Belle Dress

Binding the Bodice

With the sleeves attached the bodice is close to finished. Up next, adding binding to conceal the raw edges. Before starting I gave the bodice a good press using a press cloth.


Since I want the binding to be hidden on the inside of the garment, I will be using single fold bias strips. If you want to see the binding, you could use double fold.

I used a fat quarter of the satin fabric and drew lines along the bias 1 5/8 inches apart to make a continuous binding strip.


This yielded a few yards of binding which was just enough.


I placed the binding right side down on the right side of the bodice along all of the edges. This includes neck, hem, and back. You would also do the armholes if you have a sleeveless bodice. (Speaking of the sleeves. If you like you can bind the seam allowances on the sleeves, but this does add extra bulk. You can also trim them and finish with a zigzag stitch. I think this will by my choice on this project.)


I folded it at the corners. I don’t think I would do that again. Instead I would use two strips for the back edges and one for the top and one for the bottom. I think it would be easier.


After stitching the binding in place with a little less than a 1/2 inch seam, I folded it toward the lining side of the bodice, folding the raw edge of the binding over the raw edge of the seam. I whip stitched it in place.


This process is a bit time consuming. It’s a good time to catch up on your Netflix viewing. I clipped the curves and trimmed most of the seams by about 1/8 inch as I did this.


Binding creates a beautiful smooth edge on the right side of the finished bodice. I have found that binding creates a much better result than sewing the lining to the main fabric and flipping it, which I have done with poor results in the past. 


Binding really does make a difference in the look of the finished edges.


There are a few wrinkles on the bodice. If I was to make it again I would shorten the side front pieces a bit to help compensate for that. I am hoping that the majority will go away once the grommets have been inserted and the back is laced tightly.


You may notice at this point that the bodice is smaller than expected. This is most likely due to the thickness of the fabric. There are a few simple ways to compensate for this. Plan to add a bit of extra length to the bottom and back, or use a smaller seam allowance. You just have to get to know your fabric and your dress form so you can plan ahead. Making a muslin mock up first is also a good idea if you are using expensive fabric or need an exact fit.


In the end, a gap of 1 – 2 inches in the back usually works just fine for a corset bodice. This allows for a more snug fit if that is what you are going for. It won’t be comfortable, but it will look nice!

What’s next? The majority of the construction is complete we still need to add grommets for lacing, and modesty panels. We also need to complete the waistband, neckline, hem and decoration. It’s coming together quickly now!

Belle Dress

Bodice & Sleeves

Once the boning was inserted into the casings there were just a few more steps to complete. The first thing I did was to stitch across the bottom of each casing with a 5/8 inch seam allowance. This was to make sure that the boning doesn’t fall out and to ensure that it is out of the path of the 1/2 inch seam allowance.


I then noticed that the edges of the casings were sticking out a bit. I decided to try something new and used about a 1/16 inch seam allowance to stitch the sides of the casings to the lining.


I do think this helped the casings (and the seam allowances hidden beneath) to lay flatter. I had to clip the edges of the casing at the bust curve. You can see the before and after pictures below.

1img_0569  1img_0567

I noticed the casings were just a bit visible on the front of the bodice, but I am hoping a good press later will help conceal them.

With the boning and casings in place, it was time to connect the lining to the main fabric. Carefully, aligning seams and edges I pinned all of the way around the bodice connecting the two layers with wrong sides together. (This would be a good time to correct any errors.)


Next, I basted around the edges with a 3/8 inch seam allowance. This is quite a sturdy bodice, and I am pleased with how it turned out.


Next up, adding sleeves. This is a step that a lot of people may skip. Sleeves definitely aren’t necessary, but since this will probably be worn at a school I will be adding sleeves for modesty. They should end up being mostly, if not entirely, covered by the decoration that will be added across the neck line.

