1940’s Tea Dress Sewalong No. 8: Attaching the Facing

Hi everybody,

How did the dreaded zip insertion go? We hope it was plain sailing and that if you weren’t before, you’re now converted to the magical ways of the invisible zip.

But onto today! Can you believe it?! It’s our last week of sewing for the 1940’s tea dress! We’ll be covering how to attach the facing, before we guide you through hemming on Friday. Let’s get to it.

Firstly we’re going to finish the tiny little edge at the bottom of both the facing pieces (E). No fraying for us thank you very much.

Pin and sew these two little edges together’ before pressing the seam open.

Finish the outer edge of this new facing piece, making sure that the tiny seam allowance at the bottom remains pressed open and doesn’t get sewn to one side as it goes through the machine.

Your facing should now resemble the drawing from step 19 in the instructions booklet. It’s now ready to be attached to the neckline of the dress.

Start by pinning the bottom of the facing to the bottom of the V on the neckline. Right sides should be together. With this point anchored in place, continue pinning the facing all the way around the neckline. You will notice that the facing is longer than the neckline of the dress. Never fear, we will deal with this later.

Once you’ve pinned the facing in place, attach it to the dress starting at the point of the V, sewing separate lines of stitching up towards the zip on either side. This should help it to stay even on both sides.

Sew Over It 1940's Tea Dress Sewalong - attaching the facing

If you try and fold this facing down onto the inside of the dress at this point you will find that it won’t have any of it. Time to employ some cunning dressmaker’s techniques!

First off, clip into the seam allowance at any point at which the seam curves. These points will include around the shoulders, over the bust, and at that front centre V. Snip using small, sharp scissors at regular intervals, going as close to the line of stitching as you can without cutting into it.

Sew Over It 1940's Tea Dress Sewalong - attaching the facing

Doing this helps relieve the tension on the seam and allows it to lay flat. It’s a tiny bit like magic.

When the seam allowance is clipped, it’s time to understitch. Anyone who’s been watching this series of the Great British Sewing Bee will understand the importance of understitching. (Miss this step and we’ll set May Martin on you!) Like clipping, understitching helps the seams to lie flat, and also ensures that the facing stays inside the garment.

Sew Over It 1940's Tea Dress Sewalong - attaching the facing

To understitch, we sew the facing to the seam allowance below it. Open out the seam we have just sewn and press the seam allowance towards the facing. Pin it together, before sewing at 2mm from the seam. Make sure you’re sewing on the facing side and not on the front of the dress!

You should now have a beautifully flat facing that stays on the inside of the dress. No curling out for you.

Now let’s sort out those raw ends of the facing we left flapping around by the zip. Fold each side back underneath itself so that you have no unfinished edges showing, and slip stitch this folded edge to the zip tape.

Sew Over It 1940's Tea Dress Sewalong - attaching the facing

You might prefer to continue and slip stitch the whole facing in place, as we did a few steps ago for the sleeves. Just make sure those stitches are as tiny as you can get them so they don’t show on the outside.

Sew Over It 1940's Tea Dress Sewalong - attaching the facing

And that’s the facing in!

If you don’t feel like stopping there we have a little optional extra for you now. We’re making covered buttons to adorn the front of the dress! For our buttons we’re using scraps from our main dress fabric but if you want your buttons to stand out, why not make them in a contrasting colour?

Covered buttons are super easy to make and can be quite addictive. They come in two parts –  a front and a back piece. Hopefully it’s obvious which side is which! Take the front part and place it on your fabric upside down. Draw a circle approximately 1cm away from the button all the way round, and cut this out.

Sew Over It 1940's Tea Dress Sewalong - attaching the facing

Now, with your needle and thread, sew a neat, even running stitch all the way around the edge. Make sure you leave the tail ends long.

Sew Over It 1940's Tea Dress Sewalong - attaching the facing

With the right side of the fabric facing down, place the front button piece back in the middle of the fabric circle and pull the tails, allowing the fabric to gather up around the button.

Sew Over It 1940's Tea Dress Sewalong - attaching the facing

Say cheese!

Pull the strings tight and with your finger, press the gathered fabric into the little teeth on the inside of the button. Smooth the fabric out around the outside of the button, pulling it tight to ensure there are no tiny tucks or folds.

Sew Over It 1940's Tea Dress Sewalong - attaching the facing

When it’s all feeling secure, press the back of the button, groove side up, onto the fabric-covered front piece, making sure it snaps.

Sew Over It 1940's Tea Dress Sewalong - attaching the facing

Trim the thread tails as close to the button as you can. And voila! You’ve made a covered button.

Make a couple more and then, spacing them evenly down the centre front seam of the bust panels, hand sew them in place.

And you’re done. All we have left to do now is hem. So why not pop that dress on now and decide where you’d like your hem to sit. Keep it longer for a more classic 1940’s look, or go shorter above the knee for a more contemporary feel. You’ll have to wait and see which we went for!

Have a great week everyone and we’ll see you again on Friday for the last and final step before the big reveal!

Are you looking for the rest of the sewalong posts? Here they are!
Choosing fabric
Measuring, tracing and cutting out
Assembling the bodice
Constructing the skirt
Making and inserting the sleeves
Conquering the invisible zip

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