OAL: Attaching the Skirt

30 Jun

Good morning, OALgers! Today we are going to attach the skirts to our bodices – which means we’ll have semi-dress-looking things by the end of this post! Yay!

While this post is shorter, picture-wise, than the previous posts for this OAL (and thank God for that! The rest of the sewing from here on out is much easier), there are a few things I want to cover here:
– Moving the pockets from the front princess seam, to the side seam
– Converting the gathers to pleats
– A different way to sew gathers

Ready? Let’s start with moving those stupid pockets. Ideally, you’d do this before you cut your fabric out, but it’s really no biggie if you’re doing this right before you sew the pockets in (as I tend to do). Just make sure your marking tool doesn’t bleed through the pattern tissue, or consider removing your fabric from the pattern pieces just to be extra sure.

If you don’t want to move the pockets, that’s perfectly fine – you can skip this step. Just be warned that they are right down the front of the dress – in what I thought was a pretty awkward spot. I don’t know who had the brilliant idea to put the pockets there on this pattern, but as far as I’m concerned, pockets belong in side seams (or over a butt, which is another nice place to put a pocket I suppose), so that’s where I am moving mine to.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Start by locating your skirt pieces – the skirt front and skirt side front will have dots marked where the pockets should go. You’ll also want the skirt back piece, as we are going to move some markings over there. I X’d out the old pocket markings (the ones printed on the pattern), so I wouldn’t get confused as to which markings to use.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Starting with the skirt side front, measure from the top how far down the pocket marking is – about 3.5″ in this case.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Now move to the opposite side of the pattern piece (where there aren’t any pocket markings) and make a dot the same distance from the top.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Measure the distance between the two dots and mark the second dot as shown on the side seam.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Repeat for the skirt back, marking on the seam that is NOT indicated to be the center back. It’s also a good idea at this point to lay your pieces together so you can be sure the markings match up and your pockets are nice and even.

Ok, onto adding the pockets! These next steps are the same regardless of what seam your pockets are being inserted into…

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
If you’re using a machine to finish your edges, go ahead and do that now. Finish all the raw edges of each of side of each skirt piece, as well as all edges of each of the 4 pocket pieces. If you’re pinking, you can finish as you go.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Match the markings on the pocket to the markings on each of the 4 skirt pieces with right sides together, and pin. Sew the pocket in place (from top to bottom), using a 3/8″ seam allowance. The smaller seam allowance will help that pocket stay hidden to the inside of the skirt.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
You should have 4 skirt pieces with a pocket sewn on each one. Take the pieces to the ironing board and press all the seam allowances toward the pocket. If you want to understitch the pockets (I always do), you may do so now.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Now match up one skirt back piece with one skirt side front piece (or skirt front with skirt side front), right sides together, and pin the skirt seam above and below the pocket, as well as around the pocket itself. Excuse the cat tail πŸ˜›

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Using a 5/8″ seam allowance, sew the skirt and pockets in one long swoop of stitching. Start at the top and sew until you get to the pocket markings.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Lower your needle, raise the presser foot, and pivot the fabric until you can continue to sew around the pocket. When you get to the second set of pocket markings, lower the needle and pivot again, then continue down the side seam of the skirt.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
You should have two skirt pieces that look like this.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
To press the pockets, start by clipping the seam allowance connecting the pocket to the skirt, as shown. Be careful not to snip your stitching lines!

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Now press the pocket toward the skirt side front (or skirt front), and press open the seam allowances that are above and below the pocket.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Sew the last skirt pieces (depending on where you pockets are, you will either be attaching the front or the skirt backs) and press all the seam allowances open. Your skirt should look like this.

For converting the gathers to soft pleats:
OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Pin the skirt to the bodice at all seams and notches (so bodice side seam to skirt side seam, etc).

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
You should have a good amount of excess between each pinned section.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Working in one section at a time, pinch the excess and manipulate it into small pleats, then pin into place. I like to start with one section and then immediately do the same section on the opposite side (so, center front right then center front left, etc), so I can be sure that my sections are mirrored with the same numbers of pleats that are facing in the same direction. For my dress, I had 1 pleat in the front section, 2 in the section between the side seam and the princess seam at the front, and 3 at the back skirt piece, with all pleats pointing to the center front.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Once you’ve pinned your pleats to your liking, baste the entire edge into place and double check from the outside that the pleats are even, mirrored, and facing in the same direction. Then stitch, finish the seam allowance, and press the seam toward the bodice.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
And done!

For gathering the skirt, read on!

