Saturday, 30 July 2011

Inside A Ready To Wear Dress - Part 2

This is the second part of my look inside a ready to wear dress.  My aim is mainly to see exactly how they make them look so neat.  What, if anything, I can do to make my dresses look "shop-bought" (in a good way).

In part 1 I looked at an H&M dress costing around £30.  Here I look at a more high-end dress from Hobbs.  I bought this a couple of years ago.  I can't remember the exact price but, being Hobbs, it was over £100 and probably more like £150.   These were the best pictures I could do of the dress. Being black it is difficult to make out so you may have to rely on my descriptions later on!

Front view

Back view

Back view - Inside Out

Inside View - Back Vent

Shoulder seams - Inside Out

Back View - Princess Seams Dart At Hip Area

The dress is made of 100% wool and the lining 100% polyester.   The dress fabric is soft and drapey.  It has an unusual weave which runs diagnally.  I'm not sure if it is cut on the bias but this is what is looks like.  The lining is also lovely and soft, softer than the lining in the H&M dress.

The side seams are trimmed to about 0.75 cm, pressed open flat and the ends serged.   The armholes have a sewn-on (not iron-on) strip of grey, fairly stiff, interfacing about 1.5 cm wide along the edge of the wrong side of the dress.  It is stitched to the dress and lining fabric at the stitching line.  The seam is trimmed to about 0.5 cm.  There is another line of stitching around 0.25 cm from the seam line, along the seam allowance stitching only the dress and interfacing (not the lining).  About halfway down the armhole from the top there is another line of stitching in between, down to the side seams.  (I've just noticed having turned it inside out that this stitching is underlining - ie stitching the dress seam to the lining very close to the edge to prevent the lining rolling to the front.  The underlining continues all around the neckline as well).  I'm guessing these extra rows are there to ensure the facing strip stays put and maybe also to act as a stay stitch.  (See correction above).  As the interfacing is not iron-on, the 1cm or so of the strip flaps but you'd never guess from the right side once it is turned through with the lining.


The shoulder seams are narrow on the dress.   The interfacing strip carries on all around the armholes and appears at the shoulder seams.  It is the same 1.5 cm width, non-iron on and flappy (to use a technical phrase) as described above.   The dress material is trimmed to around 0.5 cm and finished with a single row of straight stitching (rather than serged or zig-zagged or unfinished as is often the case where there is a lining or facing).  The lining is not attached to the dress and interfacing at the shoulder seams.  The shoulder seams on the lining appear to have been stitched before being joined to the dress at the armhole and neckline.  The shoulder seams on the lining are trimmed to around 0.5 cm and both seams pressed to the back.   All the lining seams are unfinished (except the centre back - see below).

The zip stop is around 2 to 3 mm from the top edge of the dress.  The back of the neckline down to the centre back has the same interfacing strip as described above on the wrong side of the dress fabric.  The centre back of the dress from the top of the zip down to the back vent has an iron-on black interfacing.  The zipper tape is sandwiched between the lining and the dress fabric The edge of the dress fabric and the edge of the lining are serged at the centre back.  The lining is trimmed to just over 1 cm and dress fabric is trimmed to around 1 mm bigger than the edge of the zipper tape.   The centre back seam (incorporating the lining, the zipper tape and the dress fabric) is all folded towards the back before the seams at the neckline are stitched.  As with the armhole seams the neckline seams are trimmed to around 0.5 cm and are unfinished.

I think next time I do a zip I will have a ready to wear version inside out all ready to mimic.

A surprising touch is the same strip of interfacing on the lower edges of the princess seams at the front - around where the hip area is.  Sorry - just checked the front - it's not a princess seam - it's a dart that starts at the bust point and ends at the side seam just below the waist.  The dart is trimmed to around 0.5 cm and serged.  I'm intrigued by the interfacing here.  They could easily have left this out - especially in a lined dress.  I wonder if it's to give the seam some structure  so it sits towards the side seam at the hip rather than flopping down?  Not sure but I like the detail.

I'm not going to attempt to explain the lined back vent except to say that it looks wonderful.   I'll have to remember to have this dress to hand when I come to tackle something like this.  I can imagine that pattern instructions will be terrible on something like this and a test piece will be a great idea.

All in all there are some interesting comparisons between the methods used in the lower end ready to wear dress and the higher-end one.  However both are finished extremely well and the methods in either can be easily incorporated into home sewn garments!

I'm working on my third t-shirt at present so I'll be working on this later on today.

Happy sewing.

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