Making an 18th Century Inspired Dress Part 3 | Making the Stomacher

Today I'm continuing my Making of Post's for my 18th Century Inspired Dress with the stomacher.


Okay, so some of you may be wondering what a stomacher is. A stomacher is a V shaped bodice piece made of decorative fabric worn over the chest and stomach, most common between the 16th-18th centuries. Bodices that were open in the center front would often have a stomacher, which would be pinned into the bodice or dress. This was a style usually incorporated into more elegant dresses worn by the higher class.

For my dress, I contemplated a couple of different options: criss-cross lacing, spiral lacing, a plain stomacher, an embroidered stomacher. I wasn't able to decided until after I re-watched one of my costume films, Ever After (if you haven't see this film yet, you should really go watch it. It's wonderful!) and was inspired by the stomacher-like piece in Danielle's blue "Monastery" dress.

I really liked the gathered fabric on it and the rounded shape, though I knew my own would be straight on the top.

Onto the actual making! I drafted the pattern using a pattern from Patterns of Fashion as a guideline, but making sure it would fit the length and width of my bodice. In the end, here's what my pattern looked like.


The next step was to cut out my fabrics. I used a duck canvas for the base layer to give it some strength, and cut two pieces of my pattern from that, which I then basted together around the bottom and side edges.

I stitched my boning channels between the two layers. For boning I just used plastic zip ties because they're cheap, easy to cut, and happened to be scraps from other projects.  You can see my boning channel pattern below. Nothing fancy, but still sturdy.


Next it was time to prepare my fashion fabric. I've had this cotton with a light print on it in my stash for forever. You can't really see the pattern in the pictures, but it's a delicate cream cotton.

I took a large rectangle piece, I didn't measure so I don't have measurements but it was about twice as long as the width of my stomacher. I stitched 3 rows of gathering stitches parallel over the entire piece.

Which I then gathered and pinned to my stomacher. I trimmed away a bit of the excess on the bottom half, because there was a bit too much fabric, before I basted it in place.


Around the bottom edge I ended up rounding it a bit when I stitched the top layer down, which I then trimmed to cut away the excess fabric.


Next I cut out a single piece from my pattern of a plain cotton, which would be for the lining. I pinned it to the other piece, right sides together, and stitched along the edges, leaving a bit open on the top edge to flip it around and put the boning in.

Before flipping it all right side out, I clipped the corners and the curved edges so it would lay flat.


All that was left after that was to insert the boning and hand stitch the top closed with an invisible slip stitch.


All done!

And that's that! The stomacher itself gets pinned into the bodice with straight pins to hold it all in place.


If you haven't already, be sure to read:
Part 1 - Drafting the Bodice
Part 2 - Making the Bodice