Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane



Thanks to you all for comments on the lace placement across the bodice. I’m really impressed that there’s so much interest in this dress. There were some technical difficulties with some of the options that I hadn’t previously thought of:

1. Limited resources – not enough lace for scallop straps and new problems developed at the outside edge.

2. Aesthetics – hanging scallops looked good from the bottom but the top was ragged and untidy

3. Fit issues – flat lace being formed onto a 3D bust!

I choose white cotton for the bodice underling ’cause I thought it would be a bit more robust than organza and I may be able to get away without a bra.

So, small scissors, needle and thread and I appliqued a hundred bits of lace by hand and eye. And ended up with this –


Too bra like. So more appliques were appliqued. And the final result is this. Almost a mirror image of the hemline which is the style I liked the best and reminds me the most of one of my inspiration dresses – L’Wren Scott’s (that’s the cream and black one BTW).



Now onto to straps and a little couture tip for making sure the seams are always hidden.

Cut your straps as per the pattern. Select the bottom pair and trim off a wee bit so that they are smaller than the top.


I used dress fabric for the top (obviously) but used white cotton for the underneath. It will be nicer to wear against the skin and is slightly more ‘gripping’ that satin. I also sewed in a couple of inches of knicker elastic over the shoulders to ensure the straps don’t slip off.

Sew the elastic to the bottom straps.


Now right sides together and matching raw edges, sew the straps along the long sides. You’ll need to pull the elastic bit when you sew this section.


When finished, the strap will bubble on one side – that’s exactly what you want for when you turn and press, the larger strap will flatten out and cover the smaller underneath strap. No more precision pressing needed to keep those seams on the edge.


You can just see the edges of the dress fabric neatly keeping the underneath strap underneath.



I don’t really need straps as I inserted boning in the cups, centre front and sides but I’m over 50 and there’s a limit on flesh exposure. They also do provide a little bit of extra security as I haven’t boned anything before and I’m not convinced.


The ripple you see in this pic is the elastic but when sewn and worn this will stretch flat.







The hand sewing continued with all the seam allowances catch stitched to the organza underling. And the inside of the dress is beautifully messy.


The great news is that I got the invisible zip inserted without a hitch – I don’t mind admitting that I was dreading it – and by pure serendipity, got a bit of lace matching too.


There’s one small problem and that is that the zip sticks a little when passing over the lace motifs. I’ve trimmed all I can from the inside to reduce bulk – so any other ideas for smooth gliding will be gratefully welcomed.

That’s about it. Lining was sewn in and the dress hemmed. So here’s the finished thing.


Doris’s bust is a few inches larger than mine and a different shape completely but she came free so she wears my clothes once in while. I can’t get the zip up and the straps are too short on her but, honestly, are perfect on me.

Just for anyone who’s curious – I’m thinking of going for red accessories – unexpected and definitely not mother-of-the-bride, which I thought this outfit might veer into. VW lippy shoes (in fact the whole outfit is based around these shoes), a red hat (if I can get one), a red bag which has yet to be made but Rhonda recently showcased a very suitable candidate indeed.



I’m off the coast for a few days so I’ll catch up when I come back.



14 thoughts on “Straps

  1. To get the zipper up when the lace needs more room…ease the stitching away from the teeth 3 clicks of the needle position…I know it sounds like you will expose the tape but the motifs will share the space and no one will know. They do make a lubricant stick, like a wax crayon in white that helps new zipper slide. Here is is called ZipperEase…you probably have something similar…they sell it through dry cleaners supply and Wawak for any future needs. I use it on all the bridal gowns as well know those suckers are so damn tight…we need all the help we can get! Great dress, cool tutorial and clear photos…wonderful as always!

  2. Hi Ruth,

    Lovely job, can’t wait to see the dress and coat when you are all dressed up to model this beautiful outfit.

    Have you tried running wax along the zipper teeth? Years ago when trying on a dress, I had trouble with the zipper when it met the seam and the assistant said to press down on one side of the zipper to help it up and it worked a treat.

    For metal zippers they say the trick is to run a lead pencil up and down the teeth to make it flow easily.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely project with us.

  3. Wowsers! You are going to give the bridal party a run for their money in that outfit and with those shoes. Stunning. They were made for each other. Can’t wait to see it on you with coat, hat and bag. Isn’t that bag adorable! You did a gorgeous job on the dress. It’s really beautiful. And what a glorious setting for the wedding.

  4. Looking forward to the big reveal!

  5. I really like how you pieced the lace over the bust. It looks lovely. I am also grateful for the straps tip.

  6. Beautiful work with the lace, Ruth. Can’t wait to see you modelling the whole outfit.

  7. Congratulations on the execution of this dress, shiny, shiny fabric but smooth seams AND the lace. Cant wait to see the final ensemble, I love that hat so hope you can find a clone. It will definitely move the dress out of the bridal party.

  8. Gorgeous! I love your final design for the bodice. It’s perfect. What a great tip for the straps, too! Can’t wait to see your live photos

  9. Gorgeous! I ‘specially love the VW inspiration. You will look fabulous!

  10. Looking good! And red accessories will certainly take it away from being mistaken as MOB. look forward to seeing you all dressed up!

  11. Simply incredible!! Beautiful. Stunning. Can’t wait to see it on you.

  12. I know it is not always easy to find a hat in the colour you want, but I discovered last year that they sell hat bases on eBay ( search for sinamay in crafts) which you can then decorate yourself.

  13. I love your dress and your fabulous work.Are you going to the BBC sewing bee,i am yousure yoo’ll the winner(for me its done)

  14. Oh my gosh. Utterly utterly beautiful. I cannot wait to see pictures of you wearing this beauty!

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