When making the bodice it took me a while to decide how best to display the embroidery on the fabric. After much vacillating and even more pinning, I decided to use the existing bottom hem of the bodice, which would forfeit the pretty design along the top edge but which would let me have a more structured bottom edge. I took a deep breath and started disassembling the bodice.
Once I’d figured out what I was going to do, I had to prepare the bodice for cutting– that meant slitting open the side seams and removing the boning from the front, and then re-shaping the bodice entirely to change it from being curved over the bust to being flat (as 4-year-olds are not known for their curved bustlines).
I used one of my daughter’s existing dresses (the ribbon-embellished holiday dress, if you were wondering) to sketch out a pattern for a basic bodice, and pinned it to the fabric. Since the back of the original bodice was shorter than the front, I made up the difference with some plain satin over the shoulders.
I cut out the shoulder and armhole lines, but initially left the sides extended all the way to the edge of the fabric, just to leave myself some wiggle room. I basted the side seams together for the front and back and tried the new bodice on the duct tape model just to check for fit. Once I determined that it was reasonably close, I started on the inverted pleats.
I’d originally intended to insert new fabric panels for the insides of the pleats, but the seam allowances in the original bodice were so wide (to allow for alterations, I’m sure) that I decided to just use those instead– particularly as they were already nicely hemmed and lined. I was lucky that I’d left them uncut for wiggle room at the beginning! I still needed to insert lacing loops into a seam, though, so I cut the sides off, basted in lacing loops (made of double-fold bias tape sewn shut), then sewed the sides back on. Then I stitched the side seams, essentially making a very wide bodice that can be laced tighter. This will look neater once I’ve topstitched everything.
I ripped out the existing zipper and replaced it with a separating zipper, and since the new zipper was just a little shorter than I needed it to be, I put in a button-and-loop closure at the top of the neckline.
Finally, I finished the neckline by sewing the lining and outer fabric layers together from the inside, and attached the front and back pieces at the shoulders. I had to fuss with the neckline a bit to get it to lie properly (since my daughter refused to try it on until after I’d sewed it), but I think it turned out all right, if a bit higher than I’d intended.
Next up: sleeves!
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