I am not great at draping sleeves, so I started by drafting a simple sleeve pattern. If you are not comfortable drawing your own you can always use a sleeve pattern from another garment pattern. I actually do that all of the time, I’ll go through my store bought patterns and select bits and pieces from different patterns and put them together to create my own unique garment. Before I started draping my own patterns, mix and matching from store bought patterns was my go to method for cosplay.


I pinned it to the bodice to see how it would look.


The sleeve was a little fuller and longer than I wanted so I marked out the middle section. Then I stitched it closed, creating a smaller sleeve.

1img_0594  1img_0595

Then I draped it again.



I was much happier with this version. The only thing I didn’t want was the little pleats at the edge. So, keeping those pleats in place I traced a new pattern.


I cut out 4 sleeve pieces from the satin, 2 for the exterior sleeve, and 2 for lining.


With right sides together, I stitched two of the sleeve pieces together at the bottom.


Next, I pressed the seam allowance toward the lining side and under-stitched it in place.


I folded the sleeve in half and connected them at the under arm.


Then I pressed the seam open and turned the sleeve so the lining was on the inside and the main fabric on the outside, and pressed again.  The top edges didn’t line up perfectly due to the thickness of the seam allowance when turning, but they still worked great. So, I basted the top edges in place. Once they were secure I did two rows of gathering stitches along the top curve.

1img_0630     1img_0631

1img_0635    1img_0638

Then, with the sleeves complete, I pinned them to the bodice. I took a lot of time spreading out the ease in the fabric to minimize pleats on the sleeves. I probably could have taken out a bit more of the fullness in the sleeve, but I do like how roomy it is when being worn. I think they will be comfortable.


Then I stitched the sleeves to the bodice. The sleeves are complete!



Belle Dress

Adding the Boning

The first thing you need in order to add boning to a bodice, are casings. You need to have a channel for the bones to slide into. The most common places to add bones are along the seams and at the center back. You can always add more than that depending on how structured you want your bodice.

If you are purchasing your boning you will notice that some types of boning comes in the casing already. You can also buy boning casing separately. I will be making my own using the same duck canvas I used for my lining. Since many of the seams are curved you want to make sure the casings can stretch. So, I cut mine on the bias. This is at a 45 degree angle to the grainline.


I drew my casings 1 1/8 inches (or 9/8 inch) wide. This way they would be slightly wider than my seam allowances.


After cutting them into strips I have plenty of casings.


Next, I pinned the casings over each seam. This is done on the wrong side of the lining fabric, the canvas. That way all of the boning seams are on hidden on the lining and are not visible on the outside of the bodice.


It takes some time to make sure the casings lay flat over very curved sections.


I decided to pin all of my casings at once. This was mostly because my dog was sitting on my lap and didn’t want to move. I have to admit that doing this all at once can make for a prickly experience when sewing. I did get poked a few times. Therefore, if you prefer you can always pin one at a time, and then sew, so you don’t have to worry about all of the pins. You can also simply hold the casing in place adjusting as you sew if you don’t want to pin.


The boning that I will be adding to my corset is 1/4 inch wide. So, I will create a 3/8 inch wide channel to slide it into. This will allow the bone to slide in easily and takes into account the thickness of the metal. Since my casings are 9/8 inches, I will take a 3/8 inch seam allowance on each side leaving the 3/8 inch channel in the middle. It is important to keep an accurate seam allowance. If your seam allowance is too big, your channel will be too small and the bone won’t fit. If your seam allowance is too small, your channel will be too big, and the bone will slide around.

Normally, I sew my casings all of the way to the edge of the fabric. I decided to try something different this time. I started and stopped stitching 1/2 inch from each end. I want to see if trimming the bulk of the casing out of the seam allowance will help with how it lays. I will keep you posted as to which method I prefer after the construction is complete.


Now all of my casings are attached!


I trimmed off the extra edges of the casing that extended beyond the edge of the bodice.


I’m ready to add the boning.


