Today we’ve reached the exciting part of the Elsie Dress Sewalong – it’s time to sew!! We’re going to do things in a slightly different order from the booklet, and today we’re beginning with the bodice. Let’s jump straight in shall we?
By this point you should have washed your fabric and given it a good press, made any necessary full or small bust adjustments, and cut out your pieces. If you’re not quite at this point yet, you can find all the previous posts in the Elsie Sewalong page on the blog.
1. In order to prevent the neckline from stretching as we work with the fabric, the first thing we need to do is staystitch the necklines of the front and back pieces.
Keeping within the seam allowance and using a standard 2.5mm stitch length, sew a single line of stitching around the necklines. On the front bodice you will need to stop at the centre of the V and pivot the fabric before stitching back up to the second shoulder. Remember, the point of staystitching is to prevent stretching so it’s important to handle your pieces delicately and carefully at this stage.
2. Next we’re going to construct the princess seams on the front bodice. A pretty alternative to the traditional bust dart, princess seams are a flattering, elegant way of giving shape to a bodice, with style lines that run down the body to draw attention to the waist. And they’re fun to sew!
With right sides together, match the raw edges of the centre front panel with one of the side panels. It may seem like these pieces don’t want to fit together but with a big of coercion they will oblige! Pin only the notches first, as then you will be able to work out which parts of the seam require easing.
Fill in the gaps with lots more pins, gently easing in the extra fullness. It can take a little bit of time to evenly distribute the fabric along the seam, so don’t rush this step.
When fully pinned, stitch the seam, going slowly around the curves. Then repeat for the second side front panel.
3. Once both seams are sewn, trim down the seam allowances so they’re 1cm wide.
Then clip into the seam allowances around the curves, snipping as close to your line of stitching as you dare without cutting into it. This will help the seam to lay flat without puckering.
4. Press the seam allowances open along the whole seam. Because the seam is curved it might help to use a tailor’s ham underneath the bodice. Once you’ve pressed it from the wrong side, we like to press again from the right side to make sure the seam is extra crisp.
5. Now that the front bodice is out of the way, it’s time to do the same for the back bodice. The princess seams will be a little simpler to pin here because there is less fullness to ease in.
Pin only the notches, before continuing to fill in the gaps with pins. Ease in the curve very gently.
Once pinned, stitch the seam. Remember to go slowly around the curves to create that gorgeous smooth princess line.
6. Just as we did with the front bodice, trim down the seam allowances to 1cm, clip into them around the curves and press the seam allowances open.
7. Once your front and back bodices are looking lovely, there’s just time for one last step: to attach them together at the side seams. We’re leaving the shoulder seams for now as they’ll be sewn later when we attach the facing and lining. Place the front and back bodice pieces together at the side seams with right sides facing and pin. Stitch both seams from the underarm to waist.
8. Press the seam allowances open so they sit lovely and flat.
And that’s it for today! In the next post we’ll be sewing the lovely full pleated skirt and attaching the bodice and skirt at the waist. That means in a few days you’ll already have something that resembles a dress! So exciting!
Happy sewing for now, and if you have any questions don’t forget you can leave a comment below or drop us an email. We’ll be happy to help!