Friday, 28 January 2011

How to make a custom bodice block

I've been meaning to post these pages from my "Odhams Encyclopeadia of Needlecraft" for ages.  It was published sometime in 1954 so there are no copyright issues now.

I LOVE to look through it as much for the language used, as the techinques described.

Here then, is an illustrated method of making your own custom body block (sloper).   I hope to be able to go through some basic manipulation principles with you which will show you how to change the position of darts for fit and style at various points throughout the year, and also, this book includes patterns for lots of lovely garments, based on these blocks, including a bra pattern.

Making your own dress block and then understanding how it relates to all other patterns is a brilliant way to understand how clothes are designed and constructed, it will help (as it did me) no end with commercial patterns too - this is basically the mechanism by which all patterns work.

These pages are  all very self explanatory,  click on the pics to make them larger - I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Restoring a Vintage Sewing Machine.

Have you ever looked at an old vintage sewing machine which is perhaps a bit rusty and thought "ooh I'd love that, if I had time to clean it up" - imagining that it might take a team of magic pixies and a whole year's worth of elbow grease to do..?

Well .. Here's how you can do it without the pixies and only a weekend's worth of low grade elbow grease.  With just a few household 'substances' you can have a very old, very beautiful machine working as well as it was the day it left the factory.  So without further ado, heres is

Mrs Marmalade's definitive guide to Vintage Sewing Machine Maintenance and Restoration!

You've all met Wilma before .. she's 120 years old and has for the last 22 years, lived in my loft.  She was in a bad state when I rescued her from Oxfam but deteriorated a little more over the years.  I thought her sewing days were over.

Poor Wilma has a yellowed bed and rusty parts but she is still young inside, all her bits work as they should.  After surfing around a few sites looking for info about machine maintenance, I figured I could try to restore Wilma.

The 'traditional' method seems to be by soaking the entire machine in Kerosene and then scrubbing and rubbing the thing clean and then lots of polishing preferably with a Dremel.

Well I don't have a Dremel, and Mr Marmalade won't have Kerosene anywhere near the place - it is ridiculously dangerous - much more flammable than petrol, it stinks, it is messy ..yuk yuk..

So instead of Kerosene, this is what I used - I bet you have the same stuff in your cupboards:

Here we have, a can of coke (most important), car polish, metal polish, dusters, wire wool and, not pictured, a toothbrush, some Barkeepers Friend and a camera.

First of all make sure you take plenty of 'before' shots, both distant and close up - you really wont believe your eyes and you wont remember how 'bad' she was before.

Keep taking pictures as you  dismantle your machine, lots of pictures, make labels of all your bits, and take pictures of said bits, on the labels.

If there are multiple parts which fit together, take a picture of the thing before you dismantle it, take pictures as you dismantle it, and take a picture of the parts in the order they should be put back when dismantled - you can never take too many pictures.

If your metal bits are rusty, take most of the rust off by rubbing the part with some grade 00 wire wool - dry.  It will come off quite easily.  If the rust is stubborn, add a bit of WD40.   If there are screws that you can't undo, use WD40 to loosen them.

I couldn't get this part off so I just polished it up with wire wool and Peek
Take off the face plate and the back plate and clean the insides as well as possible with a duster/toothbrush/dry paint brush/air can - don't get the insides wet.  If there is alot of gunk in there, use WD40 to loosen and clean it.

Don't forget the underside - give it a good old clean with a dry cloth and some WD40 if necessary.  The most important thing is to never get the insides wet with water as this will cause rust in unreachable places.

When you were little did you ever do the coke and penny experiment?  Put a dirty penny in coke over night and the next morning it is shiny and new?

A similar principle applies to your metal sewing machine parts - when they are as de-rusted as possible, soak them in the coke overnight.  Do not soak painted parts in coke! Only metal.    *Please note, only soak your metal parts if all there is no chrome present!!  Obviously Wilma started off life with chromed parts but after 120 years there is no chrome left so these parts are back to the bare metal.

While they are soaking you can get on with the body.  I scrubbed Wilma on the outside with washing up liquid and a toothbrush, and rinsed her with a damp cloth - this wont get all the dirt off but it will shift most of it.  If you have really really stubborn dirt, use a 'bug remover' for cars - available in car part shops or Halfords.  If you are in doubt about what you use to clean the body, test a little area first, at best, you may silver the decals, and at worst you may rub them off or dissolve them!  Car cleaning products are generally 'kind' to sewing machines.  You may end up with patches on the machine which look a little brown - don't worry about them.

