McCalls M6984 Sewing tutorial part 2 – let’s finish our skirt

My previous post Sewing our skirt finished with attaching our waistband and this post covers inserting the zip, waistband facing and hemming our skirt.

Step 5

When we sewed our very first seam (the back seam), we left an opening from our mark for zipper placement to the waistband.  We now want to baste this opening together sewing from just above the seam (indicated by my pen) to the top of the waistband (raw edge).  Basting is a temporary stitch used to hold the fabric together and as in the gathering stage, set your stitch length to its maximum and do not backstitch.  Use a 1.5cm seam allowance and press the whole back seam open once done, not just the section you have just basted.  We should finish our seams at this point, so using your preferred method (pinking shears, overcast stitch or overlocker) finish each back seam separately as they need to stay open but the side seams you can finish each one with the seam allowance together.

Lay your zip with teeth face down on the WS of our skirt with our zip stopper (the bottom of the zip) just below our zipper placement mark on our skirt.  A great tip I learnt is to use a zip longer than recommended so you can have the excess tape above your waistband and this means you can position the zip pull above your starting position  – this will avoid the need to move the zip pull whilst sewing the zipper which can be fiddly.  Pin the zip tapes to the seam allowance only – do not catch the skirt with your pins.  You will need to attach a zipper presser foot to your machine which allows you to sew really close to the zip teeth.  When you have your zipper foot on, move your needle as far left or right as it will go (depending on which side you are sewing first).  In my photo, I am sewing the right side of the zip tape first so I have the left side of the zipper foot closest to zip teeth and the needle position as far left as it will go.  When you reach the zip stopper sew across at right angles and backstitch.  Do not be tempted to turn your skirt around and continue sewing the zipper from bottom to top.  It is always advisable to sew in the same direction to avoid pulling or movement of the fabric so you will need to re-attach your zipper foot to the other side and move your needle position far right to sew the left zipper tape from the waistband down.

Remove your basting stitches working from the right side and give your stitches a good press.

Step 6

Prepare the waistband facing in the same way as the waistband in part 1 of our tutorial.  This time we will turn under 1.5cm along the bottom edge of our waistband and press this using plenty of steam to ensure we get a neat curve.  Trim the turned under allowance to 1cm.  Attach this to our skirt, RST, matching our notches and side seams.

Sew along the top edge at a 1.5cm seam allowance then press your stitches and the seam allowance onto the facing.  Press again from the RS.

We are now going to understitch which involves sewing the waistband facing to the seam allowance in order to stop our facing rolling to the front.  In my photo I have marked the line of understitching in purple which is 2mm from our stitching line.  Sew  adjacent to our previous row of stitching and then trim this allowance, the zip tape and the ends of the waistband to approximately 1cm.

Turn the waistband facing to the inside of the skirt and fold in the ends of the waistband and turn them onto the waistband, WST, so they sit close to the zip teeth.  Pin in place.  To attach the bottom of the facing we can either do this by hand or use a technique known as stitch in the ditch.  This means sewing from the RS and trying to get your line of stitching into the seam that joins the skirt to the waistband so it is almost invisible.  This can be a bit tricky and your stitching line on the inside may be wonky and miss the fold in places (mine often does) but for me it’s preferable to hand sewing!  You can buy a stitch in the ditch presser foot but I find that separating the fabric as you sew works fine for me.  However I would advise hand sewing the waistband facing down close to the zip tape.

Step 7

Finally the last stage, hemming!  Now there are lots of different ways to finish a hem but my pattern called for a blind hem.  It’s a bit fiddly to get the hang of it at first but it does make for a neat almost invisible hem.  We first need to fold up our hem by 1.5cm to the WS, press it, then fold up again by 2.5cm and press.  The finished length of our skirt will be at the length of this second fold.  What we now do is flip our folded hem to the RS but allow 2mm of our first 1.5cm fold to extend beyond the new fold created.  Looking at my photo from the WS, the new fold will just be short of the first pressed fold.

You will need to attach your blind fold presser foot and test on a scrap of fabric that the left swing of the needle just catches the edge of the fold, adjust the stitch width if necessary.  The folded edge of the fabric should follow the inside of the right “toe” of the foot.

When you have completed your stitching, you unfold the hem, give it a good press and you should have a lovely almost invisible hem, hence the name!  My thread was dark so the stitches are quite visible but I quite like this as a design feature.

girls skirt mccalls m6894


There are a lot of techniques covered in this skirt tutorial but I hope I have explained them clearly, please let me know if you are stuck on anything!  Remember to check out my Pinterest dressmaking tutorials and the link to Tilly & the Buttons under Mini Tutorials for advice on individual dressmaking techniques.

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