2-in-1 Sewalong: Bodice Construction

Yowza! Yowza! This post is a day late and a dollar short and I’m sorry! I’m gettin a little behind over here as I’ve done what I ALWAYS do and over committed myself a bit. Sorry for that! So, just so that you know, I’ll be making up time by doing two posts tomorrow on this here sewalong. Attaching Sleeves and Zipper Insertion Options are set for tomorrow, alright. Let’s move onto the bodice construction. I’m going to walk you through my method for sewing up these two dress types from now on as I’ll be differing quite a bit from the written instructions for Simplicity 1880.

Step 1 ~ To start, gather in between the notches on both the bodice front (piece #1 or #8) and back (piece #6). For your info, I’m using french seams on this here silk crepe wrap dress and on my white linen shirt dress, I’m serging. For more ways to finish your seams, I did a whole series that you can reference here.

Step 2 ~ Attach the yoke back (#7) to the bodice back (#6). From there, attach the yoke fronts (#2 or #9) to the bodice fronts (#1 or #8). A little tip here for the yoke fronts, the notches at the shoulder line should be closer to your arm as opposed to your neck. Yeah, I totally already made that mistake, so don’t worry if you did too.

Step 3 ~ Stitch the bodice fronts to the bodice back at the shoulders. I’ll be showing you a different method for attaching sleeves and to do that you’ll need to leave the side seams for the bodice open, so at this point, only stitch the shoulder seams, Alright? Okey dokey.

Step 4 ~ Stitch the pleats at the waist line. For this step, I decided to go all crazy and give you two methods for doing this. The perfectionist’s way and the lazy stitcher’s way. I’m doing both because I’ve got two crazy sides to my sewing personality – sometimes I’m a serious perfectionist and sometimes I’m rather lazy. Either way, these two different ways will give you two different results and so its up to you which one you want. It totally does not mean that you are a perfectionist or that you’re lazy.

The Perfectionist’s Way to a Perfect Pleat

For this method of doing the pleats at the waistline on Simplicity 1880, it will give you exactly what the pattern intended and that’s that the pleats extend up beyond where the bodice and the skirt meet.

Step 1 ~ Mark your pleats. Someone asked about tips for transferring pattern markings and so I’ll show you how I do it. This is the method I use about 95% of the time and usually I do it right after I’ve cut out the pattern pieces, but I forgot this time (something that tends to happen a lot with me), so I’m showing this step after having pretty much stitched the bodice together using the above steps. To mark the pleats, first of all I’ve cut little clips into the fabric where the pleat marks are. In fact, I actually did that step right after cutting out the pattern piece – go figure.

Next, I take my pins and pin straight up and down through the end of the pleat markings and all thicknesses of fabric and then slid the pin towards the center of the pattern.

Lift the pattern up carefully, and pull back a little bit where the pins are pinned through the pattern and fabric. Mark with a piece of chalk where the pins have poked through the fabric. I use the ridge of the pin as a guide.

Take out your pins and put the pattern piece aside. Take a ruler and your chalk or chalk pen and line up the dots with the clips and draw a straight line.

And that friends, is how I transfer pattern markings – works especially great for darts, in my opinion – well unless their like contoured darts, which I think should be marked with tracing paper and a tracing wheel. OK, let’s keep going.

Step 2 ~ After you’ve marked your pleats, you’ll need to pin them together one by one and stitch. As you pin them together, make sure to start by pinning the top portion of the pleat first, pinning from dot to dot and then work you’re way down to the pleat legs (where the clips are).

Step 3 ~ Stitch the pleat starting at the pleat leg and stitching all the way to the top of the pleat. Back stitch from the top of the pleat, several back stitches (like 5 or 6 stitches) and then stitch forward again one or two stitches making sure that you don’t end this last line of stitching at the top of the pleat. Does that make sense? Doing it this way makes it so that the top of the pleat doesn’t have unsightly stitching that’s coming apart from the inside.

Step 4 ~ Press one side of each pleat flat. This will set your stitches straight. Then press all pleats toward the center front or back making sure not to press above the top of the pleat.

Step 5 ~ Run a basting stitch along each line of pleating at 1/2″.

The Lazy Stitcher’s Way to a Pleat

This by no means, means that you are lazy. But this way offers you a fast and quick way to do the pleats on Simplicity 1880. It differs in appearance from the previous method shown as the pleats do not extend beyond the seamline where the bodice and skirt meet. I’m using this method on my shirt dress version.

Step 1 ~ Clip the pleat legs and bring the legs together and pin the pleat in place. Make sure that the pleats are pointing towards the center front or back of the pattern (or not, if you like it the other way around).

Step 2 ~ Baste stitch the pleats in place at 1/2″. Steam the pleating.

And then you’re done. I know. This method is really fast in comparison, so its really just a matter of what you want.

That friends, is that. Until tomorrow,


8 thoughts on “2-in-1 Sewalong: Bodice Construction

  1. Oh thanks for comparing different ways to do pleats! I am excited to see how they differ. But as I promised myself to not cut corners this time I will be doing the first method. 🙂

  2. Even though I can’t take part, I’m still following! That’s interesting to see how you do the pleats, I’ve always made them the “lazy” way to give soft pleats, as I assumed that’s what the pattern asked for. I think I might have a look at the first way with some patterns to see the difference.

    1. I think for several patterns, that’s usually how its done too. It does depend on what you want too. Sometimes I like the softer look – which I’m going for in my shirt dress – and sometimes I like that look that really lets you know that the pleats are there, like the first method. Totally up to you though! Either way rocks my boat!

  3. Since I misplaced my instruction this is very helpful! Dumb question should the folds of the pleats be on the inside or outside?

    1. Oh that’s a very good question! I think if you’re doing the pleats the first way, they should be in the inside of the fabric, but if you want the softer version of the pleats (the 2nd way) you could do either way!

  4. While I am not taking part in your sew in I have been watching your work and your oh so clear explanations with interest. Why weren’t there people like you and computers, email…… out there when I was starting to sew 50 years ago? Your instructions are so clear and comprehensive. Thanks for taking the time to do all this. I’m still learning! Keep up the good work and may you prosper.

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