Before sewing the sides down, I thought it best to assemble the back strap. I’m not going to sew it into the dress just yet—a fitting will be necessary first.
Previously, I had cut the flannel backing and the satin, but I needed to join the lace before proceeding. Thankfully, I had a large enough scrap, so I used that instead of cutting a new piece. I also had enough of a scrap in the satin to use as a backing without having to cut another piece of that either. Occasionally, things work out!
I placed the right sides together (shiny satin to beaded side of lace) and pinned all layers together using the markings on the flannel as a guide. I then removed the previous basting stitches and re-basted to include the lace and satin backing layers.
Here is the lace and satin before adding the backing layer. I positioned the lace strategically: I wanted a clear line of motifs to show, while also avoiding cluster of beads I’d have to pop off.
All the beads outside the seam allowance in the near vicinity would have to come off. Again, use needle-nose pliers to do this and make sure you cover the pliers as you work. Little bits of bead will go flying!
I used a zipper foot to sew the long sides only. Keep the ends free, so you can turn it right side out. Tip: Before sewing, run your finger along the basting and make sure you’ve cleared all the beads that might be in the way. I shudder to think what running over a bead would to do the machine and the needle!
After sewing, I trimmed the seam allowances to about 1/2”.
Carefully turn the strap right side out. Try your best not to pull, as much as massage the fabric through. What you don’t want to do is to start pulling at the lace, potentially yanking beads and sequins or putting a hole in the lace. Press when finished, making sure the satin backing is not visible from the lace side. Moving on to the side seams!
The left side seam is pretty straight-forward. Line up the stitching lines according to the basting you’ve already got from before. Sew the seam. Don’t worry about back-stitching here. You’ll have another seam catching the ends later. However, you’ll notice that after sewing, I have a lot of bulk where the waistband is sewn to the bodice.
Using sharp scissors, cut away as much of the seam allowances as you can where they intersect. Watch not to cut too much or you could end up with a hole at the seam.
You can see here where I cut away the allowance. It’s still bulky, but it does help.
Catch-stitch the seam down. Looking nice and neat!
Here’s the same seam from the right side. The yellow basting stitch is quite visible and will need to be removed. Repeat the process for the other side, but be aware you will have more beads to contend with. Since it’s pleated, more could be lurking in the folds, so make sure you run your fingers over the stitching lines before sewing.
Very dark picture, I know, but you can see at the least how everything is lining up. Looks pretty clean so far!
I pinned the back strap into place. So far, so good. I especially like how the edge of the back strap leads into the side back seam. Lovely! Next will be to clean up the edge seam along the top and resolve the beaded side seam. (You’ll see what I mean.) Onwards!