Bubble dress, A-line panel dress, bean bag chair and the horror of buttonholes.

What happened in the middle of Kids Clothes Week?  Buttonholes.  I had fair luck up until now.  Then my machine decided to revolt.  Or my buttonhole foot, I don’t know which.

I started on this border print dress with the geranium pattern.


Then to the final step of putting in buttonholes.  It just wouldn’t happen.  The machine wouldn’t move.  I thought maybe it was not sliding properly so I added scotch tape to the fabric.  Not much help.  One buttonhole appeared to happen only to reveal a complete mess on the other side.

IMG_0158   IMG_0157

ARGH!  So in the middle of all of it I put it aside and started to work on a bean bag chair from Straight Grain.  The pattern is big so I had to cut it on the floor and I wanted to use piping so thought I needed a piping foot.  I don’t like my machine so didn’t want to buy a piping foot for it and of course a few days later realized the zipper foot IS the piping foot.  The kids love the bean bag chair!  I have the fabric for the second one waiting.


In the meantime I visited Sew Nice and Easy to take a private sewing class.  I learned changing your needle is a real need.  Threads come in different sizes!  There is such a thing as bobbin thread and invisible thread!  And of course, that I need a serger.  So now I’m researching what I want in a serger (is 4 thread enough or will I be kicking myself for not being able to do a cover stitch) and what I want in a new sewing machine.  If anyone has opinions, I’d love to hear them.


After KCW the girls needed party dresses for upcoming birthday parties.  Jess at Craftiness Is Not Optional inspires me to modify patterns or draft my own.  So…I made my own A-line panel dress.  Perhaps it isn’t drafted appropriately but it worked!


It has no side seams.  There are the two front panel seams and then one in the back.  I would have liked to put in a zipper if I had time but at that moment I didn’t know how to put a zipper in a lined dress.  I thought a full lining would be the easiest and nicest way to finish the neck and armholes.  Bias tape edges seem to pucker for me so far.  Here is what my pattern looks like:


That top U is an armhole, not a neckline.  I used the front and back of the Busy Lizzy pattern.  This picture shows them lined up together but I did put more space between because I wanted a wider A.


The front panel size is completely based on the chevron looking even.  I cut that panel first and then folded it in half to determine where the seam would fall on the overall pattern piece.  I drew the seam allowance on the pattern, then drew it on the side pieces so I could line them up correctly with the chevron.  The lining I made from the whole pattern, so the lining has two seams–center front and center back.


After sewing the panel to the side pieces, I put it back on the pattern piece and cut out the rest of the neckline.  A trick entirely learned from CINO’s pleated top tutorial.


Next, sewing the right sides together of the lining with the main dress.  I sewed the armholes and neckline entirely shut AFTER sewing the shoulders on the lining and shoulders on the main dress.  This was a mistake as I couldn’t turn it inside out.  Internet to the rescue.  I found this great video series by Angela Kane and watched video #7 to learn how to make nice armholes and still be able to turn the dress rights side out.  DON’T sew the shoulders!  You sew them after you sew the armholes and neck!  And sew just far enough down the back opening so that you have room to turn it right side out.  My hand sewing is not well practiced so I machine sewed far down into that back opening.  Sorry I don’t have detailed pictures.  I finished the hem with a blind hem stitch on the machine!  Can you believe it?  I tried so many new things with this one dress and it turned out!  I used invisible thread, because why not.


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I wanted to finally commit to trying a bubble hem.  There are bubble dress patterns out there but they look SO close to the geranium dress pattern I already know and love that I didn’t want to spend the money.  From internet searching it appears you either need a skirt lining (which is shorter than the outside main skirt therefore brings it up under the hem), or elastic (which I don’t think 1 year olds will tolerate well).  I used the go-to Geranium dress pattern, using the gathering skirt instead of pleats.  That is my 5th geranium dress, not including the two geranium modified tops!  Then after I finished the bodice I measured around it for the top of the lining measurement.  I safety pinned another geranium dress the girls wear to figure out how small of a bottom circumference still looks good and they can walk in.  I didn’t want a huge bubble on the bottom.  Then I cut out a trapezoid, angling out from the top measurement (happened to be 24 inches plus 1 inch seam allowance) to the bottom (30 inches plus one inch seam allowance). I also had to prefigure the hem length since I wasn’t going to be able to cut the hem later.  It had to be correct from the bottom of the bodice.  I added about 1.5 inches for the main outside fabric so it had room to go back underneath the skirt.  I redid all this math several times in my head because I was nervous about not getting it right.  I didn’t have enough time or fabric to redo the whole thing.  It turned out great and then time for buttonholes.  My machine did not decide to be different overnight.  It did not want to make a buttonhole.  So I machined the buttonholes myself by using the buttonhole foot to know how far to sew and zig-zagged a number 2 all the way down, then turned it, zig zagged without moving a number 4 and then back down to the other side.  They are not perfect but they will accept buttons.


And now I do not have my next project immediately in mind…oh wait, I can do another panel dress in their Indian Summer fabric!




3 thoughts on “Bubble dress, A-line panel dress, bean bag chair and the horror of buttonholes.

  1. Pingback: Back and on a Brother! | Sewing By Doing

  2. Pingback: Spring/Summer wardrobe | Sewing By Doing

  3. Pingback: Echino-A | Sewing By Doing

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