Flower Girl Dress, Part 4: Bodice Insets

Next I set to work on the bodice lining. I had considered interfacing the bodice as well as lining it. A trial run, however, persuaded me to abandon the idea. It just didn't look comfy, besides making all the construction more complicated. So the bodice consists of just a satin shell and cotton broadcloth lining. I had also considered lining the bodice with the same satin I used for the exterior, but in the end just barely decided to go with cotton hoping it would make construction a smidge easier if only one of the fabrics involved was slippery.

I had made a few seemingly minor adjustments to the pattern after the final trial run, and I thought it better to do the lining bodice on its own first rather than cutting the satin bodice pieces at the same time, just in case. Good call!

The bottom edge turned out inexplicably uneven, and while I could have compensated by trimming to the shortest piece thereby making the bodice a bit shorter, I took the opportunity to fix my pattern for the umpteenth time and try again with the little bit of extra lining fabric I had.

I started by marking the under-arm match points for the insets with tailor tacks. Usually I just use a pin at sewing time, but I found this was a more reliable method and it didn't take too much time.

I also stay-stitched the curved seams in preparation for joining them. Some couture books I read sniffed that stay-stitching was not necessary because you should be hand-basting your seams before sewing them anyway, but after experimenting during my many trial bodices, I've come down in favor of stay-stitching. In theory I have no problem with basting (I love hand work!) but in practice I find bits of my basting are always getting snagged in the machine stitches worked over them, and particularly on the satin outer bodice, I didn't want needle marks from stray stitches showing up near the final stitching line. And I've sewn enough curved seams in my time that I don't find it particularly difficult to guide the fabric "live" as I'm sewing the seams. The stay-stitching forms an extra guide-line while I'm working, and I suspect it also helps keep the fraying in check..

One other improvement over my usual methodology was that I was cautious throughout about the beginning and endings of each seam. Normally I just start sewing and stop sewing with no regard for securing the ends, which usually works okay, but does sometimes leave some weakened stitches exposed towards the ends of seams. For this dress, however, I've largely used the "tiny stitches at the beginning and end of the seam" method, occasionally backstitching or tying off. And also I've been careful to trim the threads as I go along rather than assuming I will get to it later. Heh. Hehhehehehehe.

For the lining, after pressing the princess seams flat over my new tailors ham (made especially for this project), I top-stitched them and trimmed the seam allowances. I did the same to the shoulder seams. I've never done that before, but I saw it done in one of my library books on a lining bodice for extra strength and flatness and liked the idea.

Untrimmed seam, from back:

Untrimmed seam, from front:

Trimmed seam, from back:

Trimmed seam, from front:

Completed lining, with straight bottom edge:

With a reasonable looking lining completed, I set about repeating the whole process with the satin. I was just about to start pressing my princess seams open when I noticed that despite all my extra care, somehow some sort of brown smear had lodged itself on the reverse of the front bodice piece! Though not large, it was dark enough that it was visible from the right side. Though I'd very consciously selected machine-washable fabric, I really hadn't thought it would be necessary to wash before I even finished making the dress! But if it wasn't going to come out, no point wasting any more time on that particular piece of fabric, so into a bucket with some hand-wash solution it went. Eventually I got whatever it was out, and then of course it had to dry, so that put an end to the bodice work for that day.

Continue: Part 5, Netting & Tulle Layers.

- Victoria, 2012-04-21

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