, then multiply by 2 to get I1. Add 3" to get I2. In the corner of a piece of paper, draw a quarter-circle whose radius is I1, then a quarter-circle around it whose radius is I2. Cut along both lines to get a flounce similar to the one shown below.

 23. Finally, we need to add seam allowances! Add them to the following locations:
  • 2 long sides and 1 short side of the waistband. The side without a seam allowance will be placed on a fold.
  • All sides of the skirt. 
  • All sides of back piece except the long straight center fold. The side without a seam allowance will be placed on a fold. 
  • All sides of the nursing front except the long straight center fold. The side without a seam allowance will be placed on a fold. 
  • All sides of the sleeve.
  • All sides of the ruffle.
  • All sides of the front crossover piece. 
  • Both curved sides of the sleeve flounce. The two straight sides will both be placed on a fold.
  • Two short sides and one long side of the sleeve cuff. The side without a seam allowance will be placed on a fold.
And you are done with the drafting! I'll be back tomorrow (hopefully!) with the cutting and sewing instructions. =)

ETA: The sewing instructions can be found here. =)

Thanks for stopping by,