Now that my knuckles have healed a bit, time for an update!
Still having no bodice pattern, I kept moving forward on the skirt.
I cut the waistband to 29″, leaving 1″ total for side seam allowances and 2″ of overlap for the band after being attached to the 26″ skirt. It’s also 7″ tall for a 3″ waistband and 1/2″ front and back to be folded under and attached to the skirt body.
I had a hard time deciding what the best method of attaching the skirt to the waistband was since the fabric was so slippery. In the end, I sewed the side seams first, then flipped the seam allowance around the bottom edge inside by 1/2″, pinned it down with the pins going horizontally across, and ironed it.
I didn’t think the horizontal pinning would do the job so I found a comfortable chair and started pinning everything vertically. It took a little while, but I did eventually get the front and back to match up and be pinned down.
In the end, I’m not actually sure why I didn’t just sew the back of the wiastband to the pleats, then flip it over and sew the top down separately. I must have had some idea at the time, and it turned out pretty well. I managed to not get any extra fabric caught in the waistband and everything fit as intended.
I still hadn’t hemmed it at this point, determined not to make the same mistakes I had before and have it turn out too short. Pinned on the dress form over my hoop and one petticoat at approximately the right height, it just barely brushed the floor. Not wanting to take any chances, I decided not to do any cutting and to hem it by 2″ (two 1″ folds). I figured if it was too long after that, I could still fold it up again.
Hurray for (more or less) even hems!
Putting it back on the dress form, it seems the 2″ hem is just enough and hides both hoop and petticoat. I’m a little worried it might be another inch too long, but I’ll need to try it on with the hoop, all 3 of my petticoats, and my shoes to be certain; all of which can wait until Saturday.
All that’s left on the skirt now is to iron down the waistband, the hem, and the pleats to make them a little more crisp. The pictures above aren’t quite how it will sit. Since my dress form is currently padded to my everyday measurements and not my corseted measurements, the skirt had a 4″ gap or so in the back and the pleats didn’t wrap all the way around.
At this point, I still had no bodice pattern. My options were to simply resign myself to needing a full day to remake one from scratch (which meant not having a new dress for Saturday), or I could take a chance, grab an existing bodice and remake it using that as a base.
Guess which one I did.
Since we’d determined that the aqua and orange bodice fit so nicely, I used it for my base. I laid it flat, traced around the edges of each piece I needed and marked the seams so I’d know where to draw the lines. Thankfully, every seam on my bodice is 90% straight lines with only a little curving in the back.
Conveniently, this also meant I’d know exactly where my shoulder straps would begin and end. Normally, I’d make them entirely too long, have to cut them back, and then refit them. Not this time!
The front piece on the existing bodice had been made of four pieces – two center front, and two sides where the dart would normally be. I decided to make it one darted piece (the way the embroidered taffeta is). This is before any seam allowances, but also gave me a good idea of where the darts would need to be inserted.
The side back piece with seam allowances added to the sides. I didn’t add any seam allowance to the top or bottoms of any of the pieces. This would help me decide if they were too low or high when I tried on the mock-up.
The back piece with a seam allowance on one side and marks for where I’d need to cut holes for lacing.
After I cut the base pieces, I recut the front, adding seam allowances on the side and added some darts, and then sewed the pieces together to try on.
Joe was nice enough to take pictures using my phone. We discovered later that the bottom had been pulled down a little too much, so if you held the top and bottom taut, it was the correct height. So these pictures make it looks like the sides under the arms are much too low, but they’ll stop right where the top of the corset is once I add the boning.
These pictures have also helped to illustrate why it’s time for a new corset. After 4 years of hard use, one piece of boning has popped out and it doesn’t quite fit in some places the way it used to. The hips are laced much tighter than they should be (we should have just kept them open), the waist is completely closed, and the bust is open a bit, but doesn’t have any room in the front so I’m starting to border on a hideous crease across the front. It’s definitely time for an upgrade.
Also, I’m so glad we wear chemises under corsets. Those laces burn and bite after a bit. I was just lazy here.
As weird as it looks, the “wings” at the top are where the shoulder straps will extend across my arms. It took me a minute of scratching my head before I remembered that they won’t actually go over my shoulders (which is part of how I’m able to reach my arms entirely over my head). We decided that even though the top didn’t have any seam allowance, it would be best not to add any and have the finished front be 1/2″ lower.
The side is a good picture of how the area under the arms is scrunched too low.
We found that if I held the back shoulder straps up, everything fit perfectly. It’s not entirely laced closed because we didn’t want to rip the holes open, but it definitely can close.
We took another photo in better light to make sure you couldn’t see the corset in the back. From here on out, all pictures clearly need to be taken in the bathroom. Or we need to fill the apartment with white lightbulbs.
And that’s where I stopped. I need to cut the canvas piece this morning and measure the boning sizes I’ll need. Conveniently, I can run over to Britex today on my lunch break.
Note to self: Don’t throw this one away…
  1. Skirt
    1. Pleat
    2. Sew pleats down
    3. Cut waistband, sew up sides, turn
    4. Sew pleats to waistband
    5. Sew up back seam
    6. Hem
    7. Modesty panel
    8. Skirt hooks
  2. Bodice
    1. Cut canvas from pattern, fit
    2. Cut silk from canvas
    3. Attach boning channels to canvas
    4. Sew silk/canvas pieces together, leaving side seams open.  Understitch.
    5. Sew side seams. Overlock, pink, or seam bind inside.
    6. Grommet
    7. Shoulder straps and elastic
  3. Bertha
    1. Gold with snaps
    2. Silver with snaps