Update 2/1/2021: An updated Upton Sewalong is available here.
Let’s kick this baby off! You need to do a few things before we can start sewing in earnest.
- Pre-wash and dry your fabric.
- This is essential because lots of fabric shrinks when it’s washed (or the dye runs out a little), and you want it to shrink before you start cutting pieces for your dress. Make sure you wash and dry it exactly as you plan to with the final garment
- Cut out your pattern pieces
- Take careful note of whether you’re making View A or View B (or mix-and-matching), and use the cutting layouts to guide you. I prefer to use a rotary cutter, weights and rotary mat, but you can use pins and fabric scissors if you’d rather.
- Notches are your friend! Use a pair of scissors to do this (not a rotary cutter, because they’re harder to control for snips). Remember, the seam allowance is 1/2″ (12mm) so the notches need to be less than that.
- Transfer markings
- You need to transfer the darts and pleat markings from your pattern pieces onto your fabric. There are multiple ways to do this – I clip the edges of the dart, use a pin to mark the end of it, and use a clover chalk liner and a ruler to draw the dart in. Alternatively, you can use a tracing wheel and chalk paper. For the curved waist dart, one trick is to cut the dart out of the pattern piece (once you’ve traced the pattern first!) and then use chalk to mark really easily – you can see a photo of that here.
I’ll be making two dresses: one with the scoop neck/high back bodice (View A) with the gored skirt (View B) using the olive crepe Upton Dress kit, and one with the V-neck bodice (View B) with the pleated skirt (View A) using the navy Tencel Upton Dress kit. Most of the time I’m going to demonstrate with the V-neck/pleated version and the steps are the same for both variations. However, where they differ I’ll show you both!
Throughout this sewalong I have turned up the exposure and contrast of the photos to make them easier to see – just bear in mind that if you buy this Upton kit the colours are slightly darker than shown!
Prepping the bodice
The bodice is fully lined, but we want to make sure the lining doesn’t peek out when it’s worn. So the first step is to trim a little bit off the edge of the neckline and armholes of the lining – the recommended amount is 1/16″ (1.5mm) but it can be hard to do that precisely, so as long as it’s about 1/8″ (3mm) or less you’ll be fine. This will make the seams roll slightly to the inside (lining) side.
Depending on the weight of your fabric, you may want to use fusible interfacing (or strips of silk organza selvage) to stabilize the neckline and armholes – this will give them a little more body and help prevent the dreaded stretching out. I used strips of fusible interfacing for my View B dress.
Next, we need to staystitch the neckline of the bodice shell (the main fabric) and lining, and I recommend it even if you’ve interfaced. This is especially important for View B with the V-neck front and back neckline as they really, really, really want to stretch out (because they’re on the bias). To staystitch, turn your stitch length down to a short stitch (around 1.5), and sew at a 1/4″ (6mm) seam allowance in two passes. For the front neckline, start at the shoulder and end in the center front; for the back neckline, start at the center back and go up towards the shoulders.
Next we’ll be assembling the bodice shell and lining. Any questions at this stage?