Making steady progress, let me just say we can call this one: “It Is All About The BASTE.”
I have never basted so much and so carefully on any project EVER!
And let me also just say: yesterday we went shoe-shopping. (Unsuccessfully so far.). In the shops it felt like every second dress had a sweetheart neckline with lace overlay! And here I was thinking we are so original. Anyway, at least The Daughter will be in fashion, ja? (Actually very “en vogue“, hahaha.)
So this is what I achieved since last weekend:
I also cut and french-seamed the 6-part chiffon skirt (ask me how long that took…go on, ask me…) and I have cut and sewn all the chiffon parts for the bow. This week, if all goes well, I will attach the skirt to the bodice.
If you want to you can stop reading now…I am now going to paste my construction notes for the bodice so that IN CASE someone sews this pattern in future, and trawls the net for help such as I did before sewing this, it might perhaps be useful to them.
Just scroll down and check out my bound buttonhole improvement on the pattern instructions and tell me it is freakin’ COOL! I am particularly proud of it, even though all four are not perfectly identical on the inside, this method of finishing – hiding the little facings inside the lining – looks much better than it did on the test-dress where I did it according to the instructions. The final result can be viewed on this blog post.
First I made a single-layer muslin. I adjusted the position of the bust dart and made a modification to eliminate front armhole gape, using this tutorial.
Once the muslin fit was good, I marked the desired line for the sweetheart neckline with a row of pins and transferred this line to the pattern. I added 1.5 cm (upward) seam allowance to the bottom parts, and cut the pattern pieces in two along that line. I traced the upper pieces to new paper, repaired to the correct stitching lines (that I lost when adding seam allowance to bottom parts before cutting off) and added 1.5 cm (downward) seam allowance.
I now had the following pattern pieces:
- Bodice front – lower piece
- Bodice front extension (The upper bodice part I cut off)
- Bodice back – lower piece
- Bodice back extension (The lower bodice part I cut off)
- Bodice front illusion (Repaired upper front bodice piece)
- Bodice back illusion (Repaired upper back bodice piece)
What you need to cut:
- Matching up piece 1 and 2, as well as matching up 3 and 4, cut full bodice pieces from the lace overlay. Stick to the original pattern grainline recommendations when cutting the lace, it makes a huge difference to the stability of the garment, especially with the lace on the bodice back. (Note that I did not trim the lace’s front bodice darts during this initial cut. See point 4* in my construction notes below.)
- Cut Parts 1 and 3 from the fabric and from the lining. Cut part 3 from iron –on interfacing, to be fused to the lining. I trimmed the inside of the dart before I ironed it on.
- Cut parts 5 and 6 from “illusion” fabric. I used skin-tone mesh (and on the test dress I just used a second lace layer, which was pleasing in a different way.)
- Cut iron-on interfacing circles to reinforce the positions in the bodice back where the bound buttonholes will be constructed. Keep these to iron on only after the darts have been constructed. (And cut the squares for the bound buttonholes.)
Transfer all pattern markings, also marking the edges of the stitching lines for the sweetheart neckline. This really helps in construction! It is not necessary to mark the dart lines on the lace overlay, because the overlay will be basted to the fabric and darts sewn through both these layers.
ORDER OF CONSTRUCTION – Bodice (Steam-press after each step)
- Sew the mesh illusion and the lace overlay pieces together at the armhole/shoulder edges, down to the point where the sweetheart sewing line is marked. I used a very small zigzag stitch, using stitch-and-tear paper to stabilise. Remember this appears as a transparent hem, so it must be very neat. Trim the illusion fabric a little but do not cut notches if not necessary – the lace should have enough stretch around the curves.
- Seam the lace to the illusion at the inner line of bodice back as well, down to where the centre back seam will start. (If it is a self-edged lace such as my green and grey test dress, the illusion fabric must get a folded-in hem that is sewn by hand to the bordered lace, which can rather be done at the end of construction, not now.) Sew the back seam below the V closed, keeping the lining separate.
- Sew staystitching on the lower curve of the illusion, and sew reinforcing stitches just inside the seam allowance of the sweetheart point in the bodice pieces – upper fabric as well as lining – and clip the point carefully up the reinforcing stitching. Sew the mesh illusion into the sweetheart neckline…BASTE FIRST and keep the lace overlay well out of the way!!! …by sandwiching it between the fabric and the lining. (Make certain the reinforcing stitches are inside the seam allowance). IF you want a crisp point, the illusion must form a neat little triangle such as on my photo, when it is pulled through the clipping line in the centre bodice point. Begin and end exactly 1.5cm from underarm seams to allow for seam allowance there.
- Now baste the lace overlay accurately to the bodice fabric pieces at the dart markings. *(Note that I chose to keep the darts in the lace untrimmed until I had done this step). Sew the darts through both layers, ending with a few stitches parallel along the very edge before they “fall off” at the dart points, and definitely knotting the fabric instead of backstitching at dart point to avoid pointy bust darts! After sewing the darts in the bodice, sew them separately in the lining.
- Turn the bodice front inside-out again and sew the upper edge – lace and illusion fabric – of the neckline closed. Here I used a straight stitch to reduce stretch.
- Sew the bound buttonholes only through the upper layers. Keep lining separate again. Steam-press the buttonholes, and then baste it carefully to the lining to mark where small slits in lining must be cut at exactly the openings of the buttonholes. End these slits carefully in Y notches, fold in and sew down by hand.
- Do the final fit to take into account any underarm seam adjustments, and then sew the right side underarm seam.
- At this fitting also pin the shoulder straps in position where they must be stitched to the front bodice. Sew down and trim – I could machine-stitch mine because I would later finish the neckline with my own lace border to hide the stitching. (If it is self-bordered lace such as on my test dress, it gets done by hand.)
- Finish the bottom edge of the bodice by stitching the piping to the upper layers, keeping lining free, and finish the neckline and the inner edges of the bodice back by hand with a lace cut-out border.
- Now all that remains in the bodice construction, is for the invisible zip to be sewn in the left underarm seam once the skirt has been attached.