The first sewing section! Jenny's instructions are clear and her photographs are helpful so refer to them at all stages of construction. Jenny also gives advice on altering the bust size of the Tova here. I am doing is going into greater detail on the trickier bits. The seam gauge that she shows in her pattern pictures is very helpful throughout. I used a walking foot on my machine for both Tovas. The benefit of this is it pulls both the top and bottom fabric layers through evenly. You could use a standard presser foot too. My walking foot is at the top and presser foot below.
The same feet but from a bird's eye view.
1. Sew Placket to Inset
You can see my pieces ready below for my voile version. The plackets are the strips, the insets are the wider L shaped sections. My voile insets are double thickness and basted together at the edges and treated as one layer. Using a double layer in this way to compensate for the lightness and transparency of the main fabric is called interlining. My Lotta Echo version below has a single inset on each side. The thing to watch for here to make sure you stitch the right side of the placket to the wrong side of the inset- it is a little counter intuitive, you will want to do it the other way round.
You can see on the Lotta Echo version below how the triangle notches help to match up the plackets and the insets. The placket edges have been top stitched.
You can see the fussy cutting on the voile version so both sides of the inset match up.
At the bottom of the inset where the two plackets cross over, Jenny suggests you pin these together. I chose to machine stitch them within the 3/8" seam allowance, about 1/4" is fine. It keeps everything secure and gives less to worry about for the next stage.
2. Sew Inset to Front
You will need a contrasting thread in your machine to sew your gathers. It needs to be good and strong as we will be pulling on it. Your stitch length needs to be at the longest setting. Take your Tova front piece: the side on which you sew is the side you will pull on, I had the wrong side facing me. Starting at the notch near the corner where the inset will be sewn, secure your first stitch by sewing forwards/backwards and forwards and sew to the notch in the other corner 1/8" from the fabric edge- do not secure at this end and leave the thread ends long- e.g. 6" Then starting at the same notch as before, fabric the same side facing as before, sew a second line just the same, Jenny suggest 1/4" but it can be more (see below). Leave the thread ends long. Trim the thread ends at the secured edge so they don't get in the way
Jenny suggests very close gather lines 1/8 and 1/4. I tried this and I tried wider- 1/8 and 1/2"- the latter was easier for me because when you sew the seam you will be stitching between the gathers as you can see below (this is from a sleeve cuff). I did 1/8 and 1/4 for the Lotta Tova but the wider options for all the other gathering sections on both Tovas. You chose what you prefer.
Before you pull the gathering threads, you will need to secure the corners of the front piece. Jenny's drawing shows where the reinforcement stitching will go. I used a ruler and pencil to mark the line just inside 3/8" from fabric edge and where it would start and finish on each side. It will be inside of your tailor's tack which marked the drill hole or dot with circle around from the paper pattern piece. Change back to your usual thread, set you stitch length very short-1-1.5 on my machine and sew. I then sew again, just inside or even on top of this line to make it extra secure. Take care not to trap the gathering threads. Repeat for other corner.
Clip the corners- this means with sharp small scissors cut from outer cover to the corner just before your stitches. I place a pin here to make sure I don't cut the stitches. Remove pin once cut.
You can follow Jenny's direcitons and start pinning inset to front starting at shoulder. If you are newer to dress making you might find it easier to start your pinning in the centre fof your front piece and the inset. Pin at the notches- your pins need to be at right angles to your stitches. . Pull your gathering threads so that the inset is the same width as the front between the notches- you can wrap the ends around a pin to check and make a knot when you are happy with this. Spread your gathers evenly. I do this firstly with my fingers and then with a pin, stoking the fabric back and forth between the gathering lines.
You can then pin the side pieces, matching any notches,- it will be tight where the reinforced corners have been clipped. and you will need a lot of pins.
Follow Jenny's directions and start at the right shoulder, stitch length normal- 2.2-2.5 is my normal, the first straight section down the sides is easy, slow down as you get to the first corner and I change my stitch length to shorter here 1.5 as it needs to be secure as we come to the clipped corner. You should have a tailor's tack or mark to aim for, at this point do as Jenny says, stop, needle down, lift the foot and pivot- turn your fabric. Check you are stitching through 2 layers and no extra fabric is trapped before you put the foot down again. You should be stitching to the inside of the reinforcement stitches. You can just see mine in the centre of the machine foot below and my needle is to the left of them. Stitch about 1" with small stitches and change back to your usual stitch to sew along the gathered section of the inset- the gathers should be on top. If your gathering threads were 1/8" and 1/4" apart you will be stitching below them with your 3/8" seam. If your gathering threads were 1/8" and 1/2" apart you will be stitching below them with your 3/8" seam. I stopped and checked my gathers several times as I stitched this seam between the notches. When you have reached the notch at the end of the gathers, reduce your stitch size , go slow and stitch to the tailor's tack as before, check for trapped fabric, pivot and stitch along the secured corner. change your stitch size back to normal and stitch seam to the top left shoulder.
This is a very tricky section. Go slow and be prepared to unpick the odd section where you have trapped extra fabric. my first took me two attempts. Once you are happy with it you can remove the gathers, tailor's tacks and press well. Follow Jenny's instructions, press seam towards the inset and finish the seam edge with a serger/overlocker ( I turned the knife off on my overlocker as the seam is already narrow) or you can use zig zag or overcast (depending your machine options) on medium weight fabric or 3 step zig zag on lightweight fabrics like voile/lawn to neaten the seam. If you have no zip zag you could overcast by hand or use pinking shears. There is a discussion thread here on finishing Tova edges without a serger here. Sew slowly as you finish the edge and watch out again for trapped fabric. Press again and top stitch all round the inset, I did a extra securing line of stitches where the placket overlaps. This is my Lotta Echo inset and placket finished.
And here is my voile version.
This is the inside of echo with overlocked/serged seams pressed up and top stitched.
And this is the voile version with a close up on the tricky corner.
The next sew-a-long post will be mid week with shoulders, side seams and hem- nice and easy. You can find the links to all the post so far here and add any pictures to the Wiksten Flickr group here.
Any questions will be answered in the comments thread below, please add your ideas if you can help.