Monday, April 8, 2013

Gibson Girl Bodice Base

It's time for a progress update on my Gibson Girl gown. I finished the bodice base about a week ago. It took forever! Sewing the bodice was quick and easy since I was good and made a proper mockup to adjust all the fitting issues beforehand, but I spent several days just on the finishing.

First I trimmed, clipped, and scalloped all the seam allowances. Then, I overcast them all by hand. I sewed boning casings to each seam, again by hand. To ensure that the bodice sits smoothly over the boning, I followed a process described in period dressmaking manuals. As I stitched the casings down to the seam allowances, I left extra ease in the tape for a few inches in either side of the waistline, where the body has the most inward curve. Then, when I inserted the boning, I stretched the bodice lengthwise, causing the boning to bow in slightly. If you don't follow this process, the bodice may crinkle slightly at the waist when worn. It is a simple but ingenious way to ensure a smooth fit.

Next, I finished the neckline with a cotton ribbon as a facing and ran a narrow ribbon through it to use as a drawstring to draw up the neckline as needed. I then applied bias facings to the armscyes and to the bottom edge, which I interlined with a bias strip of tarlatan to give it structure. Lastly, I made a waist stay out of petersham and tacked it onto the back seam allowances. I sewed the bodice seams by machine, but after that every step of the process was completed by hand. The only shortcut I took was to use hook-and-eye tape for the bodice closure, instead of sewing on individual hooks and eyes. It's not the prettiest finish, but at least I was able to use my machine!

Here's the completed bodice base:

On the dressform

Back view

Laid flat


Armhole facing

Bottom Edge

Pretty soon I can start working on the parts people will actually see!!

I have made a lot of progress on the skirts (yes, there are two). As soon as the outer skirt hem is finished, I'll post some pictures.


  1. It looks utterly perfect! I look forward to seeing how your Gibson gown comes together. You always looks a picture :-)

  2. Gorgeous! Your craftsmanship is always impeccable.