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The Vintage Fashion Guild post differentiates strongly between an empire line and a shelf bust, suggesting that the two cannot exist simultaneously. Designs like these are the reason I wanted to learn draping; I simply cannot resist the beautiful, architectural folds of these bust lines. If you're trying to minimize your bust line, perhaps the above designs aren't the way to go. Her tightly fitted shelf bust creates a beautiful line here and keeps the fluffiness to a minimum. The dress bodice has the most beautiful pleating and detailing, and it is fully lined and boned.  It has a back zipper closure and one long bias-cut strap that continues from the back shoulder to the front following the underbust seam, then the strap goes up the other shoulder where it finally comes back to the other side in the back. The only downside about a shelf bust is that it takes a lot of fitting to get just right – I think I spent about seven hours sewing this dress, not including the hour and a half to cut out the pattern and fabric.  But if you take the extra time to fit your dresses you will be so much happier with the results! For the forseeable next month or two most of my time is going to my next pattern project (Liesl’s Edelweiss Dress), but perhaps after that I can sew another version from this pattern and post a how-to tutorial on the blog!
About step 12 and 13, I obviously had to sew mine differently since the bodice cups were so much longer than the original pattern. If you still have more questions, I bet Gertie would be the perfect person to talk to since I think she wrote the instructions herself!

I’m making this same dress and Im new to sewing, could you possibly lend me some tips as to how you did the pleats in the bust?
I hope you enjoy this study of historical costume, vintage dresses, classic film costumes, & von Trapp trivia as much as I do! The shelf bust, written about briefly on the Vintage Fashion Guild, is a somewhat vague term that applies to a design that's built up in a way that makes the bust appear to be on a shelf. Indeed, the most shelf-like dresses I've seen tend to look like the bust is "set-in" to a curve that goes from the underarm and dips down to the middle or the bottom of the bust line.
Because the sewing patterns are vintage and pre owned, we check each vintage sewing pattern for completeness, for the pattern pieces and the instruction sheet. So, I guess the yellow dress I'm making isn't technically a shelf bust, but it has a similar feel with the petal-like pleats. Thanks for posting your inspiration pics, and specifically for discussing the difference between the shelf bust and an empire waist.
Very inspiring, and I’m looking forward to the day I will be able to make a dress like that someday.
I feel like my eyes have been opened.ReplyDeleteAnne LOAugust 2, 2010 at 7:18 AMHave you seen the Burga magazine for Juli 2010?

Dress is most dazzling when of sheers, from airy cottons to elegant chiffons.Never pass up a vintage pattern because ita€™s not the right size!
If you enjoy vintage sewing patterns, especially the 1940s and 1950s, you may wish to book mark us and visit often. We list several times a week and keep adding to our ever changing inventory of all original vintage sewing patterns from the 1900s up to the 80s.
I'm going to wear a crinoline under the skirt to get that gorgeous silhouette happening.
We combine shipping to save our customers money ! We have free layaways, don't let that pattern get away on you!

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