Now, there are a few ways you can gather your skirt. You can do the standard long basting stitches that you pull to gather (using 1, 2, or 3 rows, depending on your preference) – which works perfectly fine, but I always find that my threads snap and that just drives me crazy. I’m going to show you another way to gather, which I find easier, more efficient, and works REALLY well if you’re dealing with a bulky or heavy fabric.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
You need a long string to gather with. I actually like to use thin crochet thread, but silk thread, button hole twist, really thin yarn – hell, even unflavored dental floss – will all work just as well. For this skirt, I’m using button hole twist because I’ve somehow managed to lose my crochet thread. Oh well. Anyway, cut a length that is a few inches longer than the width of your ungathered skirt.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
This next part probably won’t make a lot of sense, but just bear with me! Lay your thread on the right side of your fabric, a little less than your seam allowance (so for this skirt, 1/2″ from the edge). Set your sewing machine to do a wide zig-zag stitch and carefully sew over the thread, making sure the needle doesn’t actually puncture the thread – it should just zig zag across either side of the thread.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
It’ll look like this when you’re done.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Now, pin your skirt to your bodice, again matching up all seams and notches.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
OAL - Attaching the Skirt
There will be quite a bit of excess between each pinned section. To gather, just pull the thread you zig zagged over and distribute the gathers as you like. Twist the excess thread around a pin at each end of the skirt, to keep it in place so you can manipulate the gathers.
(I don’t know why this photo won’t show. You can see it if you click on it and go straight to Flickr. It’s just a picture of how to twist the thread around your pins.)

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
This is a MUCH easier way to gather than the standard basting stitch, as you’re much less likely to break your thread (and thus have to start over again). The best way I’ve found to do this is to pull the threads until the skirt is the same width as the bodice, twist the ends around a pin so the gathers stay in place, and then slide the skirt fabric around and redistribute the gathers until they are even across every section. Leave yourself at least 5/8″ wide ungathered sections of the skirt at the center back – it’ll make it easier to insert your zipper.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Once you’ve got the skirt the way you like it, sew into place at your 5/8″ seam allowance (you can baste first to check the outside, if you like). I sew mine with the gathers facing up, so I can keep an eye on them and make sure they’re not doing anything crazy while they’re being sewn.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Once sewn, just give the gathering thread a nice pull and it should slip right out of the zig zag stitches – which means you can totally use it again πŸ™‚ Now finish the seam allowance and press it toward the bodice, being careful not to flatten the gathers.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
And done! Yay!

Two more things-
– A few of y’all were asking if we were planning on opening a Flickr Group for you to share your OAL photos. While Andi & I weren’t intending on doing so – the Official Hangout Thread is on Ravelry – we realized that some of y’all might only be doing the sewing portion and/or don’t have a Ravelry account. SO. We’ve created the Official Unofficial OAL Flickr Page, which you can join and post to (photos or discussions) if you feel so inclined! Please keep in mind that this page is strictly for sharing/discussion purposes – i.e., anything solely posted here will not be included in the prize drawing (if you want prizes, you gotta post your finished outfit on the FO thread on Ravelry), but share away! We absolutely don’t want to leave anyone out πŸ™‚
– Also, don’t forget to enter to win the Fashionary Sketchbook giveaway, if you haven’t already done so. Giveaway ends on Wednesday!

As always, let me know if you have any questions! πŸ™‚


31 Responses to “OAL: Attaching the Skirt”

  1. Inclement June 30, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    “I don’t know why this photo won’t show. You can see it if you click on it and go straight to Flickr.”

    Sorry…all that’s there is a 404 error 😦 (Amelia, if you’re sitting on the picture and holding it hostage until we compliment your beautiful tail tip, YOU HAVE THE PRETTIEST TAIL IN ALL THE WORLD AND WE THANK YOU FOR SHOWING IT TO US πŸ˜€ ).

  2. Inclement June 30, 2014 at 8:15 am #

    (Actually, it seems all the pictures are 404 errors – must be that same problem again? But don’t worry, Amelia, you may definitely keep the tail compliment.)

    • LLADYBIRD June 30, 2014 at 8:24 am #

      Well shit. I think I forgot to publicize the photos and that’s why they’re doing that. Hoping I fixed the problem now πŸ™‚

      • Inclement June 30, 2014 at 10:00 am #

        All good! (The internet should just learn what you want and do it without being coaxed.)

  3. greenolivine June 30, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    Wow! Such great tips! I have been looking for an explanation to turn gathers to pleats for a while as well as a better way to gather- thank you!

  4. Amanda June 30, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    I’m not sewing this pattern, but I just wanted to say how awesome a job you’re doing at spelling things out for the beginners and anyone else out there. I’m amazed at the level of detail and care that goes into each post. Keep up the great work!

    • LLADYBIRD June 30, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

      Aw, thank you so much, Amanda! This really means a lot to me. I’ve put a lot of my heart (and time!) into these posts, so I’m really happy to hear that they are doing what I was intending πŸ™‚

  5. Lauren June 30, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    Ohmygosh, thank you so much for sharing your sewing knowledge. I really like the buttonhole twist gathering trick. I’m not sewing along but I really enjoy these posts.

    • LLADYBIRD June 30, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

      You’re welcome! I’m happy to share all the little tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the course of my sewing journey πŸ™‚

  6. Jess B June 30, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    Holy shit, I never realized it would be so easy to do pleats. I already sewed my (gathered) skirt so I think I’m going to have to make another with pleats!

