Lesson 4—Nightgown Construction Part 1

CHRISTMAS MORNING SERGE-ALONG LESSON 4

Welcome back to the Christmas Morning Serge-Along, featuring the BERNINA L 850! Be sure to enter our giveaway for a chance to win The Big Book of Serging and a Gold-Plated Presser Foot #1 from BERNINA. During this five-week serge-along, we’ll be making adorable Christmas Morning Pajamas in sizes 3–8. The lessons will present the free downloadable patterns and instructions in easy-to-digest sections. New lessons will be released each Tuesday. You can also order (optional) special-priced kits with premium fabrics and trims in two size options, and two different colorways, for boys or girls.

Previous lessons are available here: Lesson 1, Lesson 2 and Lesson 3

Downloadable PDFs for Lesson 4:

Remember to go back and review the Important Info from Week 1 and all of the Tips and Techniques from the previous weeks. We have listed the titles below for the important info and the previous three weeks of tips and tricks for you to use a reference. Last week, you downloaded your pattern and cut out some of the parts of your gown. This week we will be constructing part of the gown and will finish the gown in week 5. Look over the Tips and Techniques for Week 4. We will refer back to these during our gown construction.

WEEK 1

• Important Info

Read Your Serger Manual

Additional Serger Feet And Attachments

Serger Terms To Know

Seam Allowances

• Sewing And Serging With Plaids

WEEK 2

• Using Pins, Sewing Glue & Quilt Clips

• Using Wonder Tape To Match Seams

• Technique: What To Do With Serger Tails

• Technique: Removing Misplaced Seams

• Technique: Creating Piping

• Technique: Removing Bulk In Piped Seams

• Tip: Serging An Inside Curve

• Technique: Serging A Circle

WEEK 3

• Technique: Finishing The End Of Piping

• Technique: Attaching Piping To A Curve

• Technique: Hemming With The Serger

• Tip: Using Fusible Thread In Your Serger

TIP: MATCHING TRIM PATTERNS IN HEIRLOOM TRIMS

Some sewists cut and sew or serge trim pieces together without taking note of how the embroidery pattern or design within each trim piece will look when they are stitched next to each other. If you are a type A personality, you will want all of your embroidery designs within the trim pieces to match. Whether you match the designs, alternate the designs or just serge them together however, there truly is no right or wrong, it is just what you prefer.

Try the following to match the embroidery patterns:

1. Place the pieces of heirloom trims in the order they will be attached to each other. Align the patterns in the trim pieces (see photo 1), like the flowers, leaves, dots, steps of the ladder, etc. TIP: Placing these on a gridded cutting mat will aid in alignment.

2. Ensure that the pieces will be long enough when cut even with one another.Cut strips even, top and bottom (photo 1).

3. Using a ruler and a water-soluble fabric marker, draw a horizontal line across the pieces in several places (photos 2 and 3). The longer the strips, the more marks you will need. We usually mark every 6″ – 8″.

4. Serge pieces together matching the top and bottom edges and the drawn lines (photos 4 and 5). The technique used to serge the pieces in place will depend on types of trims being serged together. For this yoke, the trims used are bridging and embroidered insertion. NOTE: Embroidered insertion is a strip of fabric embellished with embroidery; therefore, it is treated as a fabric.

5. Once the heirloom center is complete, add fabric pieces on each side. Once the sidepieces are attached, the created heirloom fabric is large enough for the yoke (photo 6). Once the yoke is cut out, ribbon can be woven through the bridging (photo 7).


TECHNIQUE: HEIRLOOM SERGING – BRIDGING TO FABRIC

1. Look at the bridging. There is a satin stitched ladder in the center of the strip with 1/4″ fabric edges on each side of the ladder. If the fabric on each side of the bridging is wider than 1/4″, trim to 1/4″. It does have a right and wrong side. The more satin stitched side is the right side. The joining threads of the satin stitching meet on the wrong side, so it will not look as smooth. You can mark the right side with a quilt clip (photo 1), sticky dot, a piece of low-tack tape or a straight pin (head of the pin on the right side). The ditch of the bridging is where the ladder meets the fabric (see red line – photo 2). I’ve used a red line so that it will show up in the photos.

