Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Basic Smocked Yoke Variation

Once you have mastered the Basic Smocked Yoke Dress you might want to try making a variation - just to keep things interesting.
You don't need a new pattern, just a little courage to change things up a bit.

Add a box pleat to a piped yoke garment

Inserting a box pleat in the centre front of the skirt is a fairly simple thing to do and cuts down on the amount of smocking you will have to do.

You can do this with almost any basic pattern.
Pleat the skirt and leave long gathering threads so you can flatten out an area in the centre of the skirt.

Find the centre valley between the centre pair of pleats or the centre pleat. Mark it with a pin. Decide how big a pleat you want in the CF. Below I have chosen to make my pleat 1".

So, you will need 1" for the pleat, 1" for the back side of the pleat and 1" for the underlay of the pleat. You will need to clear a  total of 3" in the centre of the skirt or 1.5" on either side of C.F.

Do this as soon after you have pleated the fabric as possible to avoid the pleats becoming set in the fabric. Clear the gathering threads from the fabric.

You can press the area for the pleat and give it a shot of spray starch as well to give it a bit of body. If you want to embroider a monogram or add some embroidery design to the pleat do it now and then carry on with the construction.

Refold the fabric on the CF line but do not press it in,  just finger press it lightly enough to mark it temporarily. Stitch a line of machine stitching 1" from the CF fold to the depth or length of your smocking design. The pleated area to be smocked should start 1/2" beyond this line of stitching.

Now open the box pleat and line up the CF fold to the line of stitching. Now you can lightly press the box pleat and remove the CF line.

You will also want to clear the armhole and seam allowance at both ends of the pleating.
Your smocking should mirror image one side to the other. So set the design working from the centre going towards the armholes.

If you are not doing embroidery on the box pleat perhaps you have decorative buttons that tie in with your fabric or smocking design. These are such an easy accent.

Hear are a couple of other ideas to go with the box pleat:

Add a lace edged square collar!

Use a Swiss embroidered edging for the yoke and let the decorative edge sit atop the seam. Tack it in place so it seems to float in place.

Here's a dress I made about 30 years ago! It has an Austrian embroidered edge for the yoke and I machine stitched through the embroidery to attach it. Looking back it probably would have looked better if I had tacked it in place through part of the design. I also didn't lower the smocking design  so the whole design would be visible. Funny how we see these things years later. However I expect the addition of the fancy yoke was after the smocking was finished!!

Not sure how to draft a square collar? Watch for the next installment..
Till then, keep stitching....

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Adding a little fullnes to the skirt...

I love it when people write with questions about patterns or how to do some technique. Recently I had two ladies ask about adding fullness to a garment without making huge changes to the pattern.

When you lengthen a garment like a bishop dress which is intended to stop at the knee area, it can become skimpy-looking. The longer a garment, the more width it requires to maintain good and pleasing proportions. 

It isn’t hard to do and just takes a small alteration to bump up the hem circumference. And doing this you shouldn’t have to do any other alterations to the bodice front or back unless you want to add a lot of fullness.
My Baby's Breath pattern as it would be without box pleats

Add a box pleat and the whole garment looks better

By adding inverted box pleats in the under arm area of a garment you can easily increase the width of a skirt. Most patterns of this type have straight side seams rather than flared as straight are easier to hem!

Begin by tracing off the armholes of your garment. Add about 2” depending on the fabric and the garment size to the width of the underarm area. Now this will also be determined by the width of the armhole curve.

Mark the point of the original side seam so you can stitch straight down for about 1” – 1.5” (again depending on the garment size – shorter for newborn, of course). Backstitch at the bottom as reinforcement. Then stitch the new side seam. (There is no seam finish in these photos.)
Press seam allowance open or towards the back of the garment in the case of a French seam.
Match up the seam stitching to the first row of stitching.
Catch the pleat thus formed in the armhole stitching.

From the outside

Note: the wider the pleat the more likely you are to have to test this with paper and shape the box pleat folds so you can be sure they catch in the underarm seam.  When opened out flat they will have a ‘wave’ appearance with a peak where the fabric folds.
If you are working with light weight fabric you might be able to form a double box pleat for even more fullness and yet still keep the pleat narrow enough to be securely caught in the underarm seam.

So here are some photos of two different garments.
First is View C, from the Grace Knott ‘Pinafore and Sundress’ pattern. I added this View when I updated the original pattern. It also features a growth tuck hem.

You can see both the inside and outside of the underarm tuck
The second is my ‘Baby’s Breath’ done in heirloom dimity with heirloom touches – pin stitched tucks, embroidery and a scalloped hem. This pattern has a set in sleeve so if you were to smock, it would be seamless in the neckline area. The box pleat at the bottom of the armhole curve controls the fullness of the armhole but allow a fuller skirt.
From the inside of the baby gown
From the outside of the gown
Baby's Breath spread out flat
So there you have it. Inside, outside and laid out flat. This can be the step-off point for you to experiment further.
Have fun and keep on stitching......