Making a strapless bodice pattern: part one

I thought it would be interesting to document a project I’m working on from start to finish. I bought some lovely periwinkle blue lace at The Fabric Store recently, and some navy silk lining. Lily wants me to make her a lace dress with a lace overlay for the school dance. I’ve decided to make a lace sleeved dress based over a strapless foundation with a circle skirt. First, I’ll sew the bustier underneath and then I’ll add the lace overlay.straplesspattern

Today’s post starts from the very beginning: Making and fitting the boned dress bodice.

So here goes….. This method is the draping method. I prefer it to flat pattern making. But you do need a dress form for this. I’ll end up with two patterns, one for my dress form based on standard measurements of a size 6, 34, 26, 35, and one I fit especially for her young teen figure. Shorter waisted and not as curvy.1I have a ton of poly cotton gingham I bought at an estate sale. I love using it for draping because the grain is already marked in the checks. I cut out four panels for the four panels I’ll be draping on my dress form.2The center front is folded under then the style lines are pinned. The princess line, bust top and waist are drawn in. I can feel them under the fabric. I use a piece of tied elastic to define the waist.3I cut away the the excess around the style lines leaving about an inch or so.4To drape the side front I arrange the straight of grain to be in the center of the panel.5Pinned style lines, side seams and princess seam and waist, and then drawn in with pencil.

6Excess cut away. It’s starting to look like something now.7Marking bust notches for princess lines.8Now I do the same thing with the back at the center.9Adjusting grain of back side piece.10Back excess cut away. I also clip into the waistline to make draping go more smoothly. This panel could use more clips.11I took the pieces off and trued up the lines with my ruler and checked to make sure seams are the same length.12I added 1/2 inch seam allowances.14Sewed together the pieces to do another fitting to fine tune. I found some issues. The center front needs a horizontal dart and a small amount needs to be pinched out at the side piece’s top.15The side seams are a little big, too.16I removed that 1/2 inch pinch from the top side piece by cutting into the top and overlapping. I’ll draft that out on my final pattern.1I cut off all the seam allowances and traced the pieces onto freezer paper, which works great for making patterns.2I added seam allowances to all the pieces; 1/2 inch because I know this will be big on Lily anyway, when I fit this to her later. I also squared off the seam corners so you don’t get those sharp edges that are so hard to match up on patterns. Then I made sure to add the grain lines from the gingham lines.IMG_3800

That’s it for today. While this should make a great basic block for any designs I might make on my dress form, I know it won’t fit Lily properly when I fit it on her and I’ll need to make a new pattern just for her. Stay tuned for her fitting session tomorrow.  I’m also going to make another muslin to check the fit for my dress form.

This dress needs to be done by Saturday so I hope I’ll finish in time!!

Fitting the bodice muslin part two.

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  1. Kim says

    I’m excited to watch the process. I’m just starting to learn draping so thank you!