1930s Sew-along with Norma: First toile of bodice


The dress I’m making for the 1930s Sew-along with Norma continues to progress.  The bodice was cut out using a lightweight muslin.  I basted in the grain lines by hand and also sewed the darts the same way.  The shoulders and side seams were pinned by lapping the back seam allowance over the front.  This is a preliminary to see how the details look.  There are some corrections that are very obvious but overall, it’s ok.  I’m very pleased about that because this was my very first time to use a vintage draping system.

Corrections and Changes to be made

There are more photos behind the cut along with my observations.


It was very difficult to pull the bodice over the dress form even when the shoulders were collapsed.  It would not go on, I know, if a head was attached to the dress form.  Clearly this is a big problem.  Even when I unpinned the left side seam to the hip it was difficult.

One thing that was good is how nice the fit is in the back.  The neckline, though, is just a tad bit too high.  I was getting a clue as to what was wrong and where the correction was needed.  Please note that the armholes and neckline have seam allowances in this first photo.


I had to unpin everything and lower the front neckline and take off a little extra where the bodice runs along the neck to the back.  I also cut the armholes to resemble a tank top rather than a sleeveless dress.  My estimated amount proved to be too much but that is easily corrected when making the changes to the paper pattern.

At the underarm there is a little bit of ease that sticks out.   The correction was simple.


I took a pinch of about 1/16″ in from the side seam at the underarm and took that amount down to zero at the start of the dart.  I draw the line between these points straighter than I’d done before.  I think the curved ruler gave a little too much curve here.  From a 3/4 view the front bodice falls straight.  Once the flared skirt is added, I think the weight will make the bodice fall smoother.


When I measured the hipline of the drape, my calculations showed there was only 1″ of style ease at this point.  I used 2″ seam allowances at the side seams to see if I had to add extra width at the hipline.  I added 1/2″ to front and back, curving the line back up to zero at the waist.  This resulted in too much ease as shown by the way the bodice sticks out .  I repinned on the original seam line and it looked better.

I unpinned the toile and pressed it.  Then it was laid on top of the paper pattern to mark the changes.  The only change I modified was at the armhole below the screw plate marking (this becomes a notch or “X” mark to match up with the sleeve).  I did not cut that deeply into the bodice at this point to avoid the way the fabric sticks out.  This could be corrected by a small dart but I do not think that is an attractive solution.

I’ll cut a new toile for the bodice to check how the changes look.  I won’t use this one because the armholes did not work out right.  Since I sew doll clothes the muslin will not go to waste.  It also might get cut up to use for scraps to practice stitches on.



4 thoughts on “1930s Sew-along with Norma: First toile of bodice

  1. I’m glad you’ve managed to sort out the difficulties. It’s always good when things work out first time but probably better for learning if they don’t.
    Looking forward to seeing the new bodice.

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