2. Set the serger as follows:

Refer to your serger manual for the set-up of a rolled hem.

3-thread rolled hem (right needle & stitch finger lever on R)

Stitch length = 2.0

Blade cutting width = 6.5

Foot: Standard

3. Place the bridging to the fabric with right sides together and the cut edges aligned (photo 3a). Glue or pin in place, if needed (points of the pins toward the serger, heads of the pin toward you). Place the ditch of the bridging under the right needle mark OR place the long right-hand bar of the bridging between the left and right needle mark, which puts the ditch under the right needle mark. It is actually the same placement; you are just looking at something different on the toe of the foot (photo 3b). TIP: Using a wash-away fabric marker, draw a line in the ditch of the bridging, so that the ditch is easily seen. Note: We’ve used a red line to show up better in the photos.

4. Serge, making sure the rolled hem stays on the fabric side of the bridging and doesn’t enclose the long side of the ladder in the stitch. The rolled hem should fall right next to the right-hand long side of the ladder (photos 4 & 5).

5. Press the seam allowance away from bridging. (photo 6a, shown from wrong side & photo 6b, shown from right side).

Note: If attaching bridging to fabric by sewing machine, it is accomplished in three steps.

1. Place fabric to bridging, right sides together and stitch in the ditch with a straight stitch.

2. Trim the seam allowance to between an 1/8″ and 1/16″.

3. Zigzag, by stitching with the zig on nothing and the zag over the seam allowance and into the ditch.

So, you can see, learning this technique by serger will save a lot of time.


TECHNIQUE: HEIRLOOM SERGING – SERGER PINTUCKS

Refer to your serger manual for the set-up of a rolled hem.

1. Set the serger as follows:

3-thread rolled hem (right needle & stitch finger lever on R)

Stitch length = 1.0-1.25

Blade cutting width = 5.5-6.0

Foot: Standard

Colored Tuck: If a colored tuck is desired, place the colored thread in the upper looper. The needle and lower looper, should be same color as the fabric or the same color as the upper looper thread. The upper looper is the main thread in a rolled hem. The needle thread shows very little and the lower looper only shows on the underside of the stitch.

2. Using the same fabric(s) as your garment or project, test the stitch using two layers of scrap of fabric to make sure the coverage is good, but the stitches are not overlapping (which looks messy) by adjusting the stitch length. Different types of threads will have slightly different stitch lengths. Photo 1 from top to bottom shows stitch lengths of 1.5, 1.25, R and .08. A stitch length of 1.5 is a little too far apart. We like 1.25 or R, the middle two stitch samples. The stitch length of .08 is too tight since the straight edge of the seam, at the needle thread, is a little wonky.

3. Knowing your presser foot’s width will be important for multiple pintucks. For our BERNINA L 850, the width of the foot is about 3/4″ (photo 2).

4. Either fold the fabric wrong sides together or place two pieces of fabric wrong sides together. Using a water-soluble fabric marker, mark a “T” at the top of the fabric and a “B” at the bottom of the fabric. Marking the fabric will keep you from getting confused about which end should enter the serger. For the tucks that will press to the right, place the “T” edge of the fabric under the serger foot and serge using a 1/4″ seam (photo 3). The serger will cut off all unneeded fabric and make a beautiful rolled seam which is the first serger pintuck (photo. 4).

5. To make a second tuck to the right of the first tuck, fold the fabric, wrong sides together. The measurement from the first tuck to the fold must be the width of the foot or wider. On our BERNINA L 850, a 3/4″ measurement is suggested. Serge again with the “T” edge of the fabric entering the serger and the previous pintuck against the left edge of the foot (photo 5 & 6).

