Hey everyone! Welcome to day 1 of the Appleton Dress sewalong! If you haven’t already, make sure to pick up your pattern. You can get it as a PDF here if you want to jump right in, or you can order a paper pattern here.
If you’re still deciding on your fabric, check out our inspiration post and join up with us when you’re ready to get started!
- Preparing your Fabric
Make sure to pre-wash your fabric whatever way you plan to launder your finished garment. Personally, I can’t be trusted not to toss my me-mades into the washing machine, so I always wash my fabric on delicate and tumble dry on low. Knits are prone to shrinkage (which I learned the hard way when my first maxi skirt magically became tea length) so if you notice quite a bit of shrinkage, a second trip through the laundry can help prevent unhappy surprises after you’ve finished your dress.
If your fabric specifies that it should be dry-cleaned or if it feels particularly delicate, I always recommend testing a small square in the laundry to see how it holds up. If you do decide to go the dry-cleaning route, you should still pre-launder your fabric by getting the yardage dry-cleaned.
Still looking for fabric ideas? Check out some options here.
- Choosing your Size
We’re going to choose our size now – and if you have a PDF pattern, you only need to print your bust size pattern. Start by measuring your full bust, waist and hips.
We’re all going to have a few choices to make.
First, try to choose a size based on your waist and hip measurements. If your measurements span between two sizes, I’d recommend choosing the size based on your hip measurements. Spanning more than two sizes? You can grade between sizes for a custom fit (See below for more details on grading).
Once you’ve chosen your size based on your waist and hip measurements, let’s take a look at the bust measurements. For each size, we have three bust options: C/D, E/F, or G/H. Choose the size based on your actual measurements rather than your bra size. For example, if you have a 38” waist and a 48” bust, use the size 18 G/H.
TIP: If you want a little more coverage up top, try going up a cup size.
Here’s where my measurements put me:
As you can see, my waist and hip measurements, put me in a size 12, but my bust is not quite large enough. In our next sew-along installment, I’m going to be walking through how I did a small bust adjustment on this pattern.
- Preparing your Pattern
If you made the decision to purchase a paper pattern, congratulations! Your pattern is prepped. You can sit back smugly and drink some champagne while we PDF folk toil away.
Okay, PDF pattern friends, let’s get this party started. Make sure to print your PDF at 100% scale. The background grid should be 1” x 1” squares so print a test page before you print the whole thing, and check that they’re the right size.
Start by cutting the right side margin and bottom margin off all your sheets.
TIP: If you use a lot of PDF patterns, an inexpensive paper cutter can change your life!
Once your pieces are trimmed, use the grid to help you line up your sheets. Tape or glue your pages together, and now your pattern is prepped too!
- Tracing or Cutting your Size
Paper pattern peeps! Time to put down your champagne and get back to work! Trace the size you chose using tissue paper. Make sure to transfer all markings and notches to your tracing. Label your tracings with the size, pattern piece, and any alterations you’re making. Be sure to transfer the grainline, too. If you printed a PDF pattern, you can either trace or just cut your size out of your assembled pattern.
- Grading Between Sizes
If your measurements put you in different sizes, you can grade between sizes for an even more customized fit. In this pattern, there is negative ease in the bust (and a little bit in the hips), so make sure you are looking at the body measurements when making your choices.
Before you go the route of grading between sizes, double check your different cup options to see if you can get closer to your measurements using a different cup size – don’t worry too much about whether it matches the size bra you wear – if the pattern fits you, it fits!
If you do decide to grade, you’ll either be grading out from a smaller size at the bust to a larger size at the hips or in from a larger size at the bust to a smaller size at the hips. We’re going to do a quick rundown of each.
First up, grading out to a larger size at the hips. Let’s say your bust measurement puts you in a size 12 and your hips put you in a size 16. Using the marking that already exist on your pattern will help keep your grading consistent between the front and back pattern pieces, so start by marking the notch for your bust size and the notch for your hip size and drawing a straight line between the two.
Now, of course, we are rarely made up of straight lines, but this is a good guideline to start with. I’ve also noted where the line crosses the waistline of the pattern piece. Above the waistline crossing point, smooth the line by curving it gently inward towards the size 12. Below the waistline crossing point, smooth the line by curving it outwards towards the size 16. This will make the transition points much smoother. We need to make the same change on the back pattern piece, using the same notches as markers.
Repeat your smoothing using the waistline crossing point as the divider again. You’ll notice on the back, the hip curve needs less smoothing than the curve above the waistline.
To grade from a larger bust to a smaller hip, remember to first check the cup size options. If you are going to grade, you’ll follow the same steps as above, but your markings will look like this (grading from a size 16 bust to a size 14 hip):
You’ll notice that this way requires significantly less smoothing.
- Gather your tools and notions
You don’t need any specialist tools to make the Appleton dress, but here a few things from your sewing room you may want to have on hand, or consider buying if you’re a beginner sewist:
- Clear elastic for reinforcing the shoulders.
- Stretch or ballpoint needles. As we’re sewing with jersey, you should use these type of needles because they push through the knit fabric rather than tearing the fibers. Here at Cashmerette Towers we use so many of these needles that we stock up on big boxes of them when they go on sale to make sure there’s always a fresh one available.
- Scissors or a rotary cutter and mat. We prefer using a rotary cutter and mat for knits, but really a personal preference. Here’s our favorite set: rotary cutter and mat.
- Not essential, but if you’re dealing with slippery jersey, then Dritz Wonder Tape can be a godsend! It’s a double sided sticky tape which you use to baste your seams shut instead of using pins. It doesn’t glue up your needle, and it washes away the first time you launder the garment. It makes life a lot easier for lots of sewing tasks, especially hemming.
- And finally, here’s the type of paper trimmer which makes PDF assembly go way, way faster!
That’s it for today! Great work and we’ll see you next time with a small bust adjustment.
Do you have any questions about today’s steps?
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