Finally, some more progress! In fact, we’re finally in the home stretch. 

I left off just having completed the basic pattern for the bodice not being able to go much farther until I could get some boning.

-4 1/4″x7″ for each of the side seams. For some reason my original back side bones measured out to 6.5″. I have no idea how this happened considering they’re supposed to match up but they didn’t have half inch boning at Lacis anyway, so I bought them all the same length with a mental note to adjust the pattern when I got back.

-2 1/4″x12″ pieces for the diagonal front pieces. Helps keep the bottom nice and straight (no more curling on this bodice!) and adds a bit more structure/support to the top. Not that I need it I suppose, but good to have to give it the right silhouette.

-1 1/2″x12″ and 1 1/2″x11″ piece for the center front. Again, it was a matter of half inches and they didn’t have the size I needed so I wound up buying both to see which one I liked later.

Michelle made the suggestion that I might get a better fit for the bottom back of the bodice if I gave it a curve. With nothing really to lose and needing to extend the side pieces anyway to fit the boning, I figured I’d give it a shot and see how it turned out. I made the bottom curve 1/2″ longer than my original line and the apex of the curve 1/2″ higher. My French curve is kinda awesome for this, but I really need a larger one with numbers on it.

I also caved in and bought premade boning channels. On the one hand, it seems like a waste of money since I know how to make them already. On the other hand, I hate making them. I don’t know why, but I do. Plus, they tend to turn out bulky since the canvas is so much thicker than whatever they use for the premade ones. Of course, The Universe wasn’t going to let me get away with making this dress so easily. Everything else had gone smoothly so far so of course it was time for something to go wrong.

I’d waited some time between buying the boning and working on the bodice, so when I sat down to start sewing again I completely forgot that I’d bought two different center pieces. Inevitably this meant that I grabbed the shorter of the two first, cut my boning channel as usual, and then found this other random piece of boning that I had no clue what to do with. A short time sorting through pictures later I realized what I’d done. And I’d only bought enough casing for one 1/2 bone. Damn.

So there sat my bodice with one piece of boning left and no casing. Ugh. Also, take note of how nice and neat all those bones line up, especially that center one even though it’s the larger of the two. It apparently won’t be staying that way for long.

A quick demonstration of how to hammer out a boning channel.

Double the width of your bone and add a bit of room on either side so you have room to sew. I added 1/4″ extra.

Fold in half (the green line is my center line). The left side shows the place for the bone with the 1/8″ extra on each side. Ignore the right side, I have no idea.

Fold, optionally press with the iron (pfft), sew along the blue lines. In theory, you should have a nice even casing for your bone to snugly but smoothly slide in to. I say “in theory” because generally what happens is your line wiggles as you sew and you get 3/4 of the way into sliding in the boning only to find that it’s too small in this one stupid place. Annoying, but easy enough to fix by picking out those stitches and resewing that part of the line.

Sew one closed, insert boning as far down as it will go, mark on the other end where your bone is sitting and where you should sew across to close it up. I’ve broken too many needles to not take the extra second to know exactly where that bone is.

Make a cap for both ends by taking a square piece of fabric, folding it in half, and marking where your bone will sit inside of it. A little extra security against popping a bone. Sew it closed, trim, and insert the channel. I probably should have done this for all of them instead of just the center front, but… ehhh…

This is where my sizing problems started coming in to play. Because you already have the little trimmed edge from the first boning channel now competing for space in the cap, which makes an already snugly fit boning channel a little bit bulkier at the top and bottom. Boo.

But from here it’s a straight shot to the finish. No pictures because you wouldn’t be able to tell anyway and it’s pretty self explanatory.

  • Try on the canvas again after basting the shoulder seams. Keep in mind the finished bodice will be 1/2″ less on all sides. Still good? Next step!
  • Cut out the silk outer fabric and lining for the front and back.
  • Baste the canvas pieces to the outer fabric. I treat this as one piece from here on out.
  • Put the right sides of the outer and lining pieces together and sew along the bottom, sides, and neckline. Leave the top of the shoulder straps open. Either leave the armholes completely open, or sew down the shoulder strap/armhole line (starting from the top) but making sure to leave a decent gap at the bottom.
  • Trim, notch, and clip as needed.
  • Turn each piece inside out through the armhole openings. Depending on how much room is left, this may take some time. You may have to pick some stitches out to give yourself more room. The key is to not tug or panic or flail and it all works out.
Woohoo! Iron it down, adjust as needed to make sure everything is actually lined up. I treat the canvas backed piece as the front of my bodice since it will give it a bit more structure and there are less wrinkles on that side anyway. The pictures above are pre-ironing.
Now all that’s left is to sew them together at the top of the shoulder straps, finish that hand sewing, and then grommets! So close!