Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mary De Insert Tutorial - Part 3

This is the last installment of the Mary De smocked insert tutorial.  Woohoo!

In this series, we'll go through the steps of attaching the skirt to the insert.  Last post, we attached the yoke to the insert.  Normally, this would be a very short and sweet lesson.  However, because this fabric was much, much heavier than I would normally use, I had some issues with too much bulk.  So I'm going to show you how I solved that little problem.  I finally asked some wise women over at everythingsewing for some help.

Because I had bulk in the insert and added bulk in the skirt, I had to remove some of the bulk somewhere.  The advice given to me was to sew some darts in the top of the skirt, cut away the excess fabric, then run my gathering threads.  So let's begin there.

I marked my skirt in 3 different places and took a 3 inch dart in each.  I started at my center front of the skirt.  The blue mark is my center, and the 2 purple on either side will be my dart lines.

Fold the fabric at the blue line, right sides together, and match the purple marks.  Press the fold with an iron.  Then decide how far down you want your dart.  Mine is roughly 4 inches.  Then draw a line from your purple mark all the way down to the folded edge of the fabric where you want the dart to end as shown.

Now you'll want to find the center from that fold to the end of the fabric on each side as shown.

Mark a new center line.  Then mark lines on either side of it just like we did before.  This one only shows my center line.  We want 3 evenly space darts across the skirt.

Now fold on that center line just like before matching your side marks and press.  Then mark your dart line just like before.  This is a picture showing both dart marks. 

Repeat on the other side.  Sorry I didn't take a picture of all three.

Now you'll stitch along that dotted purple line to form your dart.  Remove it from the machine leaving long tails.  At the fold, tie off the top and bobbin thread to keep is from unraveling later.  Then cut very close to that stitch line and zigzag over it to keep it from fraying.  This picture shows the cut but I forgot to take a picture of the zigzag stitch.

Now press open your darts and you'll have this.

Now run your 2 lines of gathering threads and pull the skirt up to the width of the bottom of the insert.  Lay the insert face down on top of the skirt and pin in place.  I forgot to snap a pic of that, so here is one of it already stitched in place.

Take it to the machine and stitch in place along the stitch line we made yesterday on the ric rac.  Here is the pic from yesterday.

And here it is on the machine.  Sorry for the poor picture.  My camera doesn't like it when my sewing machine light is on.

Feel free to baste this stitch line in case you don't like it.  That's what I did.  Then I went back and shortened my stitch length and stitched over it again.  Open it up and press it down making sure not to flatten your pleats.  Again, never iron directly on the smocking.  Here it is.

The darts are barely visible and are mostly hidden in the gathers of the skirt.  This solution allowed me to remove excess fabric from the top of the skirt where it was problematic but leave the fullness in the bottom of the skirt.  It was a win - win.  I still have a few threads to remove since I ripped the the skirt out numerous times before I found the ultimate solution.

But there you have it.  Now you can finish construction of the dress as usual.

Happy Wednesday!



  1. lovely smocked insert, enjoyed looking at your other smocked garments and your quilts.

  2. What a great job you've done with this dress - the insert is just perfect for that fabric!

  3. Thanks for the tutorial. Beautiful dress and smocking!

  4. Thanks for the tutorial. Beautiful dress and smocking!

    1. Thank you Renee! I hope this is helpful to you. Thank you for stopping by.

  5. This is a lovely dress. I've got some strawberry fabric waiting to be used so I might so something similar.

    1. Robyn, please share pics when you have it complete. I love this fabric.