Tutorial Tuesday: Sewing a Continuous Lap Placket



Adding a placket into the skirt portion of a dress allows the dress to open wider, which can be handy when dressing wiggly toddlers or struggling with kids with big noggins. There are a few methods of adding a placket. One that I teach in several Tie Dye Diva patterns is the “continuous lap placket”. It takes a bit of skill and practice, but forms a durable, attractive and functional ‘vent’ into the skirt. You’ll find this method outlined in, for example, The Everyday Top pattern, Baby’s Party Dress Pattern, and Fair and Square Dress and Top pattern for Baby. Here’s how to add this type of placket to any pattern where you might want more room for it to go over the child’s head.

Before we start, let me point out that there’s another benefit to having a placket in a skirt – whether you have an overlapping button-back bodice or an abutted button-and-loop bodice, the placket allows you to enclose the skirt/bodice seam between the bodice and bodice liner for a really nice finish. So we’ll do this today also.

I’m sewing the Butterfly pattern with this gorgeous fabric provided to me from the Natural Wonder collection by Josephine Kimberling for Blend Fabrics. (Would Tim Gunn say I am too literal?) 


As a personal preference for this garment, I’m adjusting the pattern to make it an overlapped bodice with an enclosed skirt seam, but as I said before, this is optional when adding a placket. So, I added ½” to each back bodice for button extension before I cut my pattern pieces, and interfaced this area.

On your bodice, you’ll want to first press the edges of all of the bodice liner pieces under 3/8” to the wrong side. For the Butterfly dress, the curved bodice requires one extra step. Sew a line of staystitches along the curve, 3/8” from the edge. This might feel kind of odd if you haven't done it before - you are not sewing anything to anything else. Just sewing a line of stitching. Now, use a steam iron to press 3/8” under to the wrong side, using the line of stitches as your guide. See how easily they turn under right along that stitched line? That's what it's for.


Sew the bodice as set forth in the pattern and set it aside.
Cut your skirts as set out in your pattern. For the Butterfly pattern, go ahead and use the skirt cutting template to cut out that concave curve in the top.

Find the center back of your back skirt, and draw a line 1.5” long with a dot at the end of the line. After seam allowances, a 1.5” line will give you a 1” long placket and 2” total of extra circumference for putting the dress on. You can make this longer (or as short 1”) but be aware that a long placket on a classic length bodice might make a too-breezy gap.

Cut a placket from matching fabric 4” long x 1.25” wide . (If you’ve cut your slit longer or shorter, the length of your placket should be twice the length of your slit, plus 1.5”, and the same width.) Stitch all the way around the line you drew, ¼” from the line. Carefully cut down the length of the line, and make two angled cuts from the tip of the line to the very corners of your stitching to form a “Y” shape.


Now you can open this slit into a straight line.


Don’t let all the steps and photos that follow scare you away. All we are really doing in this next bit is enclosing that raw edge the same way we’d enclose an edge with double-fold bias tape.

Now I’m switching to contrasting fabrics for sake of the tutorial. Lay the open slit against the placket strip with right sides together. Your placket piece should be just a bit longer and this is fine, we’ll cut the excess later – we just don’t want it too short. Pin (or use fusible or wash away tape) and then stitch the placket strip to the slit ¼” from the raw edge, right over the existing stitches. In the photo the real stitches are shown in black and the white is where you should sew now. It is correct that at the peaks of the “Y” (which now looks more like a “W”) there will be only a few threads of your fabric between your stitching line and the inner peaks of the “W”. Go slow and smooth with your fingers so that you don’t stitch creases into the seam.

Press the placket strip up toward the seam. Then, turn the remaining long raw edge of the placket ¼” and press (both of these steps shown in top photo). Finally, turn and press ¼” again to cover the stitching line (bottom photo). 


Pin or use fusible/tape to hold this in place, and stitch from the right side of the fabric 1/8” from the seam edge, being sure to catch the folded edge on the other side.

As a final step, fold the placket into its V-shape and turn the left-hand side of the placket to the wrong side of the skirt fabric (this is for a back bodice with buttonholes on the left and buttons on the right). Press, and baste the top edge to hold it in place. You can trim any extra placket binding sticking up at the top.



Finish your pattern to the point you are ready to attach the skirts to the bodice. Pin the skirts to the bodice with right sides together, keeping the lining out of the way.

When I pin the placket in place, I like to scootch it just to the inside of the back bodice edges for easiest turning.
Sew in place using the ½” seam allowance. Press seam allowances toward the bodice, and fold the liner down so it just covers the line of stitching you just sewed. Pin or use sewing tape such as Wash Away Wonder Tape or Stitch Witchery to keep the liner in place. 
What is this Wonder Tape of which she speaks?


From the right side of the fabric, stitch along the bodice about 1/8” from the seamline, ensuring you catch the folded edge of the bodice liner on the inside. This is a little tricky on the curved bodice of the Butterfly dress, but go slow, check that you are catching the liner, especially near the armholes. 

I added snaps to this little dress. Look how pretty inside (top photo) and out.



And how terribly cute on. (Thank you Joyful Moments Photography by Thea!)
Butterfly Baby Top and Sterling Shorties
Hope you’ve enjoyed Tutorial Tuesday!

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