#012 The Elizabethan Bodice: FINISHING THE BODICE

Posted by Margo Anderson on

Welcome back to The Elizabethan Bodice Sew Along!  Today we are going to discuss all the remaining things you need to do to finish your bodice!  
In our last installment, we finished our seams and bound the edges of our bodice.  
Bound bodice, waiting for finishing treatments.
We had skipped the instructions on skirting, because we had planned on adding the skirting/tabs after the binding went on, in order to make it easier for adjusting for weight.  However, we first had to choose trims for the bodice.
Choosing the trims.
We had some dark teal velvet we were planning on using for the underskirt, so we chose a dark teal ribbon for the main trim, and silver braids that coordinated.  Since we were going to make looped tabs, we first cut out strips of our fabric in the width of the looped tab pattern.  We cut strips from the lining fabric, as well as the fashion fabric.
Strips cut for the looped tab, using the rotary cutter and mat.
We stacked the lining and fashion fabrics right side together, and sewed a 5/8 inch seam along both sides.  
Stitching along both sides of the stacked tab fabric.
We took the fabric tubes, and turned them right side out.  Then we pressed them flat with the iron.
Turning the tubes inside out.
Next we applied the trim.  We stitched silver braid along the edges, and then the teal ribbon down the center.  To finish, we sewed tiny silver trim down either edge of the teal ribbon.  We ran out of the silver braid, so we used a slightly different silver braid on the final two pieces.
Finished looped tab pieces, waiting to be cut.
Now that the base pieces were finished, we took the looped tab pattern, and cut out as many tabs as we could from the strips of fabric.  Once they were cut, we folded them in half, and stitched them shut along the raw edge.
Cutting looped tabs, and sewing the edges shut.
We took some time to pin them in place on the bodice, to make sure they would fit properly, and look right.  This is what helped us decide that we only needed 4 looped tabs on the shoulder straps, rather than going all the way around.
Front view of tabs mock-up.
Back view of tabs mock-up.
We also spent a little time trying out different trim placement ideas.
Mocking up the trim on the front of the bodice.
We decided on a layered trim approach.  We sewed the silver ribbon on either side of the thin velvet ribbon with a small zig-zag stitch, and pinned it to the front of the bodice, along the neckline edge, and in a stripe down the back of the bodice.  We decided the extra silver braid should go along all remaining openings.  Then we hand-stitched the shoulder strap pieces together, and clean finished the insides.  
All of the trim on the bodice was sewn on by hand.  The thickness of the fabric and the narrowness of some of the trims made it very difficult to machine stitch, which is why we chose to apply the trim last, by hand.  It also gave us a lot of control over where we wanted the trim to go.  
Hand-stitching on the waist tabs.  
At this point, we went off-manual for construction.  We hand-stitched the tabs to the waist and shoulder straps.  In the manual, there is an excellent explanation of how to apply looped tabs to your shoulder straps by using bias tape, and graduating the width of the tabs.  
Hand-stitching on the shoulder tabs.
It was decided that on this particular bodice, due to the thickness of the fabric, the tabs would be easier to apply as is, rather than via bias tape.  We also decided to make them all the same width, as the thick fabric made shortening them a little difficult.  The decision to only use 4 of the looped tabs was made here, as we thought it would be overwhelming to have the entire armhole surrounded by full length looped tabs.  The final look works well for the sleeves we have planned to go with the bodice.
On the waist tabs, we alternated the tabs with the two different silver trims.  We kept them mostly the same length, only shortening them as we curved around the front edge of the bodice.  
The finished bodice, from the back.
A trick we used to make sure the tabs were the same on both sides was to stitch all the tabs on one side of the waist, and then fold the bodice over, line up the bottom edges, and pin the tabs on one at a time, lined up with the other side's sewn-on tabs.  It made sure that everything was perfectly even. 
Finished bodice back.
Unfortunately, we wound up having a Stay-At-Home order, and Gilah and I were not able to get together for a final fitting.  I did not want to sew on closures until we were certain that no other adjustments needed to be made.  When Gilah is able to try it on, I will mark any adjustments, and then sew heavy-duty hooks and eyes down the inside of the bodice, with a modesty panel behind them.
In the manual, hand-sewn eyelets and front rolls are suggested as options too.  
Finished bodice front.
We are planning on attaching a skirt to Gilah's bodice since it is front opening, and plan on doing so once she has a chance to have her final fitting.  
It has been great fun to do this Sew Along with all of you.  We hope you have learned some new tricks, and also seen how it is possible to take a pattern and alter it to make it work for you and what you need.  
Thank you for following along with us!
COMING IN APRIL:  The #010 16th Century Lady's Doublet Sew Along!  
See you then!

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