1930s Sew-along with Norma: Bodice and sleeves finished!

Update on the dress

And so as 2017 begins, I’m back to the 1930s Sew-along with Norma.  I’ve learned so much, so very much on this slow but productive journey.  The more I work with rayon faille, the more I love it.  Plus I’ve broken out of my comfort zone since this I’ve not used it before.  Here are the things I’ve learned which made the bodice and sleeve construction turn out well:

1. Rayon faille is not slippery but it moves around easily.  It requires many sharp pins to hold the garment pieces together.  It is best to use a conditioned, double strand of cotton basting thread when preparing for machine stitching.

2. This fabric shreds and shreds and shreds.  I cut all seams 3/4″ wide.  After stitching the seams I trimmed only the edges of the fabric.  I wanted to keep the seams wide to add some weight to the seam.  This is a very floaty fabric, too.  I wanted just a hint of structure so I hand stitched lace seam tape to the wrong side of the seam after machine stitching.

3. The lace tape was stitched to the inside using a very small running stitch and a double, waxed, and pressed strand of poly-cotton thread.  After this the outer edge of the seam was hand overcast using a double strand of the poly-cotton thread that was waxed and pressed.  I used a size 6 sharp hand sewing needle.  A smaller needle works out well for more control.  At least for me.

4. The sleeves were a journey into a sewing technique that was partly from Clair Shaeffer’s “Couture Sewing Techniques”.  The Claire part consisted in using 3 rows of tiny hand stitches on the sleeve cap for easing into the armscye.  Couture applications of set-in sleeves do not use machine basting thread.

I used double strands of cotton basting thread that was conditioned with new fabric softener strips and then pressed.  To set the sleeve into the armscye I used a double strand of cotton basting thread, also conditioned and pressed, in a different color.  Then I was ready to machine stitch.

Although time consuming, the sewing of the sleeve went off smoothly.  There were just two places on the right sleeve with the fabric underneath formed a little pucker.  That was unpicked and restitched without any harm to the lovely curve on the sleeve cap.

5.  Putting interfacing and facing into the lower sleeve, about 5″ in length from the wrist upwards, creates that little outward position you see in the photos that follow.  When the arm is put into the sleeve it falls into place with the lower edge resting neatly around the wrist and the upper portion looking more relaxed.  My concern was that a facing was needed because there will be about 5 fabric covered buttons on each sleeve.  These will run up along the vertical sleeve dart at the back.

The flounce is going to require some thought.  It has to hang before a final stitching of the side seams to let the weight and bias hang of the skirt settle in.

I think that I’m very geeky with my happiness I find in the little details but this has gone beyond what I expected.  Even the pattern of this fabric flows well across the center back seam.  The print drives me crazy after a prolonged session but with a little time away I come back and love the progress this is making.

Right now the slight shaping at the underarm seam is not apparent but when the dress is belted this is going to be very figure flattering.

Progress Photos

Front of ‘dress. Fabric:  Rayon Faille.

The seam finishing enables the zipper and seam to stay flat.  From a distance you can’t even see the zipper application.  I used a hand stitched slot application.

I  recommend trying out 3 rows of ease stitching on a sleeve cap.  I’m not sure how it will come out with machine basting but if you try let me know.  I am so pleased with what I have learned about hand ease stitching I plan to use this technique again if I use a slippery or shifty fabric.  I didn’t even have to shrink or steam press the cap before or after sewing.



10 thoughts on “1930s Sew-along with Norma: Bodice and sleeves finished!

  1. It’s looking lovely – I’d be thrilled if my sleeves were so perfect.
    I have used the the three row method by machine on sleeve caps and to attach a skirt to a bodice. That’s the way I was taught to do it. I think it works pretty well (but I know it was not as beautifully put in as yours).

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  2. Wow those sleeve caps are something to envy, I find it very difficult to get them without a ‘gathered’ look at the top… I will remember to come back to this post for reference next time I’m stuck on some sleeves!
    Happy new year! Hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas season 🙂

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