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The Bodice Workshop

The Original Bodice Workshop Announcement

Examples of the Pattern Alterations

Questions and Answers

Useful Information Links

 

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Announcing: THE BODICE WORKSHOP

What: A chance to find out how an AR person, such as myself, fits and makes a bodice.
Who: Ladies of the R/F Forum who live in or around the Twin Cities Metro Area. Notice we will be working on BODICES. No men are allowed. And no children. Due to lack of space and to provide more personal attention, workshop size will be limited to 4 people beside myself.
When: February 3, 2007 from 9:00am to 6ish.
Where: At the home of Baroness Doune

What to bring:
Some kind of food item. Food item should be easily prepared and be able to sit out for several hours.

Materials needed for the workshop:

  1. A brown paper bag, cut open and ironed flat with two intersecting perpendicular lines drawn on it about two inches from the top edge and two inches from the right edge.
  2. Pencils and rulers to draw on the above brown paper bag.
  3. The bodice pattern of choice. It makes the pattern easier to work with if it has been ironed flat and fused to Pellon 911 interfacing.
  4. 3 yards of Tru-Grid. (Found in the interfacing section of the local Joanns.) Non-fusible Pellon interfacing will also work.
  5. A fine-line Sharpie. (An ink pen will do.)
  6. 3 yards of 45" wide muslin.
  7. 1-2 packages of duct ties. (Found in the duct work section of Home Depot. They are made by a company called Catamount, labeled Duct Fasteners, and are 34" long and come 10 to a package. ) The duct ties should be prepped by cutting each one in half and slightly rounding the cut ends. Then each cut end should be passed through the flame on a gas stove or candle to smooth it. Two packages will yield enough boning to do a corset AND bodice or a couple of heavily boned bodices.
  8. Sewing machine. I have 2 but familiarity with the sewing machine makes things go faster.
  9. The usual sewing supplies, scissors, pins, seam ripper, etc.
  10. For the truly ambitious, fashion fabric (washed, pressed, and ready to cut), 1 and 1/2 yards fabric for flatlining (can be muslin - washed, pressed and ready to cut), 3 yards of cotton duck cloth (washed, pressed, and ready to cut), lining fabric (if used - washed, pressed, and ready to cut.)

From the first bodice workshop, we have discovered that the testing of the toile should be done without a bra. So, wear or bring something to wear that you feel comfortable running around the house in while braless. The pinned toile will be worn over this garment for about 30 minutes to make sure the girls stay put.

Previous and future bodice workshop dates:

  1. February 3, 2007
  2. October 20, 2007
  3. February 23, 2008
  4. July 12, 2008
  5. Mid-October, 2008

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I forgot to take pictures. Me bad. So, as an aid to the attendees, I have tried to partially reconstruct the process below.

Examples of The Pattern Alterations

Please note that the following alterations were determined and named by comparison of the subject's measurements to that of the pattern chart's measurements. It is not a judgment of the subject's body because, in the opinion of the owner of this webpage, everyone's body is perfect.

Case no. 1 - Pattern used: the Bodice Pattern from Margo Anderson's Historic Costuming Patterns

Alterations needed:

      1. Narrower shoulders
      2. Thicker waist
      3. High back hip
      4. Bodice gapping at upper back

Case no. 1.1 - Pattern used: The Tudor Tailor Tudor Bodies Pattern, Effigy version

Alterations needed:

      1. Narrower shoulders
      2. Thicker waist
      3. High back hip
      4. Corset/bodice gapping at upper back

Case no. 2 - Pattern used: the Bodice Pattern from Margo Anderson's Historic Costuming Patterns

Alterations needed:

      1. Narrower shoulders
      2. Thicker waist

Case no. 3 - Pattern used: the Bodice Pattern from: Margo Anderson's Historic Costuming Patterns

Alterations needed:

      1. Longer torso
      2. Narrower shoulders
      3. Thicker waist
      4. Bodice gapping at upper back
      5. Bodice gapping where strap meets front bodice

Case no. 4 - Pattern used: Simplicity 3782

Alterations needed:

  1. Shorter torso
  2. Thicker waist

Case no. 5 - Pattern used: the Bodice Pattern from Margo Anderson's Historic Costuming Patterns which is meant to be worn over the Corset Pattern from Margo Anderson's Historic Costuming Patterns

Alterations needed:

  1. Shorter torso
  2. Narrower shoulders
  3. Thicker waist

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Questions and Answers

Question:
Here are the issues I'm having:

I have a big bust and a narrow waist, but more importantly: slight/narrow shoulders. The bodice gapes in the back at the neckline. Aside from putting darts at the neck, is there a good way to adjust this so that it fits better? In my last gown, I just made the neckline lower, and this looked better, but it still gaped.

