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fitting a gathered bodice

Vonnie | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Thankyou all for your fabulous contributions to gatherings. I have learned so much from reading through all the posts. I have a dilemma at the moment and I was wondering if you could help me understand what is happening. I am making a formal dress for my daughter. It is gathered in the centre of the bodice. Instead of delightful little gathers spreading across the bodice all I am getting is a bubble of fabric near the centre. Is it because of the weave or the weight of the fabric or is it something I am doing wrong? The fabric I am using is a heavy bridal type satin. I am not very experienced at formal wear. Thanks again for all your help


  1. Elisabeth | | #1

    I am visualizing gathers in the center front seam for bust shaping, is this what you are working with? With that kind of bust shaping the center front seam will lie closer to the body than it would if the shaping came from the sides. And the wearer needs to have large enough breasts to fill out the bust area, a B cup for commercial patterns. If you lay the dress flat or put a small busted gal in it there will be a bubble area in the front. The bubble you have could be unfilled shaping? The heavy satin would show off extra room since it holds the shape and doesn't collapse into small folds as a lighter fabric would.

    Is there a pattern # you could give us so we can see the problem better?

    1. Vonnie | | #3

      The pattern is McCalls 4379. The pattern piece for the gathered front is on the bias so I think that that is exactly the problem. It formed a little bubble before it got to the cup part of the bodice. The wearer of the dress is a D cup which I have made allowance for. I am going to put the pattern piece back on the normal grain line and remake  the whole bodice and see how it goes. Many thanks for all your advice. It really helps a lot.

      1. Vonnie | | #4

        Yes Yes Yes, it worked this time. I recut the bodice to the normal straight grain and it worked beautifully. It seems to sit very wide on the shoulders though. The last few garments I have made have been very wide on the shoulders. Is this a trait of mine or do you find that commercial patterns are wide on the shoulders?

        1. Teaf | | #5

          All of the patterns I've used in the last five years are way too wide in the shoulders, and I was always considered broad-shouldered! Maybe it's because my middle has thickened with age, and the patterns are based on a young body whose shoulders would be even wider if her hips were my size? Or perhaps my narrow back/full front doesn't conform to the industry standard. In any case, I routinely take at least a 1/2 inch off the outside of both shoulder seams and sometimes need to take an inch out of the center back as well. Doing so makes the sleeves fit better and the whole garment hang better.

          1. Vonnie | | #6

            When I draft up a pattern I always graduate to the smallest size on the shoulders and often do the same, 2 cm in on the armhole side, just to get a comfortable fit. yesterday I made up a Burda top and that seemed O.K. I wonder if it is US sizing? I wish that they would make them smaller on the shoulder and bigger on the hips. Or me smaller on the hips, ;)


        2. DONNAKAYE | | #7

          Actually, the problem with the "too-wide shoulders" is likely (if I'm understanding your initial post properly) that the garment tends to fall off the shoulders. If I am interpreting this correctly, Audrey Childress (see thread discussion) had a great technique that I've used my entire life: fold out a little lengthwise tuck at center front of the pattern piece (for example, from neckedge to hemline) the amount required to draw the outer neckedge nearest the shoulder in closer towards the neck.  I don't usually take it out of the back because I have very wide shoulders and need the ease it affords across my back.  NOTE:  You will have to make the same alteration on any pattern pieces that adjoin the front neck, such as collars, facings and the like.

          If you need more bust room after making this alteration, you can add it back in at the side seam or in the pricess seams.  Don't forget that if you do that, you'll have to subsequently alter the pattern pieces that adjoin the armhole, such as sleeves, armhole facings, etc.

          Edited 6/26/2005 10:02 am ET by DONNAKAYE

  2. Allie | | #2

    Was the bodice cut on the bias?  I would think that it would cause it to bubble, rather than gather nicely like you anticipated.


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