The first thing I did was stitch the top of each channel closed 5/8 inch from the top edge. The seam allowance will be at 1/2 inch so this will provide a bit of a buffer so the boning doesn’t get caught in my seams. The will help when inserting the bones as well, so they don’t slide out.

Then I marked 5/8 inch from the bottom on each channel. This will give me a reference to where the closing seam will be.


Before inserting your boning, you need to determine what type of boning is best for you. Plastic boning is lightweight, flexible, affordable, easy to find, easy to cut, and often comes in the casing. That said, it offers the least amount of structure.

In my bodice I will be using a combination of flat steel boning, the white you see below, and spiral steel boning. I chose the steel boning because of the great structure it provides. The spiral boning is flexible and lays beautifully, but is very supportive. The flat steel, with its inability to bend sideways, provides great straight lines. Both of these types of boning can be purchased on a roll, or in pre-cut lengths. If you plan to cut the boning yourself it helps tremendously if you have proper tools. See my previous post on my Corset making tools if you would like information on what I use. If you choose to purchase pre-cut lengths take the time to measure carefully so all of your bones fit.

I will be using the flat boning for the straight channels. Those at the center back, and the center front. I will use spiral boning for everything else. I laid the boning along the back channel, and trimmed it to the proper length (about 1/8 – 1/4 inch shorter than my channel.) You don’t want it to be too long as you don’t want to accidentally stitch on it, or have it poke through.


If you plan to use a lot of flat boning, I like to use a sharpie to label which casing the bone goes into.


I use a metal file to sand down the sharp corners of the cut boning.


Next, I wrap the very end in PTFE tape to cover the exposed metal end. (I’ve also used a bit of plasti-dip instead of the tape, see my post, but the tape is definitely faster and less messy.)


Then I slide the boning into the appropriate channel.


Up next is the spiral boning. You use metal tips to cover the ends of the spiral boning. I tipped one end of the boning, and then as with the flat boning, I lay it over the channel and trim it to the appropriate length.


Then cap the other end and slide it into the channel.


While the idea of using steel boning can be overwhelming at first, if you have the right tools and patience it is not terribly difficult. With pre-cut boning available the difficulty is not any more difficult than plastic boning. You just have to be careful not to sew over it with your machine. My middle school students have been able to successfully cut and tip their own metal boning. So, it can be done!

Belle Dress

Sewing the Bodice

Now that the pattern is ready it’s time to sew the bodice.

The first step is to prepare your fabric. Make sure that is washed and laundered if applicable. I want the bodice of my dress to act much like a corset. The lining will be duck canvas, and the exterior fabric will be satin. Coutil would probably be a better choice than duck canvas if you can find it and don’t mind the price tag, but I was definitely shopping on a budget and I have found that the canvas works well for me.

Since the lining will be so heavy, the satin needs to be reinforced to add structure. It is worth it to take the time to do this, especially if the satin is really light weight. There are several ways to do this. I chose to use fusible interfacing. I used Pellon SF101.  I don’t always care for fusible interfacing. It can pull away from the fabric and sometimes causes puckering. So, if you don’t want to use interfacing, interlining is also a great option.


I’ve made a deadline for myself on this project, so to save time I fused the interfacing to a large piece of the satin prior to cutting out the pieces. You could cut out each piece individually and fuse separately to save on the cost of interfacing if you prefer. My goal with this step was to save time. By fusing first you only have to cut once instead of twice.

Next, I cut out the bodice from both the canvas and the reinforced satin. You can always make a muslin with the pattern prior to cutting out your actual fabric if you want to test the pattern first. (Just FYI, I sometimes give myself a few extra inches at the center back just in case…to account for thickness of fabric, seam allowance error, etc.)


I like to start by sewing the canvas together. I use the canvas to test my pattern.


I sewed each section right sides together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.


I like to match up the ends and then pin in the middle. Occasionally, in areas with tight curves, I need to clip the edge of the smaller piece in order to fit the fabric. On this pattern, I found that was necessary when aligning the side back to the back piece.


