a little birdie told me, pt 2: flat piping on a sweetheart neckline

since i already had my bodice pieces cut from muslin, i used these to cut my fabric. i wanted to see exactly what each piece of the bodice would look like before cutting so i placed and cut each piece individually instead of just folding the fabric and hoping for the best.

funny how huge a bodice looks when all laid out this way…

now there is nothing terribly unusual about the construction of this dress but i would like to show you a few details. i have been working at adding embellishments here and there as well as improving my construction techniques (instead of being lazy and cutting corners… having an audience helps to keep me from sliding). i’ll simply be adding flat piping at the neckline, a little topstitching and a waist stay. well, a not really waist stay… but i’ll get to that later. i’ll even hand stitch the bodice lining and blind stitch the hem by hand! i’m the kind of sewist who does does everything possible to avoid hand stitching, but i figure the dress shouldn’t have to suffer just cuz i’m a little lazy.

underlined and ready for construction

first thing i did was underline the bodice with my muslin pieces. after adding the underlining i sewed the bodice pieces together. since there are princess seams in this i needed to clip my curves. now, i could have trimmed these interior seam allowances (and almost always the pattern directions instruct you to do so) but i left them as is. why? well, i try to clip and trim only when i really need to. also, you are usually told to press both seam allowances on princess seams to the middle. a quick perusal through any couture sewing book and you’ll see that these seams are almost always balanced, that is they are pressed open, even with darts! i suppose this is more important when you have multiple layers with underlinings and such. on a lighter fabric i might press to the center. then again, a princess seamed bodice is usually very structured where a lightweight material wouldn’t work… just thinking out loud here… anyway, do notch the seam allowance (cutting narrow v shapes) on the inside of the curve, to ensure it lays flat and press the curved seam over a tailor’s ham.

i changed the pattern design from a straight neckline to a sweetheart. there is nothing difficult about the sweetheart neckline it just takes some extra prep. i will hand stitch a lining in later, so i will just turn the neckline seam to the inside with the flat piping then topstitch it all in place. to make sure the “v” turns out neatly i reinforced it with very short stitches right at, or just inside the seam line. i sewed at the “v” about an inch in each direction, then i clipped right up to the point and now it will turn perfectly!

here is the reinforcing stitches and the little snip so it all turns nicely

then to add the flat piping i very carefully measured and pinned bias tape in place and hand basted then machine sewed it in place. i left it hanging an inch or so at the center (i used two separate strips of bias so i could overlap them neatly at the center) because i wanted to make sure the piping was positioned just right!

now, before topstitching the piping and the neckline seam in place i needed to check the fit. to do this, i simply pinned the zip in place and tried it on.

back to the neckline… i turned the neckline to the inside and pinned it in place. i made sure the piping was even all the way around and not peeking out higher in random places (measure if you’re as particular about these things as i am). with everything positioned the way i wanted i was ready for topstitching! if you want your topstitching to stand out and be a detail on the garment, make sure to use actual topstitching thread because it is thicker than regular sewing thread.

i am so very happy with how well the piping turned out. it really does pay to take your time and do something right! next up, attaching the skirt and adding a not really waist stay!

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