Thursday, September 17, 2015

1860's Work Dress Progress - Bodice

I have been slowly working on my dress. I pulled out my old pattern, cut a mock up and waited a long time before fitting it over my corset. For some reason it seems like so much work to put on the corset. It was done at last, though, and the bodice was fitted.

Yep, that's an unmade bed in the background, and my child playing with her baby dolls on it. Anyway. The fit was pretty good but I had to do a bit of finagling with the length. The back needed to be lengthened quite a bit and a little bit of length taken off the front to make the waist even all the way around. I also had to raise the neckline a little bit and take a half inch off each side seam. But at last the details were worked out and I cut out my bodice fabric and lining and put it on inside out to pin in the darts. 

Darts are terribly hard to pin evenly. In my experience there is just no other way to do darts with extremely fitted bodices except to pin directly on the body. I've tried fitting mock ups, tracing the dart lines and transferring them to paper but they always come out somewhat off. My method is not that great since pinning them with the bodice inside-out results in the darts switching sides once the bodice is finished but it's the lesser of the various dart-evils. 

After pinning in the darts I sewed them imperfectly with the eyeball method. Then I checked the waist length one last time and sewed on a waistband. I had barely enough fabric to eek out a waistband and the littlest scraps were pieced for piping, but it was done. 

I had just barely enough piping to do the neckline and armscyes, but those got done too. Relief! 

For sleeves I decided very basic one piece coat sleeves were the most economical choice, fabric-wise. It came out to be that cutting them on the bias took less fabric than cutting them straight. Who knew? So I have bias sleeves and I like how they drape very much. Here is the bodice so far - all ready for the skirt to be whip stitched onto the bottom of the waistband! (the skirt, however, is not even sewn together yet.) 

The finished self-facing on the front opening, the darts and the waistband lining: 

Curved back tucks: 

View of the inside bodice: 

I have 4 full panels left to make a nicely full skirt so that is next. The fabric is pretty lightweight so I'm not sure what to use for a hem facing but I want something fun - the problem is something fun shadows through the outer fabric! I may have to go with boring white. 

Then collar, cuffs or undersleeves, and fastenings. 


  1. Hello from Kansas.
    Beautiful clothing!

  2. Wow, looks good already! Perhaps for the hem facing you might be able to find a fabric with a fun print on the "right side" but that is plain white on the "wrong side" thus being able to circumvent the showing-though-the-outer problem but getting your whimsy too?


    1. Excellent idea!! Thank you! I hadn't thought of that. Totally gonna do that now! :D


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!