Sew the Main Bodice and Skirt Together. When we last left off, we had just finished sewing the sleeves to the Main Bodice. Now we need to sew the Main Bodice to the Main Skirt (completed in Chapter 1). This is where all the hard work precisely positioning the pleats on the Main Front Bodice and Main Skirt will hopefully payoff. Ideally, we want the pleat lines on the Bodice to match up with those on the Main Skirt exactly, or at least pretty close.
We highly recommend basting the two sets of three pleats together before sewing the entire waist seam in order to eliminate a lot of additional seam ripping if the pleats need adjusting. Having said that, it is important to use the side seams to align the Bodice and Skirt rather at the pleat lines themselves--this is because the pleat lines don't intersect at the raw edges. Rather, they align 1/2" down, at the seam line. If you align the pleats at the raw edge, you will be off, like this:
Once you are happy with the alignment of the 3 pleats, go back and sew across the entire waist seam.
Sew the Lining Bodice and Skirt Together. Next, sew the Lining Skirt together as you did the Main Skirt and sew it to the Lining Bodice (which is easier since you don't have to contend with any pleats). This is what you'll have when you are done with this step, with the center back seams of both layers open:
Sew on the Zipper. I am going to show you my version of putting in a zipper. There are lots of videos on this out there, and I am sure my explanation is far from being "politically correct", but it works for me. [Also, I should add that I accidentally purchased a regular zipper, not an invisible one, so I am using a regular zipper foot.]
Turn up your Lining Dress along the neckline, away from the Main Dress. Check the length of your zipper by pinning it in place at the top of the Main Dress (just below the neckline). We recommend ending the zipper about 3" below the waist seam (where my right hand is pointing in the photo below). Mine is much longer, so I marked it with a straight pin.
At my machine, with the zipper closed, I sewed several stitches back and forth across the zipper coils at the straight pin--if you look closely below, you may be able to see the line of gray stitches. Cut your zipper about 1/2" below the new stopping point. I use my heavy duty kitchen scissors for this.
For the zipper photos that follow, I marked the wrong side of the zipper tape with colored washi tape so you can differentiate which side of the zipper you are looking at.
Reposition the right zipper tape face down on the right side of the center back opening. I align the tape about an 1/8" away from the Main Dress's raw center back edge (folding under any excess tape at the top). We recommend basting the zipper in place by hand. I just pinned mine in place, shame on me! So, do as I say, not as I sew.
Now sew that side in place with your zipper foot. [With a regular zipper, I usually have the zipper pulled 1/2 way open. When I get to the zipper pull, I stop the machine, needle down, and lift the presser foot. Tug at the pull to move it behind the presser foot, then continue sewing.]
Aligning the left side of the zipper is always the trickier part for me because it involves the zipper playing the part of a contortionist. With the zipper fully open, you will need to twist the zipper around to the other side of the center back opening so that, again, the zipper tape is 1/8" away from the raw edge. The bottom of the zipper will want to pull up and curl around, bringing the right side of the Dress with it. I just go with it until I get the second side to lay flat enough to sew.
Once you have both sides of the zipper sewn on, press the zipper 1/2" under toward the wrong side so the coils come together. Press the center back edges of the Lining Dress above the zipper under 1/2" as well.
Hand Sew the Lining Dress to the Zipper. Fold down the Lining Dress along the neckline so it forms a lining to the Main Dress again. The freshly pressed center back edges of the Lining Dress should lay down across the zipper tape.
Hand sew this edge to the tape.
Sew the Remainder of Center Back Seams. Sew the remainder of the two center back seams below the zipper, starting each separate seam as closely as you can to the zipper. You likely will have a small gap below the zipper, which you can sew closed by hand.
Hem the Main Skirt. We recommend using hem tape for the bottom of the Main Dress. Sew it to the right side of the bottom hem.
Now press the bottom hem up, to the wrong side, 1.5". Remember those funny, cut off corners on the bottom of the skirt pieces? These should make flipping up the bottom hem a snap. Now, more hand sewing to secure the hem tape to the inside of the dress. I usually save all of this hand sewing to do in the evening in front of the TV. ;)
Finish the Lining Skirt & Hem the Sleeves. To hem the Lining Skirt, we recommend pinking the edge of the skirt about 1" shorter than the finished length of the Main Skirt. Because the Lining Skirt shares a lot of pattern pieces with the Main Skirt and is, therefore, the same original length as the Main Skirt, you will probably be cutting off as much as 2-3" of the Lining layer. (You also could choose to hem the Lining Skirt in a similar way that we recommend for the Main Skirt.)
Hem the Sleeves by turning them under 1/2" two times, then machine or hand sew the first fold to the sleeve. Don't forget to add your Clever Charlotte clothing label!
That wraps up this tutorial. I hope you have great results and a happy camper in your midst when you finish yours! I'll post pics of Miss N in her dress as soon as it warms up and we can get back outside this weekend. Until then--