How to Sew a Simple Dress ~ Step 4 [A Series]

In this article, you will learn how to sew Vogue 9237. You will set yourself up for success with a pre-sew questionnaire. Then, you will staystitch your neckline and armholes; attach a flirty frill/ruffle; apply bias facings to neckline and armholes; install a hook & eye; and finish with a neat narrow hem! So get ready to get your flirt on!

Welcome back to How to Sew a Simple Dress series!

Wait.

Are you feeling a bit flustered, anxious, and/or excited, because we’re finally here at our sewing machines?!

Me, too!

But I think we’re more than ready. So on that note, let’s do this and begin Step 4 ~ Let’s Sew Our Dress

NOTE: If you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies, please click HERE!

Series Contents

Step 4: Let’s Sew a Dress!

Step 4a: First things ~ Do a pre-sew check…

Okay.

We’re just about ready to sit down before our sewing machines and assemble our dress “puzzle.”

But before we do, I recommend that we’re clear on the following:

Q: Have we reviewed the actual tissue pattern pieces for additional instructions?

A: At the bottom of the FRONT (#4) and the RUFFLE (#2) tissue pattern pieces, this pattern calls for a hem allowance of 5/8 inches.

Hem Allowance Notation - Stitching in Colour

Q: How many wound bobbins will we need?

A: I decided to play it safe and wind two bobbins. This way I won’t have to stop and wind bobbins midway through my project!

Q: What is the best thread to use? 

A: I’m using high-quality Guterman’s thread. Yes, I love Guterman!

Q: Do we have enough in the appropriate colour?

A: I’ve made sure to buy a big healthy spool — at least 500 meters! Those small tiny spools are useless nonsense — wind a single bobbin and they’re spent!

Fat Spool Gutermann's Thread - Stitching in Colour

Q: What needle type and size is best for this project?

A: I’m going to use Universal 80/12 needle!

Q: Do we have all the required notions?

A: Yes, I custom made my bias tape for this project and I have a hook and eye!

Custom Bias Tape and Hook & Eye - Stitching in Colour
Custom made bias tape and a hook & eye.

Q: Which stitch type and length is the best for our project?

A: I am using the standard straight stitch with a 2.5mm stitch length! 

Q: Which tension is the best for our project?

A: I’m leaving the tension set at the default of 4!

Q: What is the closure type for this project?

A: This pattern uses a center back (CB) slit and a button and thread loop. But I’m not doing a thread loop — I’ll be subbing a hook & eye!

Q: What seam finish is the best for our project?

A: This seersucker is surprisingly fray happy! So I will be using three seam finishes in this project. A clean finish at the CB seam. A French Seam at the shoulder and side seams. And a 3-step zigzag on the ruffle. 

RELATED; Click HERE to learn how to finish seam allowances.

Q: How will we finish the neckline and armhole edges?

A: The pattern calls for single fold bias facings! YAY!

Q: How will we finish the hem?

A: Since the hem sweep (which is the width of the hem) is so wide, a narrow hem is the best option for this project.


And then, in order to make sure this sewing experience is as pleasant and stress-free as possible, we’re also going to do the following:

  • Make sure our sewing machines are clean.
  • Make sure we have a new sewing machine needle inserted in our sewing machines.
  • Mark the ⅝ inch seam allowance (SA) on our needle plate with a rubber band or masking tape to give ourselves a longer SA guide!
Marking Seam Allows with Tape Fiskars Razoredge Fabric Shears - Stitching in Colour

It is critical to make sure that we use the right SA from start to finish so that we end with a garment that is the right fit!

  • Using fabric scraps from our project, we should also do some samples to test stitch length and tension. We will use at least two layers of fabric to simulate how we will actually sew the garment together.
  • Depending on how precious our fabric is to us, we could also test seam finishes and hem finish too.

Now with all of that out of the way, guess what?!

Finally, we get to sew!


Step 4b: Staystitch the neckline and armholes.

Staystitch the neckline and armholes of the BACK (#1) and FRONT (#4) pattern pieces a ½ inch from the raw edge.

Then, mark and trim off ⅜ inch from the seam allowances for the neckline and armholes. This will leave new seam allowances of ¼ inch…

Vogue 9237 Curves Staystitched - Stitching in Colour
Neckline and armholes staystitched.

Step 4c: Sew the center BACK (#1) seam.

Sew the two BACK (#1) pattern pieces together, stopping at the circle pattern registration marking as indicated on the tissue pattern; press SAs open.

Vogue 9237 Center Back Seam Completed - Stitching in Colour
Center back seam completed.

I finish the SAs at center back with a clean finish, because this seersucker is so fray happy!

Also, I used dark blue thread so you could see more clearly what I did. But if I was not doing a tutorial, I would use white thread.

Vogue 9237 Keyhole Opening - Stitching in Colour

And I intentionally skipped the topstitching of the keyhole opening. The fabric is stable enough for this step to be eliminated. Plus, I think it is prettier without.

