Feisdress pattern: stiffener placement & seams

When making an Irish Dance dress, I only sew the stiffener into 2 seams – the front pleat seams. In the Feisdress pattern, the skirt is constructed from 3 pieces: the center front panel (CFP) which includes the front half of the front pleat, and 2 side/back skirts. (Click here for visuals.) The side/back skirt includes the back skirt, side tuck/pleat and the front side panel (FSP) and the other half of the front pleat all in one piece. There are 3 seams (not counting hem and waist): the back seam and the two front pleat seams. I use FirmFlex (same as Timtex) in the CFP and the FSP. I do not stiffen the front half of the pleat attached to the CFP, but I do include it in the FSP pleat seams because they do not bend and it is part of the tension mechanism for the skirt. Here is a top cut-away view (thanks, Susan):

I do not include any of the stiffener in the waist seams, either. I cut it to just below the waist seam.

Placement of stiffener: I do not use stiffener in my back skirt. The fabric has some stiffness due to the fact it has been stabilized, but I have only ever stiffened the back skirt once because it kept collapsing (another construction error on my part). For the CFP and 2 FSPs, I make pockets in the lined skirt pieces and insert the cut stiffener. The CFP is a complete pocket made by sewing 2 lines from the hem to 2 inches below the selvedge at the waist, through the lining just to the side of the flash pleat color. I roll up the Firmflex and put it through the top, work it into place, give it a good shake, and it is in to stay. For the FSP, I sew 1 line from hem to the waist selvedge this time, on what will be where the FSP folds back into the side pleat/tuck. I insert the cut piece which extends from the fold line all the way to the pleat edge. This I either fuse into place with a bit of WonderUnder or with some Fabri-tac.

The above is what I do when I have a regular hem on the skirt. When I am going to satin-stitch the hem, I still make the pockets, but there is no hem. This makes it easier to insert the FirmFlex into the CFP as I do it from the bottom. For both the CFP and the FSPs, I make sure it is fused to the fabric about 1/8″ below the waist seam line, but I do not worry about cutting the hem line exactly. I leave the stiffener longer so I can easily & smoothly fuse the base and lining fabrics into place. Next, I run a stitch along the hem line (shaped or unshaped)to secure it all, then trim the hem neatly, and I am ready to satin-stitch.

Physics of the Skirt Hang

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. picperfic
    Mar 19, 2007 @ 12:42:00

    my goodness ann, I am exhausted just reading all those problems! I knw that my patience would run out with all that goes into one of these precious dresses…When ali got married, I made her dress, the bridesmaids dresses (4) my Mum’s outfit, my jacket….oh boy, never again, but maybe I’ll make my outfit when I get married to Barry. He has to ask me properly though. How exciting! Hope you are well and happy. love M x

  2. Rula Clint
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 13:57:19

    Hi, I have a lot of experience in dress making and making of historic costume but this is the first time I make an ID dress. Could you please identify what you mean by “stiffener” and “satbilizer”, I mean the commercial names in english. After reading your blog and a few others, I am confused between Timtex, Wonderunder, Fabri-Solvy Soluble Stabilizer and Sticky Self-Adhesive Tear-Away Stabilizer. I will be looking forwards to your reply.

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