A note on making your own patterns, I have found that there are little discrepancies that occur when making your own patterns. Since I am not a professional pattern maker I encounter things like this frequently. For example, when aligning your pieces recall it is the stitch line, 1/2 inch from the edge (since I used a 1/2 inch seam allowance), that needs to align. Not the corners. This was very visible on the shoulder seams. I have found that if you have a lot of experience using store bought patterns you can predict how edges should be aligned, even if it isn’t cut perfectly.


Also, I occasionally find that I mark the wrong line while drafting my pattern. This could be a section where the fabric was folded, or the pin was in at an odd angle when draping, and for some reason when I connect the lines it ends up an odd shape. This happened on this pattern on the side front piece. There was an indent from the top on the pin line near the shoulder, my brain thinking it was part of the shoulder curve, curved the edge. In reality, the fabric had just been folded, and the line was supposed to be straight. It wasn’t part of the shoulder curve at all. I was able to realize the error when I was pinning the pieces together and corrected it. Why am I telling you this? I just want to point out, that it is okay if things aren’t perfect. We learn from it, and as long was we adjust as we go, things usually work out just fine!


Once the canvas was sewn together I placed it back on the dress form, inside out, so the seams could be adjusted as needed.


I noticed it was a little loose at the bust.


So, I made a slight adjustment. This is also a good time to try it on yourself, or on whoever will be wearing the garment. Since we are not all model perfect like our dress forms it is a good time to make sure it will fit you. (Keep in mind, corset patterns may be a bit small since they are often meant to suck you in.)


When I tried it on myself I noticed that the neck was a bit high, so I may have to adjust that later. I also had to let out the shoulder seams a bit. Just keep in mind, the top, bottom, and armhole seams have not yet been stitched, so the seam allowance is still present.

Next, I sewed together the satin, using the adjustments I had made to the canvas.


It’s still a little rumpled, but it’s a bodice!


Time for pressing! Pressing makes all the difference in the appearance of your final garment. You’ll probably want to have a pressing ham and press cloth handy. I prefer silk organza press cloths.


I pressed open the seams.


I had to clip the curves of the seam allowance around very rounded places such as the bust. I pressed both the satin and the canvas.


Keep an eye out for my next post, where we will talk about adding boning channels and boning to the bodice.


Belle Dress

Draping the Bodice

Now that everyone is settling into the new school year I feel like I finally have time to sew. Hooray!

Today I worked on draping the bodice. Draping is a process used to create your own garment pattern. This is one of my favorite steps in the dressmaking process.


I have had good experiences with many store bought patterns, and still use them when I try new styles or techniques. I have definitely learned a lot from them. That said, I greatly prefer making my own patterns. Overall, I feel like I get a better fit, with fewer adjustments being necessary.  If you are not comfortable making your own pattern or if you don’t have a dress form, store bought patterns can work just great! With cosplay so popular nowadays, there are many wonderful store bought patterns that could be used to make a corset bodice. Just note that if you do use a store bought pattern it may require additional adjustment to create a good fit for you.

Since I am making my own pattern I hope my newly fitted dress form will help me with this process! (See my previous post.)  It is good to note, that a bodice has a left and right side that are mirror images in most cases. As a result, you only need to drape half the bodice to create the pattern.

I began by draping a piece of muslin over the dress form. Be sure to make note of the grainline of the muslin and keep it vertical on the dress form.  I like to secure the fabric at the center front first. Then I begin to pin the muslin into the desired shape, taking care to make sure the seams are as smooth as possible, and placed in flattering and easily maneuverable areas.


This can take practice, and is sometimes filled with trial and error. There were several seams that I had to re-pin a few times to create the look I was going for.


I find it helpful to be careful regarding the intersection of seams. It can be difficult to work with them if they are too close together or join in awkward places. I find this is particularly important in places such as under the arms, where you don’t want a lot of unnecessary bulk.


