Last week my good friend Julie was on the blog to share her tips and tricks for stitching the gathered version of July Flowers. Today she is back to show you her smocked version and offer some additional tips and tricks for making the skirt including adding ric rac! So here is Julie...
Once I had the bodice made, the next step is to make the back placket, which I did following the directions, but using a technique I have learned, which is as you stitch the ‘V’ on the main fabric and you are within an inch of the bottom make your stitch length a little smaller. Stitch to the end, pivot and stitch upward an inch then go back to the normal stitch length and complete stitching. This helps reinforce the point of the ‘V’. I also reduce the stitch length at this point when stitching the placket in place.
Another tip I remembered from making many items with pockets over the years came to mind as I stitched the pocket linings to the fronts and backs. I stitched the linings in place using just under the ½ inch seam allowance. I then overcast the two raw edges together and pressed as directed. Why just under the stated seam allowance? Well when the side seam is stitched with the ½ inch seam allowance, finished and pressed, the pocket lining will not show as it is just a little further inside the dress because of using the slightly smaller seam allowance. This is especially helpful if you used a plain lining fabric.
My first July Flowers dress was made in an afternoon. Yes, it really is that easy, even following the directions and making notes and taking photos! The second dress took a day to make if I include the time I spent doing the smocking on the front skirt. When making that dress I used a couple of ideas I that had come to mind when constructing the first dress. I used some rick-rack instead of piping at the waist seam
and also added it when making the tucked hem.
I love to use things I have in my stash and this dress got me thinking how I could do that!
I love that Lisa uses the tucked hem (blog post on the tuck hem is here) to finish the garment. It does save time, but on some fabrics you might just want to take time and make a hand stitched hem without a tuck. The hem allowance on July Flowers is 6 inches to allow for the tuck. If making a hand stitched hem, reduce the hem allowance to your desired length before cutting out the skirts. Another alternative is to reduce the hem length and use your blind hemmer foot to make the hem. No hand sewing but similar look in less time!
Other ideas that have popped into my head that would make this dress different yet again would be to make the bodice from a plain fabric and the skirt in a patterned. You could make bias from the patterned fabric to add piping to the waist, neck and armhole. You could add embroidery (hand or machine) to the bodice. You could even use two patterned fabrics from the same ‘family’: a smaller print for the bodice and a larger one for the skirt.
Of course, the back of the dress is finished with buttons and here again you can make these a point of interest with a contrasting button, as I did with the un-smocked version.
Or you can use a button that is a little more subtle, as I did on the smocked version. I used a button that blended in with the fabric as I had used several other details that made a statement (the rick-rack at the hem and waist and piped neckline in a bright colour).
You could also smock the back of the skirt as well as the front. You would pleat the back skirt as one piece the same way as the front, but mark the centre back first. Then once pleated, pull up the pleating threads along the centre back line, cut and remove the threads ½ inch from each side of the centre back and then tie the threads off at the centre back. Remove the pleating threads at the side seams and pull up the threads to match the back bodice width and tie off. Smock and then construct the placket as before.
I hope these tips, tricks and ideas will get help and get you inspired when making your version of the July Flowers dress. July Flowers is available as a PFD pattern, printed pattern, and both a gathered skirt and smocked skirt kit.