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My Dress-in-Progress Report

I’m making McCall’s 6460, a simple sheath dress with raglan short sleeves, out of the silk-blend matelassé I blogged about May 22. Here’s a quick recap of my sewing process so far:

  1. Since this pattern was new to me, I made a muslin
  2. Made minor adjustments to the muslin to accommodate my shape (rectangle)
  3. Cut out pattern pieces in silk organza (I’m using silk organza for interlining) and transferred all markings (darts and seams) to it
  4. Pinned organza pieces to the matelassé and cut, using organza pieces as guides
  5. Hand-basted organza to matelassé at seams and thread-traced all darts (two layers of fabric now neatly held together as one)
  6. Hand-basted dress’s darts and seams and tried dress on for fit (just because your muslin fits doesn’t mean your fashion fabric will behave the same way)
  7. Hooray! I got lucky and the fit is spot on
  8. Machine-stitched everything, which went super-fast because so many seams and darts were already held together by basting (skipped pinning)

You probably read steps 1 through 6 and thought aaugh! that’s a lot of work to do before even sitting down to a sewing machine. Truth be told, the prep work goes quickly, and you avoid ripping out stitches in your fashion fabric (and potentially damaging it). Work out your fit issues before you machine stitch and you’ll always save loads of time in the long run. Now I just need to construct my dress’s lining, attach it and that’s it.

How do you feel about hand-basting? Hate it with a passion, or think of it as peaceful communing with your fabric? Let me know!




16 Responses to “ My Dress-in-Progress Report ”

  1. Renee

    I can’t say I love hand basting,but I feel it is necessary process. I do find basting saves a lot of time at the machine.

    1714 days ago   |   Reply
  2. Kat

    I used to hate hand basting until I did it once and realized how much time and especially frustration it saved me during the actual garment construction. Doing a bit of prep work makes construction a breeze and less stressful – and in my mind that’s totally worth the bit of extra work. And besides, it’s relaxing and doesn’t take thaaat long really!

    1718 days ago   |   Reply
  3. Lola Stockmaster

    I have never made a muslin before so that is intresting to me. I also have never heard of interlining before , so I’m going to look into that. I hand baste when I have to especilly when I’m sewing doll clothes. Sometimes you have to hand sew the whole outfit .

    1724 days ago   |   Reply
  4. Joen

    I find now that I have learned to slow down and enjoy the sewing process hand basting is my friend. I hand baste mostly when using underlining or when adding trim or piping. I find a get a much better finished garment and everything stays where it’s supposed to when sewing together. Can’t wait to see your finished dress!

    1727 days ago   |   Reply
  5. sewer

    What type of silk organza do you recommend for underlining? I’ve tried buying some inexpensive pieces in the past (including at Mood), but my sewing teacher said they would be uncomfortable to use. (too scratchy and hot). I ended up using plain cotton voile (which I bought at Mood, btw). But I’d still like to try silk organza.

    Future blog post idea: Create a chart matching fashion fabrics with suitable underlining fabrics.

    1728 days ago   |   Reply
    • Meg

      I like a lightweight silk organza. It’s breathable. I think it’s perfectly soft, but since it’s sandwiched between the fashion fabric and the lining, you’d never feel it anyway.

      And that is a good idea for a future post. We’re considering holding a seminar on interlining here at Mood NYC one of these days.

      1728 days ago   |   Reply
  6. sewer

    Great fabric.

    I do even more. I hand baste the underlining to the fabric — putting down a line of stitching about every two inches — and then cut out both pieces. (I align the selvages before basting.) If I were doing it on a silk I’d have to check to make sure I wasn’t leaving holes and would assemble the project as soon as possible.

    I love Kenneth King, but I don’t use underlining and interlining interchangeably. To me, underlining is when you place fabric directly under the fashion fabric to add body or opacity. Interlining is another layer added between layers, usually the shell fabric and the lining, to add body or warmth.

    1728 days ago   |   Reply
  7. Jennifer rozens

    Hand basting is a fantastic way to construct a garment. Years ago I made about 150 quilts all piece, appliqued and quilted by hand, so hand stitching feels normal to me. Also you have more control over the results!

    1728 days ago   |   Reply
    • sewer

      I agree. I’m not really a quilter, but I once had to make some samples. One was held together with safety pins. The other was hand basted together. Hand basting was a much more secure method.

      I find that a lot of the time the shortcuts people take in sewing are not actually all that efficient, at least if you’re trying to maximize getting the best result. You also tend to need more skill.

      1728 days ago   |   Reply
  8. We Love Sewing

    As I rarely make a muslin, I always cut huge seam allowances and baste everything together so I can fit before machine stitching. This saves a huge amount of time (as well as all that fabric for muslins!) in the long run! I only make muslins for self drafted patterns, complicated styles as and if I am using very expensive fabrics. I would also love to underline more of my clothes, but can’t get silk organza in the Philippines. I’ve tried a (polyester?) organza but that is much stiffer and the cut edges are actually prickly so have to be finished with binding.

    1729 days ago   |   Reply
  9. Theresa

    I can’t say I love it or hate it. I do it when it needs to be done, and I’m usually content with the process and pleased with the results. It can feel tedious if I’m in a restless mood, though. Then again, it can also be very relaxing.

    1729 days ago   |   Reply
  10. Samina

    LOVE handbasting! Even on so-called quick projects, I find that it saves time & effort in the long run!
    Can’t wait to see your completed project!

    1729 days ago   |   Reply
  11. Carolyn

    I’ve made that dress so I’m really interested in seeing your version!

    1729 days ago   |   Reply
  12. Ginger

    Ooh, this is going to be gorgeous! I like to hand baste whenever I’m dealing with sleeve heads, cuffs, or anything fiddly like that. I even use them with ribbed bands on knits– I quickly hand-baste the waistband to the shirt to keep things from shifting around funny under the presser foot. I love the idea of marking on silk organza interlining– what a great way to stay organized without messy chalk marks!

    1729 days ago   |   Reply
  13. Renee

    Are you using interlining and underlining interchangeably? I love underlining. Not the act of doing it, but the difference it makes in a project. My current silk taffeta gown is completely underlined with 100 percent cotton batiste. It took *all* weekend.

    1729 days ago   |   Reply
    • Meg

      Hey Renee, yes, using interlining and underlining interchangeably. I defer to Kenneth King, who says they’re the same thing.

      1729 days ago   |   Reply

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