Friday, May 22, 2015

Cartridge Pleating for the Sheer Stripe Dress

I've finished off the last few touches on my bodice and one of these led me to make a few changes on my finished dress. When I attached my waistband to the bodice, it did this weird thing and shrunk about 2 inches (?). As a result, I wasn't going to be able to attach the skirt portion of the dress directly to the bodice because none of the edges lined up the way they were supposed to. On to plan B.

In the instructions for the dress (TV447), Heather does provide alternate instructions for creating the skirt and bodice as separate pieces. So I got everything cut and sewed according to the instructions, and then stood back and looked at the amount of fabric I would be working with.
Yeah, that's a lot of fabric!
At 60" wide with 4 panels to work with, I found I would have to somehow attach 20 feet of material to about 34 inches of waistband.

Yeah. On my first dress, I simply gathered because I was running out of time, but also the panels weren't as wide. After a lot of contemplation, I made the decision to cartridge pleat. I have never done cartridge pleating before, but was motivated by the fact it would help to give the dress a more "finished" look since it was historically accurate, but also I just wanted to try it out.

Jennifer Rosbrugh at Historical Sewing wrote a great article on how to sew cartridge pleats, and I read through the directions several times to get a better idea of how to tackle the pleats.
In the article, it suggested attaching the skirt to a cotton twill tape. I still wanted the to use my regular fabric, but was afraid the lawn wouldn't have enough weight to support the fabric. Instead I cut a second waistband and covered the tape with it.
I then followed the instructions to include pinking the edges, folding the top edge over, and sewing along the top to provide a secure point for stitching the pleats. Using a ruler, I marked the top of the fabric every 1 inch.
The hardest part was threading then spacing out all the pleats. In dividing then spacing, I got some of my math screwed up (even if it's sewing related, I suck at math). As a result, some areas of the pleats are more tightly gathered than others, but overall, everything is fairly uniform.
Once the waistband was finished, I started on the hem. My mom was in town and she helped me determine length. Instructions say about 1 inch above the ground, I opted for 2 inches though because I am notorious for tripping on my crinoline cage period dresses.

The hem is about 5 inches deep with a 1 inch fold over at the top to prevent raveling. One seam didn't line up completely, so the hem stitching is a little wonky.
Thankfully the hem stitching was done well enough and there's so much fabric that it's hard to pinpoint where the weird spot is. Double bonus from my fabric choice - because of the stripes, figuring out fold over points and seams has been an absolute breeze!

I don't have the skirt by itself, but the finished piece turned out great! Pictured will be on my next post.

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