This is part 3 of my series on making my judges’ choice winning look Totally Minnie for the Her Universe Fashion Show 2023. Want to start at the beginning of my construction journey? Start with this post.
One of the hardest parts was the cutouts on the bodice. Originally I was just going to do large dots on the bodice. The aesthetic goal of the dots was to provide visual shaping to the bodice while being thematic.
However, one of my goals with this dress was to take something that I loved as a kid and make it something I loved as an adult. To me that meant making it a bit more “adult” which I decided to do with some mesh cutouts on the bodice. I also felt mesh and showing a little skin was very 80’s so it worked that way.
Since the bodice was effectively a corset, I purchased some corset mesh from Bias Bespoke. I got 2 different types. The colors are pretty similar, but I ended up going with the lighter one because it seemed sturdier and was a slightly better skin tone match (though the difference was very subtle). I have plenty of this left (of both shades) though so I really want to try doing a fully mesh boned bodice with overlay.
The short version of what I did was that I cut holes in the lining, filled them with mesh, cut holes in the outer silk, and then stitched them together at the holes. But I figure you all want to see a bit more detail than that.
I had traced the holes on to the pattern, so I then traced them on to the coutil. I cut the coutil right where I wanted hole to be, fuse/basted it with the lining, and then cut the lining 5/8” wider.
Then I clipped those curves and pressed them around the coutil. I used fusible tape to hold them in place.
Then I stitched very close to the edge of the lining, catching the mesh underneath. It was important to me that my garment look just as good from the inside as the outside. I generally feel that way about garments, but especially felt that way for this one.
Then I stitched the bodice pieces together as one would normally. The main difference was that I used a beige thread where I was sewing the mesh pieces together so would be less obvious.
Unfortunately when I tried it on there was some serious rippling going on in one of the mesh panels. It looked bad. since it was corset, it was very snug and the rippling resulted in waves on my skin causing red blotchy lines. Not pretty. Some internet research informed me that this can happen in corsets when they’re cut off grain. Since the rest of the corset looked fine, I realized I must have cut the inset off grain. Sigh. So I ripped out the whole inset out, recut being so careful to get it on-grain and re-sewed it. It was a royal pain in the butt and made this part take twice as long, but I’m glad I did it because it looked much better.
The final part of the lining was sewing the boning channels on. I used white covered boning tape with some flexible flesh colored twill tape (also from Bias Bespoke) sewn over it on the visible side. Even with the twill tape, the bones were still visible through the mesh, but they’d be covered further by the white mesh.
For the white mesh, I used some utility mesh that I had on hand from making bags. I wanted big holes, not power mesh or bobbinette style, because I wanted it obvious that it was mesh. I was a little worried about showing too much skin, so I ended up putting some flesh colored power mesh under the white mesh for a bit more coverage. I did test several tests with combinations of different mesh and different flesh under-meshes.
It was still sheerish, as in, if I had any tattoos you’d be able to see them through it. But you couldn’t really see the bones at all so that was nice. The white mesh and flesh colored power mesh were just tacked down by hand since they’d be sandwiched between the layers.
For the fashion fabric, I hand basted along the line of dots (the same one I cut for the lining. Then I stitched 1/8” inside of that line. I wanted to be sure it covered the mesh part of the lining entirely so I made it slightly smaller.
Next up was the black outline of the dot. I’ll explain more about that later when I talk about the dots, but at this point I had tested the dots sufficiently and decided to do black satin 1/8” outlines. So I took my bias tape and lining it up with the edge, stitched at 1/8”. Then I fold it over to the back and tacked it down by hand. Again, it didn’t matter what it looked like on the inside since that would be hidden between the outer fabric and the lining.
At this point the only thing left to do on the dots was sew the layers together and bedazzle. I used little hand stitches in the ditch of the bias binding to tack the layers together, only grabbing the coutil because, again, I wanted the inside to look pretty.
For the bedazzling, I applied hotfix rhinestones (more about those in my rhinestone post) with a hotfix wand. Apparently, looking at the photos, for at least one of the cut outs I did that before tacking it down. I honestly don’t remember so I was probably testing to make sure it was going to look okay before doing both since I’m clearly doing the smaller cut out in the picture.
And, finally, later when I had decided to add beading, I went in with similar tiny hidden stitches and added the seed beads for that extra sparkle.
And that’s about it for the cut outs! As usual, I like to leave you with one of the photos from the show so you can see everything I just talked about in action. In the photo below you can see not only one of the cutouts but also how big the skirt was. I’ll have a more to share on the skirt coming up!