Side Seams and Part I of Invisible Zip
Posted by Jennifer Stern on Jan 8, 2011 in Ribbon Skirt | 1 comment
I hope you’re all snowed in with lots of great sewing projects! With everything going on this month, I forgot to update you on my online class schedule on PR. I’m teaching three fun classes on Pattern Review
this month. All Hemmed Up started yesterday… I’m so excited about this class, Lenny and I did a companion video series to go along with the lessons. If anyone needs to brush-up their hemming skills, you can still register for the class — Until the first Chat (which is at 9:00 pm tonight!) (Sorry about the late notice.) Break your serger out of the box! starts on the 14th….It’s loaded with all the basics — tips and techniques for serging on various fabrics with various stitches. (There’s also a fun video series). Finally Club EMB (an embroidery club I teach on PR) will feature how to do machine embroidered applique…. I like the Club classes because they run for the whole month from the 15th to the 15th… so there is plenty of time for questions, and pics!
Ok, back to the skirt. I want to take a minute to talk about the shape of a pattern piece and the fabric you’re working with. This skirt has a shaped hip along the side seam. If the fabric you’re working with has a lot of body and doesn’t drape softly, you will need to play with the curve at the hip.
Because the fabric is cut on the bias grainline, woven fabrics stretch across the body. If the curve in the hip is more “shapely” than the curve of your hip, it will cause the fabric to pull and ripple along the seam. This is not a “too big or too small” issue. This happens because the fabric cannot conform to your shape. Ripples and pulling are most noticeable when you’re working with woven fabric that has a lot of body. If you need to reshape the curve at the hip, put the skirt on inside-out and put out the excess fabric along the curve. Keep in mind that this is a very small adjustment (I needed to pin out a little more than 1/8″).
… I know it’s a little hard to see (I should have used white thread to sew)… Mark the position of the pins with a chalk pencil.
Lightly fill in the chalk line if you need to. Then sew along the chalk line. (Use a long stitch length so it’s easy to take out if it needs a second adjustment)
Here’s how the side seam looks now that I took out the excess in the curve. It fits nice and smooth. After you’ve check the fit, trim off the excess seam allowance.
Most of the skirts I’ve made with this pattern do not require a zipper (happy bias skirts)… However, if you’re using fabric with a lot of body, it will have less give than soft fabric with lots of drape. So, I want to show you how to put in an invisible zipper (even though you may not need it!)
If you feel like the fabric you’re working with needs a little support where the zipper is going to be inserted, use a lightweight fusible interfacing. Cut the interfacing into 1″ strips (on the bias).
I love DeniFuse interfacing because it’s super lightweight and if you cut it on the bias, it has lots of stretch. I don’t want to change the hand of the fabric along the side seam by using an interfacing that will inhibit all the stretch… I just want to offer a little support. Denifuse is available at Gail Patrice Design
It’s also important not to change the shape of the side seam by fusing a straight strip along the curve (forcing the fabric into a straight line). Cut little snips into the outside edge of the interfacing so it can conform to the curved shape of the hip.
Here’s how the interfacing looks after it’s fused to the side seam edge. Notice how the snips in the interfacing open up slightly to follow the curve in the hip.
Before inserting the zipper, double check to make sure that the skirt hangs straight. I put my skirt on the dressform and pinned the side seam closed on the side the zipper will be inserted. Don’t pin the skirt to the dressform. Check for seams that do not hang straight.
Seams that twist in one direction or the other are usually caused by the way the seam was sewn.
Take a minute and consider how a sewing machine works. You pin two layers of fabric together and put it under the presser foot. As you stitch along, the feed teeth pull the bottom piece
of fabric to move it under the needle. The top piece of fabric does not have direct contact with the feed teeth. It is essentially being dragged along with the bottom piece (that has direct contact with the feed teeth). Unless you’re using a walking foot, the top piece of fabric is not being pulled under the presser foot evenly with the bottom piece.
That’s why it’s important to match the notches and use some pins along the seams. Pins will help keep the top and bottom pieces of fabric even as you sew. If you get to the bottom of the seam and the top piece of fabric is longer than the bottom piece, chances are pretty high that the seam will twist. Take the seam out, match the waist and hem edges… pin carefully along the seam and try sewing it again.
Keep in mind that it’s very important that you accurately cut out the skirt pieces to start with. If one seam is longer than the other, matching notches and easing the longer seam into the shorter one will not produce a straight seam either.
Ok… get your seams in shape and reinforced stay tuned for inserting the zipper! : )