Diary of a Titanic Dress: Part Three–Bodice Redux!

By Jennie Chancey

I got lots of excellent feedback on Part Two of my diary, which centered on the two main options for my bodice’s inset. Now it’s time to really mix things up and show just how much fun you can have playing with fabrics to achieve the perfect 1912 look! In addition to the two inset options (burnout organdy and a net lace panel), we can alter the bodice just a wee bit to create some sumptuous drapery effects. But first, let me run the inset options by you again, showing an alternate cutting layout for the net lace that most of you liked best.

First, the inset as I originally cut it with one half-circle at the top:

With the bits of the lace remnant left over, I cut another inset with the half circles on either side, creating a vertical line in the center:

Here’s what this looks like pinned in place on the mannequin with the rest of the bodice:

Now, I’ll agree this has a more symmetrical look to it, but I have to admit the first thought that popped into my head was that it looked like the mannequin had round potholders strategically placed over the bust beneath the bodice material! :o So I decided to try some different ways of draping the bodice material. I had actually cut out an experimental bodice half at the start, adding length and width at the front to give me more material to play with. I figured if I decided I didn’t like the draping, I could always cut it down to match the other side of the bodice (and I’ve got plenty of saree to play with, since I had to buy the entire five-meter piece!).

With the extra material, we can try asymmetrical drapery like this:

Here’s the full view with a non-split overskirt (and no waistline sash):

I tend to be a very “Georgian” gal when it comes to the architecture of my dresses, so I’m not overly fond of the asymmetrical look (yes, I was the little girl who drew the house with four perfectly proportioned windows and a central door!). I also feel that the solid overskirt tends to make the wearer look short, so let’s check out this gown with the split overskirt and more straightforward inset option:

The central “stripe” created by the open overskirt is slimming. Here’s the same look with the inset turned the other way:

Hmmm… I’m still not liking the look of those strategic “circles” at the bust. How about you? So let’s go back and play around with the bodice overlay, draping it to form a “V”:

I dunno… It’s a bit better, but the darker portions draw the eye to the wrong place. So let’s flip the inset and try again:

Ahhh! Now this I am beginning to like! Let’s see how it looks if we set the overskirt to reflect it with an upside-down “V”:

Very slimming, and all the bodice needs is the reciprocating trim around the neckline. But let’s go back to inset option #2 and give it another trial run with these drapery effects:

Hey! That actually looks really nice now! I think with the wider inset shape, this fabric looks kind of “lost,” but when you change the overbodice to the “V”, this inset starts to shine a bit. Here’s a full-length view:

Not bad! I still think the plainer inset would need some help (like a band of the coppery spun silk at the top or some beading or something), but it’s starting to hold its own now with this look. Now let’s play around with the neckline trimming idea. In the photos below, I’ve just pulled up the excess saree material and draped it around the neckline (that’s why the sleeves have vanished):

Wow! Now things really have a symmetrical, “together” look. What happens if we go back to the original inset shape?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m just not feeling this one. It’s gone from “wow” to “oh” in one step. There’s just something about the “V” shape that makes this plainer inset fabric work. No matter which inset I end up using, I’ll definitely trim it out with the golden edge of the saree material (which will involve a lot of hand-sewing but will be worth it, I think).

So now help me choose which option to go for when it comes to my bodice draping and inset choice. Here are the four choices:

Option 1: Medallion Lace inset with straight overbodice

Option 2: Burnout Organdy inset with straight overbodice

Option 3: Medallion Lace inset with “V” overbodice

Option 4: Burnout Organdy inset with “V” overbodice

I’ve left out the asymmetrical option and the alternate cutting layout of inset #1. Unless I hear a lot of comments to the contrary, I’m going to assume the “potholder” bust look isn’t even in the running. At this point, after trying several options, I feel like I could happily go with either inset. I’m leaning more toward the “V” look, but the original “pattern cover” look also has its merits. If anyone has very strong ideas about a different approach to draping the bodice, I’m wide open, but keep in mind that I only have four days to finish this dress, because we have people flying in this weekend, which means no time to sew — and the dinner is on the 12th! I only sew on weeknights after the children are asleep or on Saturdays, so I’m pretty much down to sewing Tuesday through Friday evenings (if the power stays on!). ;)

Fire away! I look forward to reading your comments.