When you have washed and dried the body, and have dusted and de-gunked the insides, give the machine a liberal dose of sewing machine oil on all the moving parts and turn the wheel so that the oil gets in all the nooks and crannies.  Oil some more.

On the outside, you can polish the body using T-cut, this will do four things 1. remove deeply ground in grime which can't be budged by soap alone,  2) restore the blackness in the colour,  3) give a lovely shine and 4) ...

Even if by chance you have accidentally scratched your paintwork with wire wool, T-cut will make them good.  It's like a miracle!!

these have just been removed from the coke .. as you can see they still look dirty, but the dirt is really loose now and scrubs off easily
The next day, when your metal parts have soaked in coke, take them out one by one and deal with them by scrubbing again with wire wool to remove the now loose dirt, then apply a little Barkeepers friend.   This finishes off the job of the coke, removes really awkward stains and adds a little bit of shine.  Rinse whilst still 'polishing' with the wire wool under running water.

Dry the parts and polish with Peek or Brasso (I prefer Peek).  The metal polish buffs up the metal but also adds a protective coating which will give the metal parts a new lease of life and protect them from immediate rust attack.

You might discover some hidden gems ...

Reassemble your sewing machine bit by bit as you polish your metal parts.  This is where your photos will come in handy - even though it hasn't been long since you dismantled, you will be surprised at how quickly you might forget which screw goes where!

When done,  stand back and admire your work!

There are many more pictures over at my Flickr Stream right HERE.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Sizing and anthropometrics

I wrote an article on here a while ago which covered the topic of Anthropometrics, and i'm damned if I can find it now, but I am inspired to revisit the subject after listening to an article on Womens Hour BBC R4 yesterday with Gemma Seager, fellow blogger at "Retrochick" and a chap called Ed Gribbin, president of Alvanon, a company which advises clothes retailers on size and shape of people.

Anthropometrics, the study of human measurement, is obviously a topic of great interest to the fashion trade and anybody else who uses or cuts dress patterns and makes clothes.  I find it absolutely fascinating!  The subject covers amongst other things,  human proportion and therefore clothes measurements .. ie: a human head will fit into a human leg about 7 times  (fashion models who embody the 'ideal' standard of human perfection are known in the trade as "8 headers" because they have extra long legs!), the distance from waist to upper upper hip is 10cm and from waist to lower hip is 20cm,  the bust typically has an 8cm radius etc.,

Though the study of anthropometrics has existed for centuries, Standard sizing in the clothing industry was only 'discovered' by the Guild of Military Tailors during WW2 when they noticed a certain 'uniformity'  in the clothes they were making for male and female soldiers and military personnel.  The 'standard' sizing in use today as the model for all other sizing charts, is still based on those dimensions from the 40's when women, men and children were a very different shape and size to their counterparts today.

Many high street clothing brands make up their own 'standard' sizing building clothes which conform to a certain body shape and a certain demographic - a teenage size 12 is not going to be the same as an elderly size 12, or a middle age size 12.  The trouble is (apparently) that clothes brands don't find it important to mention which demographic they are aiming for and so clothes shopping for the average woman can turn into a black pit of pain, panic and horror after the first three changing rooms! 

In practice, for me as a typically 'curvy' female who's shape has not altered that much over the last 20 years (notwithstanding the recent middleaged spread), this means that if I shop in Next and M&S - aimed at the post 20's-middle age market, I know I'm a size 8 in bottoms and a size 12-14 in tops, but in Jane Norman - a shop aimed at the teenage and early 20's market,  I am a size 14 in everything.  I can therefore go into any of those shops, pick something up without trying it on, and know that it will fit.  

On the other side of the coin, I  know that Levi jeans never fit  because their target demographic is 'twig' - it's taken me 20 years to deduce that fact.  Similarly, Karen Millen and Coast (owned by the same company) only make clothes for tiny flat chested pixies - deduction time = 5 minutes.

The same goes for more 'intimate' apparel.  I know that the Bravissimo style of bra sizing suits me.  I also know that bras sold by other retailers who conform to that method of sizing, will fit me, and I know who they are.  M&S underwear makes me look like an ugly pink overflowing sausage whatever size I choose.

Confusion continues to reign at home when I am making my own clothes, in modern dress patterns I am a size 12, in vintage dress patterns, a size 18.

