Draping a pleated gown bodice

gown1So… I’m off to Susan Khalje’s Couture sewing class for a week to learn all about constructing formal wear! I’m pretty excited to be able to sew for a week with other  clothing makers interested in hand sewing techniques. It’s a rare person in real life who makes clothes and I look forward to blabbing about all the things that make people who don’t sew go all glossy eyed when they hear me speak sewing.

We are supposed to bring a completed muslin of our projects to make adjustments to on the first day. I decided to create my own design. A strapless pleated bodice cocktail dress with a side draped skirt made of silver silk satin. I thought I’d share the process of creating a corset bodice for a strapless dress.

gown2First, I draped all the bodice pieces , making sure they were properly draped on grain. Note the arrows on my pattern pieces.

gown3I made adjustments to the pieces on the form.

gown4Then I sewed in the boning to see the overall shape of the corset foundation.gown8

Pleated gown bodiceThen I cut another foundation to create my design. This piece will be sewn onto the boned foundation piece. There will be three layers to the bodice in all. Outer design, inner foundation, and inner lining.

pleated gown bodiceI spent awhile trying to get these pleats to look right. I ‘ll need to redo it. But not bad for my first try.gown9Me draping in my glamorous dining room. No, I don’t have a fancy sewing room,  just a little corner in my dining room with a pretty view outside.

Pleated gown bodiceI did a preliminary drape of my skirt. But didn’t like this version. I basted down the pleats to keep them in palce. The final design will all be hand tacked and the stitching will be invisible.

I don’t have a laptop computer, so I won’t be able to post about my experience until I get back.

Until next week!


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  1. says

    You’re off to a fantastic start with your beautiful draping. Hope you enjoy every moment with such a wonderful teacher….and the other excited students.

  2. Judy says

    Justine.. so excited for you.. Can’t wait to hear all about it ,when you get home.. Have fun..

  3. Cari says

    Hi Justine .. What a delight it was to meet you and watch the draping of your dress come to life in class! Your piece is beautiful!! I hope Susan Khalje Couture techniques have inspired you to keep going and have brainwashed you into the philosophy of: there is no other way. 🙂 I wish you all the best as you continue to pursue your creativity. I’ll look forward to seeing what comes next.