We’re still a week away from cutting and beginning to fit the muslin, but now is the time to start thinking about adjustments you’ll need to make to the pattern prior to fitting the muslin. Rarely do I just cut out a test garment straight from the pattern; usually I do some measurements and adjusting before my scissors ever touch the muslin. Why? Because this eliminates some (not all!) of the fitting problems I might encounter and allows me to focus on the larger issues that may need to be fine tuned.
But first, I would highly recommend taking a set of measurements for yourself. This can be a bit tricky if you’re alone, but is very helpful to have. Threads Magazine published a great guide on what measurements to take and jot down. (If you have Cal Patch’s Design It Yourself Clothes, so has a good section on measurements and how to take them.) Of particular note for this project will be: bust, waist, hip, waist to desired skirt length, and shoulder to waist.
Once you have your measurements in hand, it’s time to pick out a size. I recommend tracing this pattern since it’s printed on heavy paper–or if you’re using the at-home printing option because of taped together the paper pieces (which just get awkward to work with). This will allow you to create a custom-fit garment pattern without ruining the original pattern. For tracing I use medical table paper, but as I mentioned in the supplies post, banner paper, large sheets of tracing paper or even non-fusible interfacing will work.
Now if you’re like most women, it’s likely you may span more than one size. If you do, don’t worry! You can easily blend one size to the other over various areas where you need to go up or down a pattern size. For example if you have a hip measurement a size larger than your waist: trace the waist measurement from the smaller size and gently curve a line out to meet the line for the larger size over the hip. I’ve included an example above of just that (black line is size 12, and the red line shows blending from the size 12 waist to a 14 hip).
Once you have traced all your pattern pieces, you will want to start making some preliminary adjustments to the pattern. I plan on doing a post on Monday about adjusting the bodice and sleeve lengths, but some others that may need to be taken into consideration:
- Sleeve Cap Ease As I mentioned in my most recent version of this pattern, like most 40s inspired styles, there is a lot of ease in the sleeve cap, which makes it tricky to sew the cap in smoothly. I did an entire post on how to adjust this here. I highly recommend doing this prior to cutting the muslin!
- FBA or SBA Large or small busted, you may need to make a Full Bust or Small Bust Adjustment to this pattern. I think this pattern will work well for ladies with a C or small D cup size, but outside of that you’ll need to do some tweaking (I need to do an SBA on mine). Despite how intimidating it sounds, it’s a very simple adjustment to make. Gertie posted a roundup of tutorials on bust adjustments awhile back that are super helpful.
- Skirt Length I have short legs, so I almost always have to adjust the length of a skirt. While you could just chop off the couple extra inches at the hem, this will also affect the sweep or hem circumference of the final skirt as well. Plus if you’ve got the opposite problem (taller than the pattern allows for), you’ll need to lengthen it. I’ve documented how to make this easy adjustment below
Begin by determining how much you need to add or subtract from the skirt length. Remember I said to take note of your desired skirt length measurement? Generally most 40s dresses end just below the knee, although I tend to make it slightly above because that’s a more flattering length on me. Take the front skirt piece and measure it from the top to the hem, subtracting 1 1/2″ (1/2″ for the waist seam allowance and 1″ for the hem) from this length. Compare this to your skirt length measure (which is just your waist to wherever you want the skirt hem to hit), and figure the difference. For me, it’s about 3″ that needs to be subtracted from the skirt. So I’ll be taking 3″ off the length of all the skirt pieces. Jennie has made it super easy by including a “lengthen/shorten” line on the skirt.
Begin by cutting the skirt piece at the “lengthen or shorten” line.
Using a ruler, mark a line the length you need to shorten this piece (in my case, 3″) from the cut line.
Overlap the top of the skirt with the bottom, lining up with the line you just marked. Tape the pieces together. Using a ruler or yardstick, blend the side seam edge from the hem to the point where the pieces are taped together.
Trim the excess away from the side seam and you’re ready to go! You can also opt to fold rather than cut the pieces along the “lengthen/shorten” line, but the end result is just the same.
To lengthen your skirt pieces: cut along the “lengthen/shorten” line and spread the pieces apart the desired length to be added. Tape a piece of paper underneath the two pieces to reconnect them with the desired space between, and smooth the line from the hem to the join at the top piece as shown above. Basically it’s just the opposite of the shortening process!
I think that should do it for now. If you have time this weekend (and your pattern has arrived!), I encourage you to go ahead and trace the pattern and perhaps begin on some of the adjustments you may need to make. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to help!