In short, womens sizing is like womens hormones ..  All over the place! You have to know how to deal with them in order to avoid a life of despair!

So it was with interest I listend to Womens Hour on Radio 4 yesterday to hear talk of a proposed new system of standard sizing for the high street based on modern womens size AND SHAPE.   Actually Queen Bravissimo thought of that first - here is the Bravissimo sizing chart:

At first I thought "goodlord! how complicated is it going to be just to buy some clothes?" but after some contemplation, I think it will be a good thing IF retailers ensure that there is plenty of stock for all - ofcourse it could mean that their stock increases three fold if the industry advisors have their way - they suggest 3 sub catergories:

straight - for the a 'boyish' figure
moderately curvy -  60% of women fall into this catergory
quite curvy - hourglass figure and mathcing the original standards of the 40's

Will retailers clothing policies become more transparent - will they want to encompass all or just one type of fit? 

The question is

Will this sizing system make our lives better or worse?

I am not so sure it is the answer - there are so many variables to shape and size in our modern age that I wonder if it is possible to find a definitive standard that fits all.  It was this very problem which put me off shopping for life and turned my attention to the sewing machine ..

What do you think Readers?

Friday, 14 January 2011

My vintage sewing machines

I've been collecting old ladies from Scotland for the past few months .. want to meet them?

This is Wilma.  She and I actually met 22 years ago  .. You can read more about Wilma HERE.

This is Sabrina (the stitch witch).  A Singer 201k - made in Scotland in 1953 - a special year denoted by the blue ring around her tradmark plate.  Here she is sitting on Wilma's treadle table.  She is now my main sewing machine and I LOVE HER!  I use her for corsetry because she will sew through ANYTHING and any thickness, without so much as a growl or groan. She's amazing!

Kylie is a small Singer at 3/4 size, she has a more 'traditional' look being a bit older than Sabrina at 60 years.  She also has the original black bakelite motor and light.  She is for dressmaking.

Sabrina and Kylie have matching 'luggage' - you can see the size difference between them.

Sabrina's case is on the right, Kylie's smaller case on the left

Smallest of the old ladies is Gertie - the most valuable despite her small size,  and born in 1954. Compact and bijoux are the words for my little Singer 221K Featherweight.  She came with handwritten notes by her previous owner.  

Then there's "Molly", newest addition to the House of Marmalade and not quite as old as Wilma but she fits in here nicely.  Being a 1938 Singer 15K (family friendly model),   she lives downstairs with us and blends in perfectly with our 1933 house!

Molly has the most beautiful face plate out of all the ladies, and she's the 'quiet one'. and very inconspicuous - folding into a flat table when not working, a bonus because I can sew by treadle power, quietly, in front of the fire, while Mr M and Jimmy watch TV.  What bliss!  I plan to make 'non clothes' with Molly - curtains, blinds, quilts, that sort of thing .. also, Molly will be teaching me how to use .....

... the impressive array of accessories that my ladies brought with them, 

complete with instructions thank goodness ..

click to enlarge

Being old girls, they all need regular 'medication', oiling of joints, that sort of thing but they are hardy birds who get on with the job with  no complaints in a very straightforward way - none of them do fancy stitches (just as well I never use fancy stitches)!  