Click here to read Part Four
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34 Comments on Diary of a Titanic Dress: Part Three–Bodice Redux!

  1. Shannon
    April 2, 2012 at 11:19 am (3 years ago)

    I like # 4

    Reply
  2. Janel
    April 2, 2012 at 11:29 am (3 years ago)

    FOUR!! :)

    I laughed at the potholder comment. You are so right.

    Reply
  3. Laura Hines
    April 2, 2012 at 11:32 am (3 years ago)

    Number 4, the best!

    Reply
  4. Gillian
    April 2, 2012 at 11:35 am (3 years ago)

    I like #1 best, with #3 as a second. For some reason the “V” neck is making the bust look very high and pushed up, while I like the somewhat longer line of the original inset – it seems more flattering to me. #4 is not bad either! I don’t like #2 though.

    So there you go. I have lots of opinions! ;)

    Reply
  5. Jenny Venema
    April 2, 2012 at 11:38 am (3 years ago)

    My favourite is #3. I’m with you, the potholder look is out! :) The v shape is very nice. I don’t know if it different in person but the vine patterned fabric tends to make the mannequin look more busty in both the original and the v shape. My order of preference would be #3, #1, #4, #2.

    Reply
  6. Tabitha
    April 2, 2012 at 11:47 am (3 years ago)

    Option 3 or 4 but 4 is standing out

    Reply
  7. Suzi
    April 2, 2012 at 11:49 am (3 years ago)

    Four, most definitely.

    Reply
  8. Anna
    April 2, 2012 at 11:58 am (3 years ago)

    Four! It makes the mannequin look slimmer then the others. : )

    Reply
  9. Becca Goodrich
    April 2, 2012 at 12:02 pm (3 years ago)

    I love #3! I agree with Jenny Venema on the order preference.

    Reply
  10. Carol
    April 2, 2012 at 12:10 pm (3 years ago)

    #4 and if you could add the sari trim as you did in the photo above, that would be my preference. ;) No baseballs or potholders. :P The “V” style inset is much more appealing to my eyes.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm (3 years ago)

      Yep, no matter which choice I go with, I’m definitely adding the saree’s selvedge trim. It just makes the bodice look finished, doesn’t it? :)

      Reply
  11. Mrs. Abbit
    April 2, 2012 at 12:18 pm (3 years ago)

    I would definitely go with the V neckline, but I like the medallian inset just as well as the burnout. I’d almost suggest you flip a coin. Or…what if you did 2 detachable/interchangeable insets?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm (3 years ago)

      Now there’s an intriguing thought! Might be possible if I leave the bodice overlay (saree) loose instead of sewn in with the interlining/lining. Hmmmm!

      Reply
  12. Krista
    April 2, 2012 at 12:25 pm (3 years ago)

    What fun, Jennie! I love watching the progress of this project, and I really appreciate the fact that even though you have constraints with time, general life circumstances, and power, you’re still taking the time to be creative and “play” with the pieces.

    Okay–I LOVE the V inset with the vertical skirt panel style the best. I laughed when I first saw the option with the half-circles on the vertical–personally, I wouldn’t go there, either:)! I’m a symmetrical gal, too, and though I could understand the asymmetrical look, I much preferred the other.

    I cast my vote first for #4, then for #3 as an alternate. The last time I voted for the color/design combination like you have in #3, but I think the trim around the neckline with #4 is really pretty.

    Really, you’re not going to go wrong here. But thanks so much for the lesson and showing us the different looks!

    Reply
  13. Carol
    April 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm (3 years ago)

    I went back to look over the images you have in the Titanic Fashion you shared with us. If you look back over those images, Jennie, you will see that the “V” type of inset or asymmetrical bodices are more in line with the day’s fashion. I’m not sure exactly what look you are wanting to achieve as far as fashion of the day or a bit behind.

    As for the skirt of the dress, I do like the no-split skirt as it’s more of the trendy fashion of the day. :) There was one image in your booklet that showed the skirt overlapping a wee bit at the top, then having a “V” split toward the lower 2/3rd of the skirt. Something to consider.

    Have fun playing.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm (3 years ago)

      Oh, just wait until my skirt post! We’re going to have way, way too much fun playing with skirt options with all these yards of saree material at my disposal! ;)

      Reply
  14. Adica
    April 2, 2012 at 12:44 pm (3 years ago)

    I would say #3 or #4. I like #4 the best, but agree that it would need an extra something, while #3 could stand on its own. I like #2 the least.

