I decided that rather than trying to stitch the beetlewings onto the individual bodice sections before assembly, I’d put the bodice together first to ensure proper fit and placement of the beetlewings. I was actually really excited for this step, because my pieces were finally starting to look like an actual dress after months of collecting supplies, dyeing, patterning, etc.
As noted before, the bodice was cut with princess seams to add stability. I basted the pieces together by hand to make sure that everything went together smoothly (had a moment of panic when my first iteration seemed to be HUGE, then realized I hadn’t used wide enough seam allowances), then machine-stitched the seams. They were kind of bulky with all the layers in there, so I trimmed down the seam allowances before folding one of the gauze layers over and flat-felling each seam. It wasn’t the neatest process, but it helped clean up the inside and kept the somewhat scratchy tulle layer from irritating my skin.
I was originally going to add a waist stay to support the weight of the skirt, but decided instead that I would mount the skirt on an entirely separate waistband, which would then be tacked to the bodice like a waist stay, so I let that step go for now.
I installed a 22″ long invisible zipper down the center back (would’ve been better to have a 24″ zipper but I couldn’t find one), leaving a 2″ seam allowance on each side to allow for sizing adjustments later on if necessary. I was happy to see that it appeared to fit perfectly, likely helped along by the slight stretch in all of my fabrics. Now I just have to hope that the skirt won’t mess up the line of the bodice after I’ve attached it…
Once the bodice was put together I added a neckline facing of the green cotton gauze to finish it off nicely. I interfaced the facing pieces with a lightweight fusible interfacing to give them just a tiny bit of body, then understitched the neckline edge and tacked the inside edges to the lining.
Unfortunately, I realized at this point that I’d inadvertently cut my front neckline too wide, which made it gape weirdly when worn. I ended up unpicking the understitching, the facing stitching, and the basting stitches holding my layers together, before taking separate darts in the cotton underlining and the facing and gently gathering the outermost layers of tulle and crochet lace to fit the new, smaller neckline. This way, the darts were invisible from the outside but still there to allow for fitting on the inside. Not the easiest way of doing things, but it worked.
The photos also show some kind of ivory-colored neck piece on top, which was probably made separately so it could be removed for cleaning, etc., but I’ll get to that later.