Sunday, April 4, 2010

Muslins, Muslins Everywhere

Happy Sunday, friends! I made the muslin for Vogue 1117 (to be my Ceil Chapman roses tribute dress!) and it's looking pretty good so far, though I can see I'm going to need a little help on the back.

First off, I so agree with reviewers (like Erica B.) who felt this is an advanced rather than "average" pattern, as Vogue says. Which is why I'm glad I got to practice the construction on a muslin! I'll write more on the tricky construction steps in my final review of the pattern.

I started with a size 14 in the bodice and waist, grading out to a 16 in the lower hips. The hips fit fine, while the bodice was way too roomy. Overall, I'm finding the fit of this pattern to be a bit of a rectangular silhouette, with lots of room in the bust. So be prepared for fitting changes if you have curvy hips and a smallish bust, like me.

So here's a little road map of the changes I made.

[Double click to see full-size!]

First, I took in about half an inch at the apex of the bust, which just means taking in the princess seams. Secondly, I took tucks out of the bodice at the upper chest where the dress was gaping. These tucks taper to nothing at the bust, so this happily won't require any alteration to the adjoining pieces. I also took in an inch on each side at the waist, tapering up to the armholes and down to the hips.

Now, for the back. Oh noes!

Check out that massive wrinkle on the upper right! Looks like I've got uneven shoulders, which I never noticed before. I'm going to go consult Fit For Real People. Anyone have any tips for this?

Also, I think the wrinkling at my lower back means I should take a tuck for a sway back, right?

Any more thoughts? Thanks, readers!

P.S. As for the other muslin I alluded to in my title, it was my second background dress muslin, and it is still a bit of a disaster. It's on to muslin number three, believe it or not. I should have taken pictures, but I was too busy ripping out all the seams in a bit of a tizzy, I must admit. I think I'll just let that one go for a few days!


  1. It is going to be a fabulous dress once you get all the kinks worked out. I can't wait to see the finished product!

  2. I would just put it on again and make sure the neckline is in the right position, comparing the sleeves it looks like the left is a little big lower on your arm then your right.

    I really like this pattern!

  3. This is really going to turn out to a beauty! So far it looks quite good! As for the back piece, it looks like you have to do something to fit your bottom, as I would say the sway looks okay. Check your side seams, are they straight when you're wearing the dress now? They can give you some guidance on where you need more fabric. It seems like the same problem I have (or rather had, since it's now ripped partly apart) on my V8280:
    Good luck, I'm sure we're all gonna weep in envy... :)

  4. Gertie

    The muslin looks very good! Since I have made this dress, let me tell you what I found with it:

    I made a 1/2" sway back adjustment to this pattern. I usually take 1 1/2" in Vogue, so it was quite a bit less. I also took small tucks in the upper front bodice along the neckline, probably because I have poor posture/forward shoulders. I always have to do something there when the neckline is open like that.

    I think you will have to cut different lefts and rights for your different shoulder slopes.

    Have you tried to sit down in this muslin? I found I couldn't, comfortably, so I relieved most of the skirt pegging by drawing straighter side seams from the hipline down. Just the sides, though, I didn't mess with the CB seamline below the zipper.

  5. Gertie you are very amazing. I read this blog because despite lessons and years of practice, I simply do not enjoy the physical act of sewing and all the detail oriented patience it involves. Instead, I read your blog and live through you vicariously. That dress is going to look stunning, especially if you use the rose print-- brunette's always look good in red if you ask me.
    melina bee

  6. For your right shoulder, take out the shoulder seam, then smooth the fabric up until it lays smooth. Pin the seam in based on your body; ignoring the extra fabric for the back. I would take another photo then and see if the back zipper is in the center of your back. The current photo looks like it's pulling to the left. Hard to tell if it's pulling, or if the looseness from the right shoulder is causing it to go to the left.

  7. It does look like a low shoulder. The advice Kenneth King gives is, cut for the high shoulder on both sides and lower under the underarm the same amount for both shoulders. You would lower the underarm the same amount that you lower the shoulder. If you don't do this the sleeve will be too tight. The sleeve will be lower on the arm on the low side. If you look at your shoulders in relation to the wall it really is lower. A small sway back does seem to be in order here.

  8. I'm loving reading how your readers read those wrinkles. I always learn so much from your blog.

    This dress is going to look like a million bucks. You can't beat a great fit.

    P.S. My Vogue Sewing Book from 1975 has some really great fitting instructions for dresses, including the sway back alteration you mentioned (page 149).

  9. This looks like it's coming along well! The final is going to be very pretty. :) I was wondering...I always see seamstresses making muslins and documenting the changes that they make, but how do you transfer those changes to the fashion fabric? Do you change the pattern? And if so, is it just like...oh, I took in 1/2" at the bust, so I'll mark it on the pattern? Or is it something else? I think it's a very interesting process, but I'm still somewhat of a newb and am still trying to figure out all these different tricks! :)

  10. I think Sarah is onto something and it may be that big wrinkle in the back will go away if you let the dress sit more evenly on your shoulders.

    The other thought that occurs to me is that you may have gone a bit overboard with the tuck at upper bodice and at the waist.

    The wrinkles running from the bodice tuck to the shoulder point indicate it may be too short there. If you need the tuck at the neck edge, you may not need it evenly across the entire front. Try a wedge with the wide edge at the neckline instead.