    I’m glad you noticed the “potholder” look, haha! I saw the picture and immediately thought, “Oh, dear… How am I going to point this out delicately…?” Lol!

    Reply
  15. Katrina - Edelweiss Patterns
    April 2, 2012 at 1:10 pm (3 years ago)

    Wow! It’s so hard to decide now! Changing the bodice to have that “v” look was ingenious, and I think the entire dress looks much more slimming that way, especially with a “v” on the skirt front as well.

    As far as the lace medallion look went I am still liking option #1 best simply because you can see much more of the lace than in option #3 where the “v” hides more of it.

    But whatever you do will be pretty! I love Mrs. Abbit’s idea of making the bodice panels interchangable!

    I wonder if you could keep the wider bodice panels (option 1 and 2), but do the “v” effect on the skirt so that it looks smaller in proportion to the bodice.

    So many ideas! But whatever you do will be gorgeous. : )

    I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

    Reply
  16. Emily Lenz
    April 2, 2012 at 1:23 pm (3 years ago)

    #3 or #4!
    I still lean towards the lace…mostly because the pattern repeats the paisley belt shapes and because the copper silk peeps through more at the top, but the v-shape in either case is most lovely!

    Reply
  17. Audrey
    April 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm (3 years ago)

    #4 hands down! Lol

    Reply
  18. Moriah
    April 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm (3 years ago)

    I like 4 the best :)

    Reply
  19. Katarna Koskivaara
    April 2, 2012 at 2:15 pm (3 years ago)

    I like nr 2 best, it is the most georgian of them.

    Reply
  20. Kella
    April 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm (3 years ago)

    Number 3 is definitely my favorite. I don’t really like either of the burnout organdy insets. I don’t know, it seems a little to plain to me.

    Kella

    Reply
  21. Gertrude
    April 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm (3 years ago)

    The v-shape really makes the burnout organdy come alive! As much as I love the medallion, #4 jumps out at me. This is SO much fun!!

    Reply
  22. Gertrude
    April 2, 2012 at 3:49 pm (3 years ago)

    Then again, when you look at the full length ensemble, #3 is quite striking!! Lol!

    Reply
  23. TreasureSeeker
    April 2, 2012 at 3:57 pm (3 years ago)

    My favorite is option #4. I love the way that fabric looks with the blue, an the “v” layout just looks ten times better than the other one. Can’t wait to see what you choose!

    Reply
  24. Geneece
    April 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm (3 years ago)

    #4; but I loved the asymmetrical option!

    Reply
  25. Lucy
    April 2, 2012 at 4:28 pm (3 years ago)

    4, by a long way. The two medallions side-by-side made me think of a pair of those plastic comedy boobs ;-) (Your ‘potholders’ was more polite, I’ll admit, lol)

    Reply
  26. Kat Menard
    April 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm (3 years ago)

    I would vote #1 or #4. The first one shows off the inset material to its full advantage and would be very flattering to a small bust or a low bust point. I prefer #4, since it would be the most flattering to a full-bust, and a high bust point. I also think the shape makes the waist look small as well.

    Reply
  27. Natasha
    April 2, 2012 at 8:04 pm (3 years ago)

    I like number four, too. What gorgeous material you have to work with, Jennie! This is so much fun to watch!

    Reply
  28. someone
    April 2, 2012 at 9:14 pm (3 years ago)

    I like the v bodice and skirt. Any chance you could show how to alter the pattern to do this style? I’ve been looking for a pattern like this.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 3, 2012 at 1:24 am (3 years ago)

      Yes, I will show step-by-step how to make the “V” shape, since that won, hands down! It’s really much easier than you think, because the bodice overlay is what creates the “V” — the rest of the pattern (lining, interlining, inset shape) stays the same. Stay tuned!

      Reply
  29. Priscilla Oostrom
    April 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm (3 years ago)

    I would definitely go for Option 1: Medallion Lace inset with straight overbodice… It looks like something straight from 1912 to me. Gorgeous… I love the fabrics you use.

    Reply
  30. Sarah
    April 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm (3 years ago)

    #3 is definitely the winner! It was my immediate favorite also in the full-length pictures…I’m referring to the last photo of the lace medallion options. Looking forward to what you come up with next!

    Reply

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