But I DID make the dress

Well, the bandage dress is finished, and I thought I’d share what I came up with for the bandage bodice, just in case any of you anywhere out there in sewing land would like to have something that looks kinda-sorta-almost like a Leger bandage dress, but without the $4,000 price tag. After doing some research on the Leger bandage dresses, it became very clear that they are a closely guarded copyrighted design, and it would be impossible to even find the fabric (rayon-lycra) in strips in order to stitch them together.Sherri Hill 50014

I had initially thought I would do a Sherri Hill take on the bodice, since I’d become quite familiar with her designs while trying on prom dresses with DD1 earlier this year.  Her elastic dresses are strips of elastic stitched in overlapping layers to a woven bodice. Something like this dress (which DD1 tried on and thought was a too h-u-g-e, albeit fun, dress).

I proceeded along the Sherri Hill lines, did a fitting for an underlining of power net mesh (which was easily pulled over the client’s head), and stitched the elastic, in the round, to make the bodice.

bodice fail

But at the fitting, it was impossible for her to pull it on, all elasticated, over her head.  The elastic also didn’t fit as tight and flat under the bust as hoped once she’d got it on. So, as I had initially suggested a zipper was required, which was not what she wanted, we had a discussion about adding a zipper.  I wasn’t sure what I would do for the zip, as there would be a tremendous amount of strain on any closure.  A lot of unpicking of triple stretch stitches ensued.  In the process, I discovered that the fuzzy nylon that covered the elastic snagged, pulled and warped like crazy if I wasn’t super careful.

Once it was all unpicked, I had an incredible brainwave.

I ditched the power mesh underlining and stitched the elastic together along the length, slightly overlapping each strip, and shaping each layer on my dress form.  The ends of the short pieces are all bound with bemberg lining to keep them tidy.  The bodice is snug and shaped.

It worked a treat.

But how to make that tight elasticated bodice close up?  Stitch the bottom row of elastic closed for a secure base.

zip closure

Add hook and eye closures, and an invisible zip to close over it all as neatly as possible.  Hopefully the hooks/eyes will keep the nylon invisible zip from splitting apart.

Here’s the inside back.

final bodice

Here’s the inside front, where you can see the rows of elastic stitched together and the ends bound with bemberg remnants.

front interior

The skirt was gathered and attached to a length of elastic, which was then attached to the bodice. This picture is from before I re-thought the bodice construction.

skirt

And, to date, I have no pictures of the finished dress on the client.  Hopefully she’ll remember to send me one and I’ll add it to this post.  I was surprised that the dress looked as nice as it did when it was all done, considering the poor quality of the materials.  The bodice was as snug as desired and the skirt hung gracefully to the floor.

 

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12 thoughts on “But I DID make the dress

  1. Amazing what a creative & competent seamstress can do with some less than ideal material if pushed! The detail shots look really professional. Can’t wait to see the full garment.

  2. Good gracious! What a challenge that must have been. It’s beautifully made, and I’m sure made a young lady very happy. Hope she sends you some pictures of this dress in action!

  3. You came up with a workable solution! I’m not surprised that the first version wouldn’t go on. It;s amazing that non-sewers want to dictate details when they have no understanding of garment construction. Your reinforced closure should hold fast! Hopefully you’ll get some pics of the finished work.

    1. I have to say that the mom was quite understanding when it came to trial and error from an engineering point of view, and confessed that, as a non-sewer, she was aware that she didn’t know what was involved in getting what her daughter wanted.

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