Jun 132011

Welcome to the Oliver + S Family Reunion Dress Sew-Along! I’m Sarah and I’m so happy to be leading you in sewing your own adorable Family Reunion Dress! You are absolutely going to want to join in! If you don’t have your pattern and fabric ready, order it now and you will have time to catch up with the steps and still be eligible for the $20 gift certificate drawing from AboveAllFabric.com! If you are just joining in, go back and take a peek at the Introduction too!

Be sure to join the Family Reunion Dress Sew-Along Flickr Group! That’s where everyone will be sharing their progress photos as well as their finished projects! The Flickr group where your finished photo will need to be by July 15th in order to be eligible for the drawing, so you don’t want to miss out!

In today’s post I’ll guide you in tracing out your pattern pieces and cutting your fabric and interfacing, and getting ready to sew!

Before going any further, be sure to prewash your fabric! When you sewing a quilt it’s not necessary to prewash, but for garments, if your fabrics are going to shrink even the tiniest bit, you want that to happen before you put all the work getting the proper fit!

You don’t want to destroy your pattern by cutting out directly on the pattern line you are using today, so I’m going to show you how I trace out pieces. There are several ways to do this, but I like to use freezer paper from the grocery store.

My pattern tracing supplies:

  • Freezer paper
  • Fine-tipped marker
  • Transfer paper
  • Sandpaper
  • Fabric pencil
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing
  • Ruler

Unfold the pattern sheet and locate the pattern size key. If you have trouble seeing the dotted/dashed line through your freezer or tracing paper, you can trace your line on the pattern sheet with a highlighter. Trace pattern outlines and all the markings for your chosen size onto the freezer paper. Note the name of the piece and how many should be cut. I also mark each piece with the pattern name and size for future reference. I mark all the notches to the inside, so they don’t accidentally get cut off.

Continue tracing all the pieces needed for the dress (pieces 1 – 8 for View A) on your freezer paper.

When you’ve taken the time and expense to select beautiful fabric, you should always take the extra few minutes to fussy cut! Before we cut, you need to press your prewashed fabric. Once it’s nice and smooth, you will want to recreate a center fold line, but rather than folding in the exact center, take a look at your fabric’s pattern and choose what motifs fall close to the center of the fabric that you would like to have for front of the Family Reunion Dress. Press, exactly centering that motif all the way down the length of your fabric. For fabrics like gingham or plaid, use a stripe as a pressing guide.

Locate the cutting diagram in the corner the pattern paper.

Roughly cut out each traced freezer paper pattern piece. Refer to the cutting diagram, and begin arranging your pieces on the fabric. The reason I love using freezer paper to trace pattern pieces is because it eliminates the need to pin! Use a warm dry iron and the pattern piece will stick to your fabric, but still be able to easily pull away, leaving no residue!

Be sure to carefully align the fold line with the folded edge of your fabric.

With a sharp pair of scissors, cut exactly on your drawn line. I cut all notches to the outside so I don’t cut into the seam allowance.

Continue on, following the cutting placement diagram, until all your pieces are cut. I leave the freezer paper pattern pieces on until I am ready to use each piece because they act as labels and as stabilizers, to minimize the fabric edges from fraying.

We transferred all the pattern markings on to the freezer paper, so let’s go ahead and transfer to the fabric now. For dots, I like to use a fabric marking pencil. Simply lift up the freezer paper until you can see the dot through the paper, then mark that spot on the fabric. (Here you can also see my double notch cut to the outside.)

For the pintuck marks I use transfer paper with a transfer wheel. I have found that I get a better mark when I place sandpaper underneath. I used white transfer paper this time so it’s a bit hard to see in this photo, but the paper is placed transfer-side-up facing the bottom layer of fabric, then I fold the transfer paper and place the other end transfer-side facing the right side of the other side of the fabric, then place the freezer paper on top of the transfer paper.

Your lines will be visible, but not too bold.

