NL6000 Fest: Ode to underlining


I haven’t designed a blog button.  Fail.  My ideas turned out to be complex and would have taken me away from the actual sewing (what’s the point in that?!)   I asked Gary to help (him being an animator, and a dabber hand than me at these layering programmes).  He’s been too busy (being VERY animated)  tiling the kitchen & sinking a doormat into the wooden floor – what a hero.

So this is my 30 second attempt… for now…

Ha ha ha!! How’s everyone else getting on with NL6000 Fest?

Now you crazeeee ladeeez – some of you have said you’re joining in the Festival- or are at least thinking about it, namely:

So how’s everyone getting on?  I hummed a bit wanting to make version C with the pretty gathered waist, but the decision was made for me, not having enough fabric to do that, and actually playing it work-safe.  I am making the plain darted 3/4 length dress with the awesome collar & cute cuffs.  I have only hand sewing left- that’s all.  My plan is to write this & then sit IN FRONT OF THE TV (yes, I need laziness) & finish it off.    Here it is waiting for me ….
Erk!  It looks like an overall or a uniform, but it’s honestly nicer than it looks, even without the iron!!  And it’s a deeper blue too.
So, for now I thought I’d spend some words waxing lyrical about the joy of underlining.  
Now why did I think I’d underline instead of just a standard lining?  I’ve underlined before for my vintage vogue jacket, here, but that also involved lining and is designed to provide a bit more structure to the cotton fabric in the case of the jacket.  It did however provide me with my first trip down Underlining Lane, giving me the principles that I’d use for this dress.  Tasia at Sewaholic has written some detailed posts about the right way to underline here.  Underlining’s basically cutting a second version of your pattern pieces out of some suitable fabric, often something light weight for lining something sheer.  It is also a way to cosify up a garment for winter – just imagine a winter dress with an added layer of flannel to keep you warm!  Traditionally, the underlining is basted flat, wrong sides together, to the shell fabric pieces before any construction takes place.  Pattern markings are often transferred once the underlining is attached, and basting is also needed around the edges of darts and seams through all thicknesses (also before any construction takes place) to make sure the two fabrics don’t move around too much.  This takes ages & makes you feel so far away from sewing your garment.  
Anyway,  I wanted to underline this dress because I wanted some form of lining but knew that a tight dress such as this might be up for some serious stresses & how would a silky lining fabric stand up to the mega pressure caused by my hips & bum & all that sitting I do at work?  I could predict seam failure- gradual if not dramatic ripping.  The other reason for wanting to underline was because I’ve seen what beautiful seam finishes ( you can achieve by sewing the underlining to the shell fabric.     If I’m honest that was my primary motivation.  [Think amazing seams] But what have I discovered when trying to find those original inspirational pictures? I found that I did it wrong!  I should have cut an additional 1/4″ seam allowance to my underlining.  But didn’t.  Now please don’t think that I pretend to know how to do all these fancy things.  I clearly make it up as I go along, being clear about my objective, grasping some of the approach, but certainly not in any worthy textbook way.   (This might be reflected in my description of underlining above using non committal language, because I am really rather an obvious amateur!!)
I cut out shell & lining then pinned pattern pieces right sides together & thought .  Should I sew the curved edges?  What if it was a totally bad fit- why was I diving in head first, using an approach I am not familiar with, to a pattern I’ve never made without sewing a toile/ muslin first?   Typical me.   I was mentally biting my fingernails down to the quick imagining my folly.  It was a great puzzle to work out & I compromised, sewing the straighter seams this way (with an erroneous 1/4″ narrow seam), leaving the curved armhole & neck edge seams to be basted together.   This picture kind of shows what I mean.

It shows the dress front with side edges sewn right sides together, turned & pressed.  It also shows the basting around the darts to keep the lining & shell fabric together to make the darts.  The armhole edge is still unfinished with raw edges basted together.  What this means is that I was actually finishing my side and shoulder seams right at the beginning – but it didn’t feel like it at the time.

 So with the underlining attached, whatever method you are using, you then sew the dress through all thicknesses as if they are one piece – eg making the darts through all of the thicknesses of fabric.  This is why there is all that basting earlier on so that the two fabrics act as one.  (If not doing it the way I was trying out, you’d also normally finish seams as if you were sewing a normal garment- zig zag, serging or more swish binding/ HK seams etc.)  Underlining also meant an easier and much neater finish for  Much neater.  Although once I inserted the zip I was able to try the dress on & discover where it didn’t fit.  Nothing too drastic.  I had to take a wedge out of the centre back above my waist meaning a twice inserted zipper.  It was almost perfect the first time as well, you thought right.  
So with seam finishes the fabric equivalent of ambrosia, what about the other raw edges?  The answer was self bias binding using Portia’s fabulous Easy Peasy bias strips – the masking tape method (Eureka! totally cool! No slippy stretchy botch jobs!)  I bound the neck edge, the seam joining cuffs to sleeves and also the sleeve seams.  No way was there going to be a trace of zig zag or a raw edge in sight.  
A privileged view: the inside.  Side seam, darts & the bias bound armhole edge.
I’m finishing these bias bindings by hand, and that is where I shall leave you for now ….
Please leave me a comment with how you are getting on, links to posts & when you think that you’ll be ready for the Festival.

