24 August 2007

Go With the Flow Dress - Bodice & Skirt

The bodice is now complete. It was not a simple, toss-it-together affair though. Since I have a small bust, the halter top of this dress was huge on me. Had I worn it as is, I could have smuggled two cantaloupes out of the local grocery store and had room to spare. So, obviously something had to be done. I have posted about SBA on darted bodices before, but this bodice uses a different method to provide room in the bosom.

The front bodice piece for this pattern is shown. The curved bottom edge is gathered to create the fullness required to fit a large bust. The pointed top wraps around the wearer's neck to form the halter top. At the peak of this point is a button/button loop, which acts as a closure. I did not require all the space provided in this bodice.

Using a flexible tape, I measured the distance from the centre back of my neck (where the button/button loop will be) down my chest and across to the point where the bodice piece overlaps in front. I did the same thing again, except this time the tape measure ended at the place beneath the arm pit where the bodice piece connects to the midriff band. These two measurements were transferred to the pattern piece and a curved line connected them (shown by the blue line). Now, I still needed to fudge a bit during the actual construction, but, all in all, I think I got a decent fit.

Two triangular halter pieces are gathered and joined to the midriff band (shown to the right). The results of this step can be seen below.

The inside of the bodice was hand finished with wide bias tape. The bias tape covers all untrimmed seams to create a clean inside finish. The tape also provided a little extra sturdiness to the side seams and the under bust seam. Since I wanted this dress to be fairly flowy and soft, I didn't want to resort to using boning for this, as it is just too rigid. The bias tape proved to be a good alternative.

The skirt has also been constructed. Both the fashion fabric and the lining was put together using french seams (see photo tot he right). I felt french seams were necessary because the fashion fabric is semi-sheer and I wanted everything to look neat and clean. Putting the skirt together was a major PITA. It slipped and slid so much, I felt like I was at a water park. Nothing seemed to make this job easier - believe me, I tried every hint and tip ever published on using floaty fabrics and I still had a hard time. I have never had issues like this before. I think the major problem was the sheer volume of fabric involved. Between the overskirt and the lining, I estimate I was wrestling with 8 yards of fabric. Just keeping the fabric from slithering off the table was a colossal feat! Even after completing all the french seams, I had to go back and trim all the "whiskers" that didn't get properly contained in the seams.

Now, I just need to attach the bodice to the skirt, sew the 10 buttons at the bodice back and then hem the skirt. Hemming should be horrific as well, since the bottom circumference of the skirt is massive. I may just bite the bullet and do a rolled hem (which will still be painful since I don't have a serger). Lastly, I will be beading the bodice to give it a certian je ne sais quoi. This dress better look as amazing in real life as I picture it in my head. Wish me luck...


Mimi said...

you are my hero :) I love coming over to your space and seeing your work in progress, you also crack me up, "at a water park" I can understand your pain...lol


patsijean said...

Sounds like this is the perfect time to get a serger. Believe me, in two weeks time you will wonder how you ever got along without it. Your dress is going to be quite lovely when you are finished. I too have a small bust and it is refreshing to not hear about the woes of the FBA for a change!!!

Summerset said...

Looks like you're doing a great job so far. Did you put cups in the bodice? Not that they'd fill the space, or maybe you don't need them, but they're a good place to put in some push-up pads, if you desire that look.

I hear you on wrestle with yards and yards of fabric. To gather all that slippery stuff it sometimes is easier to baste or stitch it to a temporary straight of grain stay like a woven cotton of some sort and then gather the stay. The temp. stay wouldn't be as slippery to work with.

Regardless you're doing a lovely job, and it will be so worth all the headaches once you get it done. Trust me, I've been there!

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Just remember how beautiful you are going to look wearing that amazing dress...and then you will forget all about how much work went into taming that fabric...then again maybe you won't forget! *LOL* However, I am sure that it is going to be an absolutely gorgeous dress.

Vicki said...

It is coming along nicely! And you are almost there.

I hope Simon is feeling better too.!

Marji said...

Wishing you luck! (you asked)
for the hem, Susan Khalje has a method in her book on Sewing Cottons and Linens for doing a narrow hem using a machine straight stitch, I believe it is also the same method Els (think it was Els of the Diva's) wrote the tip for on Pattern Review. It requires 3 turns around the hem, but will still require lots less time than hand rolling it, and is less expensive than purchasing a serger this week. ;)
The dress is very pretty. Great method for determining how much you need for the bodice on the halter. I don't care how anyone is built, I think that halters are some of the most challenging garments to get a good fit on the bodice.