DAY 1 | PREPARATION
written by Kate Ng
Welcome to the VONDEL dress Sew Along! It’s Kate here from the Time to Sew blog, and in this series of four blog posts I am going to cover the steps to make the midi length version of the VONDEL dress with sleeve cuff. These blog posts contain photos and text to show the main parts of the construction process and should be considered a supplement to the instructions. Also included in this blog posts are the full details of how to make continuous bias binding from one square of fabric as an alternative to cutting strips on the diagonal (as per the pattern instructions).
Here is what will be covered:
- Preparation: adjustments / fit, cut & mark pieces, making bias tape (prep + steps 1-2)
- Pockets, lower wrap, v-neck line, front and back gathers (steps 3-6)
- Yoke to back, yoke to front, finish neck (step 7-9)
- Bodice sides, pockets, cuffs, hem (steps 10-14)
As with any pattern, I’d recommend you make a toile to check the fit. I wanted mine to be a maternity version and the Vondel pattern is well suited to that. Here’s what I did:
- Moved the waist tie and wrap position up by 3 inches towards the bust. This also resulted in the V neckline becomes shallower and the dress becoming more empire line.
- Flattened the side seam between the bust and hip to remove the inward curve at the waist.
- Widened the front wrap by 2” for bump coverage.
In case you wanted to do anything similar, I have drawn out the modifications. The original pattern piece is in black, with red lines and shading showing where I have added extra to the pattern. I have also marked where I moved the waist tie marks.
TOP TIP! When adjusting any side seam, you need to adjust both front and back. Then lay the front and back pieces on top of each other to check the notches and curves all match up. This prevents ripples when you sew the pieces together. It’s also good practice to do this even if there are no adjustments, just to check you have traced correctly.STEP 1: CUT + MARK
When you cut out or trace your pattern, make sure you have transferred all the markings.
- Front and back bodice each have four notches & two chalk marks
- Shoulder yoke has four notches
- Sleeve cuff and pocket pieces each have two notches.
There are example layouts in the instructions but depending on the exact width and length of your fabric you can adjust as needed. As my fronts were widened, I made sure these and the back bodice fit on the fabric first then made the other pieces go around it. Because of this, you will see in the picture I have folded the fabric over differently on each end. Also I didn’t cut diagonal strips as I used a square to make continuous bias binding (outlined later in step 2).
Once the pieces are cut, fuse interfacing to the wrong side of one yoke piece only. This interfaced piece becomes the outer yoke. If you don’t like the feel of interfacing on the whole piece, an alternative would be to fuse thin strips of interfacing around each edge to stabilise them.STEP 2: BIAS TAPE - THE CONTINUOUS BIAS METHOD
This method allows you to make bias tape using one square of fabric instead of cutting diagonal strips. It can be helpful for situations where you don’t have a big bit of fabric available to cut the strips. Also - if you’ve ever had pieces of cotton lawn or similar leftover from projects that are just too small to use for anything but facings or pockets, this method puts the leftovers to good use and gives you a stash of bias!
How big to cut the square
How to construct the binding
4. Cut the square along the diagonal. Pin right sides together at the straight sides, sew, then press open.
5. Mark chalk lines along the long edges 1¾” apart. Then take the diagonal sides and join where the lines meet, “offsetting” the lines by one (the offset is very important! see image for clarity). Pin and sew the diagonal edges together with a ¼” seam allowance.
6. Cut along the chalk lines and your bias strips are made.
That’s it for now! Whilst preparation might feel tedious, like any process, it is totally worth it as it means that the rest of the sewing will go more smoothly. But don’t worry, in the next post we will get our machines out and start the actual sewing!
Kate is a sewist who believes sustainable fashion and sewing should be accessible to everybody. Awareness is key; the more we know, the more conscious we can be about our clothing and fabric choices. Follow her blog Time to Sew for interviews with fashion & sewing change makers, opinion pieces on the going-ons in sustainability, and posts about fabric production. Originally imported from Australia into the UK, Kate now sews and blogs from the Netherlands.
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