Coming soon….the Rochester top & dress sewing pattern!
Our new sewing pattern, The Rochester, has two options Version A is a top and Version B is a dress with a tie belt. Part of the belt is closed with a slip stitch. This is a very useful and near invisible stitch done, by hand and perfect for joining two folded edges together from the right side. A slip stitch can be used for stitching up a folded hem edge, or for stitching on trims – it’s an all around good guy!
I’ve explained the technique as if you are making the belt for The Rochester dress, but the stitching principal can be applied to any of your projects.
With Right sides together machine stitch your belt, stopping to leave the opening between the notches. Press your stitch line flat, and press back the seam allowance at the opening to make a folded edge ready to slip stitch
After trimming the excess seam allowance at each end, pull the belt through the opening to the right side. Press the outside edge carefully and make sure each of the belt ends are the same shape before continuing.
Your opening will have a nicely pressed folded edge
So, this is the basic principle of a slip stitch. We are going to create a ladder effect by stitching from one side to the other. This will gently pull the edges together. The dashed blue horizontal stitch lines in the diagram are hidden on the wrong side of the fabric underneath the folded edge.
Work from right to left, with a knotted thread. It goes without saying but use a matching thread for better invisibility!
Start by inserting your needle from the wrong side of the fabric, under the fold, and bring out to the right side.
Insert needle back into the folded edge on the opposite side of the opening. Create a stitch by bringing your needle out to the right side again 6mm along the folded edge
Make your next stitch on the opposite side. Insert the needle back into the folded edge and out again 6mm further along.
Repeat again, each time working along the folded edge with stitches about 6mm apart.
As you stitch, gently pull the two sides together to close the opening. Don’t pull too tightly or your opening will look puckered.
The finished opening is now virtually invisible!
You can vary the length of your stitches dependant on your sewing project. Something that has stuffing and has a lot of strain on the seam (cushions or repaired toys), I would recommend a smaller stitch. For hems, I often use a bigger stitch of around 1cm. This stitch is really useful for a quick repair too. You know the ones I mean, where you can’t get in where you want with a sewing machine unless you unpick most of the garment. Well, try using this stitch instead!
The Rochester sewing pattern has a lovely curved hem detail with side splits and a topstitched facing. It’s one of my favourite things I’ve designed. But, because of the shape of the curve, you can’t just whip around the facing in one go, the facing needs to be stitched to the hem in stages. Also, you need to do the hem and facing step BEFORE you close the Centre Back seam or the back pleat won’t be a happy bunny. It’s not as tricky as it looks or sounds, just follow the Curved Hem Tutorial and take it step by step!
Side note: If you are not in charge of doing a tutorial you’re going to want to use matching thread and transfer your pattern marking with a water soluble fabric pen or chalk – not a fluorescent pink pen.
2. Make sure to stitch TO THE DOT, not past the dot. Yep, that’s the one I marked in fluorescent pink just for you.
3. Overlock (or neaten with your usual method) the body side seams and stop just past the dot, where the seam allowance (S/A) changes. Press the side seams OPEN.
Don’t overlock the facing side seams, they will be enclosed so it’s not necessary, but do overlock the outside edge. Take extra care on the curved bit – it can be a smidge tricky if you go too fast!
TIP: I just had a thought, you could bind the outside edge of that facing. It would look delightful!
4. Place RST and pin the facing to the body, line up at the side seams and notches.
5. Push all of the S/A out of the way….
7. Take a 6mm S/A. Start stitching from the CENTRE BACK towards the side seam, STOP at the marker dot.
8. Now this side is a bit more fiddly. Again push all the S/A out of the way. It is easier to stitch UP to the dot, rather than away from the dot. Start stitching about 2.5cm (1″) below the dot and stitch towards it.
STOP at the dot, leave the machine needle in your garment, lift the machine foot and PIVOT your garment around a full 180°.
9. Drop your foot and stitch back in the right direction ON TOP of your stitchline. Continue around to the front hem and repeat at the other split/side seam.
10. When the facing is all attached, press the stitchline.
TIP! If you find you have got a teeny weeny hole at the junction of your seams DO NOT WORRY ABOUT IT! Do check from the right side, but I bet when everything is in its right place you won’t notice. This one didn’t show at all from the right side once finished.
11. Understitch the facing, stopping below the apex of the split. Press again.
12. Grab your hem template pattern pieces. To make a template of anything take the original pattern piece trace on to card/heavy paper and cut away all S/A. Templates are a great way to ensure consistency for topstitching or pressing patch pockets.13. You’ll need to flip the template over to mark one side of your garment. Line up the edge of the template with the hem of garment, and the arrow on the template with top of split. Use a fabric marker pen and draw in a guide line to show you where to top stitch. The template is for the curved areas of your hem, use a ruler / tape measure to fill the gap in between.
14. And then just follow your guide for some jolly nice topstitching! Remove your tacking thread, give it a press and marvel at what a wondrous job you’ve done.
Now go finish the rest of it!