Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bodice Drapery

Time for some much-delayed updates on the Gibson Dress. For those of you who don't know, I finished it and wore it last weekend. It turned out just the way I wanted it, and it was very fun to wear.

Before I show you the finished pictures though, let's talk a little bit about the bodice. Last time I wrote about the bodice, I had completed the lining/base:

From this point, everything was draped on the dressform and sewn in place by hand.

I started by draping my blue silk on the bodice base to determine its final placement. I marked the outline of the area it would cover, tracing the area that would be exposed at the neckline, then removed the fabric from the bodice base. I then carefully filled in the neckline area with bias pieces of pink chiffon, pleating it gently and tacking it into place.

Here's a photo of what the bodice neckline looked like after this step:

I repeated the same process for the bodice back:

Next, I sewed bias-cut strips of black velvet onto the straps, pleating them slightly to add texture over the shoulder.

Here's a photo of what they ended up looking like in the back (the picture I took from the front turned out very blurry):

From here, I was so absorbed in what I was doing that I forgot to take step-by-step progress photos. Sorry!!

I pressed all the blue silk bodice pieces, then draped them into the bodice base starting with the back. I smoothed the back piece over the base while it was on the dress form, pinning it carefully around the edges. I then basted it in place at the side seams and wrapped the bottom edge inside the bodice base, basting it in place as well. I left the top edge pinned until I attached the beaded trimming, then sewed the trim down through all the bodice layers. Here is how the back turned out:

I repeated a similar process for the left side of the bodice, except that I folded the edge under at the side seam, and slip-stitched it down over the basting stitches on the bodice back. I turned the center front edge under and whip-stitched it to the front edge of the bodice base, then turned in the bottom edge, basting it inside the bodice base.

The right front was draped in a similar fashion, but instead of attaching it at center front, I left it loose to continue across the body. I pleated this drapery so that it would fall in gentle folds across the lower bodice area, ending at the left side seam. I finished the bottom edge of this drapery piece by interlining it with a bias strip of tarlatan, folding up the bottom edge of the silk, and catch-stitching it to the tarlatan. I folded under the end of the drapery and stitched it neatly in place. It closes at the side seam with hooks and thread bars.

Once all the drapery was in place, I sewed a band of my beaded trimming along the top edge of the right side drape, from the top corner just underneath the velvet strap, all the way to the left side seam.

At this point I started adding some of the roses I made out of my dusty pink silk to the left shoulder area. Here's the front at this point:

Lastly, I added some little drapey pieces of the pink chiffon to the shoulders, then put on a few more roses for good measure. 

The completed bodice:

Next up, the skirt trimming and the finished dress!!


  1. That came out beautifully... Can't wait to see the full gown!

    (As an aside, would you mind terribly if I added your blog to mine under 'inspirations'? )

    1. Thank you for the compliment! I would be honored to appear on a fellow costume junky's blog.

  2. Can I ask a question about what kind of dressmakers dummy you use, I notice it has a zip in it and I am looking to get one for my self. Would you mind sharing what you have and where you got it?

    1. My dress form is a modified Uniquely You. You can buy it here:

      The form is made from a compressible foam topped by a canvas cover that you fit to your body. You end up with a form that not only matches your circumference, but also the contours and proportions of your body. I've been happy with it. Recently I made the decision to cut off the foam breasts, replacing them with a pair of stockings filled with beans (yes, my dressform has bean bags for boobs). This means that the breasts are more squishable and moveable, and will take on the shape provided by whatever corset I put on the form. With this mod, I find that the form is perfect for my purposes. I would definitely recommend it.

      Hope this helps!

  3. Hi, I just found your blog through Pinterest, and I have to say, I love your gibson girl dress! I'm just wondering how you get into the bodice - I don't see any closures? I thought it closed in front until you went and overlapped the fabric like that :)