How to Make Your Amare Dress
1. Print and assemble pattern.
2. Layout all pieces, transfer all markings. The bodice front is cut on the bias fold (thus creating a self-facing), so you will need to allow for cutting piece #1 twice.
3. Give the four bodice/neck corners a little square of fusible or organza on the inside to reinforce the corner at the dot and stay stitch with a 1.5 stitch, pivoting at dot.
4. Mark bodice buttonhole on inside left-side bodice facing only and button placement on inside right-side facing only and give both a square of good stabilizer on the inside of the facing to reinforce the stress points.
Top Tip: After cutting and before construction, if your fabric is slippery - apply some spray starch or Sullivan's Fabric Stabilizer to any areas that may be challenging such as the sleeve hem edges, zipper area and skirt hem, to aid in any machine basting and hem stitching. Ditto for the back darts. Your fabric really will run through your machine a lot easier. Spray on, let air or iron dry; re-apply as much needed.
5. Make darts in bodice back and press towards side seams.
Top Tip: Try one-thread darts. One-thread darts make for a lovely, unpuckered finish, especially darts with a longer slender dart point, such as used on this pattern. The video below may help you. The Tutorialist can be a bit of a fumble fingers but you'll get the idea.
6. If using a knit go to Step 10. If using a woven and for a clean finished interior, do the following: open up the bias front bodice/facing and stitch a 5/8ths basting line on the inside bodice shoulder seam only and press to the inside.
7. Keeping the front open, on the inside bias bodice seam allowance (#1), stitch a 5/8ths basting line along the long straight edge and press to the wrong side towards center front along basting line. If using, apply Washable Wonder Tape to just inside the basting stitch line but do not remove the backing yet.
8. While keeping the bias bodice piece open, stitch bodice front (#1) to side bodice (#2), matching notches and press seam towards center front, clipping if necessary.
Top Tip: Clip your seam in an alternating sequence to eliminate any clip show-through on light colored fabrics. This little trick really does work - try it!
9. Keeping the bodice front open and the neckline curve free, stitch a French seam on the bodice front to bodice back (#3) at shoulders only from reinforced corner dot to sleeve edge and press towards the front. Clip just to corner dot stay stitching.
10. Open up the bodice back neckline extensions and sew together. It makes a shallow V shape. Trim seam to 1/4" and press open. If using a woven, go to Step 11. If using a knit, go to Step 13 and make the buttonhole.
11. With the bias bodice opened up, baste 5/8ths on inside back neckline seam of the extension, and press under 5/8ths from dot to dot, clipping where necessary, including the stay stitched inside corners.
12. With the bias bodice still opened up, sew the outside back neckline seam to bodice back neck, trim, clip and press up into neckline. Now bring the entire inside bodice shoulder/neckline over, enclosing the neckline seam, the short shoulder extension and the side-front seam. Slipstitch or stitch-in-the-ditch the back neck and shoulder extension. Pin-baste the folded over inside bodice just 1/8th to 1/16ths over the seam line that runs from the shoulder to the waist seam allowance to hide it. Check the fit and buttonhole placement. Make adjustments if needed.
13. For wovens, remove pin-basting and for both woven and knits, open up the bodices and make a 3/8" buttonhole on top layer of the left front bodice only - the button hole does not go through both layers. Do not cut open yet. Trim away excess stabilizer. The buttonhole goes on the left and button on the right as you will push the button through the buttonhole into the left bodice (instead of pulling it through). This way there won't be any button show-through on the outside of the finished garment or see a buttonhole on the interior either.
Top Tip: Try using machine embroidery thread and a fine #9 needle for a smoother stitch when making such a small buttonhole. It works a treat. If you've got some, use a scrap of stiff stabilizer on the underside of the buttonhole.
14. If using a knit, fold the bias bodices Front (#1) along the bias fold line, press and if desired, baste together along side front seam and back neck, inside the seam allowance. Sew Side Front bodice(s) (#2) to bias Fronts (#1). For a clean finish, serge the seam. Press and top stitch if desired. Sew Back (#3) to Fronts at shoulders and back neck, clipping and pivoting at pivot points. For a clean finish, serge the seam. Have a canolli. Go to Step 15.
If using a woven, replace front facing alongside front seam. If using Wonder Tape, remove the backing now and press down along side front seam. Turn bodice to right side and stitch-in-the-ditch the side front seam from the shoulder to the waist, catching the inside facing at the same time. Your bodice neckline interior now has lovely finish to it, with no raw edges. Stop and have a cannoli. Admire your beautiful work.
15. Press and bring bodice right front over left front, matching notches. Baste fronts together just inside waist seam line.