    Re the waist, in the back it looks like it's pulling because it's partly too tight at the waist although I do think you need a little horizontal tuck there too for sway back.

    Good luck with this - it'll be a gorgeous dress!

  11. Looking really good so far!
    You definitely need a sway back adjustment, the zipper is stretching the excess CB length out over it's length, causing the lines across your buttocks.

    For the R shoulder, I would just pin out the tuck to nothing at the princess seam, just like you have done on the front - nice and simple. It would pay to double check that you had everything centred in the photo first.

    I wonder if you might want to add a teeny bit of height to the front shoulder - there are slight drag lines towards where you have done the front adjustment. Or maybe it is just the photo - they can show up all sorts of wrinkles!

    Looking forward to the end result - it's going to be a stunner!

  12. I'll just add that I agree with what KayY just posted - I didn't notice that your front neckline adjustment was a rectangle, if it was a wedge then you won't need to add to the front shoulder

  13. It's just Vogue. Vogue is evil, I tell you! Evil! (I need to download the pics for this but...) I made my niece an Easter dress from a Vogue pattern and the stupid thing lied. It has a pintucked insert. Only problem is that the insert as drawn by the pattern is too small. Had to make two of them and sew 'em together before it was big enough! And it wasn't me, 'cause I did it exactly and there was only one size of it!

  14. Vogues are really wide in the shoulders on me...and actually, I have that problem in general. I do better starting with a smaller size in my shoulders and transitioning out to a larger size just below the armscye that going by my high bust for sizing. What happens is that I get buckets of room in my back neckline. No amount of darts or anything got rid of this until I started cutting smaller shoulders...I wonder if that might not be what's happening here on you and if the weight of your zipper shifted the wrinkle off to the side. I don't's a theory.

  15. I've only recently found your blog, love it so much I'm going through your archives!

    I just wanted to say, wow! The pleats on that puppy look fabulous!

    Regarding the wrinkles in your hip area I'm agreeing with everyone else, my Vogue Sewing Book seems to suggest you've got a sway back too (or a flat bum, but the pictures are very ambiguous!). I'm not yet a dressmaker, although I'm about to attempt my first pattern this week, so I'm just going by the book here - feel free to ignore me!

    I can't wait to see the finished product. Good luck!


  16. Your dress is coming right along and it's looking great! I don't blame you for doing a muslin to perfect the fit. I had the same wrinkling at the lower back. Could it be your back is a little shorter than the pattern? That was the case for me. Try tucking out the excess all the way across and tapering it to the side. I just did it with Vogue 1182 here.... I agree the huge wrinkle near your shoulder is peculiar. Have you ever noticed this before? Do you think your fabric could've shifted when you cut it? You can match both back pieces up together to make sure they're identical and that wasn't the case. If they are and this fold is real then maybe you can fold out the excess fabric and redraft the neckline. You can use that corrected muslin piece as your new back piece and you'll just have 2 back pieces, one for the right and one for the left. Sorry for rambling. I hope you find your solution!!! Hopefully Fit for Real People will have good info. Lovely dress in the making.......

  17. I always have a gaping back with my dresses! Wish I knew how to fix it though... my skills aren't quite up to altering patterns for my body shape. Hoping you can work out a simple way to fix it (and then share it with me, haha)

  18. Thanks everyone for your suggestions!

    Plummy, most people take the muslin apart and use it as their pattern, which is what I plan to do. That's why it's important to mark your muslin well, with grain lines and everything!

  19. Do you wear your purse on your right shoulder? If so, that is why it is lower. I would also suggest wearing your hair up when you do your muslin so you can see the lines clearer (your hair casts a bit of a shadow and can make it harder to see issues).

    The dress looks great. Everyone else has made most of the suggestions I thought of. Can't wait to see the next part!

  20. Gertie, you inspired me to go out and buy this pattern last week and now you've further inspired me to make it myself asap! Thanks so much for the fitting issue tips.

    You've gotten lots of great advice that I can't really add to, so I won't. I'll just be looking forward to seeing the finished, glorious dress!

    Now, what've I got in my stash that I could use for it.....

  21. If no one's said it before, according to Marta Alto (diva of FFRP), do all of your back adjustments before you do the front ones. You'll be surprised what a difference it makes!

    Cannot wait to see your dress! It'll be gorgeous, no doubt.

  22. Your left shoulder appears to be a tad lower than the right, but the right arm-shoulder joint is bigger. Because of the extra muscle there it's pulling the armhole up. Are you right-handed? So the giant fold on the right is caused by this pushed-over fabric.

  23. I'm the last person to be able to offer tips on the fitting issues, but I wanted to say that I think it's coming along well and am really excited to see the finished dress. :)

  24. I think someone said it earlier but FFRP suggests fitting shoulders, then back and only then the front. I'm new to fitting but I was always told a wrinkle points to the problem. In your case the wrinkle points towards your right shoulder blade. If you look at your neckline and zip they are both off centre going towards the left. Your left sleeve is much further down your arm than your right. All these would say to me that you are uneven across the back. I think you should use your FFRP to diagnose and correct before you worry about any of the waist issues. (But I think you may need to make a horizontal tuck at the waist tapering at the sides...)

  25. Can't wait to see the finished product--it's going to be lovely! :D

  26. Thanks Gertie! I hadn't thought of taking the muslin itself apart to use as a pattern. I'll have to try that!


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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