Here are some 'notes' of my own on the benefits of sewing with vintage machines..
  • The 201K is reputed to be the 'best sewing machine ever made'.  It's true!  The mechanism is 'industrial' and they will sew through many many layers with perfect stitches every time.  I have found that the same is true of the 99 - it's just a smaller machine.
  • The operation of a vintage Singer is smooth, so smooth!  These machines were built to last and easy to maintain.  They need cleaning and oiling regularly to keep them purring but they work hard and deliver fantastic results.
  • Vintage sewing machines don't need electric to work!  OK .. you may have to convert back to manual operation, but most of them started off as hand crank or treadle machines.   Treadle and hand crank machines are not only eco-friendly (recycled, use no electric), they are eerily silent!
  • Vintage machines are just a pleasure to use.  Even though all of my girls only sew one type of stitch - straight - and some don't even reverse, I would still use any one of them over my modern Janome which is just clunky and clumsy in comparison.
  • Vintage machines smell nice - mechanical and oily but in a nice way .. a way that reminds you of your grandma's house, and also that they come from a time past when quality and longevity were the order of the day.  The smell reminds me of all the stories in the machine, the beautiful things they have sewn in the past, who sewed on them, what did they sew?
  • Vintage machines and all their attachments are beautiful and sometimes surreal but more than that, they are fun!!  Mr Marmalade says that it must be like motorbikes - the difference between a 'super bike' and a Harley ..  Beauty over youth and reliability (except Harley's aren't reliable and Singers are, but I know what he means)..
  • These excellent machines are cheap as chips!  Infact, they are not worth any money despite what you might see on ebay.  Singer turned out millions and millions of these  machines in their day and so they are always easy to get hold of (and very rarely 'rare' or 'collectable').  Your local sewing machine repair man will be able to pick them up for virtually nothing - they are regularly shipped off to Africa and other third world countries by the truck load -  and so the price you pay if you buy one from a specialist, is the price of the time, work and maintenance they have put into the machine.  Prices can therefore vary depending on where you get one, from £0 - £100+
  • If you do acquire a vintage machine of any sort,  do have it serviced before even thinking about turning the wheel (or at the very least give it a good old oiling) Otherwise it may seize up before you get more than 10 stitches out of it.  Also old electrics on these models can be very dodgy!
  • Once up and running, you get much more machine for your money than the modern equivalent which costs many hundreds of pounds! Ask a sewing machine mechanic, they would sell you a 201 over any modern straight stitch machine without even thinking twice about it.
  • Almost all parts of vintage machines are available to buy - even parts for really really old machines.  It is therefore possible that any machine in any condition can be restored to nearly it's former glory by replacing parts as long as the mechanics are sound which they probably are!
  • Men like vintage machines - they have the same appreciation for the engineering of a good vintage (or industrial) machine, as they do for a car!  Vintage machines can bring the mechanic out of even the  most reluctant husband/other half!

I have a compulsion to name my machines and refer to them in person ... It doesn't happen with any other machinery .. as soon as one comes to me, a name pops into my head.  It's  bit strange .. Or is it me that is strange?   I have not felt the same compulsion towards either of my Janome machines.

Here are some very useful online resources on how to care for and operate vintage sewing machines and their accessories:

Singer Serial Numbers - every vintage Singer has a serial number which is recorded here.  You can find out where and when your machine was made and which model it is.  You can also find instruction books for every Singer model ever made - some of them are free downloads.

RaindropKites - Odd name for a site dedicated to the care and maintenance of old sewing machines, but there we have it .. VERY handy UK based site for information on parts, and care of your vintage machine.

TreadleOn - Another site handy for info on how to overhaul your old (manual) sewing machine.  This has more technical info and is US based.

Offspring - is a British blog with some very very handy information, tutorials and reviews on old Singer accessories.

The Sewing Forum - UK based sewing forum with special area dedicated to vintage machines.  LOTS of info and discussion here.  Ask and ye shall be told!

ID Singer Machines - Got an old Singer and don't know what model it is?  Look here.  Fabulous site with lots of pictures,  which will tell you all about your machine.

Sewing Machine Shoppe - Very expensive, US based machine and parts online shop, but excellent resource if you have unidentified parts!  I'd look on e-bay first if you want to buy any of them though.

Male Pattern Boldness - Peter also has a vintage machine obsession, and I just noticed that he's been making Western Style shirts too! 

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The future ..

I kind of forgot to draw the winner of my giveaway on Sunday night, hence the rushed winners post on Monday morning.

I wanted to say Thank You for entering the giveaway, thank you for your very lovely and positive comments, and thank you for reading!  I also wanted to make a few comments on some of the things mentioned...

Melissa (who won) said that she'd like to see some bra making ... this is definitely in my plans this year.  I have bought a pattern for this (see left), but I am also a subscriber to a website called "Foundations Revealed".  Its an information resource put together by top corsetiers and costumiers with all sorts of amazing information including a very good series on professional bra making and drafting.  If you want to start making corsets or bras or both, or if you already do then you can't go wrong with a subscription to FR ... I thought that nearly £10 a month was a little expensive, but I'm still paying!  It's a great site AND it has free articles including one on how to draft your own corset pattern.  Regarding bra making,  I have seen lots of people buying this book which is apparently THE book to use:

available online - search for the best price it ranges from  $5.00 to £70!!
Bekibutton says that she too likes corsetry posts and wishes to know more on how to put them together. 

