Embellishing The Holiday Dress: Creating A Ruched Bodice

Hi Everyone! In Part Two, we switch gears a bit and take a look at adding design interest with the fabric itself. There are many ways to manipulate fabric, such as pleating, ruching, and pin tucks. Follow along in this post as I show you how to add ruching to a bodice to add the wow factor to your next holiday dress!

My intention with this tutorial was meant to be a simple outline of ruching a piece of fabric prior to cutting out the pattern pieces. As I began working on the idea and I had a burst of creative energy and continued to create an entire dress using just the piece from the San Marco Top

I hope you enjoy this tutorial. The process is pretty much recorded in real time, edited down of course! This is a peek into how I work and create things organically. It's one of the things that I really do love to do; taking something that I can see in my mind and bringing it to life with a little trial and error along the way!

Note: I apologize for the "clicky" camera sounds! After 4 years of SWC, and hundreds of videos, I think my camera is on it's last leg!

For those of you that want to try this project as demonstrated, here's a breakdown of the supplies and the steps:

  • I used the San Marco pattern, View B Top, just the front, back and shoulder pieces.
  • Measure 1.5" down from the underarm seam allowances, draw a new cut line to create the Front and Back Bodices.
  • Cut 1 of each on the Fold for the lining. I used a lightweight dance knit fabric.
  • Create flat pattern pieces by cutting them out on a folded piece of paper and be sure to label them!
  • Place your underlay fabric flat on your work surface.
  • Cut a piece of tulle or mesh wide a few inches wider than the width of the bodice piece. I cut this height all the way across the full width of the tulle yardage.
  • Sew basting stitches along both long edges of the tulle. Pull the thread to gather the tulle tightly, evenly on both sides.
  • Place the tulle on top of your underlay fabric.
  • Baste it down on both long edges.
  • Place your bodice pieces on top of the fabric. 
  • Position the rushing how you like ti and pin your pattern piece through both layers.
  • Thread mark around the edge of the piece, by hand or by machine.
  • Trim around the outside edge of the thread line to cut out your bodice pieces.
  • If you are using a complete dress pattern, at this point you can continue with your pattern instructions.
  • Or continue to make the San Marco Holiday Dress!
  • Cut two shoulder pieces from the gathered tulle, each 3.5" in length
  • With right sides together, place the shoulder pieces on the Front Bodice, layer the Front Bodice Lining on top, sandwiching the shoulder strap in between.
  • Stitch along the armscye, shoulder, neckline, and to the opposite armscye.
  • Repeat for the back Bodice, stitching the keyhole cut lines at center back.
  • Trim all the seam allowances. Turn right side out.
  • Line up the side seams, bodice to bodice and lining to lining. Stitch.
  • Cut a long rectangular piece for the skirt. I cut mine 9" x 24" for the underlay fabric and then three layers of tulle at three different lengths to layer on top. The tulle was the full width of the yardage.
  • Gather the skirting  to fit the waistline.
  • Sew the center back seams of the skirt. With right sides together, sew the bodice to the skirt. finish the seam allowance and gently press up towards the bodice. Sew a hook & Eye to close the center back keyhole opening.
  • Add embellishment details to the bodice, maybe even a ribbon sash around the waistline to complete the look!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! I know many of the methods I use are unconventional, I though sharing my process might help to encourage you to go for it when you have an idea! In my mind, there's no wrong way to bring your vision to life. There might be easier ways, but sometimes you learn as you go!




November 17, 2021

That’s a really clever way to add the ruched material! What a beautiful dress! Just in time for holiday sales, too!


November 16, 2021

Awesome. So many options for other patterns as well. Thank you Cinnamon for sharing this terrific idea.

Leave a comment