Wednesday, March 15, 2017

B6453 Sew Along: Making a Bodice Muslin

Okay, I vowed to keep the muslins and fitting stuff to a minimum but I feel I really want to touch on this. It seems a lot of ladies in the Facebook Group are new-ish dressmakers, which I love! And since there are some things you can do to make muslin-making easier, here's a look into my process.

The most important things I do are to always put a zipper into my muslins, and to turn in the seam allowances at the neckline and waistline so I can see where the actual seamlines fall.

Note: you can do all of the stitching in the following steps with a long basting stitch (4-5mm). This is faster to sew and easier to remove if necessary. 

Size note: I cut a size 12 based on the finished measurements on the pattern tissue. The size chart would have put me in at least a size 14, which would have been too big. This is why using the finished garment measurements are so important! (I'm fitting mine from scratch, to go through the process with you.)

First, I cut the three bodice pieces (front, side front, and back) in the muslin. Those are the only pieces you need, no straps or interfacing. I only needed a half yard of muslin to make the bodice!

Second, sew the princess seams as you would normally. I always staystitch and then clip the bodice center front between the notches.

This makes it easier to pin the side front to the center front along the curved princess seams. Stitch the princess seams. Finger-press the seams up. I don't worry about pressing them at this point.

Next, sew the back darts from the edge of the fabric to the tip. This is how I pin my darts for sewing:

Sew the bodice front to the bodice back at the side seams.

Next, stay stitch around the neckline and the waistline at 5/8". Clip into the seam allowances up to the stay stitching around any curved areas.

Press the seam allowances in along your stay stitching.

Baste up the center back seam and press open.

Using the same length zipper that you would use for your dress (14") place the zipper face down and scotch tape it in place. Yep, we're going fast and easy here. Just make sure your zipper teeth are exactly centered over the seam.

On the right side, use a zipper foot to stitch about 1/4" to either side of the seam. Straight stitching doesn't get extra points here. You'll have excess zipper hanging below the waistline seam.

Open up the basted center back seam and remove any tape that's in the way of you opening up the zipper.

(Tip: you can rip out the zipper and use it again for your next muslin!)

Pin 3/8" ribbon in place of the straps. A 14" length of ribbon was more than enough for each strap.

Zip yourself into your muslin! You should always wear the undergarments that you plan to wear while wearing the dress. You'll have a fancy zipper tail.

If you're overwhelmed looking at your bodice, check out the Fitting Order Sheet provided by Palmer/Pletsch.

You can see mine is low around the armholes, has tightness throughout the bust, excess around the armhole princess seam, and is slightly loose throughout the waist.

I pinched out some excess at the side seams and the princess seam at the armhole.

I also made a very small FBA (1/2" per side) following the Palmer/Pletsch directions I posted earlier this week. I also raised the armhole 3/4" at the underarm to conceal my favorite bra. All of these changes resulted in a much better fitting bodice!

Once you've made your muslin, please post to the Facebook Group if you have questions about what to change.

Next up: cutting and sewing!


  1. I've been sewing for a long time and this is one of the most helpful guides to doing a muslin that I've ever read! Thank you!

  2. Oh Gertie this looks fabulous as usual! Princess seams make for a better fit and this little top looks like such fun! As always your instructions and photos make things clear. What model/make of sewing machine do you use? Thank you, Kathy from Arizona

  3. I second Virginia. Great tutorial! I've never put a zipper in a muslin before or thought about using ribbon to mimic the straps. Now I know that putting in the extra effort will help me achieve a better fit. I'd love to learn more from you about how you made the adjustments to get a better fit. I'm not sure I'd know where to begin.

  4. Wow! I thought I was only one who did the quick zipper with frosty tape, long zipper below the waist, bodice muslin. I use it all the time to do ballet dress/tutu bodice muslin. Great minds just think alike!


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

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