In our last two episodes The yoke’s on me and Vintage Sewing: Literal of Figurative I started the process of putting together what I consider to be a dress reminiscent of the period of Downton Abbey. And the description on the back of the pattern is pretty clear:
Loose-fitting dress…has square neckline, front and back yokes, front and back outside tucks, back buttoned closing, side pockets ….
It also has, though not mentioned in the description, darts in the front which shape the side of the bust area as well as what they are calling ‘tucks’. Once I started to read through the instructions, I realized that I had no idea what tucks are and decided to do some internet searching and came up with this lovely site: Pleats, tucks and gathers which is as close to encyclopedic as I could find.
Now, in the instructions for this pattern, the description for what gets done in the front and the back is as follows:
“On outside, bring lines of small (dots) together; baste. Stitch to lower small (dots). Press tucks toward sides, as shown. Baste upper raw edges.”
Now, why are these ‘tucks’ and not ‘pleats’? And for that, I did a little demo (lucky you):
This is technically a ‘pleat’:
1. I have drawn the two parallel lines indicating the markings that would exist.
2. I have folded down the fabric on the left-hand line and ironed it down, matching the edge to the right-hand line.
3. I have sewn down the fabric close to the ironed-down edge.
This is pleating. Now, technically speaking I could have sewn this down right at the edge for just a little bit and left the rest free, like a knife-edged pleat.
This, on the other hand, is making a ‘tuck’:
1. Again, I have marked the two parallel lines.
2. I have matched up the two parallel lines, right side to right side and sewn them together at the wrong side. At the top, you’ll see I slipped in this very high tech instrument(the ball point pen) in the pocket formed by sewing the two edges of the cloth together.
3. I have now ironed one side down and sewn it down.
Wa-la. A tuck. Now, I made dresses for my girls when they were young where I just did steps one and two but not three, which made a very pretty effect, but in this case, they want you to iron all of these down toward the outside and sew them down.
Now, to be honest, if I had to do this all over, I’d have either used a different pattern or a totally different sort of fabric for the dress.
– This sort of tucks work best, I think, if you are using a rather crisp fabric such as light weight linen or voile. With the rayon crepe, I was wrestling with the lines, burning my fingers and getting very frustrated with the whole thing. I had a huge case of ‘want to throw this in the corner and walk away’ with this.
– what would probably have worked better with the rayon would have been a series of tucks such as I’d done on the girls’ dresses years ago, where I just matched up the lines and sewed it down at the wrong side; it’s a softer effect and would have worked better for the fabric.
Now, for those readers saying to themselves, “Well, silly woman, what was the fabric recommendation on the pattern?” I have to answer you with the list of fabrics suggested:
Crepe de Chine
See: Challis, single knits, and crepe de Chine. I rest my case.