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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Monday, June 21, 2010

Do you make a muslin?

This weekend my sister asked me if I make many muslins since I am for this current project. The answer is no. I just doesn't suit my crashing through life with enthusiasms personality. I mean the hardest thing for me about knitting is checking the gauge, which is about the best advice anyone can give you and I have a six foot long Christmas stockings to fill every year to prove it.  I curse myself for not checking my gauge every year as I realize I have been reduced to looking for stocking stuffers of volume not of quality (carmel popcorn anyone? Six packs of sport socks?)

My sewing time is precious and the thought of making every garment twice makes me crazy.

However there are some occasions when a muslin becomes a time saver and not a time waster. This particular dress project falls into that category, the category being:

1. It's a style you haven't worn before, or has details like this asymmetrical front that you just can't visualize without working with it with your hands. Sometimes you can find something similar in the stores and sometimes you can't. Plus you have to find parking and if you really liked trooping around the stores that much you wouldn't be a sewer.

2. The fabric is something you would feel really bad about wasting. Check.

Now once you get your head around the time investment here are a few other advantages to muslin making:

1. You get to burn through some of your more hideous fabric and can get it out of the inventory and out of your conscience, guilt-free. I would never wear this loud print and you know it's been eaten up by the process and now I don't have to.
2. You can also get rid of dumb zippers that you can't even remember why you bought them (for me because I am now invisible zipper only these days I can get rid of all my old school zippers.)
3. You can clean up your old bobbins and ends of weird threads that you bought for just one mending job. I have sewn through the ends of six bobbins to do this muslin.
4. You can sew like you were in grade nine again. No seam finishing, marking with permanent markers. Write advice to yourself right on the fabric.

So yesterday I made my muslin which just goes to show that different bodies react differently to the same pattern. For a real pro job on this dress, beautifully finished, go to the Sewing Lawyer for her version. I note that Sewing Lawyer and I  didn't have the same issues, which is another reason to make a muslin when the garment counts. I also see she interlined her's with silk organza and I will be doing that too, it seems to have worked so well in her wonderful version.

This is what I found out about Vogue 1182 on me that I would not have known otherwise, or known too late, if I had gone directly to the fabric:

1. It is too short. I am 5'9" and add 3" and the raw edge, so unhemmed, is still hitting me just at the top of the knee cap. I am going to have to add a surprising 5" to this dress just to get it to mid knew which for this event is where I want it.
2. I was concerned that this large open collar would gape since the one part of my body that is scrawny is my neck, so I cut the top a size 12 (I am not a size 12) and that proved to be a good call, and I am happy with where this sits. However being a tall person who teaches I spend a lot of time bending over and my neck bends forward, not that attractive I know but that's the way it is for us tall middle-aged women. As a result the large collar at the back sort of gaps and stands away from my back neck and I note that the centre back seam actually curves out a bit. I curved it back in at the top 5/8" and trimmed the same off the back of the collar pieces. It would have driven me crazy ever time I looked in the mirror to see the back of that neck gaping.
3. OK ease. I am a size 16 hip and a size 18 waist so obviously knew I had to add to the princess seams to make this size 12 fit. I did that and the result was humungous. The fact is that this pattern has 3 1/2" ease built in at the bust and 4 1/2" at the waist and hips and IMO that is just way too much for this fitted style, even when you take the pleating into account. I also think that too much bust ease would make it harder to hold the wide low neckline in place. So the real version will be cut for 1 1/2" ease at bust and waist and 3" at my hips which is plenty. I restitched the muslin and this works. I am also going to lower the side seam shaping an 1 1/2" which I should have done in the first place.

Off for five days to Winnipeg now for family and fabric,those two closely related activities, and will be eager to start this dress in the final version when I get back.


sdBev said...

I pretty much agree with you. I would add that when you work, your time is extemely limited. If I had to make a muslin everytime, I never would have had anything to wear! So now that I'm retired, I still don't make that many muslins. The last muslin I did was for a Marfy pattern which was a new to me line of patterns; and of course the endles pants that I made and threw away last year when I was learning to fit pants.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

It's interesting that all three reviews that I've read of this dress have made a muslin.

I HATE making muslins for the very reason you said...I don't want to waste time making a dress twice...which totally doesn't make sense since I am the TNT Queen. I would much rather cut a garment too big and make adjustments than cut it out and sew it again. I have issues I know.

But I'm glad that you worked your challenges out and hopefully we will see the finished version of this soon. Have a great time in Winnipeg!

Barbara said...

So true Carolyn and sdBev. I make a muslin about once every 5 years and would rather wrestle the fit than make two for one. I am just not that kind of sewer. I like good clothes fast and don't have the time or inclination for process sewing, beyond what I need to do for good results. I leave that to others and they have my admiration.

Me I sew because I love fabric and love the feeling of something new to wear and I agree Carolyn that's why TNTs are so satisfying. You get there faster.

Nancy (nanflan) said...

I'm not a big muslin maker either, but I'd definitely make one for this dress.

Your characterization of the fabric is interesting--I'd hardly consider the print loud. Regional differences I suppose, and that's interesting.

I look forward to seeing how the dress turns out.