Gertie’s Giveaway Dress – Part 5 (final touches)

This is part five in the making of this dress. Here are parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 if you missed them. Part 1 describes the reason why I’m making this dress.

Up until now, I had been really lucky with the sewing of this dress. This is where my luck ran out. I think it’s going to be okay, but there were lots of hiccups.

plaid dress skirt

Hiccup #1

I last left off with the bodice and skirt completed, but unconnected. As you can see, I very carefully pinned the skirt to the bodice, making sure all the layers lay flat and that the piping was lined up correctly. Luckily, I caught my initial mistake (the bodice facing the wrong way) and re-pinned it with right sides together. Sewing the seam went remarkably well.

I opened up the seam and thought good, this is going well. It really was. None of the stitching on the piping shows and the pleats weren’t messed up.

grey dress p5

That’s when I realized I had sewn the lining into the seam. Ugh. This meant I couldn’t hand-stitch the lining over the seam like you’re supposed to 😦

I wasn’t about to leave the seam unfinished, though, so I trimmed away all the layers except the lining and hand stitched the lining over the seam.

trimming the seam

hand sewing

The seam allowance wanted to face the skirt, but I wanted it to face the waistband (so that the piping would face away from the waistband), so I tacked the seam allowance to the lining.

hand stitching lining

I have to say, I really like how the seam looks. I take a lot of pride in neat hand-stitching 🙂

Hiccup #2

Now it was time for the zipper. I remembered the stitching line from my last fitting so I pinned the zipper down and got sewing.


I broke the zipper. I don’t really know how—I think I might have melted the coils with my iron or maybe I stitched over one. It’s totally and completely broken, though. I took the stitching out and threw the zipper away.

At this point, I was feeling really frustrated, so I decided to put the dress on Pinhead so I could see how the waist seam looked. Seeing it all put together in the front really helped get me back on track.

Hiccup #3

So I went to Joann, got another (okay, I got 2, just in case) zipper. I sewed it down, making sure it zipped about ten times along the way. I zipped it up and …

mismatched zipper

… neither the pattern, nor the piping matched up. This was a truly terrible, terror-inspiring moment. I knew the pieces had stretched a bit (because they were cut on the bias) but I wasn’t expecting a full 1/2″ difference.

So, after a few minutes of panicking, I took out the bodice-to-waistband seam on the too big side and resewed it so that the seam took more of the waistband out. Then I ran a row of gathers down the zipper edge and eased the stretch out of the fabric.

closer to matching!
closer to matching!

I sewed the zipper up again and …


… the piping matched! And the plaid matched more than it did the first time!

I literally sighed out loud when I saw that it had worked out. I just had this horrible fear that all the work I had put into the dress was going to be marred by such a stupid mistake as not accounting for stretch on the bias.

From there, sewing went fine. I hand-finished the shoulder seams without problems.

I tried the dress on and decided that the fit was perfect and that I like the length of the skirt. It’s tea-length right now—very retro. The bottom edge of the skirt is the selvage (and a very unnoticeable one at that) so I’m not even going to hem it.

I’m done! I can’t even believe it 🙂 Now it’s time to get real pictures to enter in the contest. The deadline is Saturday, so I’m going to have to hurry.


Obviously, this was just not my best sewing day, even if the dress did turn out great anyway. It’s still frustrating.

Have you had days where the sewing brain just doesn’t turn on? And what do you think of the finished dress?

–Samantha 🙂

19 thoughts on “Gertie’s Giveaway Dress – Part 5 (final touches)

  1. Hooray!! It looks fab!! Those hiccups would have annoyed the hell out of me. Good on you sticking with it! Especially matching that piping up nicely in the end – very well done! Good luck in the contest!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to admit that I was a teensy bit excited when I saw that you had posted an update on this dress and I wasn’t disappointed – it’s amazing!! Great tip with easing the fabric to fit, I’ve never seen this before. I look forward to seeing the final photos – Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! That’s totally awesome to hear 🙂 I honestly just tried the easing trick because I’d seen it used on setting sleeves where the difference is really slight so I thought “that might work”. And it did!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gorgeous dress, looking forward to seeing it on you. Does anyone know a trick for matching the back seam up when applying an invisible zip? That matching is my nemesis. I absolutely swore never to iron another invisible zipper before applying after exactly the same issue Samantha – boo to ironing zipper coils, yay for machine feet that don’t need the help! More photos please x


    1. Unfortunately I don’t have the fancy invisibly zipper foot. I make do with a regular zipper foot and careful ironing. For matching up the back seam on this dress (once I got them to be able to match) I sewed one side then zipped the zipper up and marked where the waistband started and ended, then used those markings to pin the other side so that it matched up 🙂


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