Spring Heirloom Dress - Tips & Hints

Heirloom is a style of sewing characterized by a collection of machine sewing techniques that mimic French hand sewing and embroidery from the late 1800s - early 1900s. The techniques are delicate, intricate, and easy to do using the tips and tricks below.
Recommended Sewing Supplies
  • 7-Groove Pintuck Foot
  • Gathering Foot
  • Water soluble fabric-marking pen or pencil
  • 100% cotton or linen fabric

  1. Insert a 2.5 twin needle into machine and select the size of the twin needle or turn on the twin needle safety. Follow instructions on machine, and thread machine with two spools of 60 wt. cotton thread.
  2. Wind a bobbin with matching 60 wt. cotton thread.
  3. Snap on the 7-Groove Pintuck Foot.
  4. Decrease stitch length to 2.0-1.5 depending on the fabric weight.
  5. Remove the accessory tray from the machine to expose the free arm.
  6. Place fabric under the presser foot and begin stitching.  The foot and threads will cause the fabric to tuck. 
  7. When you reach the end, bring the beginning under the free arm and line the grooves in the foot with the first tuck to guide the fabric and make the second tuck. Continue stitching until the amount of desired pintucks have been stitched.
  8. Separate the fabric by cutting where the pin tucks were joined.
  9. Use spray starch and press face down onto a towel. This will make the tucks stand up.
Lace Insertion in Fabric

  1. Select the zig zag stitch on your machine and decrease the width to 2.0 and length to 1.5 to 2.0 depending on your preference.
  2. Draw the placement line for the lace on fabric with your fabric-marking pen or pencil. 
  3. Center your lace on the line and place several pins to hold it in place.
  4. Zig zag over the heading of the lace on both sides.
    Note: The heading on lace refers to the edge of the lace that is straight.
  5. Cut a line in the fabric down the middle of these 2 lines of stitching.
    Note: Make sure you are only cutting the fabric and not the lace.
  6. Trim fabric from wrong side.
  7. Press the trimmed fabric away from the lace insert.
  8. Place 90 topstitch needle in machine and select a pin stitch on machine. 
  9. Stitch the decorative pin stitch on both sides of the lace.
    Note: The straight side of the stitch should be just to the side of the lace heading and the fingers coming from the pin stitch should be going into the heading of the lace, creating a hand look stitch.
Lace Edging to Fabric

  1. Place lace edging ½” in on the fabric edge. 
  2. Set machine for zig zag stitch: length 1.5 to 2.0 and width 2.0.
  3. Stitch lace to fabric just covering the heading of the lace. 
  4. Trim excess fabric from the wrong side, leaving 1/8”. 
  5. Select pin stitch on machine and insert a 90 topstitch needle into machine. 
  6. Stitch with the straight stitch on the edge of the lace and the fingers of the stitch covering the heading of the lace. 
    Note: The pin stitch is a decorative stitch and not to be used as a construction stitch.
Puffing-Bonus Tip!
Puffing is a decorative insertion made with fabric and lace. While puffing was not used in the construction of this project, it is a quintessential heirloom technique that you can achieve with the tip below.
  1. Cut a strip of fabric twice the length of the finished piece. 
  2. Attach gathering foot and increase the stitch length to 5.0. 
  3. Move the needle to the right to create a ½” seam allowance. 
  4. Stitch on the right side of the fabric and allow the foot to gather the fabric. 
  5. Leave long thread tails to adjust the gathers.
  6. Turn fabric around and stitch in the opposite direction on the other edge of the fabric strip to create the puffing. 
  7. Using the thread tails, adjust the gathers evenly.
Tip: All fabric gathers at a different ratio, so it is a good idea to test fabric to see how it will gather and make your adjustments accordingly.
  1. Place lace insertion on each side of the puffing and attach using the lace to fabric technique above.

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