Friday, January 25, 2013

Halter top Hussy - Coming soon from The Heroine's Closet

Inspired by the movie "Rear Window", a little something discreetly racy brought to you by SavageCoco Patterns to satisfy your inner Hussy.  Finished sample photos at the end of this post.

The Movie, the Plot & the Dress:  Oh, the things that go on behind closed doors!  Our Heroine intends to seduce her captive beau.  She enters the scene as demure and cool as the ice white of her pearls only to begin a slow bit of strip tease.  Off with her gloves and hat, then her jacket in one casual move.  Oh, swoosh!  Instantly, her creamy shoulders and back are bare for the enjoyment of her captive audience of one.  All the more sexy to lure in her prey.  This woman has a plan.  Our heroine has chosen a belted haltertop dress with a white front wrap bodice and an attached skirt of Nile Green.  Oh, you thought it was a separate blouse and skirt?  No, our girl will be out of her attire with no more than a quick zip down the back. She's a fast worker, this one is.

So plan your next amorous attack and make like this Hussy in a Haltertop and get your man. He'll never know what hit him.  

A note about the designer and our Heroine:  A certain someone with a few Oscar statues lounging about her altier felt our Heroine didn't possess much up front.  As such, many of the garments in our Heroine's closet from this film were ruched, gathered, folded and/or otherwise manipulated to give the impression of a fuller bustline.  Our Heroine wasn't much impressed.  Additionally, the director, who may or may not have had an unhealthy obsession for tall, cool blonds in too tight to breath Nile Green suits with naughty thoughts on their minds, insisted on just that.  You will note during the scene of which this pattern was inspired by, our Heroine never sits.  Oh, she carefully - very carefully - momentarily lays across her beau's bed, but she never actually sits. She probably couldn't.  Additionally, if you watch the clothes and not the movie, you will note how this dress moves, or rather, does not.  And that it, in fact, was a dress, not a blouse and skirt as often believed.  You could not have tucked anything into that skirt and not have seen the outline of it, as well as the zipper is a continuous line down the back of the garment.
Perhaps if you're not built like our Heroine, one of these shrouds of lycra should bring things into alignment . . .
Pattern Notes & Skill Level:  This pattern is a size Medium on a 5’4” model, 36” bust, 30" waist, 37" hip.  Skill level assumes intermediate sewing construction knowledge, a centered back seam invisible zipper with machine inserted lining cut from the same pattern.  Pattern layout is not included but grainlines are marked on the pattern.  Additionally, this garment is cut with very little wearing ease and should be taken into account.
Special pattern/design alterations:  This pattern was drafted for the wearing of a halter or strapless bra.  The back neck is sewn closed - you step into the dress, pull the neck over your head and pull up the zipper.  The skirt has been cut to fall at knee length for wearing ease and a more contemporary look.  You will need to add length if desired.  Instructions for lining a kick pleat are not included but a link to a YouTube video is.  The skirt includes both front and back darts. Our model didn't require front darts as she eats pasta, so they are not shown in this tutorial. Darts for the skirt front are included on the pattern if needed.
If you wish to make the blouse portion only of the dress, a cutting line at the hip of the skirt portion has been included on the pattern, however, you will still need to step into the blouse due to the back zipper and closed neck construction.
Suggested fabrics:  Blouse:  Silk Habotai or other lightweight fabrics; Skirt: polys, silks or other lightweight wovens, stretch wovens.
Yardage needed:  Blouse and skirt, each:  44”-45”: 1 2/3 yrds;  52”-54”: 1 yrd, 1 1/4 yrd. lining for skirt and blouse back, organza underlining if desired.
Notions:  One 12"-14" invisible zipper, 1 yrd. Grosgrain or Petersham ribbon, 2 hook and eyes, one belt kit, lightweight interfacing plus several lengths of 1/4" wide fusible interfacing or fusible bias tape such as Design Plus - Nancy's Notions has it., 2 yards 1/2" bias from lining, Washable Wonder Tape.
Assembly Instructions

All seams are 5/8” unless otherwise indicated on the pattern.  All seam allowances are included in the pattern, you do not need to add them.
1.  Print, assemble and cut out all pattern pieces.  This pattern has 5 pattern pieces and uses 22 sheets of 8.5” x 11” paper to print. 
2.  Layout all pattern pieces, cut fashion fabric, underling if using and lining.  Transfer all markings. Note:  the "collar" armscye/neckband pieces, once cut, are shape shifters. Keeping the pieces pinned to the pattern until ready to sew is highly recommended.