I’ve got my work’s Christmas drinks on Friday evening & plan to put it through its paces then, so I’ll be ready when you are 🙂

Enjoy your sewing …


22 thoughts on “NL6000 Fest: Ode to underlining

  1. Kerry

    I don’t believe it! I think you must have read my mind. I have just cut out my fabric tonight (view c) but want to include some kind of lining as my fabric is wool – soft yes but I want something nice and slippy beneath. As you had mentioned underlining before I thought I would message you to ask what you were going to do, as I haven’t done it before – only to find you had conveniently already posted!
    I was thinking of only lining the body and not the sleeves but have to admit that I wasn’t quite sure how underlining worked. I was thinking I could leave out the facings but wasn’t sure if I should be treating the lining and fabric essentially as one (this is what you have done, am I right?), especially when I have the gather feature to take account of.
    Any guidance appreciated! I am going to do a bit more research myself too. Regarding the festival, maybe the 19th December? That would allow 2 weekends worth of potential sewing time.

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Glad I got the timing right Kerry (but strongly advise other research !) I might be tempted to line the sleeves as well, but then that’s because I’ve done similar myself & just think it’ll make the dress warmer (I get chilly!) & it feels luxurious. If you are doing the pleated waist version you would just need to do lots of basting around every fold line so that when you make the folds through both layers of fabric they are crisp & accurate. In terms of facings, I couldn’t work out how to do it underlined without some kind of binding or facing. If you line it however, you have more flexibility in the order you attach the lining & I guess would be able to omit facings around the neck when you attach the collar sandwiched in between lining and fabric. I’ve also read that someone lined the dress (as opposed to underlining it), using the darted front for the lining and it turns out to be the right size to fit behind the pleated fabric. Another option to consider! 19th December sounds like a great idea. I might even have my Xmas decs up by then for some festive backdrop! Good luck with your research …… very interested to know how you get on 🙂

  2. Joanne

    Oh oh oh I have ordered my pattern but it has still not been shipped! The last I heard was on Nov 30th: Your order status has changed to “We expect your order to arrive at our warehouse shortly and will notify you upon its arrival.”:( I might miss your festival but you know it’ll probably take me much longer to complete my dress as there’s a lot of technique there I haven’t done before. Thank you so much for this post – it is unbelievably helpful in terms of figuring out what fabric I’ll need. I believe I may even have enough golden brown wool and matching silky lining in my stash. I will probably make a muslin first as well – just to make sure I get the fit right as I’d panic if I’d done all the work and found I had to make extra adjustments to the lining/shell duo. What a fabulous looking dress though – can’t wait to see it on you. I’ll do view C I think. Thanks again and sorry I’m lagging behind – damn internet shopping sometimes.!

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      I think a muslin’s a good idea Joanne – good luck with the pattern arriving on time – we can have a second festival to catch anyone who doesn’t make it so you can join in the fun still. 🙂

  3. Sølvi

    Oooh! Progress! You´ve been so effective! I am loving the underlining idea. I didn´t with mine as I don´t often get itchy, and I always wear a slip underneath, but seems to be great if you are making it a work stable. I usually wear mine when I go to a concert in a chilly place (such as churches), or when it´s really cold outside. It´s perfect for that! 🙂

  4. Dibs

    I should join this actually. I don’t have this pattern yet, but loweryourpresserfoot did a maternity version which I really loved. So we’ll see if I can bag this pattern and attempt it. So its a maybe for me…that is if I can find the right fabric. I’ve been looking for ponti knit everywhere, don’t know what to do now. any ideas of where I could find it?

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Dibs, that sounds exciting- making it maternity wear! I have heard that Ditto has some ponti knit, & there is a double knit at Croft Mill that looks good value (black & white stripe with overall impression of being grey – I got a sample- it’s nice)

  5. Tabatha Tweedie

    It looks great! I have finished my contribution to your NL 6000 fest as you know, using up some leftover fabric from another project (photos on threadcarefully’s flickr page). I’m going to wait a bit before I embark upon making another – I want to test out the first one and see how much I like wearing it. AND I want to see what everyone else’s dresses look like. But if I do make a second version, I’m thinking of using pea green gabardine – not just because it rhymes, but because I really want a green dress! I reckon I’ll do self-covered buttons like Handmade Jane suggested and I might have to underline it so I’ll be sure to re-read your tips first and check out the links you included.

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Ha ha – rhyming dress fabric- like it Tabatha! I have seen your dress on Flickr – it is too CUTE for words – I would like to see it being modeled. Well done for being the first to finish too. I think self covered buttons will look awesome too. This is going to be great seeing everyone’s interpretation of the same pattern …

  6. Jane

    Ooh I like the underlining/seam finish tip, how neat. Well, I’m steaming ahead with mine, my aim is to wear it to a xmas party next Thursday and that’s looking very possible at the moment. I’ve sewn the main dress together (I’m making view E with a collar) and just need to fiddle with the darts a bit. Then it’s just cuffs and collar – wahay. I’m making mine from double knit which is such a magical fabric it actually eliminates quite a few steps (seam finishes, facings, zip….). Can’t wait for the big reveal from everybody. x

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      No zip Jane? Genius! This I will have to try for my second version …..and in comfy doubleknit. It’s actually the perfect Christmas dinner dress with room to expand in secret behind all those pleats!

      Alexandra, so pleased you’re getting started – enjoy!!

  7. Debbie

    You whizzed that up fast! Looking good. I like the underlining idea. When Dibs mentioned a maternity version I was momentarily tempted but am restraining myself! Looking forward to documentary evidence of friday and you wearing the dress!

  8. Tabatha Tweedie

    Thank you! I promise to model it when I’ve not just stuffed myself…are we uploading pics on the 19th?

    Jane – can’t wait to see yours with zip/facings/seam finishes eliminated – I like that idea a lot!!!

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