I love tucks! These little stitched folds of fabric can make a garment look so pretty. The Mathilde Blouse includes six rows of tucks draping down over the front bodice.
Tucks are constructed by stitching and pressing excess fabric to form folds. The pattern lines can seem a little confusing the first time you make tucks, but it’ll all make sense once you’ve done it once. Basically a tuck is formed as follows:
- The central line of each tuck ("tuck fold line") is folded, wrong sides together, to bring the excess fabric up.
- This brings the outer lines ("tuck stitching line") of the tuck together – these lines can then be sewn together.
- The tuck is then pressed down to one side over the space between them.
They’re not the easiest thing to get right first time, so if you haven't made them before it's worth practising on some spare fabric before taking the plunge on your garment. The key to tucks that make your heart sing is to stitch the lines as straight as you can and keep the width of each tuck the same. They're much easier to make on cotton than on slippery fabrics (but not impossible!).
Here's the method I like to use:
1) Before you start sewing, mark the tuck lines onto the right side of the fabric. You should have already transferred the ends of each tuck line onto your fabric. Double check they’re spaced evenly - the gaps between the lines on the Mathilde Blouse should be 15mm / just under 5/8”. Now use a long ruler to connect up the lines, using dressmakers’ carbon, sharp chalk pencil or contrast thread stitching. (Whatever marking tools you use, test them on a scrap of fabric first to check they come off, especially as you’re marking the right side of the fabric.) To avoid confusion, mark the fold lines and stitching lines differently, for example, with full vs. dashed lines.
2) To avoid the adjacent tucks getting in the way while you're working on them, I like to work on two at a time - one on the left side of the bodice and one on the right - before moving on to the next pair.
Fold along the middle ("fold line") of each tuck, bringing wrong sides of the fabric together. Press along the fold to keep it crisp. (If your fabric is slippery, you could use a piece of card to press the folds neatly in place before stitching.) Pin directly along the stitching lines. That way you can check the pins are exactly aligned with the marking lines on both sides of fabric.
3) Sew along the stitching line, taking your time to keep the line as straight as you can. You can use both the lines you drew on the fabric and the seam guide on your sewing machine to help keep your stitching as straight as possible.
4) Press the tucks flat. On the Mathilde Blouse, press the bodice tucks towards the bodice side seams, on both the right and wrong sides of the fabric.
5) Now staystitch across the top of each section of darts, within the seam allowance (so the stitching doesn’t show). This will help hold them down neatly when you sew the seams.
Don’t those tucks look awesome?!