Making a Fluffy, Feathered Dress, Part Two

It continues! This is the second post about making my fluffy ivory dress, the first post talks about the concept and how I made the skirt. It can be read here, and the video that goes along with it is posted here! I would suggest viewing those first, if you haven’t already.

Now we can move onto the bodice, which I think is a lot more exciting.

I draped the bodice on my dress form, but the process was a little different than usual since I was working around the shapes of various appliques. I draped fabric tightly around the form, then started pinning the appliques on top to determine the bodice shape.


When I had an idea of where that was going I draped things properly and ended up with this! It has an odd, low neckline, which will eventually be covered by feathers.


Off the form the fabric pattern looked like this. Because of the low neckline and my complete lack of bust I managed to make it all one piece, which is great! If I can avoid sewing princess seams I will.


I transferred the fabric pattern to paper and marked out the boning channels. I decided to make the bodice very structured because I knew the lace/mesh/layers of fabric on the front would add bulk, and I really didn’t want to look bulky in the dress (or any dress).


I cut strips of the jacquard i’m using for the bodice and ironed the edges inward to get three quarter inch trim. These will be used for boning channels and to cover any raw edges.


I cut out the bodice pattern and marked out all the boning channels. Then I lined the edges up and pinned my trim down!


Those all got topstitched down. The amount of pins proved to be a bit dangerous but I managed to avoid getting blood on the dress, so all is well!


I also stitched a half inch away from the top edge, this creates a “stopper” for one end of the boning and provides a guideline for how long each bone should be.


I used hooping wire for boning since I wanted it to be really stiff and straight. I tipped it with duct tape and wrapped the ends in scotch tape to make sure it wouldn’t move. Not the best method, but it is fast and works!

Then I stitched a half inch away from the bottom edge, creating another stopper so the boning can’t escape.

Finally I pinned the top edge over.


It got stitched down by hand, so I wouldn’t break any needles on the boning! The bottom edge doesn’t get turned over since that seam allowance is needed when attaching the skirt.


That bias tape I made earlier got pinned over the raw edge to finish it off. I really didn’t want to add lining to this bodice so I decided on bias tape instead.


Here it is all stitched down – I did this part by hand too!


And I had a nice, but very plain bodice. It was practically begging to be embellished.


….so I did just that. This is actually my “test” to get a good idea of how to lay things out. I’m using leftover fabric from the skirts, lace, sequins, and feathers that are glued to buckram. I believe these are sold for fascinator decoration, but I bought them a long time ago for a hood that I never made.


All that got unpinned and (kind of) arranged around the blank bodice.


The first thing to be attached was the ruffled jersey. Then the white feathers were stitched on with upholstery thread. Normal cotton thread gets shredded when sewing buckram which is why I used a much heavier alternative. I pinned mesh mounted chiffon flowers (fussy cut from leftover skirt fabric) overtop.

I was aiming for a very layered, texture heavy type of look.


Then I added lace to the center front, and finally, the ivory feathers!


It was still looking a little boring, so I went ahead and added dozens of sequins.


And it was pretty  much done!


I was really happy with it, so I moved on with the finishing touches. The first thing to do was add eyelets. I wanted this dress to zip closed but I forgot seam allowances at the back of the dress, so it ended up being an inch smaller than it should be. I can lace myself into things that are too small, but zippers aren’t that forgiving, which is why I opted for grommets!


And that was pretty much it, actually. I sewed on the skirt and stitched up the back with a french seam. I should probably finish the seam at the waist with bias tape, but i’m leaving it for now since none of the fabrics fray that much.

This is the finished dress.

And a close up of the bodice!  One feather is trying to escape. I might have to pluck it, but hopefully hairspray can fix it.

Overall I’m really happy with this dress. I think it’s very pretty. It is similar in shape to my flower dresses and I don’t think I learned anything from making it, but sometimes you just want to make something fun that you know will turn out well!

DSC_2934Even though the dress is done, I did make a mesh overlay which has sleeves on it. So this project isn’t over!

Also there is a video about making this bodice, and it is posted here!

Thanks for reading!

Monarch Collection – Making a Butterfly Bodice

Todays post is about a new project! It’s actually the first piece in a mini collection, which was inspired by monarch butterflies. I mentioned this in my progress report for last month, but since then I’ve had more ideas and plan on expanding the series to be much larger. I’ll be making a post all about the inspiration/fabric choices/sketches/concept art soon but for now I have a regular the making of post.

This particular design came to me right before bed. I wanted it to be a very literal representation of a butterfly but a little more practical then sticking a butterfly design on a bodice. I also wanted to incorporate beading and piping, since I love both of those techniques but couldn’t fit them anywhere else in the collection.

Eventually I came up with this.


When it came to drafting I realized the proportions wouldn’t work quite like I had planned. The bodice also had a heaviness that didn’t work well with a skirt, so I switched that to be a pair of velvet shorts instead.


The drafting process went surprisingly well considering it’s a somewhat complicated design. I managed to draft it in two pieces, without any darts or side seams. This was great because it meant my design wouldn’t be broken up at all. I drew out the markings I wanted before removing it from the form.



 Once removed from the dress form it looked like this.


I used this as reference to create the lining pattern, which looks like this. The lines are boning placement.


Then I cut the fabric apart using the lines I had drawn as a guide. Each line represented a change in fabric, or where piping would go, which is why it couldn’t be made as a single piece. The end result was kind of confusing…


 The finished pattern was pretty confusing too.