    • LLADYBIRD July 1, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

      It’s SO easy! Might even be easier than gathering, to be honest πŸ™‚

  7. evesewcool June 30, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    OMG, you have just changed my life for the better! Gathering and pleating has been my nemesis and shall be no more. I cant wait to apply your gathering and pleating tricks. THANK YOU!

    • LLADYBIRD July 1, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

      Yaaay!! I’m so glad you found the post helpful πŸ˜€

  8. stitchestowear June 30, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

    You should totally do more tutorials! You’re such an accomplished seamstress and natural teacher. Nice work! πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD July 1, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

      I’m working on it πŸ™‚ I really enjoy sharing the knowledge and even writing up the tutorials, so I’m just really really happy to hear that people are getting something from them. Thank you! Your encouragement really means a lot πŸ™‚

  9. beckyleethompson June 30, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    I’ve been a dental-floss gatherer for years and years now. When I got married I made my own veil and it had to be gathered on the comb. The very idea of paying over $100 for $3 worth of tulle netting is beyond absurd. Well just try to create 5mm gathering stitches on tulle! HA Not happening. So I zigged and zagged over unwaxed dental floss, tulle, & tissue paper with an amazing result. I’ll work on the skirt this weekend and add to flickr. Thanks for making the site!

    • LLADYBIRD July 1, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

      Oh man, making bridal veils is such a pain (and the cost of buying them is even more painful)! Good for you for making your own! I bet it was way more beautiful than anything they had the store, too πŸ™‚

  10. Jo July 1, 2014 at 2:45 am #

    When you show clipping in close to the seam allowance with the pockets, I wanted to ask, does that freak you out? It always freaks me out, haha! I feel like my garment will fray and fall apart at that point. Do you ever do anything to reinforce it or am I just paranoid? πŸ™‚ these are great posts btw!

    • LLADYBIRD July 1, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

      Haha nope! Doesn’t freak me out a bit πŸ™‚ Remember that if you’re cutting diagonally like that, the cut is actually on the bias – so it should fray much πŸ™‚ At least, mine don’t! If you are feelin’ super paranoid, though, you can always reinforce the stitching line with another line of stitching, or even fray check that shit!

  11. Anonymous July 1, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    I’m a little late to OAL since my machine JUST got back from the shop- so thank you for being so thorough the first time for someone who will have to go through these posts at a later date! You rule :D!

    • LLADYBIRD July 1, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

      No worries, they’ll be up indefinitely πŸ™‚ Take your time!

  12. Rose July 1, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    Sometimes, I’m lucky to be behind. I took all of June (off & on) fitting this dress muslin and wrapping my head around the Myrna instructions.The bodice pattern is done. I’m getting ready to shorten the skirt pieces so I will move the pocket markings at the same time. I will NOT have a pocket over my excess middle area! What a strange design detail that is! I’m going to be sewing like a maniac on this dress during the holiday weekend! Thank you for all the time you spent on the detailed instructions. Although I’ve been sewing for a while, I picked up some good tips. Oh, where is the rest of the cat that goes with the tail? Have a great holiday weekend!!

    • LLADYBIRD July 1, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

      You’re so welcome! I am trying to make the posts interesting for even semi-experienced sewers, so I’m happy to hear you are picking up tips even though you’re not a beginner πŸ™‚ Oh, and because you asked – the cat is currently in the kitchen, glowering over her food bowl. She takes dinnertime very seriously, you know πŸ™‚

  13. jules July 2, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    I was making this gathered skirt last night per your instructions with the long piece of button twist and when I was sitting at the machine sewing(the loose end of the string hanging down in front of me)my cat, Maybeline, went wild grabbing and pulling the string as it moved. she was insane! When she pulled it, the skirt started gathering. Cat hilarity!

    • LLADYBIRD July 6, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

      Hahah that is awesome! Cats are such good sewing buddies, aren’t they? πŸ˜‰

  14. Zoe July 2, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    Ohhh, pretty! I love the colours on the second one.

  15. Carrie July 5, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    I have what is probably a stupid question….but just wanting to be sure. The bodice and skirt are both at this point still flat (open, not sewn down the back?? whatever that verbage would be) ….correct? and will still be so after attaching the two together? Thanks for handling my absurdity…learning so much from you. Thanks!!

    • LLADYBIRD July 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

      Not a stupid question at all πŸ™‚ You are correct – we haven’t closed up that last seam in the center back – it’s open until we insert the zipper (which I’ll have the post up tomorrow :)).


  1. Completed: My Finished OAL Dresses! | LLADYBIRD - July 28, 2014

    […] and Size 2: Cutting and Marking Your Fabric 3: Sewing the Bodice 4: Sewing Sleeves or Bias Facing 5: Attaching the Skirt 6: Inserting a Lapped Zipper (see also: My Method for Invisible Zippers) 7: Hemming & Finishing […]

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