The Boned Bodice

In  Part One, I shared the inspiration for my wedding dress as well as some of the resources I used to learn the techniques needed to make it. Today, we’ll take a look at the main bodice.

The Foundation

The main bodice is the foundation of the entire dress. It needed to fit well and have the structure to support everything else. Since it would have a lace layer over it, this bodice would be strapless, have princess seams, boning, underlining and lining.

This bodice is made out of 4 layers. The first layer took the longest due to fitting. At the time, I was living alone in a small apartment and my sister lived a good two hours away. I didn’t have anyone to help me get the fit right. There are a few things that are difficult to do alone on a sewing project. Fitting a bodice and hemming the skirt are two of those. Have a tip for handling those alone? I’d love to hear it!

The Muslin

Since I’m tall, I had to modify the length of the bodice pattern. I also wanted the neckline a little bit higher. I started by making a muslin to test the fit. After the agony of trying to pin it on myself (I did draw blood at one point!) and mark adjustments, I finally came up with an alternate method that worked better — I basted a zipper in! I sewed it in so that the seams were on the outside and I could adjust them. I did apply and remove the zipper more than once, but it was worth it! That was the only way I could manage to make the adjustments without help.

Once I was satisfied with the fit, I used the muslin as a pattern. I had used long stitches so that I could easily take the muslin apart and copy the pieces.


As I mentioned, this bodice was made of four layers: one of a satin fashion fabric, two of muslin, and the fourth of lining. The fashion fabric was a kind of satin. I don’t know the exact specs on it, but it was leftover from my  sister’s wedding dress! It was very special to be able to do use it in my dress.

Wedding dress construction: The layers of my wedding dress bodice.

After I cut my pieces out, I used one layer of muslin to underline the satin.

Wedding dress construction: The underlined satin layer for my wedding dress bodice.

For underlining, two layers of fabric are hand stitched together and then treated as one layer. This process gives the fabric more stability and can even change the drape of the material. The fabric has to be hand stitched while laying on a flat surface to ensure that both pieces lay flat when they are together.

Wedding dress construction: hand stitching the underlining to the satin.

After underlining each piece, I stitched all the front and side seams – first using my serger, then with a straight stitch on my sewing machine to make sure it was strong. This was my approach to most of the inside seams.

Wedding dress construction: my vintage suitcase for storing my wedding dress project.I used a small, vintage suitcase to store my wedding dress while it was in the beginning stages of construction.

Wedding dress construction: Cats aren't always the best sewing assistants, but they are good company!My cat, Highlander, often hindered assisted me during this process.

I then stitched the side and front seams of the next muslin layer and applied the boning channels. There would be five boning channels all together: one center front, one in the center of each side front panel, and one in the center of each side back panel. The boning was inserted into each channel and the channel stitched closed. I used steel boning (Thank you eBay!) that I cut and capped.

A view of the muslin layer with boning. This photo was taken after all the bodice layers were assembled and the skirt was attached. The bodice lining hadn’t yet been stitched down over the skirt seam.

Next I assembled the lining. After all this was complete, I stitched the satin and muslin layers together at the top. The lining was hand stitched at the top so that it sat just a little below the edge and wouldn’t peek out.

The completed bodice. Shown after the skirt layers were attached.

Next Time

Join me next Friday for Part Three! We’ll dive into the various layers of the skirt and the process I used to create it. That was a self-drafted adventure for sure!

Part One | Inspiration

Part Two | The Boned Bodice (You’re here!)

Part Three | The Skirt

Part Four | The Lace Bodice

Please let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to help!

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