As I share the progression of my construction and the reasons why I approached this project in the way that I did, please consider how easy it is for even relatively inexperienced stitchers to adapt basic dress styles to arrive at personalized designs.
The instructions contained in the pattern are excellent and can be easily followed to make an adorable dress. When I chose to deviate from the pattern’s instructions, my reasons were mostly due to adaptations I made to the design; but as I approach any sewing project, I evaluate the methods detailed in the pattern, and then settle on my own preferred methods. My choices are usually dictated by the enjoyment I get out of a particular technique and/or my skill at executing it. For example, I enjoy handwork and find that I am able to obtain a better result if I attach entredeaux and gathered lace by hand rather than by machine. Another technique that I always stitch by hand is the shell hem. I have tried many times to do a shell hem on the machine, but it never measures up to my ability to do it by hand. My efforts at rolling, whipping, and attaching lace by hand are disappointing; so I always accomplish this technique by machine. It is my desire that you develop a broad repertoire of basic sewing skills and gain the confidence to choose the methods that best suit your individual preferences and abilities in order to achieve the quality that is most pleasing to you.

Following is a materials list and look for construction steps beginning tomorrow.
Pattern:  The Bodice Dress by Collars, Etc. Pattern Company
Fabric:  Bear Threads blue hailspot voile for dress; blue swiss voile for slip
Laces:  Bear Threads’ french malines - 3/8” beading, 1/2” insertion, 1 1/8” insertion, 5/8” edging, 1” edging; Capitol Imports’ white baby entredeaux
Ribbons:  Farmhouse Fabrics’ blue double-face silk satin - 1 1/2”, 1”, and 3/8” widths
Buttons:  (4) 3/8” etched pearl buttons from Wendy Schoen Design, (4) 3/8” plain pearl buttons and (3) 1/4” sequin pearl buttons from The Button Company
Notions: Babyfacing fusible interfacing from Sew Heirloom, 60 wt. Mettler thread to match dress and slip fabric, 80 wt. Madeira Cotona to match lace

Precise and Professional by Lyn Weeks is an excellent reference for heirloom techniques

Construction -

Make full bodice front pattern, marking seamlines and center front line to assist you in designing lace placement. Make choices that are pleasing to you based on the laces you choose and the size you are making. Caution: laces nearest armhole edges should be no closer than 1/2" to armhole seamlines. Cut fabric rectangle large enough for bodice front, allowing several extra inches length and width to accommodate shrinkage that occurs when inserting lace strips. Stitch lace insertions in place.  "Hailspot voile" is a rather fragile, loosely woven fabric.  Make some stitch samples before deciding how wide your zig-zag should be when attaching laces.  The goal is to have a stitch attachment that is as invisible as possible while still providing strength and durability.

Carefully position full bodice front pattern onto prepared fabric/lace panel. Double check your positioning for accuracy. Pin pattern in place and mark around entire perimeter with water soluble marker. Stitch just inside marked edge. Cut out bodice front on marked edge. Stay stitch shoulder and neckline edges to prevent stretching.

Cut out bodice back. If constructing the dress from hailspot voile, cut front and back bodice linings from a matching color of swiss voile or batiste to prevent the “hailspots” from shadowing through to the right side of garment. Cut strips of interfacing to support buttons/buttonholes at center back. To determine the dimensions of the interfacing strips needed, measure the distance from the center back to seamline (which equals the size of the buttons the pattern is drafted for) and double this measurement. This pattern was drafted for 3/8” buttons, so the finished width of the interfacing strips needed is 3/4”. The length needed is simply the length from the seamline at neck to seamline at waist. Fuse interfacing in position.

Make darts in back bodice.

Stitch shoulder seams of bodice and bodice linings. Use sleeve pattern for view 1 to create sleeve “flaps”. Draw a horizontal line across pattern just below dots and vertical line from shoulder that is perpendicular to horizontal line. Cut 2 flaps for each sleeve opening. Cut 4 lengths of lace for each of the 4 sleeve flaps (a 12” strip was used for each of the 4 flaps on the size 1 sample dress). Miter each piece of lace 3” from the end to be positioned at the shoulder point of the sleeve flap. To create the miter, fold the lace right sides together and stitch a line that is a 45 degree angle from the folded end. Tiny zig-zag over the straight stitched line and trim close to zig-zagging. Press lace and position on each flap aligning lace edge with raw edge of sleeve flap. Straight stitch through heading of lace to secure in place. Press one side back and tiny zig-zag over heading. Trim fabric close to zig-zagging. Press remaining edge of fabric back and tiny zig-zag over heading. Trim fabric close to zig-zagging.

photo samples done in red thread for purposes of illustration -

Position sleeve flaps on bodice, right sides together, easing around armhole curve as needed. Be sure to overlap top edges of sleeve flaps so that the lace on the sleeve flaps “kiss” at the seamline. Pin or baste to secure. Place bodice lining to bodice, right sides together. Stitch center back and neckline seams. Stitch armhole seams. Trim seams, clip curves. Turn bodice right side out and press.

Trim away seam allowance on one side of entredeaux and clip remaining seam allowance at close intervals. Steam entredeaux into a curved shape to mimic shape of neckline. Hand whip entredeaux to neck edge right sides together, turning under ends 1/4” and whipping “holes” in entredeaux together. Press entredeaux up. Trim away remaining seam allowance. Pull a thread in heading of lace edging to gather. Hem raw ends by overlapping pattern in lace and hand whip gathered lace to entredeaux.

Stitch side seams of bodice and bodice lining. Press open.

Decide what you want the finished length of the dress to be and calculate length of skirt panels needed based on finished length of bodice and lace treatment to be applied to lower edge of dress. Cut front and back skirt pieces 36” wide by the length needed. Insert placket in skirt back according to pattern instructions. French seam one side seam.

Cut 2 1/4 yard strips of lace edging and lace beading. Overlap heading of lace edging onto heading of beading and tiny zig-zag together. Trim seam allowance from one side of entredeaux. Pull thread in heading of lace beading just enough to create very slight ripple to prevent lace from cupping. Overlap edge of entredeaux onto heading of beading and tiny zig-zag together. Place entredeaux/lace to lower edge of skirt, right sides together aligning raw edge of skirt and seam allowance of entredeaux. Straight stitch in ditch of entredeaux. Press and trim skirt seam to 1/8”. Treat seam allowance of entredeaux as a hem, turning raw edge under 1/8” and straight stitching to skirt. **This is not the usual treatment for trimming an edge with entredeaux, but this method was chosen for this dress because the hailspot voile is somewhat loosely woven and tends to fray. It is difficult to mend an area that has pulled away due to fraying.

French seam remaining side seam. Gather upper skirt edge and join skirt to bodice.

Make buttonholes and sew buttons on.

Ribbon sash is 2 1/2 yards long. The 1” width ribbon length should be determined by the lace placement on the bodice. The 3/8” width ribbon serves as a “keeper”. Please refer to the photos for making the sash embellishment.

Make crocheted sash loops for front and back of dress. Position back loops directly over darts. Position loops in front so that they sit snugly against keepers.

Stitch decorative buttons on front.

Make bodice slip trimming neck and armhole edges with shell hem. Lower edge of slip is finished with lace attached by machine rolling and whipping. Slip in the sample garment peeks out from under lower edge of dress by 1/2”.

*** If you would like to purchase a kit or any of the components to make this dress, you may contact me at

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