Friday, November 7, 2014

Swirl Sew-along : Part 4 : Bodice Construction

In the last post we added the pretty details onto our Swirl dresses - now we get to start turning the pieces of fabric into a dress!

This post is going to deal with bodice construction, but we have one more little 'chore' to do before we get onto that.  We need to make the tie belt.

Get your two pieces and fold them in half down the fold line and pin.

Then sew the each tie, leaving the short straight end open, and closing up the slightly pointed end.  Take your scissors and cut the corners off the seam allowance, and turn them through and iron them!  I find the other end of the bbq skewer really handy for this job!

Both ties get attached to the pointy bits of the back bodice pieces.  You will have marked the location in Part 2.  Pin a tie to each back bodice piece.

Now, these will be sewn in when we attach the back facing, but I don't want to leave them pinned on there until then, so we will just run a line of stitching at half an inch from the edge so its permanently attached.

And thats all the preparation we need to do - its time to put the bodice together!  Lets start with the shoulder seams.  I suggest you pin from the arm hole towards the neck.  Once you've pinned, sew!  (You will need to pivot where the shoulder seam does an up sweep near the arm hole)

For seam finishing, I'm a massive fan of doing things the old fashioned way.  If you have an overlocker / serger, feel free to use it.  I'll use my pinking shears.  Don't forget to clip the seam at the up sweep where you pivoted!

Then iron the seam open.  There is a school of thought that says you should iron the seam flat to 'set' the stitches before you iron it open.  I'm not sure about this.  It seems to be another step to me, to slow me down... anyone got an opinion either way on this one???

Using a tailors ham will help you press the curved shoulder seam

On to the side seams!  Both side seams need to be sewn a little differently.  But they both start at a point that we marked in Part 2.  You can see it in the photo below.  I have marked it with a double pin.  The other thing I've marked with a double pin is where I need to leave the seam open for the tie to pass through.  This happens on the left side only.  The right side seam gets sewn from the arm pit to the waist.

Sew both of the side seams and press them open.  You will also notice that you press part of the arm hole open in the process. 

Now we need to reinforce where the tie passes through.  All you need to do is sew a rectangle around the opening with small stitches.  Easy!

Then on to the arm hole!  Fold the arm hole back to where you clipped the up sweep, and iron the fold line in.

Then fold the edge back underneath to the fold line and press again.

Then stitch the fold down at 5/8".  Its a little difficult, but you need to start as near to the end as possible.  Have a look at the photo below, it will probably explain it a little better.

So you now have a bodice!  HOORAY!!! 


Give yourself a pat on the back and go and have a cup of tea (or a cocktail!)



  1. Pressing the seam flat and open is necessary to "break" the seam, which is standard fashion industry practice. It flattens the fold from both angles, helping the fabric on both sides to level out neatly. In my own experience, it also seems to helps drape of a garment.

  2. I always press both sides of the seam flat, then press it open. It makes such a difference even me with my extreme dislike of ironing will do it! It makes it look so much more professional, and helps everything sit so much more nicely too.

    There's a fantastic tutorial/example showing seams pressed in different ways. Very convincing! If I can track it down I'll link to it.

    As for the sewing, I overlocked my side seams together. DUH! What was I thinking? Hemming the sleeves will be a pain now. I might just unpick it.