Pattern Hack Fairy



Sew Along: Strapless Foundation- Week Six

Here in Week Six we now have a complete strapless bodice!

In the previous post, we had our completed lining layer with boning, and our middle layer with boning.

I finally made my “fashion layer”… rows and rows of silver metallic stitching on layers of silk gauze and Chantilly lace.  Next was carefully cutting all but the base layer in between the channels and wetting, blow drying and fluffing to get “Chantilly & Silk Chenille”.

Fashion layer has NO boning.



So now with three complete layers, I am going to start with attaching the Fashion layer to the Middle layer, stitching all the way around the edges.

** Important tip!  When you stay stitch, bring the fashion layer inward from the edge of the Middle layer by about 1/8″.  This slack will come in handy when the seaming is rolled to the inside by the lining.  The “roll” of the fashion layer around the edges will take up that slack.  Otherwise, you risk the two layers fighting each other for the same space and resulting in strained puckers.

—Here I am going to lay my Fashion layer on top of the middle layer.  My Fashion layer was first stay stitched around the edges.  —

—Here is the inside view—

— Now I’ve stitched them together all the way around the edges—

— Remember to leave that bit of slack in the Fashion layer —

— Here is the inside view —


Next, I am going to attach my Fashion Layer/Middle Layer combo to the Lining Layer only at the upper edge.

Remember the bias cut organza?  This time I am going to take about a 1.5″ strip and pin it to the inside of the middle layer, and also catching the Lining layer behind it.  We are NOT stretching and ironing this piece like we did with the narrow organza we used as a stabilizer.  We are just laying it down there flat.  Do not worry if you do end up stretching it or easing it by chance while you are sewing it in.  It will not matter, it’s just going to act as an inside facing to later catch the seam allowance and hold it neatly when we “understitch”.  It will make sense here shortly.

— This view is of the Middle Layer/Fashion Layer combo with the Lining layer behind it.  The “right side” of the Fashion Layer and the “right side” of the Lining Layer are facing each other.—


—- Here I am folding one side over so you can get a better look.  You can see our narrow organza stabilizing strip from before.

Now let’s stitch across the top, your 3/8″ or 1/2″… whatever you had allowed.  If you used 5/8″ seam allowance, then after this seam it will be best to trim it down after stitching it and release clipping where needed.

*** IMPORTANT!  Leave about 2″ open/unstitched at the center back where the zipper will begin.

Now I’m going to butterfly it open so you can see how the organza will be used to catch/hold the seam allowance for the understitching stage.

— In this view, the Lining layer is in the bottom of the picture, the Middle Layer/Fashion Layer combo is at the top —  The organza strip was layed onto the middle layer.

Now we are going to fold the organza strip down on to the Lining layer to “scoop” the seam allowance down.

We will do a 1/16th inch understitch, and a another at about 1/4 to 3/8″.  We are just catching the seam allowance on to the Lining layer.  There will be NO exposed stitching on the edge of the Fashion layer.

*** IMPORTANT!  Remember you have about a 1.5″ to 2″ opening at the back to install the zipper.  Stop you understitching about an inch before you get to the end of you stitching.  For example, if you stopped your seaming stitch 2″ from the edge, you will stop your understitching 3″ from the edge.  This is is because you will need to be able to get in there to stitch the remaining open closed, AFTER you install the zipper.  If you understich it all down too closely to the end of your seaming stitch, you will not be able to fit the pressure foot in there.   Don’t worry…. it will make more sense shortly.

You can trim off that straggling piece of organza that did not get sewn down.  I’ve yet to find a use for keeping it there.


— Now flipping it over, this is the resulting view —

I have not pressed it down at the edges yet, so those little puckers will smooth out once I get around to it.  See how the edge by the zipper is left open, and the understiching is further away as well.

— Here I have folded it down, the way it would be worn —

It’s taking shape!!

Remember, the baggy “slack” in the height of the Fashion Layer get’s taken up when the skirt will be attached and he seam allowance flipped up.

I wish you could see it and touch it in person!  My photography skills are crap!  (yes, that is a cry for help)


Now the zipper.  I’m using an invisible zipper.  Despite all the layers of “Chenille” on my Fashion layer, it is actually very thin and light…. so a regular weight invisible zipper worked fine.  If I am needing a thicker invisible zipper, like the ones Ver* Wan* uses, I get them here.

I’m going to stitch the zipper down with a basting stitch in my allotted same allowance.  I will not baste down all the way to the bottom of the bodice— I’m going to stop about 2″ before I get there.

Next, I’m going to do the “real” stitching of the zipper for about the first 3 inches from the top, stitching nice and close to the teeth.

This next part may take a little thought.  I am now going to sew the vertical center back Lining edge to the zipper edge, just for about the first 2″ from the top.

