Now, here are the details we all love – or the details that I love, at any rate. Am I alone in this?
Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.
First up, the seams:
This is where the base of a bodice cup meets the main body of the bodice. Both sections are seamed and those seams need to meet spot on. If for this technique alone, Gertie’s course is worth signing up for. She has the most amazing tip for how to pull this off that suddenly makes life so much easier. I won’t share here – sign up and enjoy the lightbulb moment too!
Here’s a detail of the cotton lining with the waist stay:
I’d never bothered with a waist stay before, because I thought it would be a pain to add. It isn’t. A length of grosgrain ribbon, some hooks and eyes, three places to stitch it on – the front waist and side seams. What’s the big deal? It helps support the eleven pieces of spiral steel boning, some of which you can see sitting in their seams in this photo.
Gertie was quite insistent that we only line with natural fabrics, ideally cotton. I’m so glad she insisted on this – I would hate to insert this lining in a shiny, slippy fabric.
You might just be able to make out the tiniest hint of red around the seams of this bodice lining. That’s because I used a tracing wheel and red dyed paper to mark my seams – and the red didn’t want to wash out. Something to look out for, future makers of the Gertie Bombshell Dress! You can also see evidence of this tracing near my laced hem:
Can you see that little line of red dots? That’s where I traced the original hem of the pattern piece. Then I added four inches to the length, as Gertie did, to create a vintage length. I’m really glad I added this length. I think the dress might have felt a bit Eighties without it. But that red really doesn’t want to budge, so if you’re going to do the same, I’d suggest marking fabric only at the adjusted skirt length.
Here’s a detail of the tiniest lapped zipper that ever was lapped and zipped:
This became a tiny lapped zipper because after handsewing the lining in with hours’ worth of fell stitch, I tried the dress on and realized the bodice was too tight. Fortunately, I knew that I had a generous seam allowance either side of the zip. So I unpicked the zip, put it back in with a narrower seam and redid my fell stitch. Gertie’s mouth would drop open with horror at such a clumsy dress adjustment. Me? I was just glad the men in white coats weren’t coming to take me away. (They’re coming to take me away! Ha, ha! Hee, hee! – Whoever wrote that song surely owned a sewing machine.)
Here’s my grosgrain ribbon zipper guard face on:
And here it is from an angle so that you can see the way it is sewn in between the fashion fabric and zip, and the lining fabric:
And here’s a detail of the pick stitching used to hold the zipper guard in place on the lining side of the dress:
I think these are all the details I have to share with you. Oh yes, let’s not forget adjusting the lengths of the spiral steel boning:
Feminist that I am, it killed me to give in and enlist the help of a man – but that’s just what I did. Cutting this stuff is not for the faint hearted, guys! I would strongly recommend not ordering pre-cut lengths of boning until you have done a toile of your bodice and know exactly the lengths you need. That way you may be able to avoid the above. I used Vena Cava for spiral steel boning and tubing – very reasonably priced and excellent delivery. But if you mess up, and need to cut your pre cut lengths and need new caps for the end of your spiral steel boning – go to MacCulloch & Wallis if you’re in the London area. They are very, very helpful.
Gertie’s online course: £18.72
Stretch cotton: £3 a metre from the man outside Sainsburys at Walthamstow market.
Cotton lining: £4
Spiral steel boning, tubing, grosgrain ribbon and sundries: Let’s say £12
This dress came in at just over £40. Not bad. The amount I learned? Priceless.
Next up, my thoughts on zero ease and how it just blew my mind!