The Black Bodice


I thought a weekend when I was feeling disgusting would be a good time to make a new boned bodice.  I didn't feel like making anything much, and I certainly didn't want to get on with any of my paying work!  I wasn't inspired to make quilty things, so this is what I did.

I already had an idea I'd been mulling over for a while, and a starter for the pattern.  It was another of those stash-only projects...

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First I took the pattern I'd already made using Drea Lead's Corset Pattern Generator, and cut it out of brown paper.  I left off the tabs at the waist.  I added some straps, making a nice pointed curve at the front.

I added a bit more paper at the corners, to round them off.  There are no seam allowances on this, as there are to be no seams: the whole bodice is cut in one piece, and the edges will be bound once the boning is all in place.

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The next thing to do was to cut the fabric: the outer fabric is a nice 100% cotton velveteen with a really dense pile.  The inner layer to go next to the skin is a nice navy poly-cotton twill trouser fabric.  Between these two layers is a third one, a black poly-cotton sheeting.  The three layer construction allows the boning to remain unseen from the outside.

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 The innermost layer and the navy layer are stitched together close to the front edge.  Half an inch from this I sewed the second line of stitching: this is sufficient distance to allow two sections of boning in the channel.  The second channel is sewn just over half an inch from this first one: between them will go the eyelets.

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To form the remaining boning channels, I started by establishing the side line by folding the centre front to the centre back, and drawing in the line.  The side bone channel is drawn in, and then the slanting bust support ones.  You can add as many extra ones as you like, but to start with, I'm just putting in two on each side.

For the back boning channels I placed a dot 1 1/2 inches either side of the centre back line.  Between the lowest point of the armscye and the lower point of the upper back neckline, another line was drawn, at the base of the strap.  A line was drawn from the centre of the strap at this line to the dot.  A channel was then marked on either side of this line, to make two boning channels.

The next step was to sew all the boning channels and sew the velveteen to the front at both sides. 

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Only after this can I sew the eyelets, as they have to be stitched through all three layers...  There are eyelets down both sides of the front and at the front strap placement points on both the bodice front and the strap points.

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I did a few experimental ones on the same layers of fabric.  These eyelets are sewn with Gutterman silk thread, as were all the ones down the front.  I had to swap threads for the shoulder/front ones, as I ran out of black silk!  They are done with black rayon machine embroidery thread!  It's a good idea to remember this, as it works very well, and you can sometimes get a much better colour match than with silk.

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The boning was slipped in once the eyelets were in, and then I stitched the bias tape round all remaining edges to stop them coming out again!  It got  I cut my boning with tin snips: easier on the hands and saves the scissors!  These will cut anything from the lightest poly/nylon boning to the heaviest metal boning.

These pictures make sewing the bias tape round the edge look easy, but it wasn't!  The machine foot kept slipping off the fabric, and the bias kept creeping...  Still, we got there in the end, and I managed to pin it down all round the edge!  The last process in the actual sewing is to hand stitch it down on the inside.

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And finally!  Here's the completed bodice from the front...

I had to make the blouse specially for the pictures!  It's a bit chopped off a 10m piece of rather splendid mercerized Egyptian cotton!  I got it dirt cheap...

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  ...and from the back!  And below is a complete picture of the whole outfit!  I already had the skirt, and wear it with lots of other things.  There's a full five yards of batik sari in this skirt!

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