16. If using a knit, and omitting a zipper, go to Step 19. If using a woven, sew skirt front to bodice front and skirt back to bodice back at waistline, leaving side seams unsewn. Depending on your fabric, you may need to give the skirt waist seam allowance a few clips within the seam allowance to flatten out its curve to meet the straight edge of the bodice waist seam allowance. Grade seam, clip and press waistline seam up.
17. On left side seam give the zipper opening a strip of lightweight interfacing or fusible tape. Insert an invisible zipper on left side of dress.
18. Reinforce side seams at underarm between two dots using a smaller stitch at this is a stress point. Finish sewing both side seams, from the hemline up. Sewing from the hemline up supports the skirt pieces and aids in keeping the bias portions of the skirt from stretching during construction, thus reducing the possibility of wavy side seams on the skirt. Trim and clip bodice side seam curves, using the alternate clipping method above.
19. If using a knit, omitting a zipper and if using a serger, baste bodice side seams only, do not serge yet, and check the fit.
Top Tip: Use Wash- A-Way Basting Thread when basting a seam in knits prior to serging, to check the fit of your garment or if there is an interim step prior to serging the seam. It presses well with a dry iron. It's really a terrific little notion to have around. You will need a bobbin wound with it as well or you'll end up with long threads wrapped around your washer's agitator. Trust me on this.
With regular thread and using a straight stitch, reinforce both side seams at underarm between two dots using a 1.5 stitch. Clip into seam allowance at dot just under the sleeve opening - to but not through so you can roll the sleeve hem. Once clipped and reinforced, sew/serge bodice side seams.
Sew/serge skirt side seams from the bottom up. Sew skirt to bodice at waist seam. You can and may wish to serge on some 3/8" clear elastic at this step to help support the weight of the skirt. Cut elastic 1" less than your waist measurement.
20. To hem sleeves, (use more Sullivan's or starch if needed) run a basting stitch at 1/4" from sleeve selvage around sleeve opening, then again at 5/8". Clip sleeve hem curve if needed to the 1/4" basting, turn under along 1/4" basting line and press. Turn under again along 5/8ths basting, clipping to dot at underarm. Washable Wonder Tape works, well, wonders on this step.
Machine hem sleeve, bar tacking or back-tacking a few times straight across at the underarm to reinforce the stress point.
21. Double-check button/buttonhole placement. Sew on button and open buttonhole.
22. To hem the dress, try dress on and mark hem length. Run a machine basting stitch at this marking around the entire hemline. Then two more times at 1/2" intervals down from the hem basting.
Let dress hang on a dress form or hanger for 24 hours for the bias in the skirt to "drop and stop." Try on and recheck hem and re-mark if/as needed. Trim any excess on hem if/as needed, turn hem up on lowest/first basting line, press, turn up again and machine hem dress.
Top Tip: SewkeysE double-sided fusible stay tape is the easiest, most marvelous product to make your hem stay put while running it through your machine, including cover-stitch machines. It's near invisible, won't gum up your needle and it's very, very easy to use. Just press on, peal off the tape, fold up your hem and give it a light press. If using on a curve, such as the Amare's hemline, clip the tape at 1" intervals in the same manner you would clip a seam curve - almost but not though the width of the tape. It will "bend" to your will! Do yourself a favor and get some here, Emma Seabrooke.com.
Pamela from Pamela's Patterns demonstrates how to properly apply stay tapes to shoulders, necklines and hems for professional knit finishes. Watch Pamela make it all clear at 4:22.
Finishing Touches: Let's keep things in place and add a waist-stay. A waist-stay will help keep the dress at your waist, support the weight of the full skirt and reduce stress on the zipper. It also makes for a lovely interior finish. If using a woven, Petersham or grosgrain ribbon works well. If using a knit and did not add elastic in Step 19, you can it now - add 3/8" elastic 1" less than your waist measurement on the seam allowance with a zig zag stitch.
For wovens, place the stay on the upward facing waist seam allowance, keeping about 1" free on either side of the non-zipper seam and about 1½" free on either side of the zipper. Stitch the ribbon to the waist seam, placing the edge of the ribbon just inside the seam allowance. Press the ribbon up and covering the wait seam. Add hook and eye.
Complete the Look: When it comes to love and accessorizing, our Heroine has a tendency think a bit in Black and White. She has paired her creamy Amare dress with a 2" wide black suede belt with self-covered buckle, black strappy sandals, and a slouchy black leather satchel. Her jewelry is a simple small-gauge chain choker and small hoop earrings. And just in case, she's grabbed her little black Trench as one never knows when will be left out in the cold, as it were. . .