As promised, that picture of the finished hem facing:
An added benefit of a heavy facing like this is that it gives the hem enough body to stand out on its own. Which seems to give the dress more shape. More character, if I may.
Now all that's left is the hem panel and tab!
To create the tab pattern, I measured the panel opening, drew a rectangle that length, and added points:
At first I went for a 3/4" wide tab, there on top, but decided wider might look better, and ended up with the bottom pattern there.
Then I cut two tabs from green and two from brown. I want the tab to have some thickness to it, and the woven (green) fabric will stabilize the stretch (brown) fabric.
Then I took both green tab pieces and basted them to the wrong side of one of the browns. Now I essentially have two tab pieces, a very thick tab front and a one-layer tab lining.
I sewed that all the way around, leaving one side open to turn:
And trimmed the seam allowances. I trimmed straight across the corners so that the seam allowance wouldn't wad up and make my points non-pointy. And I graded the bulky seams everywhere else. Grading is just turning your scissors at an angle like this:
And cutting the seam allowance so that each layer of fabric ends up a different length, like this:
This way, the seam allowances don't all end in one thick block when you turn them to the inside.
I did turn them to the inside, and pushed all the points out with the tip of a blunt pencil. Then I turned the open edge in and pinned it:
And edgestitched all the way around.
Now I'll just handsew our little gold buttons on, one on each end, and we'll put this aside for just a minute while we work on the...
Front Pleated Panel
Now, if I knew what length I wanted this panel in advance, I'd go ahead and turn up a 1/2" double fold hem. But since I don't, I'll have to wait until I've figured that out.
To make the pleats, I fold the panel in half lengthwise and mark it 1" from the center:
This will give us a 1" wide pleat, which actually takes up 2" of fabric. See why it takes 3x the fabric?
Now I'll just baste from top to bottom on this panel, 1" from the folded edge:
And press the pleat open on the back. This is a box pleat, so we press it so that the basting line runs down the center.
See the little ridge the basting line makes down the center there? If it were knife pleats, we'd press them to one side, but they're box pleats, so they get pressed like this.
Now we'll flip it over and measure 2" away from the center of the first pleat. 2", because it's 1/2" from the center of that pleat to its edge, our new pleat will take up 1/2" from its center to its edge, and we want to use 2" of fabric for this pleat. Since we're marking the center, that adds 1" to our total. So, 2" from the center of the first pleat.
Was that clear at all? Trust me for now. I'll go into pleats more another day.
When we press that pleat open, it should just touch the edge of the first pleat:
I did that one more time, for a total of three pleats. Then I basted across the top of the panel. When the pleats were all pressed in nicely, I removed the basting threads that held them closed. (But not the basting threads across the top of the panel.)
Now it's decision time! We have our pleated panel and our tab. If I pin the panel into the hole I cut in the pattern originally, I get the picture here on the left:
And if I move it three inches up, I get the one on the right. So, for our last decision, I turn to you one more time. Which one do we like? Once we know that, we'll insert the panel, sew on the tab, and be completely finished. Then it's pictures, cheers, and the announcement of the fabric winner!