a little birdie told me, pt 3: the not really a waist stay

when i left off i had just finished the flat piping and topstitching on the bodice. so after finishing that i cut my bodice lining. i decided to baste the bottom and center back of my lining to the bodice so i could sew it to the skirt all in one piece. i left the top open to slip stitch in place later because i hadn’t quite decided what kind of straps to do, i wanted to see what the dress was going to look like first!



my lining is cotton voile, which is super thin and a little shifty to work with. ah, patience… something i don’t have much of… i chose it because the cotton/linen blend of the dress is fairly heavy so the voile won’t add any bulk but will serve as a soft layer between the stiffer linen seam allowances and my skin.


the skirt is simply gathered and sewn on, i even cheated and layered the fabric and lining and gathered them at the same time. now, usually you would press the seam allowance from the skirt up toward the bodice but i decided to go with a buttressed skirt (who knew there was even a term for that?) where you press the seams down. doing this creates a slightly puffed silhouette to the skirt and a straight line on the bodice. there are a number of things you could do here to really amp up the volume, such as adding organza or some sort of interfacing at the seam (added to the wrong side of the gathered skirt). but, i’m not going for anything crazy voluminous here so i won’t be doing any of those things for this project. 


i still need to have some sort of support so the seam stays buttressed and doesn’t flip up. this is where the not really a waist stay comes in. okay, if you’re unfamiliar, a waist stay is usually made of grosgrain or petersham ribbon—the stuff that is stiff and ribbed—with about a 1″ width. it is attached to the garment at the waist and is about 1″ smaller than the actual garment’s waist measurement. the waist stay does a number of things but mostly it keeps strain off the zipper and it anchors the waist where it belongs on the body.



now, when i started this dress i really only had passing knowledge of a waist stay, so i simply sewed the ribbon to the bodice side of the bodice/skirt seam, leaving the ends free where i attached a hook as a closure in the back. 

later i found out this was wrong. in my defense, this is how i have seen various
sewing bloggists do a waist stay… but it’s still wrong. don’t do it like this!!!



it wasn’t quite tight enough so i adjusted it slightly tighter. unfortunately this just created weird pulling on the bodice. i set this detail aside to fix later and went on about finishing the dress. then a very timely article popped up on burdastyle.com addressing the waist stay. i won’t go into all the details because the article does a fine job of explaining. basically, the waist stay is 1″ smaller than the garment’s waist but the difference is evenly distributed around the dress (duh) and just tacked at the seams.


definitely a lightbulb moment.


okay, but at least my efforts weren’t useless. the ribbon is definitely keeping the seam going in the right direction and supporting the buttressed skirt. but, as my closure is basically useless, i plan to cut it out and just stitch the ribbon all the way to the zipper and call it a day. sigh… next time, right? then again, maybe i can tack on a real waist stay over the not really a waist stay… the plight of the self taught is always being a technique or two away from perfection. so i continue my learning. each misstep today is one less misstep for tomorrow!

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