Thursday 13 March 2014

Making a Dress and Consulting Books

At the moment I am making a little dress in this rather glaring shade of red.  As usual, I had forgotten that tiny dresses take up just as much time as big dresses because you have to do all the same things but on a minute scale.  After setting in the sleeves and binding the seams I decided to consult my books to see if there were any wonderful time saving tips on how to neaten the edges of armhole seams.  My newest book is the Singer Sewing Book 1975 edition, then the McCall's Sewing in Colour from the 1960s.  Then I have a handful of books from the 1950s and 1940s.  None of them had any helpful hints at all - in fact, unless I have missed something, they all dodged the issue altogether.

This is the only book that had anything to say on the subject,

a 1914 edition of a fascinating and frightening work by Agnes Walker (Late Lecturer at the United Free Church Training College, Aberdeen) revised and augmented by Jane A. Strachan (Aberdeen Provincial Committee for the Training of Teachers).  The book is written for teachers of needlework, who at that time were teaching large classes of infants how to sew.

This book recommends binding armhole seams, so I felt a whole lot better.

Then I decided to see if there was anything I should bear in mind when gathering the skirt of the dress, and ended up on these pages.

The concept of stroking gathers was entirely new to me.  The first illustration looked all too familiar, but the next page showed how each fold should be individually straightened with the needle.  

The text is enough to bring on waves of anxiety.  If I start having nightmares featuring scary Scottish schoolmistresses I will know why.

Not surprisingly, I am just bashing on and doing the gathered skirt the way I have always done it. Just don't tell Agnes and Jane.

Linking up today with Kelly's blog My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday.


  1. That stroking of gathers reminds me of the way you are supposed to hang curtains initially, and straighten all the folds so they will pull back evenly and correctly. If I remember rightly you fold the curtains in their pleats and then tie lightly and leave to hang for a couple of days to 'set' them. Not that I've ever taken the time to do this though I have 'stroked' them as your book does for gathers!

  2. can't wait to see it finished! I've actually never sewn a garment, and am always amazed by it!

    Thanks for linking to Needle and Thread Thursday!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  3. I was taught to stroke the pleats when pleating for smocking. I hadn't thought to do it with gathers! Thanks for that "duh" moment! lol



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