Once I have the seams pinned the way I like, I start to play with the edges. I began by using 1/8 inch draping tape to create possible necklines. I purchased the tape, and a lot of my draping and pattern making supplies, from pgm. My dress will be worn at a school with strict modesty guidelines, so the dress can’t be sleeveless. So, my dress will have cap sleeves which will be hidden under the “collar”, hence the necklines shown.

That said, the beauty of draping your own bodies is that you can make it whatever shape works best for you! The sky is the limit! Most of these methods will work regardless of your particular shape, unless it is drastically different.

1img_0434 I have only recently started using the draping tape, but I find that I like it. It is bold, which gives great lines, and it is easy to move until you decide on a final position. I decided to go with the blue line.

Next up was the back neckline. I started by making sure the shoulder lines matched up.


From the shoulder line I continued on to shape the back neck line.


I then used tape to mark the sleeve holes.


It is important to mark key locations such as the center front, waistline, joining points, etc. I like to simply use a ballpoint pen for this, but others prefer pencils or other marking tools. I would not use anything that smudges or could bleed through.


At this point I was pretty content with the progress of my pattern, so it was time to mark the seams. I did this by marking along the pin lines. Be sure to do this on both sides of the seam, along the front and back of the pins, so each pattern piece or section is defined.


Do this for all seams.  Mark the center back and along the taped edges as well. Once my seams were marked I began drawing a line for the bottom of the bodice.


When in doubt I prefer to make the bodice a little longer rather than shorter. You can always shorten a pattern later, I find it is much more difficult to lengthen it. If I have multiple lines for an edge, I will grab a different colored pen to draw my final line so the correct line is obvious when I remove the muslin from the dress form.


Before I remove the muslin I like to label each piece: front, side front, side, etc. Sometimes I will also label them numerically 1, 2, 3, etc. starting with the center front and working to the center back.


Finally, it is time to remove the muslin! You can clearly see the shape of the bodice pattern when the fabric is removed and laid flat.


The lines that are drawn when tracing the pins are often rough and jagged. You don’t want that on your final pattern. Use design rulers to smooth the lines.


Sometimes the rulers will fit a curve beautifully! And sometimes they don’t. So, don’t force it. If your line looks nothing like the shape of the ruler, go with your line. Just smooth it out.


Once your lines are smooth you can use a ruler to add seam allowances if you like. Sometimes I do this with a ruler on the pattern pieces, and sometimes I will cut my pattern piece on the pin line and add a seam allowance when I cut my fabric. It just depends on how exact you need your pattern and how frequently you plan to use it. Since I usually only use the patterns once it is not always worth it for me to draw out the seam allowances, since I can free hand them pretty accurately on my own. But that is definitely personal preference. If you don’t think you can draw the seam allowance accurately without a ruler, or you plan to use the pattern multiple times, I definitely recommend adding one.


When I add a seam allowance I like to do so with a different colored pen. I usually use a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Below, the seam allowance line is in red. This will be the cut line for my fabric.


We now have a pattern for the Belle Dress Bodice!


Belle Dress, Uncategorized

Padding a Dress Form

After spending so long working on the skirt of my Belle Dress I noticed that my hoop was starting to sag. As a result, I decided to give the poor abused hoop, that has been holding so much weight for months, a break. I decided to focus on the bodice.

However, when I thought about draping a bodice for the dress I realized I had a problem. My dress form wasn’t the right size.

In the past I have always used an adjustable dress form. It has worked really well for me and I have made dozens of costumes using it. The beauty of an adjustable form is that whenever I am making something for another person, it can be modified. However, I always ran into problems when making something for me because it just wasn’t my size. I am a pear shape and to get the hips to fit the shoulders and bust always ended up being way too large and wide. Sigh. While I could usually adapt my pattern to plan for this, it was a complication I would prefer not to have to deal with consistently. So, when my adjustable form started to die I invested in professional dress form from The Shop Company.

