Stitching Darts and Seams
Your pattern guide will lead you through all the steps of making your dress. As with any project, you should read through all the directions before beginning. The guide will probably ask you to begin with stay stitching, which is never a bad idea. Stay stitching is most necessary with stretchy fabric or along curving seams. Be sure to sew in the direction indicated by the arrows or you will defeat much of the purpose of the stitching.
This will probably be followed by darts or shaping seams on the front of your dress. To sew seams, put the pieces right sides together, matching the notches. The pieces need to fit at the stitching line, not at the cutting line, so you may have to clip some seam allowances. This is where the stay stitching is important so you don't clip too deep.
Sew ⅝″ from the edge. Clip curves and press seams open. If your fabric tends to fray, use pinking shears to trim the seams or zigzag just beyond the seam. These zigzag stitches don't have to be as close together as they did for appliqué stitching. They can be about as far apart as usual straight stitches. Trim the seam allowance close to these zigzag stitches to finish the seams.
To make darts, fold the fabric, right sides together, bringing the two lines together. Be sure the fabric folds at the point of the dart and the lines or dots match. To check this, insert a pin through the marking on one layer, and check to see that it emerges at the marking on the other layer. The lines need to match at the seam line, too.
Sew from the outside edge toward the center point. Darts are generally pressed downward or, in the case of vertical darts, outward, away from the center of the garment.