Step 4d: Complete the RUFFLE (#2) and attach to the completed BACK (#1).

Join the two RUFFLE (#2) pattern pieces together at their CB seam.

I finished the CB seam’s SAs on the RUFFLE (#2), with a clean finish. And then, pressed the SAs open.

Now, we need to gather the two RUFFLE (#2) pattern pieces.

Vogue 9237 Ruffle Ready for Gathering - Stitching in Colour

And attach the gathered RUFFLE (#2) to the bottom of the constructed BACK (#1) pattern pieces.

Vogue 9237 Ruffle Attached - Stitching in Colour

Once the RUFFLE (#2) is joined to the constructed BACK (#1), finish the SAs of the RUFFLE (#2) with 3-step zigzag

Vogue 9237 Ruffle Seam Allowances Finished - Stitching in Colour

Okay. Stop for 10 seconds.

How pretty is that ruffle?!

Vogue 9237 Pretty Ruffle - Stitching in Colour
Ain’t I pretty?!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how to gather like a pro!

Step 4e: Sew the shoulder seams (not shown).

Sew the FRONT (#4) and the completed BACK (#1) with its attached RUFFLE (#2)`pattern pieces to each other at the shoulder seams.

Depending on the seam finish you choose, press the SAs open or towards the back of the garment, and then finished with a quick press from the RS.

Step 4f: Apply bias facing to the neckline.

At this point, our side seams (SS) are still unsewn. Leave them that way as it can make it easier to finish the neckline.

Because we removed ⅜ inch from the neckline and armhole seam allowances in Step 4b, we can align one of the long edges of the bias tape with the raw edge of the neckline.

Now, stitch the bias tape to garment’s edge using ¼ seam allowance. (I find doing it this way is less frustrating than trying to attach it along the seam line, and then still having to trim off that excess when done.)

To finish the neckline edge at center back, just follow Step 13 on the pattern guide sheet. Here is what we are trying to accomplish…

Vogue-9237 Finishing Neckline at Center Back - Stitching in Colour

In the image below, this is the finished result: The bias tape has been folded all the way to the inside of our dress, understitched, edgestitched, and pressed.

Vogue 9237 Neckline Bias Facing Completed - Stitching in Colour
This is a functional bias facing.

RELATED: Please click HERE to learn my preferred way of applying bias tape to an edge.

Step 4g: Sew the side seams (SS) & apply bias facing to each armhole.

I decided to also finish my SS as I did my shoulder seams with a lovely French seam.

Depending on the seam finish you choose, press the SAs open or towards the back of the garment, and then finished with a quick press from the RS.

After we have stitched the SS, it is time to finish our armholes with bias tape.

Don’t worry! I’ve done the heavy learning for you! Click HERE to learn how to apply bias tape to the edges of the armholes.

Vogue 9237 Armhole Bias Facing Completed - Stitching in Colour
This bias facing is both functional + decorative.

I decided to reverse the application process of the bias tape. I really like how the stripes on the bias facing on the armhole are at a diagonal.

When a bias facing is attached so that it is public, or visible on the outside the garment, it is both functional + decorative.

As we near the finish line, remember this…

We are greedy seamstresses! We demand a pretty start and a pretty finish! Because there is no way in heck we plan to end on a sloppy note!

Alright! Let’s…

Step 4h: Hem our dress.

Oh. My. Gosh.

We’re sliding into the home stretch.

Vogue 9237 Finished Narrow Hem - Stitching in Colour

Ideally, we should hang our dress for 24 hours before hemming.

Then, we will stitch a narrow hem using a ⅝ inch hem allowance.

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how to sew a narrow hem!

Step 4i: Finishing touches…

A button would be super cute on this dress, but I decided against thread loops. Plus, I didn’t have any buttons on hand that would work in this project.

So I opted for a hook and eye at the CB neckline. This will require just a tiny bit of hand sewing.

Vogue 9237 Hook & Eye - Stitching in Colour

RELATED: If you want to learn how to apply a hook & eye, click HERE! Ms. Taylor does a great job explaining the technique in under 4 minutes without headache-inducing music overlay!

Finally, after we’ve sewn on our hook and eye, we can head on over to our ironing board, and give our lovely dress a quick press!

And guess what?!

THE END

We did it! You did it! We have sewn a dress for a grown woman!

And because this is so fan-freaking-tastic, we get to do the happy seamstress dance from here to over there!

See, we were patient and it paid off with a dress that we can’t wait to flaunt at best and at worst a lesson to take into our next project.

Either way, we get an A+!

You Get an A+ - Stitching in Colour

We should feel very proud and accomplished for even attempting to sew our own clothing.

Next up: Step 5 ~ Assess the Dress: Vogue 9237 so that sewing the next one and the next one and the next is even easier! Plus, a confession!

Until then, remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn about the most lovely dress silhouettes and keep up with all the dress projects on this site!

error: Oops! This content is protected!