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I have been sewing an hour here and an hour there over the last several weeks. Which is terrible for blogging. Who wants to hear "I sewed another seam today." But progress has been made when you add the hours up. The bodice is actually finished!
For the puffing on the neckline, I wanted a narrow-ish scallop for the edges. The one I am using for the ruffles is too wide with the flowers on it. Low an behold, I found a standard stitch on the Designer 1 machine what was a pretty scallop edging. (One of about 25 built in scallop edge stitches, actually.) This was perfect the edging on the puffing for the neckline. And it only took a few minutes to run 2 widths of fabric through the machine, top and bottom edges. (Umm... you mean I could have done the entire dress with this stitch in a few hours?! Just kill me now.)
I then mitered the corners and ran gather stitching along all the edges. I should have sewn the lace behind the puffing before gathering. But something told me to gather it separately. The neckline lace was easy; I sewed it to the neckline before adding the puffing. The outside lace was a problem though, as I wasn't exaclty sure where to put it. I ended up fitting and pinning the puffing in place, and then trying to slip the lace in underneath. The was a lot easier to say than to actually do, however. But perseverance got the job done. Last, I sewed the whole thing down with a top stitch around both the edges. I removed the gather threads and it looks fabulous. I toyed around with the idea of adding an 1/8" ribbon over the stitching, but I couldn't find the right color green ribbon. Oh, well, that might have been too busy for the dress anyway.
With the bodice done, I started in on the skirt, finally. The widths of fabric and a hem and it was all set to add the ruffles. I had the 2 ruffle pieces ready to go, so I ran them through the ruffler and hoped that they would fit around the whole skirt. And to my great relief, the first ruffle fit with 1/2" to spare. And that 1/2" was the lead to the beginning of the embroidery. OMG, am I good or what!! Ok, I was just flat out lucky as heck. My elation at not having to piece in any ruffles was tempered by the realization that I forgot to trim my ruffles to the proper width prior to pleating them. If you recall, I had problems with the embroidery traveling, and I was supposed to then trim the top edge to follow the bottom edge. Which I completely forgot about while doing this project an hour at a time. But no worries, the top edge is going to be covered by lace, and more ruffles, so it will just have to stay that way. I will make sure not to make the same mistake on the future ruffles. I have 5 more chances to get it right. I figure as long as the top ruffle is perfect, then no one will notice the problems with the rest of it all.
I gathered some lace with my new gathering foot. (Which, by the way, is my new favorite toy. More on that in a sec.) Was able to get a very lean gather for the lace. After sewing on the ruffle-lace-ruffle-lace parts, it's starting to look like a skirt. My pic doesn't show it off very well, unfortunately. It looks way better in person. On a side note, I am amazed at how little this dress weighs so far. I am used to wearing 20 lbs or more of heavy fabrics. I will be amazed if this dress tops 5 pounds all finished. I feel like I am sewing with paper, it is so stiff. But as it comes together, the fabric isn't bothering me so much.
Ok, about the gather foot. For Xmas, I bought myself an Heirloom Sewing Kit to make my Edwardian stuff. It had 5 feet, and some other stuff. I had seen the gather foot many years ago, but was never able to get it to work. The instructions in the kit helped make it sorta work. I knew I was missing some importance information to get it to work well. So today, I went to JoAnns and asked the nice lady in the machine dept to show me how it worked. She hadn't used it before, but she put the foot on a machine and found a book that gave detailed instructions on how to use all the feet. She set the dials (well... it was computerized, so she plugged in all the numbers) and ran a test strip. It gathered fabulously. It almost looked like it was cartridge pleated. (Hmm... I wonder...) So I bought the book and ran home to try it again. I do most of my sewing on my Emerald Husqvarna, which is a fabulous basic machine. But I guess it doesn't have the range of settings to get really tight gathers like she got in the store. I am running my Designer1 with more embroidery ruffles, so will have to wait for a later date to play more with the foot on that machine.
Next project, sewing an Edwardian Blouse, with insertion and tucks, aka heirloom stuff. And I already have a new pattern in mind to draft for the new blouse.
NO... MUST... FINISH... CURRENT... PROJECT!!!!