When I bought my standard size dress form I knew I would need to pad the form to make it my size and shape. I tried purchasing a kit that contained foam pieces and a cover, but it didn’t work for my shape, and didn’t look great.

So, now that I am determined to begin working on the bodice of the Belle dress, I really want a dress form that fits! So, I will pad it on my own.


As I had seen someone else do in the past, a great way to pad the bust is to use an old bra. This one had been out of commission for a while, but it was my shape. It added just enough circumference to match my measurements.

Next, I wrapped the dress form in batting. As I mentioned before, I am pear shaped, so the top of the dress form was perfect, but my hips and waist are quite a bit larger. So, no batting on the top for me.


One layer of batting wasn’t enough. I added two layers all of the way around, plus a few strips and ovals in between the two layers to widen the hips, pad the belly, and shorten the waist.

I tried to align the side and back seams of the batting with the seams on the dress form. I stitched the seams to fit by hand. Then I trimmed the seam allowances.

I didn’t want the batting to be visible and exposed when using the dress form. I doesn’t look too great, and it would probably get snagged and messed up easily. So, I decided to make a cover. After the batting was in place. I draped the dress form with a nude colored scuba knit.


I pulled and tucked until I had a shape I liked. I used a heat erase pen to mark the center, arm holes, and pin placement.

After I took out all of the pins I placed the fabric flat on my table. You can see the basic shape of the dress form, but the lines are jagged and crooked. Design rulers to the rescue!


I used the design rulers and an air erase maker to straighten the lines. When I draped the knit I pinned on both sides on the dress form to ensure I had the right shape, but to make a pattern you only need half. One front side, and one back side. I chose the side that had the best shape, and used them to make my pattern.


I smoothed out the curves and eliminated all of the jagged lines. Once The lines were nice I traced the shape onto Swedish Tracing Paper so that I can use it again in the future if I need to. It might be nice to have dress form covers in different colors, depending on what project I am working on.


I cut out the pieces with a 3/8 inch seam allowance and sewed it together using a triple stitch for all seams except the hem, on which I used a zigzag as it needed the most stretch.


I was so pleased with how it turned out. My dress form still looks so nice and new, but it is ME shaped! I can’t wait to use it.


Belle Dress

Attaching the Lace

Once I had a good idea for how to drape the lace, it was time to attach it.

As I was beginning this process, I decided I wanted all of the yellow layers of the skirt to be connected, and all of the white to be separate, so I could wear the white petticoat with other things.

As a result, my first step was to put the yellow circle skirts, and the yellow gathered petticoat layer together.


I placed the ruffled layer inside the circle skirts, aligned the center front, and pinned all four layers together at the waist.



Evie wanted to help. Thank goodness she is cute, since she isn’t terribly helpful!


Next, I took it to the machine and stitched them together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance around the waist.


Now, I was ready to work with the lace. I started with 5 yards of JoAnn’s Casa Collection 58″ lace in Ochre. It is a great value, only about $5 per yard with a 50% of coupon. I wish I had purchased a few more yards of lace, 6 – 7 yards probably would have been better for a fuller or longer drape, but as I didn’t want to invest anymore in materials…we will make 5 yards work!

I began by trimming the lace to be 40 inches tall, rather than 58 inches. After cutting I had lace that was 5 yards by 40 inches. (I will use the part that was trimmed off for accents and details later.)


I folded the lace in half with right sides together. I marked 9 inched down from the top edge (the scalloped finished edge of the lace is the bottom), and 6 inches up from the bottom, and pinned in between. I left 9 inches open at the top for the center back opening, and the bottom 6 inches open for the draped swoops of fabric.


I stitched between the two marks. This created a big loop of lace.


Next, I folded the lace fabric into quarters and used clips to mark the quarter sections. (Pins tend to fall out of lace.) Each quarter section was about 45 inches along the top raw edge.

