You only need the bodice part for what we're doing: trace off the waistline and above, plus a seam allowance. Make sure there's tons of paper above, since that's where we are adding. I drew my pieces side by side so that I can't get them twisted up.
- You trace because that's the edge of the pattern. You want to sew whatever the seam allowance is (for most Big 4 patterns it's 5/8" in from THAT line.
- You leave generous additional seam allowances because you may need to adjust the fit. Remember what I was saying about being easier to cut away then add back on? This is, for lack of better term, insurance.
Sew your bodice together using long stitches. I do all my pattern work with 4mm stitches. Tight enough to hold, loose enough to take out. And I promise you, you will be taking stitches out, at least once if not 100 times (j/k -- hopefully not that often!). Do baste in your zipper into place as well. Otherwise you won't get an accurate fit.
If you're lucky enough to have a dress form, put your bodice on the form and look at the fit. Use pins and markers to make the fit *perfect*. Feel free to draw on your fabric! Take it back to the sewing machine to tighten places if need be. Grab your seam ripper and change things where you should. Do not cut anything at this point.
This is enough to get you started. Come back tomorrow for how to get from this marked upon mess on your dress form all the way to your finished dress!