So Sensei Annika, what are we learning today? ♥
Today we are going to learn how to ruche a back bodice by creating our own self faced casings, and threading elastic through them! We end up with a nice stretchy back that allows for size varation as well as fit and comfort! Plus... it looks cute.
♥ How to ruche a back bodice! (Terminology)Difficulty: **** (This is for the avid sewer that knows their way around patterns/construction!)
*I highly recommend that if you are going to try this for a first time, do it on a jumper skirt, or a sun dress, don't do this with anything that requires armholes or sleeves.*
"Ruche... is that a word, or are you just making it up?" Why yes, dear sir or madame, it is a word! It is a technical sewing terminology defined as the following:
Ruche (ruching): A French word that means to gather, to pleat, or to ruffle.
Self faced elastic casing: A tunnel, or channel, created by either folding a fabric over 2 times or sewing 2 rows of parallel stitching next to each other, more than the elastic's width apart.
Bodice: the fitted part of a dress that extends from waist to shoulders; a blouse.
Right Side/Wrong Side (fabric): The right side is the fabric on the outside, the one everyone will see. The wrong side refers to inside the garment, the lining. Or in context, "with the wrong sides of the fabric together," meaning the side where the seams show, with the outer and inner fabric touching.
Princess Seam: A long, curved seam at both front and back bodice that runs from waist to arms, and is used to add shape and fit to a garment.
Bobbin: A cylinder which thread is wrapped around, and put in the bottom part of the sewing machine.
♥ The Pattern (skip if ya got one! Vague, and simple.)Here is one of the many patterns I've made I like to work with. It is important for you to know about pattern making, because you're going to need to make one of these if you want an elasticized bodice back. Now, I should probably do a separate tutorial for this but basically the steps are as follows.
|Note: This pattern is on CB, on the fold|
A. Measure the width of your bodice back from the top of your bodice to the middle, down, until you reach the bottom and so on. This should give you a rough pattern of your bodice back WITHOUT gathering. (Write down these measurements, you'll want them later.) Double this size, and re-trace with seam allowance.
B. Now you've got a pattern. Next, decide how many casings (elastic bits) you want. Got a number? Now figure out where they go. This will all depend on the height of your pattern. I narrowed this bodice back down to 5 casings. You can do this by folding the pattern in half, and half again, so on and so forth. Or just use a ruler to find halves. It's up to you, mine are spaced 3 inches apart.
C. Got em drawn out? Keep in mind your casings have to be bigger than your elastic. I use 3/8" so my casings are 1/2" which allows enough room to slide the elastic through, and doesn't twist or roll. You should have resistance, but if you're struggling and the elastic is twisting then your casing isn't wide enough!
D. In the words of Alfredo, from "Ratatouille"... "LET'S DO THIS THING!"
♥ So you want to ruche, eh? (Preliminary steps)Ah, ah, put that sewing machine away! Don't even turn it on yet! I know you're excited but before we can do our casings, we have a little more to do. This next step should be done after you've cut out the lining of your bodice pattern pieces. (Obviously, I am a bit ahead on this.)
With your new back bodice pattern in hand, still pinned to your fabric I hope, take out a tracing wheel and some dressmaking tracing paper. With the paper underneath your fabric, the colored side of the paper resting against the RIGHT side, you're going to use the tracing wheel and trace off where your casings go. When you lift the fabric, it will make marks like these:
|I know it's hard to see... I used white. >.<|
♥ Sewing the Casings (The Easy(er) Part)***PINING. (Because it's important...)
Before you do anything, I want you to make sure that you have properly pinned at the princess seams of your bodice! You want to line up the outside (right side) of the fabric with the seam on the inside (wrong side/lining) so it is matched up all the way down.
|Outside pinned, closet to armholes|
|Loosely pin the bottom with seam allowance at the waist; inside/lining|
Why do this? One: It's going to keep your fabric from slipping and sliding on you while you make casings from both the wrong, and right side of the fabric. Two: It adds stability, so you never have to worry about going over and stitching way past your seam. Three: It keeps the fabric from pulling up, bunching, and otherwise getting messed up. : o
Okay... flip that garment over, with the right side out. Get ready!
Now, be patient. This whole process can take me 1 hour, to an hour and a half, easy. So be patient. Go slow, and take your time.
1. The 1st Casing (one at the neckline)
With the neckline of your garment in the sewing machine, you're going to do a stitch seam an 1/8 inch away from the edge. Please make sure to BACK STITCH, a good amount! These areas next to the princess seam get the most stress from the elastic... if it's not back stitched well, the seam will tear out or the thread will snap.
So we're sewing from one edge of the princess seam to the other.
|See, ya got your first stitch! Now for the second one to make the "casing"|
2. The 2nd Casing (follow these steps for all casings except the last one)
Ah! First one done, feels good right? Hang in there! We got a lot more to go.
