We’re getting very close to having a finished Elsie Dress! Yay! This post is a bit of a long one but stick with us and by the end of today the only thing you’ll have left to do is the hem – woohoo!
The Elsie Dress bodice is fully-lined with a super profesh-looking lining/facing combo, creating beautiful innards that feel lovely to wear. Because you use your dress fabric for the facing, it means you’ll see no peeps of lining from the outside of the dress. A truly luxurious finish!
1. To start with we’re going to construct the lining. We’ve chosen to use a soft cotton lawn for a breathable, summer bodice, but you could also use a standard silky-feel lining such as acetate, satin or even silk for a more formal, wintery dress.
Pin the princess seams on the front and back lining pieces. Pin at the notches first, then ease the fabric together before securing with more pins. Stitch the seam and then press the seam allowances towards the back. We prefer to press all seam allowances one way (instead of open) on linings as it helps to strengthen the lining.
2. Trim the seam allowances down to 1cm. Then clip into the seam allowances at the curves to help them sit nice and flat.
3. With right sides together, pin the front and back bodice pieces at the side seams and stitch. Again, press the seam allowances towards the centre back. You should now have a lining piece that looks like ours above.
With the lining made, it’s now time to move onto the facing.
4. With right sides together, pin the front and back facing pieces together at the side seams. Stitch these two little seams.
5. Press the seam allowances open, firstly from the wrong side and then again from the right side.
6. Open out the dress and with right sides together, align the neckline and armholes of the dress with the neckline and armholes of the facing. Match all notches and take care to make sure the side seams all line up exactly. Pin the facing in place, leaving 5cm unpinned at the four open shoulders.
7. Stitch the facing in place around the armholes and neckline of the dress, only stitching where you have pinned. Make sure to leave 5cm unstitched at the shoulders, as shown below, but do remember to backstitch at these points.
8. Trim the seam allowances down to 1cm around your lines of stitching only. Do not trim into the shoulders as you will need this seam allowance in a few steps’ time.
Trim as shown above, creating a little step in the seam allowance where the stitching ends.
9. Clip into all the curves around all the seams you’ve just sewn. Snip as close as you dare to the stitching, as this will help the facing lay as flat as possible once it’s on the inside of the dress.
10. Pulling the shoulders through the facing, turn the dress the right way out and press the seam allowances towards the facing.
11. Once the seam allowances are pressed towards the facing, understitch as far as you can into the straps. You won’t be able to stitch all the way, but go as far as possible. This helps to keep the facing anchored to the inside of the dress, preventing it from peeking out as you wear it.
Then press the facing so that it sits nice and flat on the inside.
It’s now time to finish the shoulders neatly and beautifully. This part is a little tricky to explain, so make sure to go slowly!
12. With right sides together, fold the dress along one of the side seams, so that the front and back shoulders of the bodice are facing each other. Match up the front and back bodice edges at the shoulders and pin this little seam.
Then on the same side of the dress, match up the facing shoulder edges in the same way. Pin this edge as well, before stitching both seams. It’s important to make sure nothing is twisted here, so take your time.
Then repeat for the second side of the dress.
13. Press the seam allowances open on all four seams so they are nice and flat.
Your shoulder seams should now be attached (meaning you can try the dress on), but the side edges of the shoulders will still be open.
14. Turn the dress inside out so that the facing and the bodice are right sides together. You need to pull the straps out enough so that you can access the unstitched seams. We’re now going to sew these up.
15. Line up the shoulder seams and pin them together, before pinning the rest of the unsewn seam. Try and push the fabric inside the straps in towards the centre to ensure that it doesn’t get caught by the pins or stitching.
Very carefully stitch both edges of the strap closed, remembering to backstitch at both ends where you’re joining with your existing lines of stitching. Because the inside of the strap is a little bit bulky, you might find it easiest to switch to a standard zip foot at this point. The zip foot will help to keep the inside strap fabric out of the way so that it doesn’t get caught in the seam. The picture above from the Betty Dress Sewalong shows what it should look like once the seam is sewn!
Repeat for the second strap.
16. Once everything is sewn, pull the straps the right way out and voila! Your shoulders are all stitched and looking beautiful. If they don’t quite look beautiful yet, give them a good press! If you can, slightly roll the seams to the underside of the strap so they doesn’t show on the outside. If your fabric is too bulky to do this, press the seams completely flat so the seamlines sit right on the edge.
Now to tackle the lining!
17. With the lining and facing right sides together, pin the entire seam from centre back to centre back. Because the seam is curved this can be quite tricky, so make sure to line up the notches and side seams first before pinning the rest of the seam. Ensure that all seam allowances stay pressed in the right direction. We recommend using lots of pins as this will help when it comes to easing the lining onto the facing.
18. Stitch the seam from centre back to centre back.
19. To help the lining sit flat inside the bodice, clip into the curves along the entire length of the seam.
20. Press the seam allowances down towards the lining. We’re nearly on the final straight!
21. For a beautifully neat finish, we’re going to handstitch the lining in place on the inside of the dress. To create a neat edge to stitch through, press over the centre back edges and the lining hem by 1.7cm.
22. Pin the lining in place at the waistline, and down the centre back edges along the zip tape. Be careful not to pin the lining too close to the zip teeth as you don’t want the zip pull to get caught on the lining as you fasten the dress up.
23. Being as neat as possible, slip stitch the lining into the dress by hand down both centre back seams and along the waist. At the waist be careful to keep your stitches tiny so that they don’t show on the outside of the dress – only pick up a couple of threads of the dress with your needle.
And there you have it – finally! A beautifully finished bodice that’ll feel like a dream to wear! All’s that’s left to do is the easy-peasy hem, and then you’ll have a finished Elsie Dress, all ready for some serious and well-deserved twirling!