Ada Bodice

Lol, once again I failed to make this costume in time for Halloween. It was for a good reason – in my tailoring (coat making) class, after 6 weeks of trying and failing with my teacher to get a coat pattern to fit, she asked if I would mind starting over and drafting the pattern myself. She said that I really should just make all my own patterns going forward, since it would be faster than making a commercial pattern fit.

So, after cursing the universe REPEATEDLY, she was totally right, and in 2 weeks my self-drafted coat muslin was a much better fit than the other had been in 6 weeks, but that meant I was 6 weeks behind in class, and still had to draft the coat collar and sleeves. So no time at all for holiday sewing. I wore my Eliza Schuyler dress to a party and that was great!

New goal, have this ready to wear when I go to Dickens with GBACG in a month?

Here’s where we left off:

I started with the bodice base from my 1850s evening gown. I’ve learned more about fit and pattern making since this version, so I knew I wanted to make the fit better. I also raised the neckline, moved the opening to the front, and cut off a 2″ piece from the bottom to be replaced by a waistband.


I originally had taken in the top of the front seam in order to make it curve in and not gape over my bust. I’ve now learned the proper way to make this kind of fix – I added extra back to the seam to make it a straight line, but took out the same amount by slashing and overlapping from the neckline to the darts. This kind of alteration is called contouring.

IMG_1635 copy

Hopefully this makes sense. The same amount that was added to the front was then taken out in that overlap. By slashing to the darts it made the dart openings bigger. We basically moved the fabric from the neckline to the waist, then took it out in the darts.

After doing that I made it into a surplice/wrap front. To do this you extend the front out in that triangle shape, but again have to take some length out by slashing to the dart to avoid the gaping you often see in wrap dresses.



Early mockup, looking pretty good except for that collapsing by the arm at the bust. I’ll add some padding here in the final version.

I don’t know much about draping, but here I messed around with draping some muslin over the lining in order to get a pleated look for the front. This dress form is not very me-sized, but for a single pattern piece it works well enough.


It worked well enough for me to do in the actual fabric! Although you lose some of the pleating effect due to the stripes.


The inside. Random pleats don’t just stay because you ask them nicely, or even ironing them. These pleats are tacked down from the inside through the bottom layer of the pleat so they aren’t going anywhere.


I really love this little detail – the shoulder strap has a line of gathering, and some piping where it attached to the back shoulder.


So now it is Halloween and I am still only up to working on sleeves. Time to speed run if I want any hope of wearing this in 2017!

This entry was posted in 1830s, Ada Lovelace dress. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Ada Bodice

  1. totchipanda says:

    This is going to be so pretty! Now that I’ve been to the magical place known as Home Fabrics, I recognize so many fabrics from there lol. I bought this one too.

  2. valarielynn says:

    It will be amazing when you finally get it done! And all the better to have more people see it if you’re able to get it done for Dickens!
    On a side note: I also bought that fabric but am using in with another floral fabric of similar color. We’ll have to do a side by side shot if/when I get mine done. 🙂

  3. Nessa says:

    The bodice is turning out so wonderfully! It would also look awesome attached to a modern evening dress. And the piping detail on the shoulder is so clever. Plus I can only second what your sewing teacher says. Many newer commercial patterns take more time to adjust than it takes to draft something you know

  4. Pingback: Steel Inquisitor Vin – 1840s bodice | Avant Garbe

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