6. To make a third pintuck, repeat step 5, folding the fabric wrong sides together with the fold 3/4″ from the second pintuck (photo 7).

7. For the pintucks that will press to the left, place the “B” edge of the fabric under the serger foot and serge (photo 8 and see photo 9).

8. To make a second pintuck, fold the fabric wrong sides together with the fold 3/4″ from the first pintuck. Serge with the “B” edge of the fabric toward the serger and the previous pintuck against the left edge of the foot (photo 9).

9. To make a third pintuck, repeat the folding and serging process.

10. With the “T” at the top and the “B” at the bottom, press the pintucks on the right to the right and the pintucks on the left to the left (photo 10). The spacing between the tucks using our BERNINA L 850 is 3/8″ between the tucks and 1/4″ after the tucks are pressed to one side. When using a different serger, the spacing of the tucks will vary based on the width of the serger foot.


TECHNIQUE: GATHERING WITH THE SERGER

Gathering with your serger is quick and easy.

1. Set the serger as follows:

4-thread overlock or 3-thread wide or narrow overlock

Stitch length = 4.0 to 4.5

Blade cutting width = 6.5-7.0

Differential feed = 1.5 to 2.0

Foot: Standard

2. Serge the edge of the fabric with the outer needle or the seam allowance at a scant less than the required seam allowance for the pattern. The fabric will gather as you serge (photo 1).

3. If more gathers are required, find the needle thread or threads – the straight thread(s) in the serger tail (photo 2). Pull these out of the seam close to the fabric edge. The serger tail will fall apart and the needle thread(s) will be the shortest (photo 3) thread(s). Trim the looper threads close to the fabric so that the needle thread(s) are now the only thread(s) extending from the fabric. Pull these threads to gather as needed (photo 4).


TECHNIQUE: CONTINUOUS LAP PLACKET BY SERGER

Since we will be using a continuous lap placket for the skirt back, we will use the skirt as the example for this technique.

1. Set the serger as follows:

4-thread overlock or 3-thread wide

Stitch length = 2.5-3.0

Blade cutting width = 6.0

Foot: Standard

2. The directions for the gown will tell you to measure and cut a 5″ slit down the center back of the skirt (see photo 1).

3. The placket strip is always cut a little longer than twice the length of the slit. In this case, the placket was cut 2″ x 11″.

4. Fold the 2″ x 11″ placket strip in half to measure 1″ x 11″and press well. Fold the length in half and finger press to indicate the center (photo 1).

5. Open the 5″ slit in the skirt back to form a slight “v”. Place the long cut edges of the folded placket to the cut edges of the opening on the right side of the skirt. The ending point of the skirt slit should fall a scant 1/4″ from the cut edges of the placket at the crease. The ends of the slit should align with the cut edges of the placket (photo 2). Pin in place.

6. With the skirt on top and the placket on the bottom, serge with a 1/4″ seam measuring from the cut edges of the placket. You will catch only a few fibers of the skirt at the point (photo 3).

7. Press the seam toward the placket (photo 4).

8. If needed, trim the top edges of the placket even with the edges of the skirt. Fold the placket in half with the top edges of the skirt even. Using the sewing machine and a straight stitch, stitch the placket layers together at the bottom of the placket creating a”dart” (photo 5).

9. Fold the right side of the placket to the inside of the skirt. The left side of the placket will remain extended (photo 6).


GIRLS GOWN – CREATING THE YOKES & PREPARING THE SKIRTS

• If you are just beginning to use your serger, you are welcome to use the sewing machine to baste seams in place before serging the seam. Once you build your confidence, you will omit the basting step and just serge the seam.

• Before seams are serged, match the plaids by pinning or gluing within the seam allowance.

• Use glue or Wonder Tape to adhere seams allowances in the correct direction. This will keep the feed teeth from pushing the seam allowances in the opposite direction.

• Use glue or Wonder Tape to match crossing seams so that they match perfectly.

