Friday, July 9, 2010

Draping a Dress, Part Three: Making a Muslin

Okay! So now that the dress is all draped and checked, the next step is to make a muslin for fitting purposes. (See the first and second parts of this draping series if you need to catch up.) You use your draped pieces as your pattern, adding a wide seam allowance - I went with one inch. Machine baste your pieces together, as they would be sewn, and hand baste a zipper in.

I should mention that I did some preliminary fitting as I was draping: for instance, I tried on the bodice as I went to check the sleeve depth. That was a very good thing, because on first try, it was so small I could barely get my hand in the sleeve!

When I put on my muslin, I immediately noticed that the waist was too big, so I took it in right away. And here's how it looked. (Yes, I am wearing a bump-it in my hair. Jeff finds this incredibly bizarre. Hey, I'm going for a 60s look!)

From the back:

And the side:

There are certainly some problems with the fit, but I got it pretty close I think! Here's a run-down of the changes I made:

  • added 3/4" width under the armpit to prevent pulling in the kimono sleeves and to widen the back
  • made a sway back adjustment to reduce wrinkling at the lower back
  • made sure all the pieces were "trued" (the back midriff was too small for the back bodice, resulting in some twisting as it was sewn)
  • took 1/4" inch tucks on the scoop neck to prevent gaping
  • lengthened the midriff by 1/4" to elongate the torso
I've also decided to move the zipper to center back. Getting a wiggle dress like this over your head in the sweltering heat is a workout in itself!

I will probably also add another inch to the length - it looks a little too modern to me. Do you agree?

I've now transferred the pattern (with these changes) to paper. Since I made so many tweaks, I will most likely make a second muslin to ensure the fit is good. Once I'm happy with that round, it will be ready to sew!

What do you think? See any other changes you would make?


  1. I actually think if you printed a design on the muslin it would look pretty cool! Shape & fit of the dress looks pretty cool if you ask me. Monique xx

  2. Hmm. I like the length it's at, and I think the bottom of the skirt could tailor in towards your silhouette even more a bit.

    It's amazing to see you standing in a full muslin after so little time so far on this project! Well done!

  3. Wow--it looks fantastic! Thanks for including all the nitty-gritty adjustments you made too (I must be a die hard sewing geek; those things always fascinate me!). I agree that the added bit of length on the skirt might help reinforce the vintage look of the dress. But overall, it's looking great!

    Oh, and thank you for answering my sleeve question yesterday! ;)

    ♥ Casey
    blog |

  4. Thank you so much for doing this un-tutorial. It's really interesting, and you're dress is looking fabulous :)

  5. I feel like you will like your result best if the finished hem hits you right near the bottom of your knee,so adding an inch sounds right.

    During part 2 on Veronica I had wondered if the neckline wasn't a far deeper curve than I was used to seeing you make, and it was a relief to see that in the muslin on your body, it's not at all! Although it's super cool to see a dress shape out on the form, I'm always delighted to note that it doesn't come alive until it's on a live figure.

    What a fun series this is!

  6. Nice work. You're very talented. I have a problem with a dress I made and the gaping neckline. I'm not sure what taking 1/4" tucks means when you mentioned that as a way to fix this problem. Is that actually making small darts in the dress (which doesn't seem right, but...)?

  7. I wear bump-its too, my friends think its weird but like you I'm going for a 60s look, not a Texas pagaent queen look.

  8. It looks so great, even just in muslin. And though it mystifies Jeff, the hair is a great look on you too. My favorite is the side silhouette--it's so flattering on you.

  9. I'm finding this run of tutorials very interesting and helpful. I've never seen this done before. The dress is going to look amazing.

  10. would you narrow the skirt at all? it looks to me (disclaimer: absolutely NOT the fitting expert!) that there's spare ease across the bum, and personally i'd like to see a narrower hem as per your sketch.

    but obviously it depends on how much ease you need to move! what fabric are you planning to make it up in? any stretch?

  11. I just made a similar dress from a vintage pattern. Love the look. I am too new to sewing to tackle draping, but maybe one day I will give it a try and know that your tutorial is there for me.

  12. To: Anonymous
    Ichigogirl on BurdaStyle (Karin has her own blog too here: Ancien-Nouveau) posted a simple tutorial addressing gaping necklines (click here: Make deep necklines tighter).

