Sew the Giselle dress with me: bodice, midriff and ties

Hello and welcome back! I hope your taping and cutting went well. Today we’re going to work on our bodices.

We’ll start with stay stitching: the back neckline, the front V neck and the armholes – I recommend this for both views A and B. Because I was underlining my bodice pieces, I did this at the same time as I attached my underlining to the outer fabric.

A great trick about stay stitching that I learned from Mrs C is to sew up the grainline, not down it. This supports the grainline and stops it from getting a bit loose – it feels a little weird at first but you get used to it quickly and it renders really good results – no wavy edges! Instead of starting at the shoulder and sewing down your V neck, start at the bottom of the V and sew up. Likewise, for the back neckline, start in the middle, sew up one half, and then return to the middle and sew up the second half. And start at the bottom of your armscye, sewing up towards the shoulder.

Underlining attached to my bodice pieces

Finish the edges of the shoulder, and the seam the shoulder pieces together with a 1cm seam allowance. Press open, and repeat with the other side.

Shoulder seams sewn

Now we’re going to bind the V neckline. I attach my binding a little differently to how the instructions tell you to. I find it’s easier, but do it how you please; there are no sewing police!

I attach bias binding by ironing it open, and then ironing it in half. I then pin the binding to the right side of the fabric, raw edges together, before stitching it down with a 5mm seam allowance, making sure to catch the outer fabric and the binding together.

Pinning my bias binding to the neckline

Then, I trim any excess if I need to, before flipping and pressing the binding to the wrong side and sewing it down. It’s a lot less fiddly, and gives a tidy result too.

Sewing down the binding


Now we can focus on the midriff. If you’re making View A, now’s the time to assemble your midriff. I advocate finishing your edges first, then sewing the seam. This is because with a 1cm seam allowance, sometimes it’s really difficult to overlock or zigzag stitch with the extra fabric. This is unless you choose to finish the two raw edges together – but bear in mind that it might make final fitting harder, because of unpicking. Either way, I won’t know what you choose, and my preference is my own, not for you to follow as though it’s law.

If you’re making View B like I am, you may choose to interface your midriff to give it a bit more strength. Because mine is underlined, I didn’t.

I finished the bottom edges of the front bust pieces, and the upper edge of my midriff, before gathering my under bust pieces, matching the end length with half of the length of the midriff.

My bust piece gathered to the length of half of the midriff. Ignore all of my loose threads

When it came to attaching my bust pieces to the midriff, I tried two ways. I followed the instructions of sewing one half at time, and also by basting the neckline edge together, then attaching the bust pieces to the midriff in one go. I found the latter method easier to get the curve of the midriff even.

Attaching the bust pieces to the midriff

Last step for today – making and attaching the ties. Follow the instructions for this, remembering to place the ties just over 1cm away from the bottom edge. Don’t bollocks it up like me by sewing them in line with the bottom edge, and then realising that they’re in the way of your seam allowance because yay! Unpicking! Not.

And we’re done for today! Step back and admire that glorious nearly finished bodice – tomorrow we’ll tackle those armholes – be it the sleeveless option, or those gorgeous ¾ sleeves.

One lovely bodice

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