Monday, September 1, 2014

The Top Half

So after all this time I'm finally making a bodice. Woot!

I know that there are free period bodice patterns online, and so pulled up The National Garment Cutter Book of Diagrams, by Goldsberry and Doran, from 1888. The whole book is available for free from the Library of Congress' Internet Archive, so I can actually use patterns for the bodices without feeling like I'm cheating.

For Dean's bodice I choose the basque in the very front, because I liked the look. After drafting I realized that it had a 24 inch waist, and since one seam has an extra wide allowance, I could let it out a quarter inch and get an inch increase overall. My waist is 26 inches, corseted, but with the hem allowance at the center front I knew I'd be able to pin it at least partially shut and see how much it needed to be altered. The answer was: a lot.
The waist may have only been 1 inch too small, but that doesn't matter when it's 4 INCHES TOO HIGH. My skirt rests at my natural waist, but this bodice's hem couldn't reach. Also, the hump-back look comes from the too small back. In fact, if I wasn't physically impossible and able to touch my elbows behind my back, I would have needed someone to cut me out of that thing.
The armscye was way too small and I couldn't let my shoulders drop to my natural resting position.
However, once I took it off and just pinned the waist at my actual waist level, the bottom wasn't so bad. So after a bit of measuring, I found the waist had to be dropped 4 inches, the bust enlarged by 5 inches, and a few minor tweaks applied. The second mock-up was much better.
Finally something approaching a bodice.
The back hem needed to come down a bit, and the bust needed to be let out yet another inch.
Somehow I failed to lowered the waist evenly, so the center back piece had a waist point an inch higher than the rest of the garment. The shoulder seam needed to be altered, and the line of the center front curved to prevent the neckline from gapping, but I could finally start cutting the fashion fabric.
I made piping out of a leather brown bottomweight, to be a subtle nod to the leather jacket Dean wears.
As a point of reference, the paper piece is the original draft from the book. That thing had a waist only 5 inches below the bust point. In fact I just checked Crowley's measurements; she's only 4' 11" and her bust to waist is still 7 and a half inches.
Lovely piping. The bodice is flatlined with muslin. For the front I applied the piping first to just the fashion fabric, then stitched the lining on right sides together and turned the lining to the inside, which Jennifer at Historical Sewing says is period.

Pinning piping to just a single layer feels weird

The bodice has two fish-eye darts on the front piece, so I used the Dreamstress' technique for sewing flatlined darts without wrinkles.
First you draw your darts to the lining only, and stitch them flat just slightly inside the lines. You can see my green stitching next to poorly drawn blue lines.
Then you fold up your darts and stitch them on the dart line.
And viola! Neatly stitched darts without having to worry about the outer layer not being even with the inner layer.

The main body of the bodice is done, now I'm currently in the process of mocking up the sleeves. Completed photos soon to follow.

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