3.  Apply any underlining if using.  This tutorial underlined the skirt portion only in the Flatline method.  Also known as the All-In-One Lining/Hong Kong finish. The tutorial skirt was both underlined and lined as the poly fashion fabric was a bit lightweight after being laundered. It isn't always necessary to do both. If your fashion fabric has enough body, perhaps one or the other will be enough.  Assembly instructions below include lining the dress. 

4.  Immediately after cutting the bodice front and back, stabilize both the neckline,  armscye/bodice back top selvages with 1/4" fusible or fusible bias tape, to prevent stretching during handling and construction.  Stitch a basting line at 1/4" to aid in rolling if desired.

5.  Roll neckline selvages 1/4" twice and blind hem or hem of choice.   Washable Wonder Tape aids in pinless rolling.  This seam allowance is 5/8ths to allow for roll of the cloth. 

Top Tip:  Use invisible thread when hemming for a true "blind" hem.
Make 1/4" pleats in neck where marked by folding where marked.  Pleats fold towards neck and away from shoulder. Baste down.

6.  Construct neck/armscye bands with 1/4" seam allowance, stitching long edge and back edges only.  Clip copiously between notches, turn, press and baste wrong side to wrong side to hold.  Washable Wonder Tape works wonders here and negates the need for pins or thread basting. 
Top Tip:  For perfect points, try this little trick from Pam at  Scroll down her page for the "Perfect Collar Points...A Shirtmaker's "Secret" Technique." It's pretty fab. 

Perfect Points!

7. Sew darts in bodice back, both fashion fabric and lining. Butterfly darts by pressing fashion fabric darts towards the center back seam and lining darts towards side seams. On the bodice lining only, baste a 5/8ths stitching line on side seams.
8. Sew darts in skirt back, both fashion fabric and lining. Butterfly darts by pressing fashion fabric darts towards the center back seam and lining darts towards side seams.
9. Sew fashion fabric bodice back to skirt back at waistline from center back seam to back darts only. Repeat for lining. Insert invisible zipper in fashion fabric center back seam. On the lining, baste off 3/8" down each center back seam of the lining the length of zipper tape.  Set lining aside.

10. Sew fashion fabric bodice fronts to back at side seams.  Grade seams and press towards back.

11.  Baste armscye/neckbands to bodice, underside of band to right side of bodice.  Baste bias tape over same from neck to 1" beyond side seam and stitch through all layers in a 1/4" seam.  Press, clip and turn bias tape to inside. 

12.  Sew lining center back seam to zipper tape.  Sherry's tutorial Facing an Invisible Zipper over at PatternScissorsCloth is excellent.  For our purposes, the bodice back lining is treated as if it were a facing.  Once you have sewn the lining along the length of the zipper tape, you will then roll it, as in the tutorial, and finish sewing the bodice back lining to the fashion fabric back bodice, with the armscye band sandwiched between the two, from the zipper to the side seams, keeping the basted lining side seam selvage free.  Photo below left.  Press, turn, understitch, then stitch down the bias tape from side seams to neck edge. The armscye bands will roll to the front, covering the stitching.   You will hand finish the bodice back lining side seams at a later step after the skirt and skirt lining are constructed and sewn to the bodice.  A photo below right shows this finished.

13.  Stop and have a cocktail.  You've earned it. 

14.  Place bodice fronts your right over your left, matching center front and side-front markings. Baste pleats through both layers on dotted lines only.  Stitch pleats through both layers by folding along baste lines, matching markings.  Press towards side seams. 

15.  Sew skirt front to backs at side seams, make darts if using.   Repeat for lining.  Be sure to butterfly any darts - fashion fabric towards the side seams, lining towards the front.

