Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Guipure dress: step-by-step plan

Today, I finished a short shift at the Leventis Museum, researching the garments they have in their collection. I managed to examine four dresses - all custom-made - and what wonderful dressmaking it was. I'd really rather write about it now, but I got to finish my guipure dress by Friday. 

I am sharing here a step-by-step work plan - it helps me focus and gives me a rough time estimate. Maybe it will also convince you to never make a strapless garment with a corselet foundation. After all, the preceding work took me about thirty hours. I am not counting the first failed foundation (failed because of the wrong fabric choice). By accident, I bought cotton with cross grain stretch. I tried to rescue the corselet by cutting one layer on straight grain, and another on crossgrain, but it didn't work very well. At the end, I decided that having paid a little fortune for the guipure lace, I should make an effort and sew a new corselet... The plan!


I will start by finishing the corselet: the only thing missing is a waist stay, which will be attached by hand. 

This type of inner foundation is necessary for this dress since it doesn't have a waistline seam to support boning. The corselet is tighter and more fitted that the dress itself, allowing it to hang freely. 

The corselet is sewn using two layers of woven cotton. The boning channels are stitched through both layers. Cotton edges at the bottom are hand overcast, and the hem lace provides neat and less bulky finish. 


The outer layer is practically finished: the shell was fitted, seams stitched, guipure was hand-basted to the two layers of charmeuse and muslin. Now I only need to close the gaps along the centre back seam by carefully appliqué of the quipure lace.


As next I need to cut and sew the lining, which I will cut using the original fitted toile pieces. 


Once all the layers are done, they need to be connected. Lining and the corselet and basted together at the top edge and then sewn to the outer shell. The last step is best done with a zipper foot to avoid hitting the boning.  Seam allowances are trimmed, graded and clipped. 

The top edge is understitched by hand 1/2" from the edge. 

The lining is fell-stitched to the zipper tape.


Finally, the lining needs to be stitched to the dress hem and the hem slit needs to be tacked so it doesn't accidentally rip apart.

Writing the plan, while helpful, gives me wrong feeling of accomplishment now. I should go start the real sewing now. Thanks for keeping up with it )

Do you use brief step-by step plans for your sewing projects?


  1. Good luck with all the work. The lace is gorgeous and the dress should be lovely.

  2. The lace is lovely. I can't wait to see the finished dress.

  3. I know it will be stunning and can't wait to see you smiling, wearing it.......looking forward to the pictures.
    Is the dress self drafted, or purchased by the way? Always love hearing all the details.

  4. In awe... Yes I also use brief step by step plans for my projects, at least the ones more eelaborated. It keeps me focused ☺

  5. Awestruck! Exquisite fabric, color choice and skills!

  6. Absolutely amazing! I love the effect of "carefully" stitching the lace around the zipper. It is gorgeous! Thank you for taking the time to share the plan.

  7. I was in class with you when you first started this dress! In fact, you inspired me to work with guipure and to try a corselet. It is going to be gorgeous -- how could it miss with that beautiful lace! You're going to be amazed at how wonderfully comfortable the corselet is!

    On another note, so glad that you are recovered from your surgery and are back with us. You have been missed!

  8. I don't have a step-by-step plan as such, I do make notes of what I already accomplished. And possibly if I had any thought or ideas that could be useful to other projects. What I like the most is writing down what I think my next step is going to be. I start so very many projects that this could be really useful in helping me figure out where I get stuck. Most of the time I stop when I feel that I need to think something through before I tackle it. And then I don't go back to that project for a long time. Which is not great because too many WIPs accumulate.

    Your dress is going to be utterly gorgeous! Can't wait to see a photo of you wearing it. Happy sewing!

    [I lost this comment three times, I hope it works this time. One last go]

  9. I'm drooling over here...such a lovely project to get stuck into. Can't wait to see the finished dress

  10. Wow! It's beautiful. I don't mean the lace (though it is), I mean the work- such lovely work you do. Thank you for sharing.

  11. I really love reading and following your posts about pattern making as I find them extremely informative and interesting.

  12. Absolutely fascinating project. Your work is stunning. Thank you so much for sharing...

  13. Very nice,,,Thanks for sharing...
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  14. these are really wonderful. great way to design clothes online.Lovely work as always.

  15. Nice post. thanks for the shared it with us. cotton twill

  16. That color is gorgeous on you, and the shape is perfect! As always, your sewing patterns are superb.

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