I recently bought this Vintage Vogue pattern, which is going to be used for a special occasion later in the year, but after looking at the bizarre instructions for attaching the straps I decided to make up a practice version to have a go at an alternative method.
The pattern has you make up the bodice as if it's strapless, and then to make a fully enclosed tube for the straps part, which is slip stitched onto the top of the bodice on the outside (the top edge of the straps section lines up exactly with the top of the bodice).
I didn't want to do it this way for three main reasons:
1) I didn't want to trust or do that much hand stitching on it
2) If you do the straps in a contrast fabric and there is any slight gape when you move you'd see the bodice fabric on the inside of the neckline rather than the contrast.
3) Any visible hand stitches would be very noticeable with the fabric I'm likely to end up using for the "real thing"
Anyway, I came up with another method for attaching the straps that I think worked really well, so I thought I'd share it. It does still have a little hand stitching, but it's not integral to holding the dress up, and isn't visible. It does however solve the contrast at the neckline point.
The bodice was stitched together as per the instructions.
I stitched the straps section together as instructed EXCEPT I did not stitch along the bottom of the straps, as shown here:
Then I went about folding up the seam allowance along the bottom of that piece. The first method I thought to use was just to mark the seam allowance and fold it up like so:
However it's actually quite tricky to get a nice smooth curve doing this method. A slightly better method is to do a line of stitching just inside the seam allowance along the line you want to fold:
You can then fold just to the inside of this line of stitching and you get a much smoother curve:
I would suggest folding a slightly larger seam allowance on the inside of the band than the outside.
Once I'd folded and pressed the seam allowance on both sides of the band I stitched the INSIDE of the band to the bodice by machine. I pinned the band to the machine, lining the top of the bodice up with the top of the band, with the band enclosing the bodice, and stitched along about 1/8" from the edge of the bodice band.
Importantly, this line of stitching must be inside the size of the band on the outside to keep the stitches invisible from the outside. This is why I suggested making the inside seam allowance larger.
There will now be a line of stitching along the top of the bodice holding the inside band in place, which will then be covered up by the outside of the band.
The last step is to stitch the outside band down invisibly by hand. Doing a slipstitch along the edge of the fabric is the 'obvious' way of doing it, but after doing a couple of inches of this I decided that it was still too visible, so I folded back the first 1/8" of the band and did my line of stitches just under there (just inside my line of stitching from before, being careful not to catch the outside layer of the band and only the seam allowance):
When you let go of the folded back bit and let it sit flat your stitches are completely invisible. Here is a comparison of the two stitch types.
Normal slip stitch on edge of band:
My method folding it back slightly and stitching only the underneath layer:
Here's a peek at what the finished band looks like:
I hope those instructions are clear. If you have any questions please feel free to ask them in the comments and I'll to my best to answer them.
I'll share pics of the whole dress once it's finished - I still need to put in the zip and hem it.