Friday and Saturday were spent desperately trying to finish my dress in time for Gaskells Saturday night. I didn’t get it 100% where I want it to be, but it was wearable and looked pretty good anyway.

I started off Friday morning digging through my stash looking for canvas. Somehow, I had completely run out and never bought more. I know what I’ll be doing with my next 50% Joann’s coupon…


Luckily, I remembered I had this in my stash:

It’s not exactly as heavy duty as canvas, but in some ways I prefer it. It’s still cotton, which will breathe, and although it’s stiffer than plain ol’ broadcloth, it’s still flexible, which is what I wanted for this bodice. Not only did I have enough for the entire lining, but I was also able to put a different scene on each panel. Woo!

Next, came attaching the boning to the canvas. I had three pieces for the front at the center front and sides and one piece for each of the center backs to support the grommets.

Normally, my side front boning goes right along the darts or front side seams, but I liked the placement on Roo’s bodices a bit better so I thought I’d try something new. Having worn the bodice at this point, I definitely like the new placement better. The only thing I’d change is to probably get bones that are 1″ shorter since these poked up into my arms just a bit.

After sewing the side pieces to the back pieces in both canvas and silk, it was time to attach them. My standard as always been to sew the back edges together first, along where the grommets will go. However, this is because I normally use that seam allowance as a boning channel. Since I no longer need to do that, I need to remember to sew the top and bottom seams first, which will allow me to understitch them (more important than understitching the center backs, I think. Next time!

Seams sewn, curves clipped, and seam allowance understitched.

One of the back pieces finished. You can see along the bottom where the canvas shows a bit since I didn’t want a half asses understitching job. Also, next time, I should remember not to sew the armholes closed and just leave them open so I have something to attach the sleeves to. It worked out this time since I didn’t finish the sleeves, but in the future I’ll leave them open.

Both back panels done. Looking good so far!

The front piece took a *lot* of pins to make sure it didn’t move. The darts were very fiddly and involved a combination of horizontal pins along where I needed to sew and vertical pins to keep the fabric from shifting. I managed to understitch the top edge, but wasn’t able to do the bottom. I should probably also get a shorter center front bone. It fits perfectly at the top and bottom, but seems to stress the bodice a little too much and doesn’t let me get as clean a point at the bottom.

The inside of the bodice. Pretty even inside, I think!

It’s not a perfect match along the back where the grommets will go, but pretty darn close.

I left the side seams for each piece raw and open and then sewed the front and back pieces together. Maybe in the future I’ll remember to give myself an additional half inch on the sides and then I can fully bag the pieces and still have the 1/2″ seam allowances. It would give me a very clean inside, but for now I just pinked the edges and it held up just fine.

A 15″x7″ strip for the shoulder straps. When folded in half and closed, it’s 3″ wide.

After sewing the straps into tubes, I sewed a 1/2″ channel along the top where the elastic will be threaded through. Once it’s attached to the bodice, it will constrict to fit across my arms, but still allows me to lift my arms completely over my head. I used 10″ long elastic here, but I’ll probably use 8 or 9″ long next time since the arms were just a little big and I wound up having to do some last minute jiggery pokery to get it to sit right.

Once the elastic is threaded through and sewn down at each end, it gives it a nice ruffled look.

I wound up folding the back shoulder straps a bit to take in the slack and I’ll likely need to do it in the front as well to take up a little more. I could also just undo the seams where the straps fits into the bodice, which would probably give it a cleaner look.

I was eyeing those darts as I started to finish. They were looking a little wibbly so I had to cross my fingers that it would all straighten out in the end.

And then there were eyelets! These were the #00 size from Lacis and I punched the holes and pressed them in myself once I got home using my hand table press. I knew I’d eventually be making interchangeable berthas and was torn on whether to get silver or gold colored eyelets, but then I found the nice gunmetal gray ones and they look like they’ll work well with either color ribbon.

This was where I stepped back and stopped sewing. I’d sewn up the back seam in the skirt and put in the modesty panel, though I didn’t have time to give it a good press or insert the hooks and eyes. I also didn’t put in the modesty panel for the bodice yet, but it closed completely (I think), so it worked okay for the night.

A quick picture outside with my phone. I didn’t find my third petticoat until after we came home and I still haven’t finished my fourth one yet, so I was only sporting two petticoats plus the hoop. Not as full as it should be, but it still turned out really great. I can’t wait to finish the sleeves and berthas to really bring it all together!

One last picture – quick shot of the jewelry! Tiara from eBay (like, $30?), necklace and matching earrings from a mall shop in Spain ($60?), and a brooch I picked up from San Jose Ren Faire ($6?). Pretty good haul and it looks great!

Hopefully I’ll have some nicer pictures soon!

  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
    8. Sleeves
  3. Bertha
    1. Gold with snaps
    2. Silver with snaps