OAL2017: Assembling the Bodice

9 Jun

Hey everyone, and welcome back to the second week of the 2017 OAL! This post today is all about assembling the bodice of the dress – stabilizing the neckline, sewing French seams, and attaching the facing.

A few things before we jump in:

  • The pattern I using is the Kim Dress from By Hand London, but these method should apply to most any pattern that you are sewing!
  • If you missed the first post, you can find it here.
  • If you don’t give a shit about sewalongs and hate me right now (it’s cool, I don’t give a shit about anyone else’s sewalongs either haha), I promise it will be over soon! πŸ˜‰ It is impossible to please everyone, but lord knows I try!

Your fabric should be cut, your markings all clipped and transferred to your pieces, and you should be ready to sew!

OAL2017: Stabilizing Neckline

OAL2017: Stabilizing Neckline

Before you drag your pieces over to the sewing machine, it’s a good idea to stabilize your neckline first. This will prevent it from stretching and distorting over time – which can happen both during the sewing, and over normal wear. They are multiple ways to stabilize a neckline – such a staystitching or using silk organza (here are 3 methods, all with their own tutorial!) – but for the purposes of this particular garment (considering how lightweight the fabric is, and also the overall casual-ness of the dress), I chose to use a lightweight fusible stay tape. This “extremely fine fusible knit stay tape” is the exact one I used – I bought it at my local Bernina dealer years ago, and it is especially helpful to stabilize shoulder seams on knits! Since it’s knit, it curves very easily, which makes it perfect for this pattern.

I fused my stay tape to the curved edges of both the front and back neckline, ending just before the tips of the strap ties. Since the seam allowances are 5/8″ and my stay tape is 1/2″, I made sure it was 1/4″ from the edge so I would be sure to catch it in my stitching. Since I am using stay tape, I did not staystitch these areas.

Now you’ll want to sew your front and back princess seams. Because my rayon is nice and lightweight, I using French seams, which I love because they conceal the raw edges beautifully. Pretty sure I don’t need to throw out another French seam tutorial into the WWW, but I was really having fun with this white piece of posterboard backdrop SO HERE YOU GET IT ANYWAY:

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

I start by placing the pieces WRONG SIDES TOGETHER and sewing with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Lay the piece flat and trim the seam allowances down quite aggressively – to about 1/8″. You want them to be smaller than the second seam you sew, so they don’t peek out.

I should mention – this is assuming you are using a pattern with a 5/8″ seam allowance. If your seam allowance is larger or smaller, you’l want to adjust your math accordingly.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Press the seam allowances open as best you can. They are tiny, so this won’t be the easiest thing – I’ve found I get the best luck if I use my fingernail to pry them open, and then the tip of the iron the whole way down. If you found you have cut them *too* small and simply cannot press them open, it’s acceptable to iron to one side.

At this point, your bodice is going to look at sorts of wrong. Just trust me here.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Now flip your pieces so the right sides are facing, effectively sandwiching the seam you just created. I like to take this to the iron and press right around the seamline I just sewed, so everything lies flat. Then sew along the edge at a 1/4″ seam allowance.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Press your seam allowances to one side, according to your pattern instructions. In the case of this pattern, we are pressing them toward the side seams.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Repeat for the remaining princess seams. Your front and back pieces should look like this.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Finally, sew your front and back pieces together at the side seams. Again, I used French seams for this.

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

Now to attach the facing! Start by fusing interfacing to the front and back facing pieces that you created. I used a very lightweight interfacing, and opted to cut it so that the interfacing does not extend all the way into the ties (I want those to stay soft and floppy!). To prevent a hard ridge from showing where the interfacing ends, I cut that with pinking shears.

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

Attach the front and back facings at the side seams, and press the seam allowances open (don’t worry about using French seams for this, unless you wanna be super extra or some shit). You will also want to finish the lower edge of your facing – I serged mine, to prevent it from fraying and also from showing bulk from the outside. You can also using pinking shears here, or bind the seam allowance.

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

Attach the facing to the bodice, all the way around the neckline and strap edges. Trim the seam allowances down, and then understitch to help turn the facing to the inside. You won’t be able to understitch all the way if you are doing tie straps – just go as far as you can.

Turn the facing to the inside of the bodice, and give it a good press. You’re done!

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

Ok, that’s all for this week! As always, let me know if you have any questions! πŸ™‚


14 Responses to “OAL2017: Assembling the Bodice”

  1. KS_Sews June 9, 2017 at 2:11 pm #

    I totally thought, wow she’s moving again! #asshole :-p But I checked your Insta and holy cow it IS a beautiful place! I’m sure you’ll be happy to get fully settled if you aren’t already. I am the super unpacker type too! I hate living amongst boxes.

    Anyway, I was SO confused by Kim dress + Tie straps because I missed the last post. Doh! That’s gonna be one foxy dress.

    I can’t knit anymore so I’ll be OAL’ing in spirit.

    • LLADYBIRD June 11, 2017 at 5:01 pm #

      LOL I know – when I moved into the last place, I swore I wouldn’t move again unless I was buying! But this place was too good to pass up, I had to jump on it. It’s amazing and was totally worth the stress to get it haha!

  2. bethnegrey June 9, 2017 at 7:13 pm #

    I’m rejoining the sewist ranks after one VERY lengthy absence so this tutorial is SO welcome. You truly have a gift for explaining things (says one teacher to another πŸ™‚ ). Thank you!

    • LLADYBIRD June 11, 2017 at 5:01 pm #

      Yay!! I’m so glad you found it helpful πŸ™‚ and thank you so much for the compliment!! ❀

  3. theknittingarchaeologist June 10, 2017 at 4:30 pm #

    Lauren! It’s been forever since I sewed a garment. I think this dress will get me out of my craft doldrums. Just finished hand sewing the binding on mom’s quilt that was due to her February 16… Yikes! Will go fabric shopping tomorrow for something light weight but dark. Yay! PS Tell your brother I said hey… πŸ˜‰

    • LLADYBIRD June 11, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

      Yay! Happy to have you back into the sewing world:) And I will pass the message over to my brother πŸ˜‰ lol

  4. Cakey June 11, 2017 at 4:26 am #

    Oooo! I’m not joining the OAL but I still like seeing your process. Pinking shears to blur the interfacing line is ingenious πŸ˜€

    • LLADYBIRD June 11, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

      Yes! It’s the little tips like that that I love sharing (and discovering!)

  5. Jane June 11, 2017 at 7:42 am #

    Thanks for all of this great info! I am so excited to brush up on my skills and tackle a new design and this is just what I needed….after being away from dress making after a long absence! Love following you….much appreciated!!!

    • LLADYBIRD June 11, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

      You are so welcome! I’m so glad to hear you found this post helpful πŸ˜€

  6. esewing June 11, 2017 at 5:18 pm #

    This is coming together really great , love those shoulder ties . Your explanation of the french seams is great , it feels counter intuitive to place any wrong sides together but once you get past that they are great hard wearing seams, looking forward to seeing the next installment


  1. OAL2017: Pintucks & Gathers | LLADYBIRD - June 16, 2017

    […] too much for me haha). Finish your seams however you desire – I used French seams for mine (here is a link to the post last week about sewing French seams). Don’t worry about the center back seam just […]

  2. OAL2017: Invisible Zipper + Hemming | LLADYBIRD - June 30, 2017

    […] and sew up to the marking, starting from the bottom and backstitching to secure. If you are using French seams, clip into the seam allowance right above the marking so the rest of the opening is free and can […]

  3. OAL2017: My Completed Kim Dress | LLADYBIRD - July 31, 2017

    […] Assembling the bodice […]

Yay, comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: