Sewing can be exciting for a lot of different reasons and one of them is the ability to gain new skills and try something new. This time I accomplished my first, but definitely not last, boned bodice dress.
While it’s not a big deal to find some natural fabrics for a casual dress, it becomes nearly impossible to pick a non-synthetic material for evening wear. One option is to buy a really expensive silk fabric, but the amount of budget-friendly options are barely noticeable. That’s why as soon as I saw Floral Brocade I decided to turn it into an evening dress.
It’s not only a beautiful fabric, but it’s also a very well behaved one too. It survived the pre-wash with no problems at all. And it presses like a dream! The only thing to keep in mind is that you should be careful to not breathe in all of the golden thread particles that are flying around as you cut it.
When I picked the fabric I still wasn’t 100% sure about the final project. I was choosing between a boned strapless one and something more simple. I ended up risking it and choosing the complicated option with a corset. The pattern I picked was a Butterick 5731 which was designed to replicate the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress. I used only the bodice pieces and I must say I’m not going to use them again. It seems like all of the multiple cup options patterns simply don’t work for me and require lots of alterations. And that’s considering that I barely alter any of the Butterick patterns, and it’s never about the actual fit! As for the skirt, I drafted a simple full circle one.
And let’s talk about the fun part: the corset. It was my first attempt and I obviously tried to get as much information about the topic as possible. I wanted to sew something “proper”, without compromising the quality by trying to make it simpler. 
As soon as I started working on my project I got rid of the idea to simply sew the boning to the dress: it wouldn’t hold the strapless construction in place. It would give too much tension to the zipper, so much so, that it could break while bending down. I was initially looking for a metal zipper but couldn’t find the right length. They’re either too short (made to be used for jeans) or too long and are designed for coats and jackets. So I had no choice but to sew a proper inner corset that will hold the whole dress where it should sit. It’s not designed to work as shapewear, its only intention is to hold everything in place and take the tension off the seams on the main fabric. 
For my corset, I used a regular cotton poplin. It contains 2 layers of cotton, one of which is interfaced with iron on cotton interfacing. The boning cases were made in the simplest possible way - by sewing two rows of stitches on top of all the layers. I used plastic boning of two sizes. And some bra cups, of course! I made the mistake of inserting them first, which made it very difficult to sew around. Keep that in mind and try to attach them as one of the last steps. 
In order to make my dress as stable as possible, I also attached a waistband with some hooks and eyes. It takes some of the tension off of the seams too and helps to hold the structure on the waist. 
Now that my dress is finished I can’t wait to wear it to some classical music concert or ballet!