Well as you can see, I have re-arranged the furniture here a little and now have some tabs at the top, one of which is labelled "corsetry" .. This is where relevant 'tutorials' and tips will go.  In there at the moment is "a quick guide to making a corset" which might be useful for those starting out.

Belissima mentions cup corsets - yes! me too .. a corset with cups is called a "Merry Widow".  Perhaps I will work on this for my party outfit next xmas!  It would certainly be the best support for a strapless dress.
you might never need one of these again!
Helen X mentioned my skirt block tutorial.  I had hoped to continue this series last year, but life got in the way as usual.  I do hope to continue with a few variations on the skirt block this year.  Once you get the basics you can make any skirt you like!

Tutorials were mentioned by most people, and so I have added tabs at the top of the blog for ease of reference as follows:

Dressmaking tutorials
 for all dressmaking related tutorials, including the skirt block series

Craft tutorials
 for the crafting tutorials I have written - things like making customised towels, flowers, and toe separators

 -as mentioned, for all corset related tutorials

Quick tips
for little snippets of info that aren't really a tutorial but just as handy to know

I was quite surprised at how few tutorials there are!  I hope to be adding to them soon.

The left sidebar now contains pictures of patterns that I own and have selected for my future wardrobe.  I will be endeavour to make them up and will link to each project from the picture as we go.  I read Erica B's "old year/new year" post a week or so ago and was astounded at what she'd achieved in the year.. Well if she can do it, I am going to have a damn good try myself!

And then there was lovely Jenny who is getting married this year .. regular readers will know that a long held desire of mine is to make a wedding dress, and I have lots of silk!  I think I might be stretching my 2011 aspirations a bit too far with this one, but I can still dream!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Corsetry - My Journey

Over the last few months, I've been doing some very deep research into corset making because as some of you may know, I am writing an e-book on the process for Rainbow Disks and I want to make sure that I document the best way to do things with information taken from a wide source.  Although I have been making and wearing corsets for years, I've developed my own methods of doing so - I am entirely self taught and up until now, I haven't really paid much attention to the ways other people do it.

When I started in corsetry, it was for 'costume' purposes - think "Moulin Rouge"-  inspired by burlesque, theatre, sparkle and beauty, I set about making fancy corsets for myself to wear at parties and clubs.  I discovered that corsetry as an artistic medium was a very varied subject indeed, full of creative possibilities and I soon became totally hooked.  

this one is made with silver rubber!

With each new corset I made, inspiration would flood into my mind for the next and then the next and so on.  It seems that for me - and for lots of other people - corsetry provides a very deep well of artistic inspiration and expression but it wasn't until I started getting much deeper into the subject, after first starting up my business and then joining other online communities specifically for corsetheads,  that I began to pay more attention to the history of corsetry and the historical methods of construction specifically in relation to the archetypal shape of the Victorian corset.

This in turn lead me to frequently ponder the purpose of corsetry both in a historical and a modern context, from the most ancient manifestations which took the form of thick leather belts to suppress the waist, to the most modern lycra 'tubes' which claim to suck you in by as much as 2 sizes!  

There has been alot of negative press about corsetry, especially since Victorian times and also there is alot of misconception and prejudice about the effects of corsetry on women both physically and mentally.
image from here

During the periods when heavily boned, waist reducing corsets were worn routinely,  women were much smaller than we are now, and therefore a 20" waist was nothing out of the ordinary for a young woman - girls wore corsets from a very young age and their skeletons reflected this.  

Yes, a corset can and will squash your insides - if you lace it too tight!  If you tie a scarf too tightly around your neck you run the risk of suffocation!  As with everything, when a corset  is worn responsibly, in any century, it's purpose is to  shape and smooth the body into whichever fashion silhouette is desirable for that time,  and to make the wearer feel good.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Corsets these days are worn by many different people for many different reasons.  I do not subscribe to the view that corsets are (or ever were), 'anti-feminist' and 'opressive' to women nor to the opposite veiw that they are  empowering and totally feminine - unless that is what the wearer wants them to be.

In my opinion, the purpose and effect of corsetry in any time and for any gender, boils down to two things

1) A corset is and always has been a fashion item.

2) Using a corset to enhance or shape one's 'assets' is no more dangerous or oppressive, or uncomfortable, than wearing a pair of high heeled shoes.

Interestingly, Gertie has been talking about corsetry recently and today has struck upon something which I have been thinking for a while myself - and which has inspired this very post.  Gertie quoted from the latest V&A book (which I have reviewed here, and here) a quote from Ereli Lynn, the writer:

"It is only since the 1960s that women have been expected to embody the fashionable ideal by way of diet and exercise and without the aid of foundation garments."

