As promised, I'm offering up even more mind-boggling mish mash for your reading pleasure.
Since the sleeve edges of this style are smocked, the next step is to run the sleeve hem edges through the pleater. I pleated three rows.
Now is the best time to hem those sleeves, add lace, etc. I haven't completely made up my mind on what I intend to do, so I'm skipping this step.
I'm ready to sew the dress together so I can pleat it. Almost. I am nonplussed by the sewing/pleating order of this style.
I cannot draw. But here is yet another feeble attempt. Look at the top row.
On the top row here we have a drawing of the sewing order recommended in the pattern instructions. I made it nice and colorful for you--the green lines are the cut edges of the pattern pieces and the red lines are the seam lines between the back, sleeve, front, and sleeve.
The bubble opens down the center back with a continuous lap. That's fine with me.
So what's my problem?
Maybe you noticed that the final back/sleeve seam is left unseamed. I don't like it. If I construct the bubble this way, I am going to have to push that unstitched seam to the inside and skip over it when I start smocking. I am also going to have to skip over the area in the center back where the continuous lap will be. The instructions tell me to create the continuous lap after the smocking is completed.
I can also forsee a potential problem in smocking the thing, since I always start at the center front, work all the way around to the side (the center back in this case), then turn the whole shebang upside down and work around to the opposite side. Doing it this way allows me to center the smocking design perfectly and the back opening edges will wind up as mirror images of one another.
And the final thing about this construction method I don't particularly like? I don't want a hand-sewn seam on that open shoulder, but it is not because I have any rabid aversion to hand sewing. The fact is that all these Little Dresses I make get worn. A lot. They go everywhere. They go through the washer and dryer and get ironed on a regular basis. I can only wish that I had such an active social life. They don't just stay in the Closet Full Of Dresses and look pretty. These girls are on the go! And since there is a great possibility that future Princesses may arrive, I want these dresses to last. I just think they will last longer if the seam is machine stitched.
So as I pondered these problems (we're talking lying in the bed late at night putting in some serious thinking time) I finally hit on another method of seaming this that would make me happy.
Let's look at the bottom row of the drawing. This one depicts what I plan to do. You can see that I am going to stitch up that final seam, which will give me a tubular shape. The blue line indicates the continuous lap opening.
I am going to go ahead and stay stitch the continuous lap opening and slice it open (it's about 7 1/2" long). I am going to use French seams on all the sleeve seams.
(I hear you out there saying that you can't run French seams through a pleater. Yes, you can. I do it on a regular basis. The secret is to steam the daylights out of the seam so that it is totally flat. Then when you run it through the pleater go extremely s-l-o-w when you come to the seams. I haven't broken a needle yet.)
So I have sliced the continuous lap open and sewn the seams. Now all of you are thinking I'm nuts because I can't roll this thing up on a Magic Stick. You're absolutely right.
I never intended to roll it. I live dangerously. I am going to pleat it free handed.
Rolling a bishop is always problematic due to the thickness of the seams, the potential sleeve flare issue, and the length of the piece. So I have graduated to the Advanced Stage of Madness. Here's how I do it:
I line it up and go slow. I pay attention to all the landmarks--seams, center front, center back. If those landmarks feed in straight, it's a piece of cake. I did this on the first try. And no, this is not the first time I've tried it. I've done it several times already and have only messed up once.
And if I do screw it up, I just pull out the pleater threads and give it another go. Here it is, all fanned out, pinned, and tied off!
I AM WOMAN!!!!
(Note to myself: Make CERTAIN that you tie a knot in that sleeve pleating next time. Just remember to spread the sleeve out completely flat and give yourself plenty of play in the pleater thread. You don't want to take a chance on a Complete Idiot holding a Little Dress that needs some smocking flopping down into a recliner and gleefully kicking up the footrest while the sleeve threads are somehow snarled up in the footrest, resulting in the sleeve pleater thread getting yanked completely out again, now do you? Especially if this happens after the dress is sewn together, because you now know that it will take a Complete Idiot an hour and a half to repleat said sleeve completely by hand.)