I used old bedsheets for my mockup fabric, choosing a pale green for the main bodice, dark green for the shawl collar and cuffs, and white for the center "vest" front and collar. This would give me an idea of how my finished bodice would look with different colored fabrics I planned to use. I knew I wanted to extend the shawl collar pieces all the way down the bodice front, and I was also planning on doing the shorter sleeve variation without the cuff. But as long as I was making a mockup, I might as well make both variations so that I don't have to make another mockup later if I want to use the pattern as-is.
So on the left you will see the changes I made to the shape and length of the shawl collar, and on the right you will see the original pattern piece and the long sleeve with cuff.
Now when I tried it on my dress form, I instantly knew something was wrong. The mockup fit my dress form, Anna, almost perfectly. The problem with that is that Anna is the same size I was when I was making my wedding gown over three years ago. I have since gained weight, had a baby, gained more weight, lost most of that weight, and changed shape.
So it's no surprise that when I tried the mockup on myself, this happened:
That's as close as I could get it to closing. I quickly realized that the culprit was my corset:
I had made it for my wedding, and it fit me then. But I had altered the commercial pattern (I think it was one of the Simplicity mid-1800s ones) because it was too big in the bust, but I altered it poorly. Now that I have much more bust than I've ever had before in my life - thank you pregnancy! - my corset was compressing my bust instead of allowing it to expand and lift. I had already known I would need to correct this issue, but I was hoping to put it off until after the gown was made. Well, clearly that would not do.
I dug up the scraps of brocade leftover from making the corset. (See? It's a good thing I hold onto everything! I'm not a hoarder...)
And I made bust gussets. I tried it on and marked where I wanted the gussets to end, then took it off and drew a line down to those marks - after removing the top binding:
I stitched with a short stitch length on the machine, down alongside the lines I had drawn, meeting the point at the bottom, and back up along the other side, then cut down the line to the point.
Then I sewed the gussets in. I was using the method from my Laughing Moon Regency stays, though I wasn't nearly as careful to do a neat and tidy job. I plan to replace this corset, so I'm not too concerned about making it look pretty at this point.
I did one side, then tried it on to gauge the difference. It's pretty striking:
I fixed one side of the back pleated tails, but left the other tacked incorrectly, to remind myself of the difference so I would do it right on the final gown.
I am super glad I made a mockup (and a half) because I only had five yards of the micro-check silk, and I wanted to get both an underskirt and bodice out of it. And because I only had to cut the real bodice once, I was able to!