Friday, July 4, 2014

Tutorial-How To Flat Line A Dolls Bodice

A historical pictorial tutorial with few instructions.
Check out my prior post to see Miss Mary, the
lovely Izannah Walker doll that this ruched bodice 
is fashioned after.  Ruching is a French term that 
means gather, pleat or ruffle.  Ruching was popular 
in the mid to late 19th century on garments, hats, 
under garments, sleeves etc.
This closure works so well, it's amazing.
Fitting the flat lining or under bodice to
the dolls body is very important.
 I basted the pieces together and fit them
 snugly to Aletha's body.  There are 2
darts in the front bodice piece and 1 dart in 
each of the back sections.  I left her
undergarments on during this process.
Sorry about the white on white photo.  
I didn't want a lot of bulk in the wrist area
 of her long sleeves, so I only used a sleeve 
cap for the under bodice.  It took 2 sets
of bodices cut out of an old sheet before I 
was satisfied enough to cut them out of the 
nice cotton flat lining.
I took it apart and used the pieces to cut out
the outer bodice fabric.  I was making the
gathered bodice so I doubled the width of
each piece.  I didn't double the under arm area
as I didn't want extra bulk there.  Below are the
 front inner and outer bodice pieces.  I penciled the
 seam lines on the under bodice pieces.  I use a pencil 
a lot.  It makes a fine guide line that my stitches
cover up.  It's cheap and doesn't dry up. 
Then I stitched my darts.
 These 2 pieces will eventually fit together
like this, when the outer bodice pieces are gathered.
The 2 back pieces.
I stitched the darts and ironed the closure folds.
The sleeve lining cap, and the long sleeve cut out.
I made a fold in the sleeve.
I hemmed the bottom edge of the sleeve caps, and
stitched the folds down from the back, just like a hem.
I made 2 rows of gathering stitches on the top and
bottom of each of the bodice pieces.  The center 
line is my stitch line.  I make one row above and one
below.  I get even gathers that way.
I cheat with this gauging tape, it's like masking
tape with measurements....I love this stuff!
2 rows of synchronized stitches.
I synchronized the top rows with the 
bottom rows too.
I stopped the gathers at the folds on the back pieces.
I hemmed the folds down on all 4 back pieces.
 All the outer bodice pieces with gathering stitches.
I don't remove basting stitches until the very last,
moment.  Sometimes you just need to re adjust.
 I pulled the gathers, distributed them evenly
& pinned the pieces together.  Technically 
it's called "stroking the gathers".
This is one of the back piece sections showing
the two hemmed pieces.
When pinning the gathers to the flat lining
and you come to the sections where the
darts are, pull the gathered fabric firmly and flatly
down, then pin.  Below you can see the outer bodice
 fabric peeking out.  This will be trimmed off, when
 the waist band is sewn on.
This is the beauty of flat lining.......the outer 
bodice gathers will not billow or balloon outward
they will fit snugly to Aletha's body.  If she had boobs it 
would easily be seen in the finished garment.  
Next I added the cuff to the bottom of the sleeve
I added a slight curve at the end of the sleeves,
just to reduce bulk.
I basted all the gathers.  I baste with back stitch.
A running stitch just doesn't catch every gather.
I stitch loose and I don't worry about pretty.
I baste just below my penciled stitching line.
This is the center front with the outer bodice
where the gathers are peeking out.
Pieces sewn together.
Notice, the dart seams are in between the 2 layers.
That is how I fit it on Aletha's body.  If she had
boobs, it could make a difference.  Don't we
all have one bigger than the other!
Arms and side seams next.
Sewn all the way to the end of the cuff.
Fold again.  I finger pressed the bottom sides of the 
seam so I could whip stitch the edges later.
Hem and done with the sleeve. 
 I whip stitched the seam edges.
Collar piece.
Eye sewn in the end of the collar on the right side.
Waistband.  Lining and outer fabric.
Sewn together.
Pin & sew.
Fold to the back and stitch down.
Eye sewn into the end of waistband.
All hook and eyes sewn.
Be sure to secure the hook with a
few stitches on the bar end.
  I must say that having the underbodice
to pin the gathers to, made the process easier.
Aletha still hasn't seen the dress, she's 
requested an apron & hankie!
Have a safe and happy Independence day.
1909 Tuck postcards


  1. I keep telling you that you should write a book. I would buy a heartbeat. Your handwork continues to amaze--and I think your photography is perfect for these illustrations!

  2. Oh my! Your work amazes me ~ to think you do all this by hand! The gathers look so perfectly even. Your tutorial is wonderful but I don't have enough confidence in my abilities to try this.

  3. Wow that reminds me when I made my Izannah Walker Style Dolls. The garments take a lot of time with all the hand stitching to be done. You do such a marvelous job on all your garments. Hopefully this instructional will help those who have never understood how to make the bodice for this doll style. I'm sure many will be elated for your devotion and teaching methods. I flat lined but differently than you show here. I love the closure process.

  4. Super nice work. the dress is a show piece. I do think that is one of the prettiest dresses I have ever seen. I also don't have enough experience yet to do this, but I appreciate the instruction on how to do it. I have learned so much from you instructions. Thank you.

  5. Sign me up for one of the first copies of your new book, autographed please! It would be very helpful to have this tutorial, and others you have done, within easy reach. Your pretty little Aletha is definitely going to be the best dressed kid on the block!

    And, how about these cool July mornings in the Ozarks!!

  6. Beautiful and very accurate your tutorial,very cute bodice.
    Greetings from Nicoletta!

  7. прелесть! спасибо!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Dear Sherri,

    What a fabulous tutorial on making Aletha Mae's frock! Your fine sewing skills are delightful to see!

    Your friends,
    Diane and daughter Sarah, and the dolls and Tillie Tinkham the seamstress mouse at Corgyncombe


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