Read here what Gertie has to say on this - she writes about it very eloquently.

The reason I've been thinking about corsets as foundations (as opposed to outer party wear) is that it's my 42nd birthday next week and up until this year, during which I seem to have expanded considerably from a small size 8 to a large size 10 (possibly 12 if i'm brutally honest), my body image has never been a problem for me ... However, middle age spread does seem to be taking it's toll in that I don't eat anything different, and yet the effects of food upon my body are very different!  

Right now, we are possibly talking the difference between Kylie Minogue and Christina Hendricks, although I dont mind my new shape, what I don't like is the lack of control I seem to have over it!  

Excess weight has never been a problem for me and being a firm believer in the Joan Collins philosophy that exercise is bad for you (unless picking up diamonds from the floor),  if I am to take matters into hand, then foundations are the way to go.  To the gym I say No No NO!  

See what I mean? this year and last

And so I have been playing with ideas and fabrics and developing a corset pattern for myself, which I can wear underneath my everyday clothes.  This is the first toile .. more details next time!

For more corsetry material, follow these exciting links:

corset eye-candy, disccusions, and construction techniques

Subscription site with all sorts of 'insider' info but also some free articles

Pics and information on different corset shapes through the ages

Supplies, tutorials and other interesting info!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Dress foundations - Badgley Mishka

Here's the inside story on the red dress.  Try to stay with me while I tell you about the number of parts it is made of:  

First, there were the outer fabric pieces - bodice front, sides, back, skirt front and back, midriff front and back, and facing - 11 pieces.

Then there were all the corresponding lining pieces - another 10.

Then  the bodice stay which goes between the outer dress fabric and the lining.  That was INGENIOUS! - 5 pieces.

Then the foundation - I made this from 5 sections of coutil, and 5 sections of lining, but the pattern required 10 lining sections (2x5) plus 5 interfacing sections - 15 pieces but I saved 5.

And as if that isn't enough, there was the midriff interfacing - another 3 pieces.

44 bits altogether according to the original pattern!

Although I pre-shrunk my silk by steaming thoroughly, it still shrunk while I was pressing each section after sewing.  Very annoying, but not drastic.

After cutting all the parts out - and then sectioning them off into piles to be worked on in order, I thread traced all the pleats on the outer dress with silk thread because I didn't want to risk permanently marking the silk with chalk or carbon.  I then tacked the pleats into place  so that they wouldn't move during construction.

The absolute ingenious part of this dress was the bodice stay.  When trying on the toile, I was quite concerned at how the pleats would fall apart at the bust area - they refused to stay in place without pins in strategic places.  I wondered how to get round this without compromising the perfect fit.  I needn't have worried - the bodice stay fixed it.  It was made of interfacing (I used polycotton as it is sturdy yet light,  but if I'd had some, I would have used silk organza), and was a 'flat' unpleated version of the bodice, staystitced to the wrong side of the bodice on all sides to keep the pleats from being interfered with from beneath the dress.

The foundation was not there to support any bodily parts, it was there to support the dress (it was therefore necessary for me to wear a strapless bra) and was made of coutil which is a very tightly woven, strong (yet light) corsetry fabric.  I sewed the peices together as per the instructions - note the dart at the bust to give shape - then made boning chanels by pressing the seam allowances to one side and stitching them down.  I therefore have a 'nice' side to go against the lining of the dress, and a not so nice side which is lined at a later stage to hide the rough edges...

So here we have the inside of the finished dress.  You have layers as follows from the outside in:  

Outer dress fabric
Bodice stay
Foundation (lined)

Its a lot of layers, and alot of pieces, but the construction as I have said is genius - those pleats did not budge when worn!

The foundation I was sceptical about from the start because it is so short - it stops at the waist.  I guess if I had used the suggested sew through boning between layers of lining and interfacing, and perhaps had gone for the 'straighter' shape of the pattern - I took the waist in a little - or lengthened the foundation,  the dress would have been much more comfortable, but I did not want to change the pattern because I wanted to see if and how it worked.  

(I made a longer foundation in last years dress, and it worked perfectly - see here and here)

Overall, I am thrilled with this dress!  I am not sure I would make this particular style again, but I will most definitely use the construction techniques I've learned here to get really polished and professional results in the future.