    :) Seemane

  13. Your first muslin looks pretty darn good - cannot wait to see the final dress :)!

  14. thanks for the un-tutorials. The dress looks great and I agree it needs another inch or two to really look vintage.

    And I like the bumpits too. I'm sure Joan Holloway would approve

  15. Thanks for the feedback, all!

    The tucks are just temporary in the muslin. I then traced the muslin (with the tuck taken in) to paper - it basically makes the neckline shorter.

  16. I would peg the hemline (and lengthen it a bit like you already have planned).
    That said, it already looks great.

  17. I should probably also mention that the skirt is already pegged - by 1-1/2" on each side. I'm kind of afraid to take it in further - what if I can't walk?! Maybe just a tad . . .

  18. The hem can be pegged a bit more if you lengthen the split at the back. I made a dress recently that goes in a good four inches from a straight skirt and the split is plenty long enough to walk (although it does give me a rather marvellous wiggle!) and climb stairs and so on.

    I agree on a bit longer too. More vintage and more flattering - what's not to love!

  19. Just found your blog and I love it! Your first draft looks amazing. Very interested in seeing your changes.

  20. My gosh! I've always had a really hard time understanding the value of a muslin - it just seems like a waste of time because you're making it two or three times before you're finnaly done. But wow! These posts have really shown what a difference having the patience to fit and refit a muslin really makes. The draping technique is cool in and of itself but just seeing what a muslin can do for a great fit is awesome!

  21. I have to agree (I am not a vintage expert but based on what I have seen online) that the skirt should hit just below your knees and a bit slimmer. Emmy is right about lengthening the split a tad. Of course, the material you choose will put you right on target.

    Great work as usual Gertie! Such an inspiration.

  22. Your muslin looks great, I love seeing your process and all the detail. I can't wait to see the completed dress.

  23. Gertie, this series is fantastic! Gosh, I love your blog.

  24. I agree with all the lovely readers above ~ more length = more vintage sweetness. I can't wait to see this when it is finally a dress!

    Maybe you could do a collaboration with Collette Patterns and get it made up as a pattern for the rest of us who would love to wear it, but can not drap?

    b. of Depict This!

  25. I am wondering if you could trim a little in the hip area, peg a teeny bit more, and add a little length to bump up the vintage.

    I love the draping. I don't believe that I would ever be awesome at drafting a pattern, but draping, seems to make more sense to me.

    Thank you for letting us "tag along" with you during this process! Can't wait to see the finished results!

  26. It looks wonderful! A little extra length would be closer to a '60s style.

    Thanks for your blog, it's very inspiring.

  27. I love the shaping around the midriff and torso and the kimono sleeve. Personally, I'd raise the neckline a bit to make it more like an oval rather than a scoop, if you know what I mean. The scoop seems more 50s than 60s to me. YMMV. Are you making it up in the green and white polkadot? It'll be gorgeous.

  28. Hi Gertie,

    The design is great and as usual, the way you explain it is fantastic. I like the direction you're going - longer hem, tighter peg (maybe), slightly tightened up neckline, longer midriff, and swayback adjustment. With all those changes, the thing that I'm seeing might already be changed. What I'm noticing is a little bit of a sag under the arms on the front view. It doesn't seem to be there as much on the side view, and it's hard to tell exactly what's going on, so by the time it's sewed up in polkadots, it might be unnoticable. I think it's from a combination of where the neckline hits, how the sleeves fall, and the gathers at the bust, and I don't really have any suggestions other than perhaps the midriff panel also comes a little higher under the arms, or the neckline comes in a little bit more from the shoulders. That's the only other change I would try to make - it's going to be awesome when it's in fashion fabric! Looking forward to seeing the finished product. -Rachel

  29. Wow Gertie, I am truly impressed. I would have been fussing over this muslin for weeks...if I had a clue how to start to begin with! That said, I think the fit is good. My only comment is the bust angle may need a tweak or a different undergarment. I have an issue with this but my girls are larger and always require extra attention. I have to be careful with the difference between my high bust measurement vs. the full bust. Maybe with the next muslin the lines there will smooth out. It is difficult to tell on-screen. Loved this un-tutorial and wait for the next installment with great anticipation!

  30. Gertie how do you prepare the fabric for the muslin? Any special technique or just a piece of fabric?


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

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