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
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.
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.