I then marked the waistband section of the skirt into quarters as well.


I placed the skirts inside the lace, making sure the lace was right side out, and aligned the quarter sections. You will notice that the lace is MUCH bigger than the waistband.


To bring in the waist I created pleats, similar to what I did when draping the fabric. When making the pleats I found that my pleats overlapped about 2/3 to 3/4 of the time. For example, if my pleats were 1.5 inches long, they would overlap the previous pleat by about 1 inch or a touch more. I didn’t really measure, so this took a little playing with, but in the end I was happy with the results. I stitched the pleats in place in sections using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.


The pleats go in opposite directions. They fold toward the back of the skirt, so at the center front they meet and then point different ways.


The lace is now attached to the skirt! Hooray.


You will notice that the lace is a bit snug around the skirt. Raising it up higher will help eliminate this. If you had an extra yard or two you also would have that problem. Not to worry though, 5 yards will work!

Next, let’s begin with the swoops of lace. I started by marking off 18 inch sections along the bottom edge. At each 18 inch mark I cut a 6 inch vertical slit…and marked 6 inches straight above that. If I had to do this again, I would do so when the material was flat, perhaps with an air erase marker or something, so that I could ensure my markings were accurate and forming right angles.


At the top of each slit I did 6 inches of vertical gather stitches by hand. I used a long doll needle to make the work faster.


I pulled the gather stitches tight and made a knot.


This created nice little bunches in the lace which will be the top of the swoops of fabric.


I was pretty pleased with how they turned out.


I still plan to go back and work with the slit sections to add to the look of the drape, and I might increase the length of the gathered sections. We will see!


Belle Dress

Draping Lace

After my first few attempts at draping the lace I decided to try a different method.

I wanted to see how the swoops of lace would lay differently if there was a slit in the lace verses simply having the fabric gathered.


As you can see, a slit in the lace can create a longer and slimmer drop in the fabric.


However, you do lose a bit of the fullness that was present from just gathering.

I think I will go with a small slit, to add a bit of length, but hopefully keep much of the soft fullness of the gathered drapes.

Belle Dress, Uncategorized


Now that the underskirt is complete it is time to add some decoration!

I plan to add a lace overlay to the top of the skirt. Since I was not sure how much lace I would need I started by simply draping the lace over the underskirt.


I don’t want the lace to extend all of the way to the bottom, so I folded over the top edge to make an approximation for the length of the lace.


Since I prefer pleats rather than gathers I pinned the lace in pleats around the waist to see what fullness I could achieve.

It turned out that I needed more lace than expected. I used everything I had, but wish I had a few more yards. However, since I don’t know if it is still available I will just use what I have.

Once the lace was on place I played with different swoop sizes at the bottom of the lace to give the “Belle” effect to the dress.


First, I tried large swoops of fabric.


Then I tried a smaller size.


After considering both options I preferred the look of the smaller swoops.


There ended up being nine swoops around the width of the skirt.

I want to add a rose to the peak of each later 🙂

Belle Dress

The Underskirt – Part 2

With the 3 underskirts constructed I wanted to see what they looked like over top of the petticoat. This was the result.


I cut the circle skirts too long on purpose, as I didn’t want to have to worry about the possibility of them being too short. I will hem them to the correct length later.

The resulting skirt has a very angular shape. The godets really make the skirt have more of an A shape rather than a bell. If I were making the Cinderella dress, I could be done with the underskirt layers at this point, but since I do want a bell shape for my Belle dress, I went ahead and created the regular layered petticoat to add to the underskirt.

It took quite some time to do all of the gathering, but I think it was worth it.


Adding this layer softened the look of the skirt.


I am glad I added the additional layer.


before I add the over skirt and make the waistband for the underskirt I want to construct the bodice. The reason I want to do this first is to ensure that that waist of the skirt and over skirt will be completely hidden under the bodice.

Up next, drafting the pattern…