I’ve made several actual, wearable garments lately, and they all have one thing in common…they look suuuuuuuuuuuper messy on the inside (and you know that old saying, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts,” right?!). I usually “finish” my edges by zigzagging along the very edge (I think this might also be called “overcasting” but that sounds way gloomier than zigzagging!) It works. Stuff washes and doesn’t unravel, and the seams lie flat. But it’s not very pretty up in there.
My Sorbetto pattern attempts taught me to make my own bias tape (first the hard way, then the easy way!), and I’ve seen blogs around the internet where people use bias tape to cover up those nasty seam edges (well, OK, nasty might be a strong word, but…it’s apt, I think!). And that didn’t seem that hard. And if they’re on the inside, as long as they’re made from fabric that doesn’t show through, it shouldn’t matter what fabric I use to make them (though of course my inner type-A matchy-matchy self whispers seductively that they really should be made from the same fabric I am using for the main garment, or at the very least a coordinating fabric…but I know better! Especially when I’m already 1/8th yard short…but we’ll get to that in a bit!).
I decided to try my hand at a maxi dress (mostly just to have at least tried one on that was long enough…for Pete’s sake, I’m only 5’7″, you would think off-the-rack dresses would be floor length with no problem! Especially considering the models in the ads all seem to be super-tall giraffes, and the maxi dresses fit their length just fine! Anyhow…sidebar aside, I wanted a maxi with the proper length, and I decided I’d just have to do it myself.)
I found a pattern from Kwik Sew (3856, if you’re wondering). I have to remind myself to try and look past the fabric/styling on the envelope, because if I judged this dress solely by the, I don’t know, poker salad? print, I’d have never bought the pattern. Thankfully, the line drawing is much more enticing and less…disturbing. See what I mean?
I had some fabric I bought on super sale at Crafty Planet (totally worth checking out the clearance closet in the way way back!) that had a nice big print that I thought would scale nicely on a maxi. Of course, there’s always a catch. I had originally bought the fabric to make a different dress (knee length, never got around to it), so I was about an 1/8th of a yard short. I had thought maybe I could finagle it and make it work, but in the end it was about 3 inches too short even with my grade-A layout skillz. Ah, well. The fabric has a nice blue/brown color scheme, so I figured it would be pretty easy to lengthen with a coordinating border and called it good.
This pattern has a surplice neckline, kimono sleeves, and a pretty generous A-line skirt. It looks really easy, and it really is as easy as it looks! I cut it out and had the bodice put together in under an hour (this, for me, is record fast!). And I was sitting there, about to zigzag my seam edges, when I thought, you know, what if I just tried the bias thing? What harm could it do? How long could it take?
I was sewing over at a friend’s place, and she agreed, I’d be foolish not to! So I found a scrap and used Colette’s amazing continuous bias tape tutorial for the bazillionth time and soon had almost two feet of bias tape. (Take a minute, remember I’m making a maxi dress…two feet is a drop in the proverbial bucket). It was just enough to do the shoulders and the underarm seam from the bottom of the armhole to where the bodice connects to the skirt. Just barely enough. And it looked SO MUCH BETTER. So pretty. So finished. I was hooked.
Of course, I ended up needing a LOT more than my first paltry two feet of bias tape, so later that night, I spent about an hour making about 40 million feet of bias tape out of some yellow fabric I had in the scrap bag, and then another hour sewing it over the seams. Not sure if there’s an easier way, but so far my scheme has been to sew it down right side (tape) to wrong side (seam), then fold it over and tuck the fold under the edge so that all the raw edges are wrapped up in a nice tidy bundle!!
It took a while to do all the seams, but it was soooooo worth it!
I still have to hem the bottom, and thread the elastic through the casing at the waist, and I probably could have sewn the whole thing together in an afternoon if I’d zigzagged instead of doing the bias binding, but I’m OK with that! I did end up having to lengthen it (as you can see above!), but I’ll talk about that next time, too!