Ballard Sewalong: Part 2
Need to catch up?
Ballard Sewalong Part I: Preparing to Sew
Welcome back, folks! Today we’re moving onto part two of the Ballard Sewalong. If you haven’t picked up your copy of this awesome pattern by Straight Stitch designs, head on over to the shop and grab it now! We’ll finish up our four part sewalong early next week and then its onto the fun stuff like style posts and roundup creations! But feel free to go check out the Ballard inspiration already out there.
Today’s portion of the sewalong will cover the steps needed to get your front and back bodice ready to be sewn together. Specifically, I’ll be showing you how to gather the front neckline of your Ballard, and how to hem and join the two back panels that create such a unique peek-a-boo design.
Gathering the NecklineIf you’ve never used a gathering technique, not to worry! The Ballard neckline features a very small gather and our step-by-step instructions should help you through the process.
At the end of The Ballard Sewalong: Part I, we marked our fabric according to the notations on the pattern. Your front pattern piece should look like this with markings:
For this pattern, we’ll be using the basting stitch method to gather the neckline. A basting stitch is simply a straight stitch with a long stitch length. On my sewing machine I set my stitch length to the maximum length, at setting 5, for a standard basting stitch.
Before you sew your basting stitch, ensure that you have about 3” of thread tails to work with. Place your presser foot at the first marking, using a ¼” seam allowance. Baste stitch, without backstitching, all the way to the second marking. Make sure to leave at least 3” thread tails at the end of your baste stitch.
Sew a second line of basting stitches at ⅜” seam allowance, again making sure leave at least 3” of thread tails at each end.
Now, lay your front piece on a flat surface and tug on both bottom threads, so that the fabric bunches up along it. Start on one side, and then move to the other. This will gather the fabric between the two markings.
Continue to gather by gently tugging on the bottom threads, until your gathers span about 2” between the two markings. You can gently distribute them across those two inches to ensure they’re evenly gathered.
Now, use the same basting stitch you used on the neckline previously, and sew across your gathers with a ⅜” seam allowance. There’s no need to backstitch or leave thread tails with this third basting stitch.
Your front bodice piece can now be set aside.
Hemming the Back PanelsBring out your two back bodice pieces and identify the long curved edge. On one panel, press the edge of your fabric in ½” along that curve, so that the wrong sides of the fabric are together. Using a steam iron will help if your fabric is prone to rolling. Repeat for the second panel.
Now place pins along those pressed edges every 2” or so. Your pressed and pinned back panels should look like this:
Stitch both pressed edges down with a stretch stitch (I used a long and wide zig-zag stitch) at ⅜” seam allowance.
Press well along the stitched edge of both back panels.
After you've hemmed the curved back panels, you'll end up with two tabs of fabric that extend beyond the edge of the fabric at both the top and the bottom on each piece. Cut these off so that they are even with the raw fabric edge.
Sewing Back Panels TogetherNow that your back bodice pieces are hemmed along the curved edge, we need to sew them together so that they become one bodice piece. With right sides of both pieces facing you, overlap the top of both back bodice pattern pieces 4” and pin.
Now, overlap the bottom of both pattern pieces 2” and pin. The pattern provides the option to overlap opposite ways on top and bottom for some visual interest. In this tutorial, the same pattern piece was overlapped on both top and bottom.
Now baste both the top and bottom overlapped portions with the same stitch settings you used to gather your neckline.
Congratulations, you're now halfway to a finished Ballard! Next week, we’ll piece the front and back bodice together and put on the sleeves.
Ready to move on?
Ballard Sewalong Part III: Shoulders, Armscyes, and Side Seams
Don't forget to show us your finished Ballard and offer up some sewing inspiration to the world. You can upload your creation here.
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