This is the second part in a series I am writing to share my process in making a Yue cosplay. Part 1 is here. In this post I will show how I constructed the bodice of Yue’s gown and experimented with using zip ties for boning. I used McCall’s 6838 pattern and made the dress version seen in the picture below, on the right. On the left is the reference picture I used for the costume for comparison. I chose this pattern for its versatility and look. I wanted to make a strapless mermaid-style gown with a straight top-line for the bodice and this pattern had exactly that. I did not have to make many modifications to achieve my desired look. The bodice and skirt sections were constructed separately and then sewn together.
Here is the fabric I bought for this project. I didn’t know exactly what it was because I found it in the mystery bargain section on sale. I loved the texture and shine in the light and dark purple fabrics, which I suspected were some kind of crinkle satin. They certainly looked moon-like to me and I was very happy with my finds. The outside of the bodice was made from the the light purple (lilac?) fabric on the right of the photo. The white fabric on the left was a basic cheap polyester mix lining, which I used for the bodice lining and underlining. I had no idea what the white sparkly stuff at the bottom of the photo was, but I thought it was really pretty and perfect for the flowy white sash that went around the skirt. The dark purple was for the belt around Yue’s waist. I decided to make a separate belt instead of inserting a panel on the dress because it was less modification and seemed easier to do.
Tracing and cutting the pattern was a breeze thanks to my new magic marker that I raved about in Part 1. You can see the lining and underlining traced and ready to be cut in this photo. I debated whether I really needed to underline the bodice, but the pattern called for it and I have learned to trust the pattern over my own misgivings. There have been enough times where I skipped a step or tried something my way that ended with a seam ripper and frustration for me to have (mostly) learned my lesson. The people who made the pattern know more about sewing than I do.
The bodice pattern consisted of five panels with an opening in the back for a zipper. I had decided early on to skip the zipper in favour of laces and grommets. I found I preferred laces over zippers to give a better fit and some wiggle room in case I ever changed size. I was also wary of wearing a strapless dress and wanted to be able to lace it up as tightly as I could to avoid any downward sliding.
Above is the bodice right before I put in the home-made boning. The lining that I attached the boning to is at the top of the photo. Below it is the underlining basted to the outside fabric. This is a good example for anyone wondering what the difference between lining and underlining is. Lining goes next to your skin; underlining goes next to the outside “good” fabric. Once the boning is sewn in place they get sandwiched wrong sides together, tucking the seam allowances and boning neatly in-between them. Underlining is mostly used with sheer fabrics so that the wrong side of the lining is not seen through the outside fabric. I am very glad I listened to the pattern and used it here. My outer fabric was not sheer but it was very thin and the underlining added structure and smoothed out the boning ridges.
This is a close-up of the prepared boning before I attached it to the bodice. I used long, heavy-duty zip ties that I bought from Canadian Tire for less than $5. That’s way cheaper than any of the boning I ever bought from a fabric store. The zip ties were also sturdier than plastic boning and I was happy for the extra support it would offer in holding up the dress. The pattern called for boning in its casing so I got some white bias tape to act as my casing. I laid the bias tape along the bodice seam lines and cut the length I needed. I did the same with the zip ties. I used my heavy-duty kitchen scissors to cut the ties and it was still difficult for me. I rounded the ends the best I could and cut off any sharp bits to hopefully prevent the zip ties from poking through the lining with wear. I laid the bias tape along the seams of the bodice lining and stitched the long sides, leaving the top and bottom ends open. Then I slid the zip ties into the home-made casings and stitched across the top and bottom, going over it a few times to make it extra secure.
Above and below are the (mostly) finished bodice! I stitched the lining to the outside, right sides together, then flipped it around to encase the seams and boning. I did not sew down the side edges or bottom because the skirt will be attached later. You can see where I pressed up the seam allowance along the bottom edge of the lining in preparation for that step. The seams for the boning came out a little crooked, but no one is going to see them. I was very pleased with how my experiment with zip ties turned out. I will probably continue to use this method in the future.
That’s it for this post! Thanks for reading and happy sewing 🙂