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

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!


A Day at the Park, Cinderella Top

A Day at the Park

I am excited to show you the first in a new series I am working on! The next step in the Belle dress is coming soon, but to tide you over until then here is a quick look at my next idea.

I LOVE going to Disney Parks and I LOVE cosplay, but sadly the two don’t always go together. When I am at the parks I need to be comfortable in order to enjoy myself. Yet, the cosplayer in me wants go in full Disney style. So, here is my solution. Every day clothing that is inspired by Disney characters, parks, movies, etc.

For my first piece in this series I was inspired by Cinderella. I took my favorite work shirt and traced the pattern using pins and craft paper, a trick I learned from a Craftsy class.


The shirt is light and roomy with a lot of drape and super comfortable to wear. I find myself reaching for it most often from my closet. It was my go to selection when I was considering comfortable, yet dressy tops. Since I wanted Cinderella inspired attire, I didn’t want anything too casual.


For the top part of the shirt I layered a sparkly silver metallic knit fabric from JoAnn with their affordable jetset knit in white. I basted the pieces together to prevent sliding.


The bottom of the shirt is a basic satin draped with a lace overlay. I finished both with a simple narrow hem.


I added cuffs to the sleeves in a single layer of the metallic fabric folded in half and dressed it up with a string of pearls.

Here was my result.


Matched with the shirt is a backpack that I made using coordinating princess fabric. You can read more about the backpack at my crafting website I think both items worked very well together.



The ensemble was topped with a Cinderella coach necklace I found on ebay.


Although I faced quite a few struggles with fitting and drape, I was pleased overall with the final product. Of course, I am working on a pair of ears to go with it 🙂

I look forward to expanding my collection of casual wear inspired by Disney!