I could size down the pattern, but at the moment the fit in the bust is pretty good. I've taken in all the seams, but I'm not entirely sure how to get the original seam line (where it fits) to match up with the bits I've pinned (I don't need to adjust the *entire* seam. Unless that's just a rule.). Do I just mark a gradual line from the original seam to the pin, something fairly smooth?

I pinned the front princess seams tighter in the armscye, and in the waist, and left them the same at the bust. Is this OK?

B/c of the narrow shoulders/wide bust issue, the straps are set a little wider than I'd like. I'm guessing the solution to *this* is to redraw the pattern so they angle better.

Here is a link to the pattern. I am making view E, but I'm going to add picadils to the waist (if that matters).

http://www.mccallpattern.com/item/M4107.htm

Ideas?

Answer:
The fitted bodice is the hardest garment you will ever make. If you get that right, everything else is easy.

Gapping at the back neckline.
This is definitely related to the narrow shoulders. Although the back neckline seems pretty high and those are prone to gapping.

The first and easiest solution is one you have already tried - cut down the back neckline. My first attempt at the bodice using Drea's corset pattern generator gapped and I ended cutting it into a V shape.
http://www.karen.htmlcreators.com/fflmkirbodback.jpg

Second idea - bind the neckline and put cording inside the binding or pipe the neckline. Pull on the cording to snug up the neckline. This really only works for minor adjustments and may cause the neckline to pucker. I did that on this corset
http://www.karen.htmlcreators.com/pccorset3back.jpg
and this bodice
http://www.karen.htmlcreators.com/felmbackbodice.jpg

The third (and best) idea is to alter the pattern. I like the books Fitting Finesse by Nancy Zieman or Fast Fit by Sandra Betzina. However, you don't have to run out and get those books. Here are the bodice alteration instructions from Margo's Patterns Yahoo group.
http://www.karen.htmlcreators.com/merge1.jpg
http://www.karen.htmlcreators.com/merge2.jpg
If you have problems adapting these instructions to your pattern, let me know, and I will explain better.

________________________________________

Question:
My only tiny question is... why did they choose size 4 and size 22? How should I decide which size/s I should go with? Should I just pick a size that better fits my shoulders, then?

Answer:
The example from Margo's Patterns group is an extreme example for illustrative purposes.

Margo's patterns measurement chart covers the shoulder width and she recommends chosing the size according to the shoulder width. Her measurement charts lists measurements from shoulder point to shoulder point. However, this measurement chart only works with her patterns.

That's why I like Nancy Zieman's book. She also recommends chosing patterns to fit the shoulders but she uses the front width measurement. This measurement is not listed on any pattern envelope but it is easy to take, there is a simple formula to figure it out, and this measurement does not change with weight fluctuations.

The front width measurement is from arm crease (armpit fold) to arm crease. It is really hard to take this measurement accurately by youself, so find someone to help.

quote:
________________________________________
From Fitting Finesse by Nancy Zieman

1. Find the crease in your skin where your arm meets your body.
2. Measure above the end of one crease straight across the front of your chest to the end of the other crease.
3. Round off the measurement to the nearest 1/2"

Even though the front width measurement and its corresponding sizes are not written on the back of the pattern envelope, the sizing is easy to remember. Misses' size 14 equals 14", and the sizes go up or down with every 1/2". For example, if your measurement is 13 and 1/2", buy a size 12. If you measure 14 and 1/2", select a size 16.

Note from Nancy: If you are unsure which of two sizes to use, go with the smaller size. Remember, it is easier to fit the bust (to make it larger) than to fit the shoulder and neck area.