DSC_8295 I started by cutting out all the orange pieces.  I used a crayon and clear ruler to mark a one inch line all the way around the backside of each piece.


The fabric was folded over until the raw edge touched the line, then pinned and eventually sewn in place with tiny stitches done by hand. This meant every edge was finished with a half inch seam allowance.


I did the same thing for the velvet pieces.


 Then I made four and a half yards of piping from cord and velvet material. I ironed the piping open, then pinned and hand sewed it to the edges of the orange panels. This is very difficult to explain but the end result looked like this!

Soon after taking this photo I sewed the front seam together and finished the edges of the black panel on the righthand side. I did this with the same one inch foldover method.


Then I looked through my bead collection and came across some fake pearls, round black beads, and some dark seed beads which would compliment the project perfectly.


I didn’t make too much effort to keep things symmetrical, but I probably should have. I freehanded everything, which made it much faster, this step took a little less then ninety minutes to complete.


Once the beading was done I moved on to boning and lining. The garment definitely needed boning since the wigs had a tendency to fold over instead of sticking up.

I used hooping wire for boning, three pieces in each side. Not enough to get any reduction, but enough to give the garment some structure. I used cotton for lining and ribbon to create boning channels – I actually ran of of 3/4 inch ribbon part way through so I have two different channel sizes. Oops.


This is probably the prettiest lining job i’ve ever done. It was sewn in entirely by hand shortly after taking this photo.


I added eyelets and it was done! I ended up running out of this thread color before I could reinforce all the eyelets so I’ll  have to go back and finish them off whenever I get around to buying more in that shade.

For now it’s fine, wearable and pretty adorable if I do say so myself.

It felt like it was a pretty quick and easy project, but looking back it took about 18 hours over a three day period. This is mostly because the garment was almost entirely hand sewn.




Thanks for reading!

Dewdrop Series, Making Another Dress, Part Two

Here is the second, and final post in making this more modern dress for my Dewdrop series. I talk about my ideas and how I made the skirt in the previous post which can be read here.

As per usual I started by draping the pattern on my dress form. I’d hoped to alter a pattern for this bodice but realized part way through that draping it would just be easier.


When I removed it from the dress form it looked like this! I had to iron it out before making the pattern. I still plan to make a tutorial on this process but i’ve been too distracted by making things to sit down and write it.


The end pattern looked like this. For this project I wanted to try something new, so I didn’t add seam allowances to the neckline. The understructure of this bodice was cut without seam allowances at the neck or waist, then my top fabric was draped over the understructure. This meant their was less bulk and made everything look smoother.

I used a pen and ruler to measure seam allowances to my top fabric later on.


Then I made my mock up! I was pretty happy with it, though it was a bit large in the bust.

There were two visible problems here, the first is that it was riding up, and the second is the shape of the garment, but I wasn’t worried because they will both be fixed when I add boning later on.


 After making the pattern adjustments  I started cutting out the bodice fabrics, which was quite the task since it has four layers!

Like the last bodice I made from this series, it has a base of twill and cotton sateen, with linen lining and a damask front.


I drew out all the boning channels onto my sateen layer and pinned them to the twill.


 Each boning channel was sewn.


And then it was time for my least favorite step – cutting and tipping bones ;;

I used the same method from last time because it seemed to work really well. Each bone was cut with tin snips, then labeled with a letter that corresponds to a boning channel.


I used a dremel tool to soften any sharp edges, then tipped them with medical tape and dipped them in clear nail polish. I left them to dry overnight and by morning they were ready!

Though I still dislike this process I have to say i’m getting a lot better at it. It went much faster this time and the results are far better, if I keep improving maybe soon I won’t mind this step!


 I assembled the base layer and added all the boning. I had a mix up and ended up with two “T”s and two “L”s that were very different sizes, but luckily everything slipped in just fine and I didn’t have to many any changes!


I covered all the edges in linen bias tape to ensure the bones wouldn’t poke out.


I also took a minute to assemble the lining and top fabric.


The top fabric was stitched down by hand onto the base layer.


Although the shape is symmetrical (the “horns” are the same size) my seams don’t line up. One seam cuts through the tip, where as the other is nearly a half inch off. Luckily it isn’t noticeable when worn,  but it bothers me a lot!

After the base layer was attached to the top fabric I  sewed in the eyelets.


Then the waistband was sewn on by hand – I worked so hard to make sure this lines up perfectly, and it does! So that pleases me a lot. Not enough to make up for the sloppy seams, but it’s close.


The skirt was sewn on and the lining was sewn in, both by hand. Then the other edge of the waistband was sewn down and the whole thing actually resembled a dress! To make sure the waistband could handle the slight curve I didn’t add interfacing to it, this means it looks pretty floppy and bad when laid flat, but when worn and under tension it looks fine.

Here you can see how uneven the seams are, but you can also see how well the pattern lines up on the front panels.


 I sewed the final eyelets and tried it on! It’s a little more risque then I had expected but oh well, at least thanks to the boning it stays on really nicely. I like the shape it has, the conical-flat front bodice reminds me a lot of the first dress from this series, so that’s good!

 It’s far from my favorite thing i’ve made, but considering it has twenty hours of time and $20 of material in it, I think it was worth making.

I took pictures without a wig for once and of course my hair is a big mess, please ignore that.




Related posts: Part One, Part Two, Photos of Completed Dress