More Tea with Madame X – Progress on The Satan Bodice from Hell

…did I say satan?  I meant satin, really.  Or is it the same thing…

I’m starting with the most recent photo, because I’m too embarrassed to start by showing you the horrible ones!

Anyway, here I was thinking the bodice was coming along swimmingly on my Madame X, Sargent-inspired gothygown…until I put it on.

If only things looked as good on my actual body as they do on my dress forms.

This was the hellish demon spawn bodice I had a few nights back, with only one stay over the bust seam on the right side.

I realize I’ve gone about this all wrong.  I *should* have fused the satin to a backing like drill or even muslin, to stabilize it and keep it from buckling under stress, but I didn’t.  Completely distraught about the whole mess, I went ahead and sewed the boning channels and stays onto each seam on one side only, to see if it was going to make any sort of difference at all (this was at about 3 a.m. a couple nights back), and to my glee, it did make a difference.  I also removed the bust pads, which were causing more funkiness than good.

Things were/are still a little buckle-y, sure, although I’m comforted ever-so-slightly by seeing the same sort of buckling in extant gowns (like this one)(and this one).  I know, I’m making excuses.  It’s just really hard to go up against satan and win.

The bodice after quite a lot of work on the right side.  This is still before adding more stays and stability to the center front, and also, nothing on the left side except my total lack of modesty and a hot-pink bra. (just kidding, I really am a modest person, promise).

I’ve top-sewn some 1/4″ channels around the sides, and down the front point, and may add more yet.  At this point it’s so off the path of historical interpretation that I don’t even care anymore.  It’s “inspired by,” and I’ll be happy if I get it done and wearable for the event in mid-April.  More later!


  • Abigael

    March 28, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    Oh satin nastiness… Have you ever tried interlining/underlining satin with flannel? It sounds ridiculous, but it works well for tailored satin garments. Not fused, just interlined. It might be worth a shot.

  • Katy Rose

    March 28, 2011 at 7:40 PM

    Right above your presser foot on the top of the machine is a metal (or plastic dial/turny thing). This is what puts the presser on the fabric from your presser foot. If the feed dogs and the presser foot have the same pressure then the fabric on the top and the fabric on the bottom will go through the machine at the same time. When there is too much pressure on the top from the presser foot, the top layer and the bottom layer go at different speeds and the top layer will bunch up creating ripples. This is how you notice one side is smooth and one side is rippley. When sewing with satin you need to adjust the top with the turning thing so it has less pressure on the top fabric. You could also try sewing with a teflon foot.

  • Lauren Stowell

    March 28, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Abigael – I interlined in this case with fleece, which was a great padding, but didn't help with the ripples.

    Katy, great advice! I will try that next time, for sure. I don't have a teflon foot, but I can adjust the presser foot height. Thank you!!

  • Zoë Winters

    March 28, 2011 at 10:34 PM

    Aww I sympathies! It's a nightmare when you think things are going smoothly only to discover when trying it on… things could be better! Good luck, I hope it goes well!

    LOVE your blog! 🙂

  • Olympe de la Tour D'Auvergne

    March 29, 2011 at 3:24 AM

    Your persistance is admirable, I tend to give up when things just won't work for me. It's why I'm in costume design and not technology. Thusly you get commiseration and no actual help from me, sorry.

  • Summer

    March 31, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    I think it looks much better on you 🙂 The bust points are spot on! Boning has helped a lot, and it's the nature of the beast as you said.
    You'll make a gorgeous Madame X!

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