• Read through all directions before starting for a more successful serging experience.

CREATING HEIRLOOM FABRIC FOR THE FRONT YOKE

There are three versions of the heirloom yoke. The fabric will be created and then the front yoke will be cut from the created fabric. Version 1 and 2 are the same, except the side fabrics framing the heirloom center are different. Version 1 has plaid fabric on each side of the heirloom center. The sample is made with bias-cut sides but a straight grain plaid would be cute too. Version 2 has white fabric on each side of the heirloom center. Version 3 has three rolled hem pintucks on each side of center. This version does not require any heirloom trims. This week we will show you just how easy it is to use a 3-thread rolled hem and the markings on the toe of your foot to create heirloom fabric with your serger. Our BERNINA L 850 converts from a 4-thread overlock to a to a 3-thread rolled hem in a flash.

1. Remove the left needle and the thread associated with that needle (never leave an unused thread hanging – it will sneak over to another thread and get tangled).

2. Flip the stitch finger lever to “R”.

3. Change the stitch length to 1 or 2, depending on the technique you are doing.

4. Change the needle and upper looper tensions to 4 and the lower looper tension to 5.5. DONE!

Choose your yoke version and let’s get started.

FRONT YOKE VERSION 1

1. Set the serger as follows:

3-thread rolled hem

Stitch length = 2.0

Blade cutting width = 6.5

Foot: Standard

2. Refer to the Tip: Matching Patterns In Heirloom Trims if you are matching the patterns and cut 2 pieces of eyelet embroidered insertion and 4 pieces of bridging, each to 8″.

3. Refer to the Technique: Heirloom Serging – Bridging To Fabric for steps 4 & 5 below. The 1-1/2″ fabric strip is the center piece with added strips of bridging, eyelet embroidered insertion and bridging to each side. Match the patterns in the trims if desired.

4. Serge the strips together to create the heirloom center using the Technique: Heirloom Serging – Bridging To Fabric (photo 1).

5. Add the 8″ by 5″ plaid fabric pieces (bias or straight grain) to each side of the heirloom center (photo 2).

6. Starch and press. The seams of the bridging should be pressed away from the bridging.

FRONT YOKE VERSION 2

1. Repeat steps 1-4 from Version 1 (see photo 1).

2. Add the 8″ by 5″ white fabric pieces to each side of the heirloom center to complete the front yoke (photo 3).

3. Starch and press. The seams of the bridging should be pressed away from the bridging.

FRONT YOKE VERSION 3

1. For Version 3 Yoke, find the 1-1/2″ x 8″ strip and the two 8″ squares. Refer to the Technique: Heirloom Serging – Serger Pintuck. This technique will create three evenly spaced pintucks on each side of the center strip.

2. Set the serger as follows:

3-thread rolled hem with red decorative thread in the upper looper.

Stitch length = 1.0

Blade cutting width = 6.0

Foot: Standard

3. Mark the top of the 1-1/2″ strip with a “T” or a red sticky dot and bottom with a “B” or just know the bottom will have no sticky dot (photo 4a).

4. Place one 8″ square to the 1-1/2″ strip, wrong sides together.

5. Serge the two pieces with the 1-1/2″ piece on top and serging “T” (top) to “B” (bottom).

6. Place the other 8″ square to the other side of the 1-1/2″ strip, wrong sides together.

7. Serge these two pieces with the 1-1/2″ piece on top and serging “B” bottom to top “T”.

Note: The first pintuck on the right was serged top to bottom and the first pintuck on the left will be serged bottom to top. Do not press. Allow the pintuck to stand tall for ease in aligning against the outer edge of the foot for the next pintuck.

8. Refer to the Technique: Heirloom Serging – Serger Pintuck and make two more pintucks to the right (folding at 3/4″, serging top to bottom with the previous pintuck against the left edge of the foot) and two more to the left (folding at 3/4″, serging bottom to top with the previous pintuck against the left edge of the foot). Note: If your foot is wider than 3/4″, your fold must be that width from the previous pintuck. You will always be cutting off the fold with this method.

