|Frenchy Girl Charlotte|
When sewing a dress with a separate front and back bodice, you can easily add a length of hidden, adjustable elastic to your creation. Normally, I make my dress designs reversible, but in this example, the dress has front and back bodices along with front and back bodice linings. The front of my Frenchy Girl dress is pleated, so I am only adding adjustable elastic to the back of the dress.
Step one, then, is to add several inches of width to the back skirt of the dress (not the bodice!) when you cut it out. I create my patchwork skirt back, making sure the seams match up with the front patchwork seams. To cut out, I fold my skirt fabric in half, and lay my pattern shape along the fold. Instead of placing the pattern edge directly on the fold, move it away anywhere from one to four inches, depending on how much added fullness you desire. Remember, your fabric is folded, so however much width you add on the fold, it will be doubled when you cut the skirt out.
Step two: Gather the back skirt fabric to match to fit the back bodice by running two sets of gathering stitches along the skirt within the seam allowance. Pull the threads, spread out the gathers, and pin it to your back bodice right sides together. Stitch in place. Now, go directly to your ironing board, and press the seam up toward the bodice. Do not skip this step if you want a professional-looking finished product : ) Normally, I would trim and topstitch the seam after ironing, but I am only going to trim the seam, and topstitch it in place later. Keep reading.
Step three: Cut a piece of bias binding the length of the seam you just created. I am using 1/4" elastic for my dress, but you can use any width you want. Just make sure the bias binding is comfortably wider than the elastic you choose, so that when you stitch it in place, the elastic will glide through. Before pinning in place, iron the raw short edges of the binding under, so that they completely clear the seam allowance on both sides of the back. Stitch each short end of the binding in place, and trim them a bit if they seem too long. This step will prevent the elastic getting stuck when you thread it through the binding casing.
|Note the short end of the bias binding casing is stitched under, but not to the dress.|
|The bias casing is sewn in place away from the side seam allowances.|
|My decorative sash with lace trim is stitched to the back|
|For this reversible dress, the elastic was inserted into the sash|
along the seam of the skirt and bodice.
Step seven: The detail picture below shows the bodice lining stitched, turned, pressed, and topstitched in place. The lining itself is still loose, however, along the bottom edge front and back. Pin the bodice lining in place along your pressed lines, so that it will cover the raw seam edge. Make sure to match the side seams. Before stitching the lining edge in place, however, slip your elastic in place. At a minimum, cut your elastic half the width of your desired chest size. I cut mine a bit long, knowing that I am going to add a length of buttonhole elastic onto either end of the elastic piece, and I prefer to have it longer to begin with, so I can adjust the amount of gathering by eye.
|Thread your elastic through the opening in the lining side seam|
Step nine: My next step, which I need to do today, is to add a short piece of buttonhole elastic to each end of my regular elastic. With the addition of buttonhole elastic, my design dream is realized: it allows the dress to be adjustable in width, adding months, maybe years, of wearability. Since I haven't completed this dress yet, I will show you an example from another dress. You get the idea!
|This is buttonhole elastic|
|Buttonhole elastic buttons to the side seams, and get be made tighter or looser, depending on the size required. What a great invention!|
Finally, a few pictures of my Frenchy Girl custom order, not yet hemmed or finished. I'll post pix when it's done, and before I ship it to Italy. The final pictures show you another one I made last year for a different client. Thanks for stopping by.