One I had all the structural elements done, it was time to decorate! To add interest to the bodice, I draped some more of my striped netting over the top of the bust and into the armscyes, tacking down pleats asymmetrically for texture. I pinned the netting in place while it was on the dress form, tried it on to ensure I liked it, and hand-stitched it all down, similar to the bodice on my wisteria gown.
For the back I took a slightly different approach– I wanted to hide the closure rather than having the tulle get all bulky from overlapping at center back, so I only tacked down the pleated tulle on the left side of the neckline, leaving the remainder loose. I pleated the loose side down to a short length of black twill tape and added two hooks so I could fasten it at the right shoulder with thread loops.
Once the bodice drapery was finished I had to plot out my ribbon decoration. I went through a lot of fussing and indecision on this part, because all narrow ribbons looked great on its own but too delicate compared to the wider ribbons on the skirt. All wide looked good with the skirt but a bit too clunky alone. I finally split the difference and used both!
Then I took them all off again, except for the length of ribbon that actually went into the armscye of the bodice. I pinned that in place so that once I re-attached my sleeves I got a clean finish where the drapery and ribbon met the armscye. (as it turned out, I actually had three lines of ribbon that went into the armscye, but didn’t figure that out until later. I had to fold those ends under to mimic a clean finish)
After I reattached the sleeves I clipped the armscye seam allowances and whipstitched them towards the bodice so they didn’t show through the sheer sleeves. Then I put all the ribbon back and hand-tacked it in place while the bodice was on the dress form– it was the only way to ensure it lay properly around the curves of the bodice. It was really only stitched down in a few places– I wanted to avoid interfering with the natural line of the ribbon.
Next up were the black beaded appliqués. I bought two varieties of leaf shapes, but to get some variation in shape and size I cut a few of them apart. Luckily the thread holding the beads onto the backing appeared to have been secured further with glue, so cutting the appliqués didn’t loosen any of the beads.
After much hemming (sewing pun, get it?) and hawing, I decided on the proper placement of the appliqués and pinned them securely in place over the ribbon so I could lay the bodice out flat and stitch them down. For some reason they looked much better after stitching than they had while only pinned– I’d been afraid they looked too tacked-on but once sewn I loved them.
I wanted shoulder bows as a callback to the bows on the skirt, so I made double-layered bows out of the last of my 3″ ribbon and another layer of 2″ ribbon. I also made flat bows out of 1.5″ ribbon and stitched these in the center of my sleeves along the gathering line. There’s a small square of black fabric on the underside of the tulle to reinforce the stitching area for the bows– I didn’t want too much strain on the delicate tulle.