Corset-Based Sleeveless Crew-Neck Dress With Individually Cut Collar and Full Skirt.
Tutorial 1. Getting Acquainted with the Model.
I will explain you how to sew a dress that should answer many of your questions related to sewing corset-based dresses with shoulder seams and joining a full skirt with a corset top.
I have chosen a short dress model. Contemporary trends account for various styles, designs and lengths so there’s a great abundance of wedding dresses today. As strange as it may seem, some young girls prefer to wear short dresses to their weddings. It has also become commonplace for the bride to get changed in the middle of the celebration and swap a long wedding dress for a short one. I would also like to remind you that we’re not only talking wedding dresses: you can use the same technique for sewing prom, evening or cocktail dresses, which makes the length perfectly appropriate.
Don't forget to mix and vary different techniques! You can combine the technique for sewing the top of the first dress from this book and the technique for the skirt of the second dress or vice versa. You could, for example, sew a strapless low-neck dress with a short full skirt or a long fitted one-piece dress with shoulder seams. All parts of the garments are interchangeable and easily combinable.
So, what does our dress consist of? This dress is not one-piece: it is made of two parts.
The top of the dress covers the shoulders and I've also decided to add a collar. A collar is a very popular element in dresses of similar styles. Wide or narrow, it can lie flat or stand up depending on the overall design. The top of the dress can be made of various materials: lace fabric, satin, soft chiffon or anything that seems appropriate.
Now I'd like to turn your attention to a rather popular model where this kind of an element (we'll refer to it as ‘collar’) is a prolongation of the dress resting upon the woman's upper arms or sometimes even hanging off her shoulders and forming a kind of straps.
It is the most uncomfortable and awkward dress style I've ever seen! Off-shoulder straps are bound to obstruct your movements. I am always surprised at brides who expect to have fun and dance at their wedding and yet choose this very dress model. I give my client a simple example whenever such is the case: if the strap of your bra gets loose and slides off your shoulder, you won't be able to stretch your arm forward or to the side. And you'll try to pull the strap back up purely intuitively. The same thing happens with this dress model!
At first I did feel like sewing a dress with a collar-like prolongation that would serve as straps because clients often request it. But then I decided to do the following: I'll sew a dress with shoulder seams and you can feel free to decide whether you personally want to accept orders on dresses with collar-like straps.
You can easily alter the shoulder-seam dress pattern enclosed with this book to make a dress with collar-like straps if you wish. You’ll simply trim the upper part of the front and back and sew the collar bar a little lower so as to embrace the arms.
I've decided against making this dress model because it is really uncomfortable in wear. But you can refer to the pictures below as brief guidelines.
Once you have sewn a mock-up after this pattern, you can easily cut off as much as you want. I'll show you how to alter the initial pattern of my shoulder-seam dress in a matter of minutes.
Our dress will be much more functional and comfortable!
The pattern I offer you is suitable for all kinds of shoulder-seam dresses apart from low-neck designs.
I have a separate course, Dress with Integral Straps, that explains what pattern to use for sewing a dress with a rather low neckline and slim halter-neck or shoulder straps. You need a different pattern to sew a corset-based dress of that style.
Don't even try to use the pattern enclosed with this book for this kind of a dress model! The first thing that might come to your mind is to cut a beautiful low neckline on the ready pattern. Trust me it will lead to no good! There'll be no proper fitting in the chest and the dress will be loose! You'll be faced with a new challenge and have to look for ways to ensure better fitting of the dress against the bust. But there is really only one way to go: use a different pattern!
What is our dress made of?
I've chosen taffeta as the main fabric. It hardly stretches crosswise but its lengthwise grain contains lycra, which makes it stretch rather well in that direction. I am going to cut it lengthwise.
Why have I chosen taffeta for this model?
The task is to make a full skirt that won’t hang down like soft fabric but hold the shape of its folds.
Taffeta has one disadvantage that you should always keep in mind! If you are working with snow-white taffeta, take a close look at the shade of your iron-on material. Beware if your batiste, flannel or other iron-on duplication material is somewhat yellowish! Thin translucent fabric acquires the shade of the iron-on material and so your snow-white face fabric will also seem yellow. You will notice an awful difference in shades after attaching the snow-white skirt to the dress top. This can be particularly devastating if the corset top and the skirt are fully finished. That’s why you should always check the shade of your iron-on material before duplicating translucent face fabrics. It's simply crucial when working with taffeta.
I will use stretch satin for the lining. It doesn't really matter whether you use it matte side or shiny side up.
Why stretch satin and not taffeta?
First of all, stretch satin is a lot nicer to the touch.
And then it's much easier to sew with stretch satin. Unlike taffeta that always stretches very much (especially the kind with lycra fibers) it becomes less elastic when duplicated. Besides iron-on materials don't adhere to taffeta as well.
The dress will feature a full skirt made of tulle and netting. If you want your garment to have better quality, choose finer tulle used for bridal veiling. You can also use regular nylon netting for a lower-budget version (it is often used in children's costumes).
I will most likely use taffeta for the collar although I'm also considering using stretch satin for this purpose. The final decision depends on the way the taffeta collar will rest around the neckline.
There is another important question: how to cut the collar? Do you cut it straight or on the bias, lengthwise or crosswise?
It's going to be different each time. Some seamstresses believe you should always cut on the bias. As for me I prefer to cut stretch satin crosswise and taffeta lengthwise, i.e. along the direction in which it stretches. And I cut on the bias in extreme cases when I'm not using any stretch material whatsoever. Besides I keep double-checking it by putting the garment on the dress-form. Straight-cut collars made of non-stretch fabric usually settle just the way you've planned. After all, fabric cut on the bias tends to go out of control and crease more. So we'll decide how to cut our collar during the working process.
There will be a zipper and a lace-up area at the back.
I will provide you with detailed instructions on how to attach a full skirt to the dress top and sew an additional petticoat.
What concerns fabric consumption for this particular model, it all depends on the size of the garment. You can easily carry out your own calculations after you see how much fabric I have used for sewing mine. I have purchased 3.5m of the main fabric in accordance with my pre-calculations.