Friday, August 15, 2008

Edwardian "Lingerie" Dress Diary, Part 3: Applying Bodice Trim and Neckline Facing

After some reluctance and delay due to the perceived difficulty of the task, delay that stretched into months, I have at last applied the lace insertion and trim to the Edwardian lingerie dress bodice. After a much shorter delay, I followed up by facing the neckline.

Photo: Bodice with applied insertion, torchone trim, and faced neckline.

The Lace Insertion

The lace insertion process turned out to be both more and less hard than I thought. Setting the position of the wide lace insertion was strightforward: I just followed the shoulder bretelle line for the vertical bands, while the horizontal band followed the high waistline marking. See the XXXXX posting for details.

Once the lace had been positioned, I sewed it to the bodice. This took several steps because the lace is period and was cut by a previous owner from a dress. First I had to cobble together short lace pieces. To do this I either trimmed the edges and whipped them together or seamed them with a narrow seam.

Then I applied the lace to the dress. In most cases this meant turning under the raw side edges, raw because they'd been cut from the dress. In other cases the cuts were so close to the edge of the lace or in fact into the lace itself that all I could do was sew the lace down straight.

After this, I stitched the bodice fronts and backs together with French seams.

This is when I discovered, to my horror, that the lace was of slightly different widths! How that hadn't been apparent before I have no idea, and it was a truly embarassing revelation. Now I had abutting sections of lace, in several places, that were of different widths. I was forced to sew tiny scraps to the sides of the narrower pieces close to where they abut the wider pieces, to give the illusion of matching lace...the scraps could in no way be matched to the already applied lace, so if you look closely, you can see what's been done.

When the dress is more complete, I will remove the bodice fabric from behind the lace insertion and hem down the raw edges.

After the insertion was applied, I hand-backstitched narrow modern Torchon edging lace over the stitching. I took tiny stitches on top, larger ones on the bodice's reverse. On the right side, the stitching doesn't show at all in most places. The edging gives the garment some nice shadow lines.

I chose the Torchon because its coarseness fits well with the large stitching on the insertion lace and the coarseness of the linen bodice fabric. To make it look less dead white, I dipped it in very weak coffee, then rinsed it. The dye didn't take evenly, and gives the result a slightly creamy, aged effect.

Photo: Applying the Torchon lace to the edge of the insertion.

Facing the Neckline

This was simple. Jennie's pattern instructions were clear: cut a 1.5 inch-facing from the bodice fabric, stitch it right sides together to the neckline, turn in the facing an hem it down.

I cut three facing pieces, one front and two backs, using the squared neckline pattern guide, stitched them together, trimmed the seams, stitched to the neckline as directed, and then carefully trimmed the seams so the facing would lie well. Then I pressed open the seam, then turned in the facing and very carefully pressed it closed so that the neckline was smooth.

Photo: Facing added to neckline. Note squared corner of neckline, but rounded edge of hem.

Then by hand I turned in a quarter inch of facing for a hem and hemmed it down, taking small stitches in single threads of fabric so the hemming would not show on the right side of the bodice. To help the hem lay smoothly around the squared neckline corners, I slashed the corners almost to the neckline stitching, and then trimmed the outer edge of the facing from a squared to a rounded shape. That meant that there were no corners to deal with in the hem.

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