Bridal bodice – Piping and basting

…in which I work with more piping than a plumber and more basting than a Thanksgiving dinner!

When I last checked in, I had cut and prepped all the pieces of the bodice, so it was now the point in my plan to sort out the piping if I was going to do so (and you’ve probably rightly concluded from the title that I did!). I had about 80cm of piping from the original dress’s waist seam, but I realised this wouldn’t be enough to pipe both sides of pieces #2 and #7 like I’d planned. So before I could do anything, I had to make some piping!

Luckily, the dress’s collar pieces were nice and long and on the bias, so this was a piece of cake. I cut four strips of 5cm wide and joined the edges together to make one long strip, then inserted my 2m of satin rattail and ran the whole thing through the sewing machine with the zipper foot.

But as I’ve already established, I can’t be making errant needle holes nor can I afford to use the seam ripper any more than what’s absolutely necessary, so in order to get the piping inserted perfectly on the first try, some hand basting was in order.

First, I basted the piping to one of the pieces, aligning the piping’s stitches with the basted seam lines:

And I did that for all four piped seams:

I made a test-run of a non-piped seam through the sewing machine just to test my confidence and to make the overall assembly a bit neater. Here’s pieces 9 & 10 joined and pressed:

So, confident that machine stitching was the ultimate end-game, I then placed the other piece on top of the piping and hand basted that on top, making sure its seamline was exactly aligned with the piece underneath. Only then did I finally run the whole lot through the sewing machine with the zipper foot, and pressing and clipping the allowances afterwards. So by the time these saw the machine, there were already four sets of hand basting here (each piece individually, then two lots for the piping!).

I don’t often sew with piping so I had forgotten what an utter joy it is to have really nicely piped seams. I’m utterly tickled with how these look – I just kept clapping my hands and giggling! And you can really see how nicely the netted sections look against the satin piping and plain sections, too!

Rather than move on and finish the bodice assembly, I thought it was better at this point to go back and do some tedious cleanup while the pieces were still relatively small. Bridal Couture says to catchstitch the seam allowances to the underlining to ensure they remain flat, especially on any curved princess seams where they tend to have a mind of their own. Since my dress is pretty much entirely curved seams, I’m just doing the lot.

And what a difference it makes! The inside is instantly looking neater, and this is something I can do easily while watching tv, so it’s easy to find time for (not that I watch much tv these days, but with True Blood and Mad Men in new seasons, it’s something I have to consider in my time management!!).

Next up: Attaching the last two pieces, sewing the side and shoulder seams, and catchstitching all of those seam allowances, too.

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