**IMPORTANT!  The Lining layer needs to be about 1/4″ shorter than the Fashion layer.  This is because we will need about 1/4″ of “slack” at the center back of the Fashion layer.  It will hopefully make sense in the following pictures.

After stitching the first few vertical inches of the center back, the zipper seam allowance will roll naturally to the inside.  This is because our lining is about 1/4″ smaller.  Now we can close the TOP edge of the bodice with the zipper seam allowance to the inside as pictured.


When we turn the bodice right side out, look how nicely everything lays and how cleanly it’s finished.

The reason we only did the “true stitching” on the upper portion of the zipper and lining is so we can close the rest of it after the skirt shell and skirt linings are attached.  If you try to do this tricky part of the upper zipper when the dress skirt and skirt lining are attached, it can all be too heavy and bulky to work with for that tedious section.  If you decide you need to make the zipper looser or tighter though the body, no big deal because it is not permanently stitched down yet.  If you need the upper neckline edge at the zipper to be a little tighter or a little looser, you have at least 1/2″ of play there depending on how you install the top hook and eye.



Woo hoo!!  The zipper is in and prepared with the lining, and it’s looking pretty good!


I decided to simply add hook & eye tape to my center back “bra” closure.

I need to still slip a nice piece of grosgrain ribbon or a piece of felt  or something behind the eyes, so the hardware doesn’t irritate the wearers skin.

There is about a 1/2″ of negative ease in the waist of the bra closure.  The girls seem to like to be snugged in there, and since my boning layers and fashion layer are a little looser, my girl will not look “sausaged” in.  No way will this bodice fall down, and with the ease that is in the upper edge of the neckline, that armpit meat can tuck itself back in without getting “hung up” there during hugs and dancing.

If you decide you want to have more bust support/shape with a wired bra, you can simply take the front of a purchased bra and sew it into the side seams.  You can also make “beltloops” sewn into the upper side seams and center back to thread a complete strapless bra into.  I tend to like to use just the front of the bra because my back “bra” panel is tight enough and I don’t want more bulk.   You may not need the additional bra front, but just want to sew in some side/bust pads for a fuller bust with added cleavage.


I think for the skirt of the dress I will do gobs and gobs of gathered silk gauze (it’s like chiffon but even thinner), with possibly a few discreet layers of baby blue tulle underneath.  the blue in the bodice is subtle, but I would want the blue in the skirt to be even more subtle, hardly noticeable.  Really there just for my own psychological “thrill”  lol

For the upper portions of the bodice, I’m thinking of creating little 3D flowers using bits of the blue Chantilly, silk gauze, maybe a tiny dot of baby blue silk charmeuse… and of course Swarovski bicone crystals in baby blue and clear, with little mirco silver seed beads.  I am considering a few freshwater rice pearls… but I don’t know.  I will have to play with a few samples swatches and a glass of red and see what happens!

Categories:   Sew-Along: Strapless Bustier


  • Posted: 03/18/2015 21:28


    Does the bra back closure do the same that a grosgrain waist stay would? (or did I miss that part and need to back track?) Looking forward to the finished creation. Any chance you'll share some beading tips? Like planning layout, estimating how many needed and how much time to budget? Thanks!
    • Posted: 03/20/2015 20:53

      Catina Ferraine

      Back Bra Closure Great question! Yes, this could act in lieu of the grosgrain waist stay... but with the added benefit of more bust support. Beading I LOVE doing beadwork and will happily share the process with you. I will be doing a few sample swatches first, and time myself. You bring up an excellent point about estimating the needed supplies AND the time investment. Once the desired "sample swatch" is chosen, I will use that to guestimate the total beads needed and how many beading hours I should budget.
  • Posted: 03/22/2015 00:09


    Thank you!
  • Posted: 04/01/2015 23:17


    Me again! After the understitching but before the back closure: Is it necessary to catch or baste the vertical seams of the lining layer to the corresponding seams on the fashion/middle layer? My project has a longer bodice/ mermaid style dress. I'm wondering if it will shift without tacking the layers together?
    • Posted: 04/04/2015 15:23

      Catina Ferraine

      Hi Sandy! What is your fashion fabric made of? It it is something super super light or has draping/pleating effects, the maybe. But if it stable on it's own, I would say "no" because they may not play well together if forcibly tacked. Remember, you want your under layers to be more body conscious while your outer layer(s) are a little looser so they can skim and hang freely.
      • Posted: 04/06/2015 14:59


        Based on that, I think the bodice will be stable without tacking it down. Thanks. The dress is a formal for my daughter; taffeta with a beaded lace overlay. In hindsight, I should have made the skirt taffeta but tried something else on top that is easier to manipulate. Learning experience. We decided to use beaded appliques and save the hand beading for another day. The calendar flipped into April, and now prom is "This month" instead of "Next month".