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lining stretch velvet bodice

sabrina | Posted in General Discussion on

I am trying to sew a wedding dress for my (desperate) friend from a velvetty olive green fabric that has some stretch to it.  She provided me with a thin satiny fabric to use for the lining.  I don’t have a lot of sewing experience.  I think I want to line the bodice by sewing inner and outer pieces together (with right sides facing) along the curved neckline and shoulder seams and then flip the bodice rightside out.  I did that once for a scoop neckline on a tank top and it worked out pretty well.  I don’t know of a better way to make a good curved neckline without hemming it all weird.  But I’m worried about sewing the non-stretchy satin fabric down to the stretchy bodice.  Won’t that mess things up?  I’m also afraid that the contrast color lining will show up at the edges of the neck and armholes as she moves.  I feel like it would be better to line the bodice with another piece of the velvet instead, but I really don’t know what I’m doing.  Any advice would really be a great help.


  1. SewTruTerry | | #1


    You are thinking right in that the non stretchy satin will not give enough for the stretch velvet.  You have a couple of options regarding the lining. First question though would be is there any ease built into the pattern for the bodice? Or is the ease negative in that the velvet will stretch quite a bit when she wears it?  If there is some positive ease for the bodice I would say that you can still use the satin lining but cut the pieces on the bias which will give you some extra ease.  If the answer is that there is negative ease then instead of the satin lining she provided I would look at some tricot lining or interfaceing even some nude or flesh colored swimsuit lining would work well here.  Also is the velvet so thin that it needs to be lined?  Hope this helps.  Let me know if you have other questions.

    1. sabrina | | #2

      Thank you.  The fabric is very thin and kind of flows.  It's only really stretchy across the width of the fabric; if I pull on it lengthwise there's not much give.  If I didn't line it, would it be okay to just fold over the armhole and neckline edges and sew them down?  It's a slightly off-the shoulder style but sleeveless, so there is a three inch band that extends around the shoulder and the neckline is an extended gentle curve from there.  I don't know about the ease, I'm not following an actual pattern.  My friend originally bought a pattern for a low-waisted tight-fitting princess-seamed off the shoulder style that doesn't work at all because she is (surprise!) three months' pregnant.  I've been cutting up an old bedsheet trying empire waist bodices with the same shoulder style she originally wanted.  I've never had to use darts on things I made for myself, but I used some articles I found on how to make darts work and, on the seventh try, came up with a practice bodice that fits her pretty well.  But I don't know how this will affect the ease or how the fit will alter if I cut the same shapes from stretchy fabric.  Would it be better to cut the bodice so the stretch goes sideways (parallel to the floor) or up and down?  I was thinking about cutting the bodice piece in one direction and the lining piece from the same fabric but perpendicular to the first, to kind of eliminate the stretch when they're sewn together.  I need the bodice to be stable so it can support the weight of the layered skirt and train without having shoulder straps.  But I'm afraid it might be a really stupid idea to not match the grain in the same direction for both pieces.  There seems to be an overwhelming number of things to take into account here, and I just don't have the experience to know what's best.

      1. rjf | | #3

        I made a wedding gown in two pieces: the skirt with a waist band and the top with a facing at the bottom.  About two hours before the wedding, I finally tacked the two pieces together.  It sounds weird but it worked because the waistband took the stress and the bodice was not pulled down by the weight of the skirt.  I think cutting the bodice and lining with perpendicular grain lines might let one side or the other wrinkle but not having felt the actual fabric, I'm only guessing.  Tricot sounds like the answer to me.  Please take pictures so we can see.        rjf

      2. Crafty_Manx | | #4

        I don't know if it would apply to your problem, but I have had success in lining stretch velvet with cotton broadcloth.  It eliminates the stretch and was able to support the weight of all the trim that was applied to that particular project.  You could even use it as an underlining, and a nicer lining-type fabric for the actual lining.


        Note: edited to correct my horrible spelling!!

        Edited 11/13/2003 9:33:35 AM ET by CRAFTY_MANX

      3. carolfresia | | #5

        Sabrina, typically, if you want the stretch of the fabric to help in fitting, it should go around the body (unless you're making a skating dress when, apparently, you have to have the stretch go lengthwise). But more important than anything, cut all the pieces in the same direction, or the nap of the velvet will not match, and you'll have a two-tone dress. Drape a length of fabric around your neck, and you'll see that it looks shinier and lighter on one side, and dark and rich on the other. Pick which you like better and cut the entire dress that way.

        If this bodice is supporting a long skirt and train, my instinct would be not to rely on the stretch factor. I'd probably underline and/or line with a non-stretch fabric, as the previous poster suggested, so there's some stability to hold up the rest of the dress. The waist-stay idea (separate skirt and bodice, with skirt just tacked on at the last minute) works great for a natural waistline, but I'm not sure how you engineer that for an empire waist. Maybe rjf can weigh in on this?

        If you decide you want the bodice stretchy, look for a stretchy lining (swimsuit linings are good; check out http://www.sewsassy.com and see if they carry this). You're unlikely to find a stretch lining in a perfect color match, so you might need to cut separate facings for the neckline and armholes; I think you can use the velvet if it's not super bulky.

        Another idea would be to try a different design--look for a pattern that's intended for stretch fabrics, perhaps one with princess seams, that doesn't have such an involved skirt and train. This decision will depend somewhat on the size of her tummy, of course! But take a look at http://www.kwiksew.com for ideas. They have some very simple, elegant dress designs for stretch fabrics that might work--you can add length, change the sleeves, etc., to suit, or make a separate sheer overjacket or something to dress it up. I'm just thinking aloud here--not trying to prescribe any particular solution.

        Good luck!


        1. rjf | | #6

          A shaped waistband might work.  Cut it from the bottom of the bodice pattern and interface it.  Maybe make it a tad smaller than the bodice itself.      rjf

          1. sabrina | | #7

            Thank everyone for all the great advice.  I started cutting into the fabric last Sunday and finished up last night.  My friend is getting on a plane today with the wedding dress as her carry-on.  (This was a very very last minute project--a wedding dress sewn in six days.)  Everything worked out beautifully.  I underlined the bodice with the same stretch-velvet fabric cut with the grain perpendicular to the rest of the dress.  (I thought I'd try it this way and then re-do it with different lining fabric if it wouldn't work.  On such a limited time scale, even trips to the fabric store really cut into the project.)  It worked out very well.  I had some difficulty stretching the seams as I sewed around the armholes, waist and neckline and ended up with a few small puckers around the arms.  However, since this eliminated the super-stretchiness the fabric had in one direction but left the whole piece with a smaller amount of stretchiness or give, the puckers smoothed out beautifully when she put the dress on.  The bodice also turned out to be very sturdy and supportive this way.  And the skirt has four layers of tulle and then a satiny lining, just enough body to let it flow gracefully down from the empire waist and cover smoothly over her growing tummy.  The stretch velvet was such a pain to work with, but it did make a beautiful dress.  I'll take pictures at the wedding next week and try to figure out how to post them.  I really appreciate all your support. 


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