16.  Sew fashion fabric skirt to bodice at waistline from back dart to back dart. 

17.  Repeat for skirt lining, right sides together, sandwiching the fashion fabric in between between, (flip the skirt lining "up") stitch at waistline through all thicknesses.  Flip the skirt lining down, grade seams and press.

18.  Blind stitch back bodice lining at bodice side seams.
19. For the neck closing, open up armscye/neckbands at neck and sew wrong side to wrong side in a 5/8" seam. Note - there is a slight curve to the seam at the folds portion - shorten your stitch to make the curve. 
Trim seam allowance to 1/4", press open, fold under the top corner of the seam allowance then fold the collar onto itself, wrong side to wrong side. 
Top Tip:  A tad of Washable Wondertape pressed on with tweezers helps hold this down instead of using pins.

Finish by stitching in the ditch and blind stitch over the exposed seam allowances - about 1/2".

20. Hem skirt and lining. A handy video tutorial for lining a kick pleat can be found on You Tube at Fashion Sewing Blog TV. There are no photos of the tutorial garment's kick pleat due to an unfortunate incident involving new scissors.

Top Tip: Catchstitching the hem to the underlining only provides no-show stitching on the right side of the skirt.

The skirt lining was machine hemmed 1" shorter than the skirt hem.
 A Few Finishing Touches
 French tack the lining to the skirt at the side seams.

Top Tip:  Make a waiststay from Grosgrain (acceptable) or Petersham (better) to both take the pressure off the zipper at the waistline when zipping up your dress and help keep things in place, eliminating the Tug of Shame when one wears something strapless.  Wouldn't want to induce Lt. Blackslashacrosstheeyes of the U.F.P. (Universal Fashion Police) to issue any citations.  She's everywhere, so let's not take any chances and add that waiststay.
Top Tip:  And see those little "bumps" inside the hooks?  That's where you slide your pin through to hold them in place while sewing.  Slip a pin through the fabric, run through the opening of the bump and pick up bit more fabric, slip through the bump of the second hook and pick up a bit more fabric.  Your hooks will stay aligned during hand sewing.  You're welcome.

You may wish to add hanger straps at the waistline side seams to aid in hanging the dress, however, if your skirt is figure-hugging, the outline may show through as they did on the tutorial sample.  So they were removed and the dress is folded over a hanger in the same manner as a pair of trousers.
Make the belt.   Here's some pics of the tutorials belt making.  The kit was vintage and very old but the Tutorialist only paid a dime for it at the '12 ASG Summer Stash Sale.  There was marginal success with the stickyback template due to the age of kit.
Tool List:  A little block of scrap wood, a small hammer, an awl and/or a nail set, measuring tool, disappearing ink marker, eyelets and eyelet crimping tool.  This is the Dritz eyelet/snap combo model that comes with assorted color eyelets.

Mark eyelet holes with the disappearing ink marker - a pink Singer water soluable pen was used - place the awl or nailset on the marking and give it a good whack with the hammer.  Go ahead - whack it again.  Wrench it free.

Place the eyelet, smooth side down on the awl/nailset, then fabric and push the eyelet up until the serrated edge shows through on the other side.

Place smooth side of eyelet on the crimping tool. Top Tip:  put a bit of cloth between the smooth side of the eyelet and the crimping tool to reduce abrasion on the face of the eyelet.  you'll need to make a hole in the scrap fabric to slip over the pin of the crimping tool.

Give it a squeeze . . .
Practice a bit first

The finished Hussy belt



Complete the Look:   To carry out one's seduction, captive or otherwise, you're going to need some supplies.  Portage of same in style is essential.  A Mark Cross Ladies' Case foots the bill nicely.  A choker of pearls, of course.  That lovely bit of wrist whimsy known as the Charm Bracelet.  And a little secret potion of your choice to grease the gears of your charms. . .
So make this dress and be your own Haltertop Hussy

SavageCoco Patterns©


  1. I would love to be a tester of your patterns, as I can do it?? If you know my blog, you will know then that I love old movie costumes .... so I think I can help with this, I love your job!!

  2. Fabulous - this is going on the to do list! Thanks for all the little tips too - love the hooks and eyes solution.

  3. Hi, how do I get the halter top hussy pattern? I paid for it, came back to the site, and.... Help!?!?