The neck facing pieces need interfacing, but since the pattern calls for fusible interfacing, you can’t use the iron-on method of affixing the freezer paper patterns. I usually just hold the pattern in place and cut around, but you may pin if you like. After cutting, you need to trim 1/2” from the outer curve. To do this, I use my fabric marking pencil, the sandpaper and a ruler. Simply use the ruler to measure 1/2″ from the edge of the outer curve and mark with the pencil. The sandpaper will help you write on the interfacing. After marking all the pieces, trim the excess 1/2” away along the line you just marked.

Fuse the interfacing to the fabric neck facing pieces according the interfacing manufacturer’s directions. Align the interfacing with the inner curve.

The back center of the dress, where buttons and buttonholes will be, also needs interfacing. Cut 2 strips of interfacing 1 1/2″ wide and the length of dress back. Fuse them to the dress back according the interfacing manufacturer’s directions, aligned to the center edge.

After applying the interfacing, fold and press the edge in 1/2″, and then again 1”, as below.

That’s it for today! I’ll be back on Wednesday, June 15th and we will get started sewing! Take a quick picture of your progress and post it in the Family Reunion Dress Sew-Along Flickr group! If you have any questions, feel free to ask here or in the discussion over in the Flickr group.

  12 Responses to “Family Reunion Dress Sew-Along: Day 1”

  1. I love the idea of using freezer paper and not needing pins! That’s a new one to me. I usually trace my patterns on butcher paper (in big rolls from Gordon Food Service) but then I have to pin.


    Melanie Reply:

    @Clearwater Patsy: Yes, the freezer paper is nice. I wish though that it was a little more see through for easy tracing! Still, it’s what I use most of the time (unless I run out and it’s 1:30 am! lol)


    Clearwater Patsy Reply:

    The butcher paper is a bit thicker than the pattern tracing paper you can buy, but it’s lots cheaper!


    SarahB Reply:

    I really, really don’t like pinning. :) Once I discovered the freezer paper method, I started making a lot more clothes!


  2. Lots of great tips! I’m looking forward to the next installment.


    SarahB Reply:

    Thanks Meg! :)


  3. This is the best pattern tracing tutorial/advice I have read. I am not doing the sew along (um, yeah – I still have an Ice Cream Dress to do) – but I am really happy to see this. Off to buy some freezer paper (the stuff I was using was just blowing and wrinkling and generally unsuitable!). Thank you!


    SarahB Reply:

    Thank you so much Tracy! :) I just sewed an Ice Cream dress a few weeks ago, and then had to sew another! So sweet! I do think you’ll love the freezer paper. Maybe you will end up sewing the Family Reunion dress later on too?


  4. I can not tell you all how excited I am to make this dress. I saw Sarah’s daughter wearing ths dress, and it took my breath away. I just HAD to have one!!! I am SOOOOOO lucky that I get to live near Sarah, and she is letting me, and my ten year old daughter Cameron sew at her house. She is guiding every step we take, and the clothes are coming out lovely. Sarah is very humble, but I am allowed to tell you rocks! She is teaching us so many tips and tricks to make our sewing lives easier. I am posting on the Flickr group as soon as I can figure it out! Go Sarah!!!


    Melanie Reply:

    I totally agree, Angie! Sarah is a rock star! She let me borrow a bunch of stuff for a show in January and her work is boutique quality…actually far better. We are so lucky to have her leading us. :-) Love your pictures on flickr too!


  5. Awww! Thank you so much Angie (and Melanie too)! You are so sweet! I am having such a nice time sewing right along beside Angie and Cameron. :)


  6. I’m not sure how I happened upon your sew along, but am happy I did!!! I’m thinking it was from the forums at Oliver+S. I am sewing a family reunion dress for my friend’s little girl. I’m a just a little bit more than a newbie sewist and am learning so much from your tutorial. Your pacing is helping me to learn how to break down this project into more manageable steps. Really, my whole family thanks you too. :)


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