I would like to apologize for my lack of posting this past weekend. We had our local Steamposium Con that took place. I attended both days. It was phenomenal. I will make a post about that this weekend called Post Con News. And boy do I have news for you guys.
The bodice is a little more complicating to explain. And not just to explain, but the bodice gave me some issues. Hopefully this will help you to avoid my mistakes. I even bought a few patterns to help me get the correct bust pattern, but I haven’t had very much success. My issue is, with my bust size, I haven’t been able to get the ruffle effect on the bust like Inara has in the show and not make it look ridiculous on me. But I am working on it. If I can’t get it to work on my last chance than I am going ahead with what I have already patterned out myself. Which isn’t ruffly, but it works and it looks nice; there just isn’t any ruffles.
To pattern I took my dress form and started pinning fabric tightly around her torso keeping the ripples off of the front. The back doesn’t matter at this point because I will pattern the back later. Draw your pattern on the front piece of cotton. It should look something like this:
When I removed this piece to cut it out I pinned it back on to her front and placed fabric on her back. Keeping the back and side as smooth as possible to get the fabric to lie flat. Draw the back piece similar to the picture and continue the same process of cutting out and repining to my dress form.
When both pieces are pinned on again I can now successfully mark pieces and mark notches. Also refix the length if I need to or alter it at any position now.
Take the pieces off of the body form and put on wrapping paper to make the paper pattern. Trace the pattern out making sure to add all marks that you will need. When this is completed you will need a ruler to mark out your seams. I always use a 5/8” seam on every project even corsets. You can always trim the seam down, but you can’t add onto it. If you are like me you always end up taking it in a bit anyways, but I still leave that wide of a seam just in case.
Take your muslin, or in my case I had spare satin scraps from a skirt I have made previously, and lay out your pattern pieces on this. Cut out, mark notches, and pin together at the notches first. Sew down all sides leaving no seam open, not even the back. I have a mockup zipper I use that I pulled out of a slip dress that failed miserably. (I used a store-bought pattern and cut out the size it said I was on the back and ended up trimming away the sides by more than 3 inches each side and it lost its shape.) It is an invisible zipper, but with mockups I don’t install the zipper the correct way.
I won’t go into installing the zipper the correct way because the instructions on the back are far better than any I could give you. The way I install an invisible zipper on a mockup I do the cheat method. I close the back seam where the zipper will usually be placed and then I pin the zipper to the back seam with the pins on the outside of the costume so I can remove them before I sew over them. [As I have stated before I do sew over pins, only rarely have they broken. I don’t recommend doing this because you could damage the needle or yourself.] Sew both sides of the zipper down and then you can seam rip the back seam open.
You now have a mockup you can try on. Which is what you are going to do at this point. Try it on and see where it needs adjusting. For me I just needed to lengthen the bottom and have a less wide gap at the back for the top portion. I fixed this for the mockup and made another one. This mockup went way better. What I wanted.
I made a breast pattern out of spare peach skin I had around and the pattern looked okay. Not the best, but I sewed it to the second mockup and it looked a little blah. Adjusting the breast pattern and where I would gather it gave me a better effect on the bust, made a completely new mockup and it was exactly how I wanted it to go.
The sleeves were the easiest to pattern. I took the measurement around my arm at the top and the length I wanted the sleeve to be. Put that into a circle skirt calculator for a ¾ circle skirt. I tried half, but it wasn’t flowy enough to my liking. For the sleeves and breast I bought a nice charmeuse and for the bodice I bought a satin, could be shantung but I wasn’t very specific on what I needed. Here is the image of the sleeve on my mockup.
And here is an image of what the breast piece looks like, the bottom is the sleeve, but I did cut another ¼ circle skirt and attached it to the pattern.
Let’s get started, I put my pattern for the bodice on the satin, in some pictures the detailing wasn’t great but it looked like there was a seam down the front. (Obviously later on I realized that it was a shadow, but there was nothing I could do to fix that besides start over. Which I wasn’t willing to do this late in the game.) I sewed the back two pieces to the front two pieces. Sewed the seam up in the front. Flat lined the seams, at least I think it is called that. Inserted the invisible zipper foot, one I bought for my machine, the cheap little Coats and Clark zipper foots break so easy.
At this point I tried it on just to make sure everything was going good and it was. Then I hemmed the top and bottom, not an easy task. I decided not to line the bodice, it was thick enough already. I also added boning to the front seam, both channels and one on each side seam. These are steel bones at the front and spring steel at the side.
After hemming you can cut out the bust and arm pieces. Hem the arm piece before you attach it, makes things easier. And gather the bust pieces, you will need to gather at two areas with the machine and two areas with hand gathering. I double backed the breast pieces. I didn’t want these to be sheer and since it was a light material that was my only option. Once all the machine gathers are in place I attached it to the bodice at the bust and top off the back. You will need to hand sew these in just like you hand sewn the hem. If you don’t it can cause some warping. You don’t want that. I learned that with my mockup.
Try on the bodice once again so you can make marks where the two shoulder gathers will go. You can do this earlier if that is easier but I thought it would be easier at the end. Sew the sleeves on now. You can machine stitch it you want but I did it by hand for a better outcome. It will make a difference. Make sure when you are sewing the sleeves you have the opening at the top. It needs to be open there and closed at the bottom. I didn’t gage the distance that well when I first cut out my sleeves and ended up having to shave off 3 millimeters to get it to fit.
You are almost done at this point. Not really, but the hard parts are out of the way. All that remains is to bead the bodice. And to cut out the bodice centerpiece that you will bead. I used the bodice front piece to make my pattern piece. Traced it onto a different piece of paper to get me a good view of what the centerpiece should look like.
Cut two pieces of the bodice centerpiece, one with satin that you used with the bodice and the other with a strong cotton (I used a patterned pillow ticking). Sew these together, right sides together, and by right sides I mean the outside of the satin and the inside of the pillow ticking. Leave a two-inch gap for you to pull the outsides out. Iron this together, fold the edge over where the gap is and stitch this closed. I machine stitched because I topstitched the whole centerpiece.
The easiest way to bead the bodice is to use the topstitching as guidelines. However many stitches apart you put a bead or a pearl is the same for the next one. Use your stitches as gauging points to get even spacing. I won’t really go into too much detail as to how I achieved this. But here is a picture of the finished piece so you can see the end result.
I used pearls and seed beads. I don’t have the sizes of either, I just purchased them at JoAnn’s. I do own beads from a not so local bead shop that I haven’t had the chance to use yet.
Hopefully this will help you with your project. There should only be one more post left about this, which will include the headpieces I have made and the gloves which are not handmade but are altered. Expect that tomorrow due to my lack of posting this past weekend. I may also post the picture post tomorrow as well. I hope you enjoy the triple post this week, not including my regular weekend post coming up. Thank you.
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions let me know in the comments below.