First things first! Interface pieces where indicated and stay stitch

Once you have chosen your size and fabric and cut everything out, it’s time to prep your Byrdie Button-up pieces. Start by interfacing your Button Placket, Left Front Bodice (when worn), Collar and/or Collar Stand/Band Collar, and Sleeve Cuffs. You can also interface the Sleeve Placket, but I only recommend this for especially slippery fabrics that won’t behave for all the tiny folds that will be pressed later.

Important reminder: the Right Front Bodice will be trimmed where indicated on the pattern piece along the center front where the Button Placket will be installed. The Right Front and Left Front Bodices have a different placket construction from one another. You will only interface the edge of the Left Front Bodice, as it has a grown-on button placket.

Next, stay stitch the armscye and neck opening of the Front and Back Bodices (wait to stay stitch the neck opening of the Version B Front Bodice until after the tucks are sewn in the next step). For stay stitching, use a short stitch length and stitch just within the seam allowance, about 1/2”.

Sew the Back Bodice pleat, VERSION A only

If sewing Version A, sew the box pleat in the Back Bodice, using the notch labeled “A” as your guide. First, sew the fold in place wrong sides together at the notches, extending the seam approximately 3 to 4 inches down from the neckline. Next, flatten the fold centered over the seam to create the pleat. Baste the top of the pleat in place just inside the seam allowance at the neckline.

Mark and sew tuck locations, VERSION B only

This step will go pretty slow, as it involves a lot of stopping and starting, getting up and sitting down. But your patience and precision will pay off if you can stand it!

Notches are provided along the top of the Front Bodice to indicate where the tucks are located. There is also one notch at the hemline to indicate the first tuck location. But I recommend not getting too precious about those locations and instead measuring each tuck as you go after your pieces are cut and interfaced. If you are working with a pretty stable fabric, such a cotton, you can use tailor’s chalk or a quilting marker to mark tuck lines (just test it on a scrap of fabric first to make sure it will remove easily).

If working with a lighter, more shifty fabric, I recommend measuring, folding, sewing, and repeat…for each tuck.

First, with the left Front Bodice laying facing down, fold the edge to the wrong side where indicated at the top and bottom notches closest to the center front. Press in place, ensuring that the fold is even along the entire edge. Sew the first tuck in place at exactly 1/4” from the fold. Precision is key here since altering the tuck seam allowances even a little bit can affect the ease and fit across the bodice. Be diligent with the tucks! Sorry to be aggressive about this point, but precision really matters here.

Press the tuck toward the placket/bodice edge and fold the bodice again, this time measuring 1” from the first tuck fold:

Press the fold and sew the next tuck at exactly 1/4” again. Your seams should be 1/2” apart. Then open the fold and press the tuck again toward the placket/bodice edge:

Continue repeating these steps until you have sewn eight tucks across the bodice. Repeat for the opposite Front Bodice (keeping in mind that the placket on the opposite side is going to be a little closer to your tucks since it was trimmed for the Button Placket installation that comes later).

Depending on your fabric choice, the tucks may be a little stubborn, wanting to stand at attention! Press the fabric, then use a clapper to set the folds (or a box lid! A suitable, temporary stand-in…I have since purchased a clapper, though). Voila! Pretty, pressed tucks!

True the bodice edges and stay stitch the tucks

I feel that it must be shared that the fabric that I chose for this version is a Tencel Twill that, while gorgeous (!!), is shifty AF. I fought with this fabric a lot on these tucks! By the end of this process, I had shifted the alignment of the bodice and had to true the edges quite a bit, which resulted in losing an inch off the overall bodice length.

I’m sharing this because if this happens to you, just know it’ll be okay! All I did to fix this was first use the Version A bodice pattern as a template for the neckline to get is as close as possible to the right shape (focusing mostly on the neckline where the collar attaches). Then I laid the pieces on top of one another, aligning the armscyes, shoulder, and center front as well as I could, and trimmed them to match each other (spolier, the end result turned out great, in spite of my anxiety trimming so much here!). Just be mindful of the different edge widths of the placket location and focus on getting the tucks aligned and straight.

True the bodice pieces with one another and stay stitch the necklines and shoulders.

Sew tucks or pleat in Back Bodice

If sewing Version B, sew the tucks in the Back bodice at the notches labeled “B” on the pattern piece. Stop the tuck seams approximately 3 to 4 inches from the back neckline. Note: in the pattern instructions, you are instructed to press the tucks toward the center, and here I’ve pressed them away from the center. Either way will work.

Now take a deep breath, you did it! In the next post, we’ll work on button plackets and bust darts.

September 22, 2020 — Casey Sibley