Time to tackle that bodice! To review, we have 3 layers - the lace, the fashion fabric (silk poly twill) and a underlining of imperial broadcloth. The fashion fabric and the underlining have been thread traced as one and are now treated as one fabric. The bust and waist darts were thread traced onto the underlining (sorry I don't have more pictures!). Sew the darts in both the front and back bodice just as you normally would but don't sew the side seams. At this point, I pinned it on my daughter and again made sure it was a good fit. Now time to apply the lace. First I pinned it onto Betty - my dress form. In the picture you can see my HUGE side seams and the extra lace that that I left at the waist and neckline. The side seams are just pinned.
In order to attach the lace, I need to accomplish the same thing that I did with the skirt - attaching each motif to the underlying fabric. The difficulty is that the while the skirt was a flat piece of material, the bodice is three dimensional and has darts! This time, I need to sew from the right side attaching the lace and making sure it molds to the bodice shape. I began by making sure that my lace was falling in a way that was pleasant to the eye. I situated the large flower motif right down center front. You could do this anyway you want to, the important thing is to stand back and make sure the design does not look off center or that the motifs are falling in unflattering places. Remember Guipure Lace doesn't have a grain line, something that is going to be very helpful as we go forward. I then began tacking each of the motifs across the top of the bodice and down the center front, moving from motif to motif carrying the thread behind the fashion fabric. Yes, it was slow and tedious. I did the same across the back.
Now it is time to tackle those darts! I started with the back because the back darts were very small and I needed to get my confidence up! If you have read Make Your Own Dress Patterns by Adele Margolis, you know that darts can be moved around and one of the places you can move them is to the side seam. Since my darts were very small in the back and Guipure Lace doesn't have a grain line, I moved the dart fullness to the side seams and didn't cut the lace. The brides (little bridges connecting the lace) create a lot of give and so I just kept smoothing the lace over to the side seam and pinning as I went. See how nice and smooth that back is and there was no cutting of the lace.
Of course, I can't get away with that on the front bodice. My front bodice has both bust and waist darts. Since my daughter isn't very large in the bust, I decided to shift all the fullness to the waist dart and only cut the lace once on each side rather than twice. I did this by smoothing and pinning the sides down, easing all the fullness toward the waist.
Here you can see the sides are pinned and all the extra fullness is at the waist dart position.
Take a deep breath - its time to cut the lace! Again, you don't want to cut through the motifs but around them. The dart will not be straight but will curve around the motifs. In deciding where to cut, again look for what is pleasing to the eye and try and cut more toward the sides rather than the front. You want your dart to be invisible when you are through. (Yes it’s possible!)
You can begin cutting at the waist and work your way up, or near the bust and work down. I did each side differently because of how the motifs fell.
Don't cut the entire dart in one pass. Instead snip, smooth and pin, and snip some more. As you snip, smooth and pin, you will be able to see where you need to cut some more.
Overlap and pin the motifs as you go. Don't worry about the thickness at this point.
Once everything is smoothed and pinned, you can no go back and cut the underlying motifs.
The lace shouldn't be a double thickness anywhere. That is too thick! It is all right to cut a partial motif that is under another motif. In the above picture you can see how one motif overlaps just one petal of another motif so I trimmed off just the one petal.
Here is the result. Just keep stepping back and looking at it and cut slowly!
Here is the smooth finished dart!
Now back to hand sewing each of those motifs and individual petals so it all lies smooth and no little parts are sticking up.
One of my favorite knitting authors, Elizabeth Zimmerman, recommends that you go and lie down in a quiet, dark room after you have cut the steek of your sweater. Another of my favorite authors, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot, recommends a large glass of wine. Both of these suggestions apply to cutting the lace of your bodice to form the dart!