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Saturday, February 18, 2012

How To Sew An Empire Waist Dress With Overlapping Front Bodice



Step 1---Arranging the pattern pieces

Using the patterns for the dress's front, back, and sleeves, cut and arrange your pattern pieces.

Front bodice:

Two main fabric pieces and two lining fabric pieces.




Back bodice:

Two main fabric pieces, two lining fabric pieces. (The button and buttonhole extensions in the below image are of same size which I changed later. So please see the next image to note the difference in the dimensions.)


Button and buttonhole extensions. I kept the button extension wider than the buttonhole extension. The buttonhole extension will overlap the button extension.



Front skirt:

Back skirt:
Sleeves:


Sleeve bands:

Bow, bow center, and ribbons:

For bow and ribbons cut two pieces of fabric. For bow center, single piece of fabric is enough.



Step 2---Making the bodice and attaching the sleeves

With right sides facing, join the front and back bodice lining fabric pieces at the shoulders. For clarity, I have labeled the joined lining fabric pieces as A and B.



Next, with right sides facing, join the front and back bodice main fabric pieces at the shoulders. For clarity, I have labeled the joined main fabric pieces as C and D.



With right sides facing, pin together (only at the neckline) each set of lining fabric and main fabric bodice pieces (that is, A with C and B with D). In the image below, the lining fabric piece is on top and the main fabric piece is underneath.


Join the main fabric and lining fabric pieces together at the neckline, removing the pins as you join.

Clip the neckline edge as shown in the photograph below.



Turn the pieces inside out and press.


(Please excuse me for the brown stain you see on the bodice piece on the right? It was made by my little artist. I should have had been careful to keep the dress out of her reach. A lesson learned!)

Attaching the button and buttonhole extensions to the back bodice pieces:

We are going to attach the button extension to the left-side piece of the back bodice, and the buttonhole extension to the right-side piece of the back bodice. (You can also do this step before joining the lining and main bodice pieces.)

First we will attach the button extension. Pin the button extension with the lining side of the back bodice left piece at the center back. Also pin the main and lining fabric pieces at the waist seam and side seam (pointed by the arrows in the photo) to prevent the two pieces slipping away from each other.



Sew the button extension in place with a 0.25 seam allowance. You can notice in the image below that the button extension's length (according to the draft) is more than the center back length. We will trim this excess off in the next step.


You can trim the excess at the top according to the shape of the neckline not straight as shown here. I  trimmed it later.



This will look like this on the main side.


Fold the button extension first 0.25 inch, then 1 inch and pin.
I could not keep the fold as neat as I had wished, because the fabric I used was too slippery and the pins could not be held in place (After a long try, I folded it somehow. I later realized that I should have had pressed the first fold beforehand.).

Sew the fold in place. Your button extension will now extend 1 inch from the center back of the left piece. (You can also attach the button extension to the main side and fold it down the lining side.)


Now, we will attach the buttonhole extension to the center back of the right back piece.

Fold 0.25 inch first and fold again fully and sew the fold in place.

This will look like this on the main side.
We have finished the back bodice. This is the finished look.
Next, we will attach the sleeves.

Sew long stitches (basting stitches) 0.25 inch up from the hemline of the sleeve by setting the stitch length to the longest in your sewing machine (It is 4 in my machine). Leave 3 inches of thread on both sides.



Pull the threads to gather the sleeve hemline such that the length of the hemline equals the length of the sleeve band. With right sides facing, pin the sleeve hemline to the sleeve band with a 0.25 seam and then sew them together.

Pick out the gathering stitches (i.e., the basting stitches) at this step, and then fold the sleeve band to the wrong side and hem. Repeat the same for the other sleeve.
I kept the sleeves plain at the cap (that is, I did not gather). The sleeves have a puffed effect only at the hemline. The sleeve cap should be usually 1 to 1.5 inches more than the armhole. This measure is called cap ease. I read in some books that for puffed sleeves, cap ease can be reduced to 0.5 inch. For this, you need to slightly trim the cap in the basic sleeve draft before you will use it to draft the puffed sleeve or after you have drafted the puffed sleeve. I didn't do this, but it might have been easier to fit in the sleeve to the armhole if I had done it.

To even out the sleeve cap ease, or to set the sleeve into the armhole, sew two rows of long stitches close to the edge of the capline between the front and back notches and gather the sleeve cap by pulling the loose threads on both sides.


With right sides facing, pin the sleeve with the armhole.
Sew the sleeve in place.

Repeat the same for the other sleeve.
Sew the darts and your bodice is ready now.

Step 3---Sewing darts in the skirts
Sew darts in the front and back skirts.

Step 4---Joining the bodices with the skirts

Before this step, pin the back bodice pieces at the bottom such that the buttonhole extension overlaps the button extension.

With right sides facing, join the back bodice and the back skirt on the wrong side at the empire line.

This will look like this on the right side.
With right sides facing, join the front bodice and the front skirt on the wrong side at the empire line. Before doing this, pin the front bodice pieces together at the bottom such that the right-side piece overlaps the left-side piece. You can see this in the previous image.

This will look like this on the right side.

Step 5---Joining the sides

Join the sides and hem the bottom of the dress. Your dress is almost done.


Step 6---Attaching the bow and ribbons

Now, you will need to attach the bow and ribbons. If you like the plain look of the dress, you can skip out this step.

With right sides facing, join the two bow pieces with a 0.25 inch seam on all the sides leaving a little opening at the top to turn the bow inside out. I have indicated the opening in the image below.

Turn the bow inside out through the opening and whip stitch to close the opening.

With right sides facing join the two ribbon pieces with a 0.25 inch seam on all the sides leaving a little opening at the top to turn the bow inside out. I have indicated the opening in the image below.

Turn the bow inside out through the opening and whip stitch to close the opening.

Take the rectangular piece for the bow center. Make 0.25 inch folds breadthwise.

Then make 0.50 inch folds lengthwise.

Fold again and whip stitch to join the edges.

Bring the seam line to the center and press.

Arrange the bow and ribbon and wrap the bow center piece around the center as shown in the photo below.  Whip stitch to join the raw edges of the bow center piece. Do not cut the thread off, you can use it to attach the bow to the dress. I attached the bow to the dress where the front bodice overlap ends. There are also other methods to make the bow and ribbon. I will share them with you in my future projects.

Fix buttons and sew buttonholes, respectively on the button and buttonhole extensions in the back bodice, and your empire waist dress is ready to wear.



Some action shots:



I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please let me know your valuable comments, ideas, and suggestion.

I have linked this to the Sunday show off link party on Twigg Studios, the Sew Tuesday link party on Creative Itch, and the link party on Shwin&Shwin.



4 comments:

  1. Flora I think you have done a wonderful job of explaining the drafting and making of the patterns. Looking forward to see more of your creations.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Happygirl,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      Delete
  2. yes well explained tutorials!if possible,try to put 'piping for blouse' tutorial ie cutting the bias strips and attaching to blouse neck along with ladies blouse pattern,it would be helpful to many like me..i have yet to improve that tecnique..thank you..

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  3. How To Sew An Empire Waist Dress With Overlapping Front Bodice. Step 1---Arranging the pattern pieces. Using the patterns for the dress's ... empirewaistdress.blogspot.com

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