9. Starch and press the serger pintucks away from center (photo 4b). Repeat starching and pressing on the wrong side to make sure the fabric is flat with no folds behind the pintucks on the wrong side.

COMPLETING THE FRONT YOKE

1. Place one of the lining pieces (the interlining) behind the created piece. Fold in half along the center and cut out the front yoke along the fold (photo 5).

2. Weave ribbons through the bridging, allowing 1/4″ to extend beyond the cut ends of the bridging (photo 6). Note: Weave in a matching pattern, if desired.

3. Glue the inner lining to wrong side of the heirloom front yoke along the edges and treat as one layer from this point forward.

4. Using the sewing machine, baste the neckline at a scant 1/4″ (straight stitch; L=3.0). This is a bias area and sometimes stretches when the bias neck binding is serged in place (photo 7).

5. Set the serger as follows:

4-thread overlock

Stitch length = 3.5

Blade cutting width = 6.0

Foot: Piping

6. Find the longer bias strip for piping and create a piece of piping long enough to extend 1/4″ beyond the lower edges of the front yoke (refer to the Technique: Creating Piping if needed).

7. Glue the piping to the right side of the lower edge of the yoke. Serge in place (photo 8). With the seam allowance against wrong side of the yoke, trim the piping even

with edges of the yoke. Optional: Refer to the Technique: Removing Bulk In Piped Seams and remove of the piping cord from the seam allowance at the armhole ends of the front yoke.

8. Measure across the bottom of the yoke. Cut an edging strip 2 times the width plus 4″. For example, if the yoke measures 12″, then 12″ x 2 = 24″ plus 4″ = 28″. Cut one eyelet strip to 28″.

9. Fold the eyelet in half and mark the center with a fabric marker. Place additional marks 2″ from each end.

10. Refer to the Technique: Gathering With The Serger and gather the top edge of the embroidered edging (photo 9).

11. Match the center of the edging with the center of the yoke, right sides together and pin. Gather each side of the edging by pulling the needle threads to match the 2″ marks to the ends of the yoke. Two inches of edging will extend beyond each side of the yoke. These 2″ are VERY important.

Do not cut.

12. Glue the seam allowance of the gathered edging to the seam allowance of the piping with the needle threads matching. Serge the edging to the piping/yoke, keeping the piping in the groove of the foot and the gathers perpendicular to the seam (photo 10). Set aside.

COMPLETING THE BACK YOKES

1. Set the serger as follows:

4-thread overlock

Stitch length = 3.5

Blade cutting width = 6.0

Foot: Standard

2. With the back yokes right side up and back edges touching, place the right side of the matching linings on top of the yokes. Serge each back yoke to the back yoke lining, right sides together along the back edge, making sure there is a right and left yoke (photo 11).

3. Optional: Fuse a 2″ strip of fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the facing aligning the long edge of the interfacing against the seam.

4. Set the serger as follows:

4-thread overlock

Stitch length = 3.5

Blade cutting width = 6.0

Foot: Piping

5. Measure the lower edge of one back yoke. Create two pieces of piping longer than this measurement with one end of each piece finished by folding the end or bending the end, refer to the Technique: Finishing The End Of Piping.

6. Separate the back yokes from the linings. Glue the piping in place along the right side of the outer yokes. The finished end of the piping should be even with lining/yoke seam or curve the piping into the seam at the yoke/lining seam (photo 12). Make sure these piping pieces are glued well (photo 13).

7. Serge the piping to each yoke, continuing to stitch across the lower edge of the lining. Optional: Refer to the Technique: Removing Bulk In Piped Seams and remove 3/8″ of the piping cord from the 1/4″ seam allowance at the armhole end of each back yoke. Set aside.