For the second casing, we're going to flip the garment inside out again, so our silver lining is facing out. That means, this is the side where you will see the markings/lines you made earlier with the tracing wheel and dressmaking paper. (Or in my case, go blind because it's hard to see!)
|You can't see them here, but your tracing lines would be on this side... but if you didn't use WHITE, Annika, you would!|
This part is tricky, on every casing you do. You're going to want to have two hands, one is holding the fabric in place on the right and guiding, and the one on the left is going to be pulling and stretching the fabric downwards. Essentially, you're trying to keep the lining smooth and flat, and not pulling or catching something you shouldn't.
|Parallel stitch two! Almost vanquished your second casing! Alright!|
Repeat this for all casings EXCEPT the last one!!
3. Final Casing (near the waist, where the bodice and skirt are sewn together)
Ah, now here's a kinda tricky one. First, what we're going to do is pin our lining, with the seam allowance tucked under, to the waistline of our skirt. Make sure the lining covers your stitch line/waist seam since you don't want that showing. It's also a good guide.
|Got it pinned? Ok, flip it right side out again!|
|Left: Skirt, Right: Bodice seam/neckline|
|Stitch line 2, go!|
We're done right.... Nooooope. >.<
♥ Cutting Elastic (The Easiest Part, no really)
|Oh boy, product placement!|
Did you write down the measurements of your non-gathered back bodice pattern? Or better yet, keep that original pattern? I hope so, cuz you're gonna need it! You should be able to figure out how long your elastic pieces need to be based on these measurements. You can go bigger or smaller depending on how loose or snug you want the garment to fit. I do mine exact, with a half inch seam allowance. (Example: Top casing is 9 1/2. With seam allowance: 10 1/2)
Your strips should get smaller the farther down the back you go since the torso narrows and what not the closer to the waist you get. (10 1/2, 8 1/2, 6 1/2, etc etc)
|Pop that safety pin in that elastic and do pass go, and do collect a hundred dollars from Boardwalk!|
♥ Inserting Elastic in Casings (The "Oh Dear" Part)Okay, not gonna lie to you. This is the hardest part of doing this. It is even harder if you, like I an overeager seamstress, have decided to finish your armholes with a lining and top stitched them down. *cries a little bit* No actually, it wasn't as terrible as all that. I managed. It was just a bit more difficult, but the process is the same. If you need a break, take one. You're going to need patience for this bit.
[Since my armholes are already finished, I'm going to show you how to do it as such. If your armholes were loose though, not sewn together, than this is a much easier process. You don't have to flip anything inside out, or struggle.]
|Casing 1: Part A|
With your safety pinned elastic in hand, you're going to have to kind of feel your way around between the lining and the outside fabric of your garment to find the first casing. Because the armholes are finished, I have to do this bit by touch, wiggle my hand into the armhole and stick the safety pin/elastic through the whole from right to left. Got it in? Okay, start pulling. You should feel the elastic easing through the casing, pulling through as you guide the safety pin along. This will cause the fabric to gather. But keep an eye on the "tail" end of your casing, if you pull too hard, too fast, the elastic will go right through and you'll have to start over.
|Stop pulling your elastic about half way.|
Casing 1: Part B...Flip n' Stitch
While pinching the "tail" of your elastic on the right side between forefinger and thumb, carefully pull the armhole inside out. This exposes the "tail" of the elastic, as well as the raw edges of your princess seams on both the lining and the outer fabric.
|Ta-da, all secure on one side!|
Oki, doke, ya still with me? You know how we only pulled our elastic half way through in Part A? Now we're going to pull it through the rest of the way until it pops out the other side to our other princess seam. Continue to thread the elastic, and be mindful to keep it flat and not roll or curl.
|Pulled through, check.|
*LAST Casing: Part A...Clip Clip, Snip Snip
This last elastic sewing/inserting thing is tricky! The most tricky of all of them. But it is not as clever as we are, my dears. Before we insert elastic, we're going to make 2 important clips/snips in the seam allowance of our fabric: one horizontal, one vertical. This simply allows us better access to sew without catching any other fabric.
|VERTICAL snip, parallel to our side seam, perpendicular to waist seam/skirt|
|HORIZONTAL snip, perpendicular to side seam, parallel to waist seam/skirt|
|See just a baby clip, allows us some wiggle room.|
*Casing 1: Part A...Insertion, Half Way----Casing 1: Part C...Insertion, Pull the Elastic Through to Freedom! (And your Flip n Stitch for both of em!)
|Yeah last one, last one! Sew that guy down, and trimmmm!|
|Wooo, don't you feel AWESOME?!|
♥ You have defeated this tutorial! (Exp. Level Up!)After this, it's all done! You got some rockin' casings with elastic, and all that's left is to finish those lining seams by hand and you are done, done, done!
I hope I was kinda clear... at least about the sewing bits of things. Hope this helped, Natascha! <3 ^-^