Now that we gathered our supplies and adjusted our pattern, it’s time to start sewing our Suzy dress. In today’s post we are going to work on the bodice.
Step 1: Stabilize the shoulder seams
The first thing you need to do is stabilize the shoulders to prevent them from stretching out. To do that, you can use either clear elastic, stay tape or a piece of ribbon. Measure the width of the shoulder pieces. Then cut two pieces of clear elastic, stay tape or ribbon that are a bit longer than the measured width. Pin each piece to the wrong side of your back bodice
shoulder seams, staying inside the seam allowance. Stitch each piece in place using the zigzag stitch on your sewing machine. Be careful not to stretch it!
Step 2: Sewing the shoulder seams
Place the back bodice piece on top of the front bodice piece, right sides together. Match them at the shoulder seams, pin and stitch in place using a zigzag stitch or your overlocker (serger).
Cut off the excess clear elastic (or stay tape/ribbon, depending on what you chose to use) and press the seam allowances open, if you used your sewing machine, or towards the back if you used an overlocker (serger).
Step 3: Sewing the neckband
Take your neckband piece (J1 for the scooped neckline or J2 for the boat neckline) and match the short ends right sides together. Pin and stitch them in place with a zigzag stitch or an overlocker to create a loop.
If you used your sewing machine press the seam allowances open. If you used your serger, press the seam allowances to one side. Then, fold the neckband in half lengthways with wrong sides together and give it a good press.
Step 4: Stitching the neckband to the bodice
Now we are going to insert the neckband to the bodice. Sometimes sewing a nice and flat neckband can be intimidating, but there are a few tips we’d like to share with you to help you achieve a perfect result.
Firstly, lay your bodice open and then fold it in half sideways. Find the center fold on the front neckline and the center fold on the back neckline and snip a tiny notch to mark them.
Now, fold the neckband in half as you see in the photo below and on the RAW edge, snip a notch right at the fold.
Then, it’s time to pin the neckband to the right side of the neckline. You are going to pin them right sides together and matching the raw edges as well as all the notches: the seam on your neckband has to be matched with the center back notch on the neckline. The notch on the neckline has to be matched with the center front notch on the neckline. Because the neckband is slightly smaller than the neckline, you’ll have to slightly stretch it while you are pinning it and the notches we snipped will help you to that in even sections. That way you won’t have areas that have been stretched more than others and you will achieve a beautiful result. Please be careful to stretch ONLY the neckband, not the neckline.
Before you go ahead and permanently stitch the neckband to the neckline, it is recommended that you sew a line of basting stitches to see whether you are satisfied with how your neckband looks (e.g. if you stretched it evenly around the neckline, whether there is any puckering that you want to correct etc).
If you are satisfied, go ahead and stitch it using a zigzag stitch or your overlocker. Trim the seam allowance (if you used a sewing machine) and press it down towards the inside of the bodice.
You can now sew a line of topstitching if you want to. It can be either a wide zigzag topstitch or a twin needle topstitch, which will not only add a decorative element to the neckline, but it will also help the seam allowance stay in place on the inside (we omitted these steps in the photos)
Step 5: Attaching the sleeves
Lay the bodice flat on your table with the right side up and place the sleeve on the armhole, right sides together, as shown in the illustration. Make sure you match all the notches, especially the double notches in the back, which indicate which sleeve goes into which armhole.
Pin the sleeve in place, easing the curves and sew it using a zigzag stitch or an overlocker. Repeat for the other sleeve and give them both a good press.
Step 6: Sewing the bodice side seams
Place the front bodice piece on top of the back bodice piece, right sides together (you are essentially folding the bodice right sides together at the shoulder seams). Pin the right underarm seams and the side seams from the sleeve hem all the way to the waistline. Using a zigzag stitch or your overlocker, stitch in one continuous line from the sleeve hem all the way down to the waistline. Repeat for the left side of your garment and give everything a good press.
And that’s it for today! Tomorrow we are going to start working on the skirt. Hope you are enjoying this sewalong and that you are finding it useful.
If you haven’t got your Suzy dress pattern, you still have time.