To begin, this is not a pattern. This is a sewing guide. You will need a well fitting bodice pattern that is sleeveless, with princess seams. This will serve as a foundation off which you can draft the rest of this garment. This garment is designed to cinch in under the bust. On my figure that is smallest dimension, and therefore this garment is designed to accentuate that area. Full disclosure my measurements at time of making this garment was 49 bust, 50 waist, 59 hips. This walks an experienced sewist through the steps to make this bodice. The bottom of garment is not discussed. The bodice is fully lined, and sleeveless, with flutter sleeves attached in the princess seams which fall down shoulder and over arm.
- Cut out 2 sets of bodice pieces, one from lining and one from garment fabric. The bodice should consist of four pattern pieces: center front, center back, side front, and side back. Cut one each on the fold of the front center and back center pieces. Cut two side backs (mirror image), and cut two side fronts (mirror image). Be mindful of grain lines for drape. Repeat for lining fabric.
- Stay stitch around the necklines and arm openings.
- Transfer all markings needed to accurately align the princess seams. Mark the top and bottom of center front and back. Mark on wrong side the lining center front , along center, the desired depth of slit. My slit was 5” plus seam allowance down. I also chose the top width of slit to be ¾”.
- Serge or finish the bottoms, the shoulders, and side edges. I did not serge my princess seam edges before sewing, to aid in alignment, and instead finished the seam allowances after sewing the princess seams. Repeat for lining pieces.
- Sew the center front to the center back at the shoulders, with right sides together. Repeat for lining.
- On a piece of fusible interfacing draw a straight line the desired length of slit + ½” + seam allowance. In my case, this line was 6 1/8” long. Draw a perpendicular line of 1.5” centered at the top of line. Draw a parallel line down from top along the seam allowance. Mark the intersection of these lines. This is top of slit. Mark two points 3/8” from the center out along line. This is top of sewing lines. Measure and mark bottom of slit along the slit line. Connect these points to form narrow V. This is stitching lines. There should be approximately half an inch beyond the end of slit. Draw a one inch line perpendicular to the slit line and centered on the bottom. Connect the end of bottom lines to end of top lines, and this is the cutting line for the interfacing. Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of center front lining piece, being sure to align it with marked center and end of slit markings.
- Put the bodice pieces together, right sides facing. Stitch along the stitching lines. Use smaller stitches as you approach bottom of slit. At bottom, with very small stitch length, take two stitches, then turn and head back up stitching line, increasing stitch length as you get further from the point.
- Cut the slit along center line down to but NOT through the stitching. I press the slit seams open as much as possible. Turn the garment right sides out and press. Keep the lining from showing on the front of garment. Press from wrong side to avoid press markings. I also hand baste around the slit, to aid in the top-stitching. Top stitch very close to the edge of the slit. Interfacing depends on the fabric you are using. If very delicate you may want to interface around the bottom point of slit on wrong side of garment fabric. Practicing the slit on fabric and interfacing is highly recommended. Also, after sewing slit, placing some loose basting stitches near bottom of slit, will reinforce the area while the garment is under construction.
- Baste the neck lines together at seam allowance. Measure the neckline seam using the basting. Divide in half to get collar length. My collar ended up at 9.75” for a total of 19.5” finished collar. Cutting one collar and basting it on, is an excellent way to audition your collar before committing too much time and fabric. When satisfied, cut 3 collars, using one piece as stiffener. Apply the extra piece with its right side against wrong side of outer collar, and basted it on at 1/8 inches. Trim the inside collar piece very close to the basting. On un-interfaced collar piece fold up the bottom seam allowance and press. Put right sides of two collar pieces and stitch together. Trim, clip, and then grade the seam, especially around curve. Turn right sides out, and verify the collar is same shape and width at ends. If not, correct it now!
When grading a seam, the seam allowance next to garment fabric should be the longest, and then each layer gets reduced, forming stepped layers. Try to remove as much bulk as possible, clipping seam allowances, and cutting into stitching lines. Always try to maintain a scant ¼” along the seam, to preserve structural integrity.
- Sew the collar on to the neckline, being sure to align the end of collar with the top of slits, and matching the center back of collar and garment. Again trim, clip and grade, the seam allowances. Press the seam allowances up into collar. Baste or hand stitch the folded edge of collar down to neck line along stitching line, enclosing the collar. Top stitch collar if desired.
- Sleeve pieces are half circles, with an added seam allowance along the flat side. Measure along the princess seam to determine the approximate length of the diameter of the circle. Divide the diameter in half to determine width of sleeve at top, compare it to the princess seam down shoulder and arm to verify sleeve length. Finish outside curved edge of half circle with ¼ inch seam turned twice. Place the sleeve along the edge of just the garment fabric right sides together and placed in from front and back bottoms evenly. Stitch with 3/8” or reduced seam allowance. Repeat for both sleeves. This garment had 27” half circles for sleeves.
- Sew the front and back sides together at shoulder seams. Press open. Be sure to have right and left side. Stitch to bodice center, matching right sides, and fitting the princess seams. Finish edge of seam allowances to remove bulk and allow curves to fall smooth. Press seams open. Repeat process for lining.
- Using the burrito method, sew the garment to lining along just the arm opening. Be sure not to catch the garment in the seam. Reinforcing with stay tape may be desirable. Clip and grade the seam allowance. Pull the garment right side out. Repeat for other arm opening. Do not under stitch, or top stitch. Press arm opening being sure the lining is not visible from garment side.
- Open and sew the side seams right sides together from garment side front to garment side back. Repeat for other side seam. Repeat for lining. Press seams open. Top stitching can now be done along arm openings. The bodice is now complete and ready for attaching to the bottom.