July 1, 2019

Holyoke Maxi Dress and Skirt Sewalong: Day 1


This is the first day of our Holyoke Maxi Dress and Skirt sewalong! We’re going to be focusing on sewing the Holyoke Dress for the first few days. If you’re sewing the Holyoke Skirt, you can sit back and put your feet up—the hard work (which won’t be hard at all, we promise) for you comes next.

By now you’ve hopefully printed out and cut or traced your pattern, washed your fabric, cut out your pieces, applied your interfacing, and set up your machine (and serger, if you plan to use one). Give yourself a pat on the back—the hard part is done! The rest is easy breezy sewing fun.

Okay, here we go! First up: the front bodice.

We’re going to start by pinning the bodice center front and the bodice side front at the princess seam, right sides together. Make sure to match up the three notches—you’ll make your life so much easier that way.

Let’s sew that seam! (We’re using a 1/2” (12 mm) seam allowance for the majority of the seams in this pattern, so assume that’s what we mean unless we tell you otherwise!)

Ta-da—our first seam! Looking fabulous already. Let’s finish that seam in your method of choice (we’re using our serger, but you could sew a line of zigzag stitching along the edge of the seam or use pinking shears) and press towards the front center piece over a tailor’s ham.

Now we’re going to staystitch along the neckline and the armscye. It’s a good idea to staystitch edges of pieces that are cut on the bias or that undergo some manhandling in the sewing process so that they don’t warp. Staystitching generally uses a shorter stitch length and is sewn inside the seam allowance. So let’s shorten our stitch length to 1.5 mm and staystitch two lines starting at the shoulder—one going down the armscye and the other down the neckline.

Now let’s rotate that bodice front so that the bottom is pointing up. We’re going to take one of our interfaced waistband pieces and pin it to the bodice, right sides together. Remember that the non-interfaced end of the waistband should line up with the center of the bodice, and the interfaced/angled end of the waistband should line up with the side of the bodice.

Use the handy dandy notches to help you when pinning the waistband to the bodice.

We’re going to sew this seam at 1/4” (6 mm) and then leave it unpressed.

Now, we’re going to take one of the non-interfaced front waistbands and fold the bottom seam allowance (the outer curve) over to the wrong side and press.

Carefully trim that folded-over seam allowance down to 1/4” (6 mm). This is now our front waistband facing!

Let’s grab our bodice front again, flipping it over so that the WRONG side is facing up. The waistband we’ve already sewn on stays folded back underneath the bodice front, not folded out.

We’re going to pin the waistband facing to the bodice front, right side of waistband facing to wrong side of bodice. This always feels weird to me when I’m doing it, but it results in a pretty view of the waistband on the inside of your garment!

Make sure you’re pinning using the non-folded over edge of the waistband.

This time, we’re going to sew along that seam using our 1/2” (12 mm) seam allowance, sewing through all three layers—the outer waistband, the bodice, and the waistband facing.

Let’s trim that seam down to 1/4” (6 mm).

Flipping our bodice back over so that the right side is facing up, we’re going to fold down the outer waistband while leaving the waistband facing flipped up. Let’s press that outer waistband down.

Here’s how it’ll look on the back:

Outer waistband pressed down, waistband facing left up.

And voila! We’ve got ourself a front bodice. Now let’s repeat all of that again with the other side.

Alright, let’s put those front bodices aside for the moment. Time to move on to the back bodice! This part comes together even faster.

Pin one of the bodice side backs to bodice center back, right sides together. Make sure to match the double notches.

Let’s sew that seam, then finish the seam allowance and press it towards the center of the bodice.

Repeat with the other back side, finishing the seam allowance and pressing it toward center.

Take one of the back waistband pieces and pin to the back bodice, matching the two notches with the two center back seams.

We’re going to sew the waistband to the back bodice using a 1/4” (6 mm) seam allowance.

Taking the other back waistband piece, we’re going to fold the bottom seam allowance towards the wrong side and press. This is now our back waistband facing!

Let’s trim that seam allowance down to 1/4” (6 mm).

Let’s grab our back bodice again. Leaving the outer waistband folded up against the back bodice, let’s flip the back bodice over so that the wrong side is facing up.

Pin the waistband facing to the back bodice, matching the two notches again.

Sew through all three layers—the outer waistband, the bodice, and the waistband facing—using a 1/2” seam allowance.

Let’s trim that seam allowance down to 1/4″ (6 mm)

Flipping our bodice back over so that the right side is facing up, we’re going to fold down the outer waistband while leaving the waistband facing flipped up. Let’s press that outer waistband down.

We did it! Our front and back bodices are all assembled—time to do a happy dance!

Up next, we’re going to assemble the skirt for our Holyoke Dress.

We want to see your creations, whatever stage of the process you’re at! Tag your makes with #HolyokeDress or #HolyokeSkirt on social media so we (and the whole sewing community) can cheer you on to the finish line!

One thought on “Holyoke Maxi Dress and Skirt Sewalong: Day 1

  1. Anna Krista says:

    I’m not even making this dress at the moment but I’m still following closely – I love your sew-alongs! The fabric you chose is gorgeous. I need to make this dress eventually.

Let me know what you think!