Sew-along Sewing Tutorials

Sew Along 2 – The Balloon Dress – Day 3

August 29, 2012

Final day! Are you looking forward to finishing it up? Just two more steps.


Now we need to gather the outer/surface fabric skirt.

Using the longest stitch length, make two rows of stitches, the first 0.4cm from edge, and the next one 0.4cm from the first line of stitches. That makes the second line 0.8cm from the edge.

In the diagram of the book, it looks like they sewed the 2 rows all around the skirt, but this is how I do it. I separate the gathers for the front skirt and the back skirt, as I find it much easier to manage and spread out the gathers, but it’s up to you as I realize that gathers is quite a basic technique and most people have their own ways of gathering. I used to sew only 1 row but I find that using 2 rows was a lot neater. Some people use a gathering foot, and one of my friends turns up the tension to the max on her machine so that it gathers up the fabric while sewing. Anyway, this is just the way I do it. Sew two rows for the front skirt, and two rows for the back skirt. Leave at least 10cm of string on both the left and right ends for pulling the gathers later on.

At this point your dress should be turned the right side out. With wrong sides of the outer/surface fabric dress and inner  lining dresses together, pin the outer layer to the lining layer at the following points – centre line, side seams, and halfway between the centre line and side seam.

The above picture only shows the right side from the centre line, so that you can see a close up.

Since the outer/surface fabric dress is much wider than the lining, we are going to gather the fabric so that it matches the width of the lining fabric.

Start by pulling both threads from one side of the stitches (I like to start on the right side seam)

Once you get the surface fabric gathered to the same width of the lining fabric (ignore the uneven gathers, we will distribute that out evenly later on)

Secure both left and right ends by doing the above.

Distribute the gathers so that it is spread out evenly, then pin down at regular intervals to hold it in place for sewing.
While you are moving the gathers about the ends may slip so that’s why we had to secure the ends, so that it doesn’t slip and loosen up while we move the gathers about.

Do the same for the back skirt, so that you have the entire skirt gathered, pinned and ready to be sewn down with a secure stitch.

Sew it down with a regular stitch length, with 1cm seam allowance. The stitches used for gathering will be hidden.

This is what you should have. The narrow stitches are the final stitches that will hold the gathers in place, so that’s 1cm from the edge. At this point you can choose to remove the long stitches that you used for gathering if you like, just by pulling them out easily. Or you can just leave them in as we will be sewing over them with a zig zag stitch or serger to secure the raw edges and prevent them from fraying.

I used a serger, so now everything is nice and neat. If you don’t have one, just use the zig zag stitch, it works just as well.

STEP 8 :

Sew on the button. I picked a cute little apple button 🙂

And we’re done! 🙂

I hope you liked the sew-along. This was my first sew-along using a book, but I’m not sure how many of you are sewing-along since not everyone has the same book. Would love to see your pictures so share with us your pictures on our flickr group or your blog address if  you have blogged about this dress!

Any ideas for the next sew-along? I would love to make something for ME next 🙂

ETA : Great news! This book is now available in English and the title is called Linen, Wool, Cotton Kids

Buy now from Amazon (affiliate link)

Links to the sew-along

Go to introduction of Balloon Dress Sew-Along
Go to Day 1 of Balloon Dress Sew-Along
Go to Day 2 of Balloon Dress Sew-Along

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  • Reply Anna August 29, 2012 at 10:10 am

    So lovely! Thank you for the tutorial 🙂

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books August 30, 2012 at 10:03 am

      Thanks Anna, did you sew-along? 🙂

  • Reply sherry August 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Thank you for hosting this sew-along. You actually cleared up a couple of things I wasn’t sure about, one being the loop at the back (I thought it had to be turned which would have been impossible so I ended up folding mine like bias tape and stitching down one side) and the other thing was the pocket flaps. Having you explain the correct way make it a much neater result.
    So Thanks Again.
    I’ll be sure to upload my pics to your flickr page when I’m done.

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books August 30, 2012 at 10:03 am

      Hi Sherry, I actually didn’t quite like the way it was done in the book too, because of the raw edges left on one side of the loop. I would have preferred to make it bias tape style, but maybe the writer chose not to because it would be too bulky? In any case I just followed the instructions for the sew-along but it’s up to us to improvise 🙂

  • Reply connie April 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    This dress is adorable! And your sew-along tutorial is so helpful. I might have to try my hand at this.

    One question, did you or would you advise zig zag stitching the raw edges of the fabric?

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books April 15, 2013 at 8:48 am

      Yes, you should always zig zag stitch the raw edges, or use an overlocker/serger if you have one. After step 7, where the gathered outer skirt has been sewn to the inner skirt, serge/zig-zag the two layers together to keep the raw edges from fraying.

  • Reply marion May 30, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    I am making a garment from the Stylish Dress Book-I understand about having to add a seam allowance. My question is, do I fold the fabric right sides together to cut the pieces or not? In the UK we are taught to fold right sides together, but I can’t find anything about this when I search.

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books June 4, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      Hi Marion, Do you mean cutting on the fold? Yes for certain pattern pieces which are symmetrical, the pattern is only provided for half the piece and you will usually see a dotted line with a single character わ labelled, meaning that this is where you fold the fabric (right sides together), place the pattern piece and trace around the pattern.

  • Reply Julia July 14, 2016 at 2:27 am

    I love this dress!! I have to give it a try, but I can’t find the book. I’ll have to come up with my own pattern.

    • Reply Japanese Sewing Books September 21, 2017 at 9:29 am

      Hi Julia, the English version of the book is called Linen, Wool, Cotton Kids and is available here –

  • Reply laura August 16, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    wow! you made my day! I tried this one yesterday and was quite a mess not being able to follow the step in the English version book!! haha! thank you!!!

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