You may be pleasantly surprised by the results of the front width measurement. It is very common for someone who has been sewing with a size 20 in order to fit her bust to find out she actually a size 16.
________________________________________

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Useful Information Links

Here is a collection of links that I find helpful in getting a bodice to fit.

First, start with a pattern:
http://www.elizabethancostume.net/corsets/pattern.html
The above pattern can be used to make a bodice pattern:
http://www.elizabethancostume.net/kirtlepat/index.html
The bodice can be attached to a skirt to make a gathered kirtle:
http://www.elizabethancostume.net/makekirtle.html
By changing the opening to the center front rather than the center back, leaving the front skirt open all the way to the hem and wearing it over another skirt or a long chemise, it is possible to create an Irish Dress. An example of an Irish Dress from Sofi's Stitches. Variations of the Irish Dress were worn throughout Europe during the 16th century.
There are also instructions on the Elizabethan Costume Page for making a complete 16th century Flemish outfit: http://www.elizabethancostume.net/lowerclass/makeflem.html

Using commercial patterns.
I use the Corset Pattern Generator from the Elizabethan Costuming Page to size commercial patterns regardless of whether they are from one of the big 3 (Simplicity, McCalls, or Butterick) or from one of the other pattern makers that make 16th century bodice patterns. Some of these other companies are:

Alteryears
Fantasy Fashions
The Mantua Maker
Margo Anderson's Historic Costume Patterns
Period Patterns
Reconstructing History

Most, if not all, of the above mentioned patterns can be purchased from these sources:

Patterns of Time
Harper House

It is always a good idea to read what others have said about using a particular pattern. The Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild is a great source for pattern reviews:
http://www.gbacg.org/GreatPatternReview/index.htm
Dawn's reviews of commercial patterns from the big 3 pattern companies:
http://www.reddawn.net/costume/costpat.htm
Trish's pattern reviews:
http://www.trishstuff.com/costuming/renaissance/patterns.html

The patterns made by the big 3 commercial pattern companies contain either darts or princess seams. Neither are found in 16th century bodices. Here is how to get rid of the darts from Dawn's Reddawn.net website:
http://www.reddawn.net/costume/darts.htm
Another method of getting rid of darts from Sarah's Mode Historique website:
http://www.modehistorique.com/research/eliminating_darts.pdf
How to get rid of princess seams from Dawn's Reddawn.net website.
http://www.reddawn.net/costume/princess.htm

You should pick your size according to your shoulder width. Margo's patterns includes a shoulder width measurement on her size charts. For everyone else, Nancy Zieman's Fitting Finesse is a helpful resource.

quote:
________________________________________
From Fitting Finesse by Nancy Zieman

1. Find the crease in your skin where your arm meets your body.
2. Measure above the end of one crease straight across the front of your chest to the end of the other crease.
3. Round off the measurement to the nearest 1/2"

Even though the front width measurement and its corresponding sizes are not written on the back of the pattern envelope, the sizing is easy to remember. Misses' size 14 equals 14", and the sizes go up or down with every 1/2". For example, if your measurement is 13 and 1/2", buy a size 12. If you measure 14 and 1/2", select a size 16.

Note from Nancy: If you are unsure which of two sizes to use, go with the smaller size. Remember, it is easier to fit the bust (to make it larger) than to fit the shoulder and neck area.

You may be pleasantly surprised by the results of the front width measurement. It is very common for someone who has been sewing with a size 20 in order to fit her bust to find out she actually a size 16.
________________________________________


Margo has instructions on how to merge different pattern sizes to accommodate narrow shoulders and larger bust. The instructions can be found in the file section if you join Margo's Patterns Yahoo list. But for those who don't want to join that group, here they are:
http://www.karen.htmlcreators.com/merge1.jpg
http://www.karen.htmlcreators.com/merge2.jpg
These instructions can be used with other bodice patterns.

Make a muslin. Make a muslin. Make a muslin.

Most of the above information is included in this part of my webpage: (*Yawn* Here it is again.)
http://www.karen.htmlcreators.com/renbodice.html

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