Monday, April 28, 2014

How to Add a Center Panel to a Basic Bodice Dress

Blue Italian Organdy Dress

A center panel can add such a lovely and unique design element to a garment. In this how-to from our March/April 2012 issue, Pat Goldman and Susan Newberry of Chadwick Heirlooms will show you how you can adapt any basic bodice dress pattern to include a center panel. The concept is easy - you simply need to remove the middle section of the bodice pattern and replace it with a long rectangle cut from straight grain fabric.

The center panel pictured here on the Blue Italian Organdy Dress has six 1/4-inch tucks edged with 1/4-inch lace edging. Once you determine the finished width of the center panel for the size you are making, add 1 inch for seam allowance and 1/2 inch for every tuck you wish to stitch (3 inches in this case). Allow at least 1/4 inch at the top and bottom edges for attaching entredeux. TIP: You may want to give yourself a couple of inches extra length, as you can always trim to fit later.

Basic Construction:
• The back of this dress remains unchanged from the pattern. Follow pattern as directed for back.

• Prepare center panel: Sew tucks, lace and embroidery to center panel. Finish top edge with entredeux and set aside.

• Sew new side bodice piece to back bodice pieces at shoulder seams.

• Prepare sleeves with lace edging and sew to bodice arm curve before stitching side seams.

• Stitch side seams of bodice and sleeves.

• You should have two front skirt pieces. Sew a front to each side of single back skirt piece. Sew a placket in center back skirt. Run gathering threads in top of skirt on each side of placket.

• Gather skirt to fit bottom edge of bodice (side front/back bodice). Stitch and finish seam. Sew entredeux to neck edge, and down entire front bodice and skirt on both sides where center panel will be inserted.

• Make sashes (cut approximately 5 by 35 inches): Stitch gathered lace edging to one end of each sash. Roll and whip a tiny rolled hem on each long edge of each sash.

• Pleat ends of sash and either baste to front side seam of dress over waist seam before center panel is inserted, or hand stitch under last tuck after center panel is inserted.

• Sew center panel to entredeux on front of dress.

• Remember to mark where the panel should end at neck in same spot on both sides so that it ends up perfectly straight across the top.

• Sew lace edging to entredeux along neck and across top of center panel, mitering front corners.

• Trim center panel even with skirt along bottom edge. Sew entredeux to bottom edge.

• Create a fancy band of two lace insertions and a lace edging, then attach to entredeux to finish skirt.

• Sew buttons and buttonholes to back bodice.

For more sewing ideas, check out our new 2012 Sew Beautiful Collection CD. This CD includes all seven issues of Sew Beautiful magazine from 2012 - the six standard issues plus our special 25th Anniversary Edition. These issues are complete with printable patterns, project templates, sewing tips, technique tutorials and endless inspiration!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi & Amelia


  1. I am trying to make 2 flower girls dresses and I need Sew Beautiful Magazine Summer Issue 1988 This is the front cover. I was wondering if you had one or knew where I could find one. I need the instructions for the lacing starting on page 47 for the bin dress. Thank you so much,

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