At the last meeting of the Seam Allowance group, we all decided that September was going to be Shirtdress September. Meaning that we’re all (okay, the 5 of us that were actually there) going to make a shirt dress before the next meeting on September 14th. This works great for me because I’ve been eyeing the Colette Hawthorn pattern for a while. And I picked up some great fabric at the meetup last month.
So all was going well. And after my last few experiences with woven dresses (see the Darling Ranges dress. Also this and this, both of which have lingering fit issues that mean they haven’t seen the light of day very much.) I decided to muslin the fuck out of this one. I measured my size at a 14, and made a muslin.
Clearly I needed a full bust adjustment, so I made another muslin.
Better, but there were a TON of problems in back, the darts needed to have some width re-distributed, and the bust point was just too high.. Much pinning and gnashing of teeth later, I had muslin number three. It was looking pretty good up until I tried attaching a sleeve. But it was binding really badly at the front, to the point where I could have never worn the dress at a time when I needed to use a computer.
So I messed with the armhole a bunch (adding in back, taking away in front) and moved the shoulder seam forward for version #4. I also did a slight broad shoulder adjustment. And I re-drafted the sleeve cap. At this point I’m sitting on my basement floor surrounded by scraps of muslin and paper, tape, and three or four different books on fitting. At least I’m learning a lot!
- Is this more complicated than it has to be? Probably. If I knew what I was doing, I could do it faster and with fewer versions. But I think I’d still need both a full bust adjustment and a forward shoulder adjustment in any case, so it was never going to be that simple. My body is not one to fit anything out of the envelope.
- Am I overfitting? Entirely possible, though it’s kind of what I’m going for. We’ll see how it works out.
- Is this worth it? I hope so. I like shirt dresses a lot, so perhaps if I get the fit dialed in on this one I can make several variations.
- Is this necessary? I say yes. Looking back, the only woven dresses I’ve made that really fit well were maternity dresses, which were all designed to be quite forgiving in the fit department. Everything else gets pulled out once in a while, but it’s not comfortable. I’m hoping to move past that point!
Next up is trying on the next muslin, and in all likelihood messing with it even more (though really, I hope not…). Then I need to true the pattern (making sure all the darts are the same length on both sides and so on) and trace off a clean copy. Oh, and re-drafting all the facings that no longer make sense because I changed everything else about the pattern. Then cutting and sewing the real thing! Worst case I’ll wind up with a sleeveless dress, which isn’t a terrible fate.
What are your experiences making muslins? Was it ever this involved?