PREPARING THE SKIRTS

1. Find the center of the top of the back skirt rectangle. Cut a 5″ slit down the center of the back skirt for the placket. Refer to the Technique: Continuous Lap Placket By Serger and make your placket in your skirt back.

2. Make sure right side of the placket is folded to the inside of the skirt and the left side remains extended (photo 14).

*3. Refer to the Technique: Gathering With The Serger and gather the top of each skirt back, from armhole to placket (fig 1a).

*4. Fold the skirt front in half and mark the top center with a fabric marker. Refer to the Technique: Gathering With The Serger and gather the top of the skirt front, armhole to armhole (photo 15 and fig 1b).

*Note: If you feel more comfortable using the sewing machine to gather, set the sewing machine for a straight stitch (L=3.5-4.0) and stitch two gathering rows at a scant 1/4″ and 1/2″ from the top edge of the skirt front, armhole to armhole. Pull the needle threads or the bobbin threads, but not both, to gather the skirts.

ATTACHING THE SKIRTS TO THE YOKES

1. Set the serger as follows:

4-thread overlock

Stitch length = 3.5

Blade cutting width = 6.0

Foot: Piping

2. Pin the center of the front yoke to the center of the skirt, right sides together. Gather the skirt front to fit the front yoke by pulling the needle threads in the serger tails. Glue the gathered skirt seam allowance to the yoke ruffle seam allowance.

3. Place glue along the wrong side of the skirt inside the seam allowance. Center the 8″ x 14″ batiste rectangle to the wrong side of the skirt, allowing the edge of the batiste to extend 1/8″ beyond the other seam allowances. Stick in place. This will be serged with the interlining of the yoke facing up. Make sure the layering is as follows from bottom to top: yoke interlining, heirloom yoke, piping, ruffle, skirt, lining rectangle (photo 16 and fig. 2).

4. Turn over with yoke interlining on top. Serge all layers together with the seam aligned over the previous seam and keeping the piping in the groove of the foot.

5. Flip the yoke and the batiste rectangle away from the skirt and the ruffle against the skirt. Smooth and press the batiste rectangle to the interlining of the yoke. Trim the lining to fit the yoke (photo 17). Glue the lining to the interlining and treat all layers of the yoke as one layer (photo 18, shown from wrong side.).

6. Looking at the right side of the yoke/ruffle/skirt, curve the 2″ extensions of the yoke ruffle into the armholes and glue in place. Cut away any excess that extends beyond the armhole curves of the skirt (photo 19).

7. With the back yoke linings away from the back yokes, the right-hand side of the skirt placket folded to the inside and the left-hand side extended, gather each skirt back to fit the back yokes by pulling the needle threads in the serger tails.

8. Looking at the wrong side of the skirt, place each yoke to the skirt, right sides together (the piping will be sandwiched between the skirt and the yoke). The left folded edge of the skirt/placket should touch the yoke/lining seam and the right placket edge should touch the yoke/lining seam. Glue in place.

9. Wrap the linings around the skirt opening to the wrong side of the skirt. Align all edges and glue the yoke lining in place along the seam allowance (fig 3a and 3b).

10. With the outer yoke on top, skirt in the middle and the lining wrapped to the back of the skirt, serge all layers together with this serged seam aligned over the previous piping/ruffle seam and keeping the piping in the groove of the foot. Repeat for the other side of the back (fig. 3c).

11. Flip the yoke/yoke linings away from the skirt (fig. 4 and photo 20, shown from the right side and photo 21, shown from the wrong side). Press well. Glue the outer edges of the yoke lining to the yoke and treat as one layer.


COMING UP NEXT WEEK

SERGE-ALONG Week 5:

We finish the gown and will learn how to attach a bias binding to the neck and to make sleeves with added elastic casings so that all seams are hidden. The remaining construction steps will be a snap with our BERNINA L 850! Your gown will be all ready for Christmas morning photos!

Visit these blog post for more information regarding the features of the BERNINA L 850: