Before starting on the bolero I looked through all the bolero patterns I had. These were either in Burda magazine, or Sew magazine, but I wasn't happy with any of them. I had a very clear idea of how I wanted it to look. In a bid to find a starting point I trailed round several occasion wear shops looking at the boleros available. Eventually I found the one pictured above in BHS. I didn't like the fabric, or the price comes to that, but bought it so I could copy the pattern.
I carefully used the bolero to make a copy of its pattern. The original bolero had princess lines front and back, but I knew I only had a very limited amount of fabric, so I eliminated these. I used an old sheet to make a mock-up for my sister to try on. I used pins to pin out excess fabric, and to play with potential designs lines. Then I drew directly on to the toile so I could take out the pins and transfer the changes to my paper pattern. Below is a picture of the toile complete with pen marks. You can also see where I cut up the front in an effort to figure out what shape the front pattern piece should be. You can see from the markings that I needed to remove quite a bit of material.
If you look at the sleeve that's been removed you can also see the new style line. I didn't like the look of the frumpy midi length sleeves. Also my sister is slightly pear-shaped and I thought a cap sleeved look would balance hers shoulders better.
After making the appropriate changes I made a second toile. This one was much better in fit, but still needed a little tweaking.
You can see that this second toile is substantially shorter. I took off at least 2 inches, creating a smooth curve at centre back. This was for two reasons. Firstly because it was more attractive, but also because I wanted to ensure that the motif on the sash was fully used. I also took off an inch either side which amounts to about 4 inches. You can see how petite this is just looking at it. I also played with the pattern pieces pinning them together so that I could adjust the way to pieces joined together, and the shape they created. I wanted a smooth curve from front to back. This is best explained through seeing a picture.
In reality this line is much smoother. The piece flowed almost as one despite the side seams. After the second toile the fit was accurate but I made the neckline slightly larger. I also wasn't completely happy with the shape of the front piece and played around with different shapes. When I was happy I transferred all the changes to my pattern pieces. This is what I was left with.
You can see where the princess lines were originally. And probably quite a bit of tape;)
Now that I had my pattern pieces I moved them around on the fabric trying to find the best placement. The best motif was at the base of the sash.
Its obvious why I curved the back piece so much just looking at this. I wanted to make the back the main feature. First because it required the most fabric, but also because there was a lot more embroidery on the front and it would have been too much. I didn't want to waste the other motifs though and moved the pattern pieces around until I found the best placement. I confess grainline went out the window. I knew I was taking a risk. But on the other hand this fabric is quite dense without too much give. Plus its not going to be worn much, so as long as it was good on the day... In fact I've not had any problems with it thus far, and she wore it twice for a smaller and larger function.
I used the same pattern pieces for both the lining and main fabric. Assembly was easy. The problem was that the satin didn't want to lie flat. I pressed, carefully. Better, but not flat. I had to catch stitch down all the seam allowances, including all the way around the bolero where the lining and satin joined. Sadly my lining fabric is a little transparent so the seam allowances are a little visible. Good thing everything is neat on the inside. :) I also sewed on one of my little labels at the bottom of the centre back. I didn't want it anywhere that it could irritate the skin. Looks very professional if I do say so myself.
Ok, finished shots in next post. I'll leave you with a little taster though.