sdsa: finalizing your pattern

It’s getting so exciting–we’re just about ready to start cutting the fashion fabric*! One thing I would like address before we get started is the side seam allowances. The pattern calls for 1/2″ wide seams, and while this is doable particularly if you are using an invisible zipper (though still a squeeze!), I have found that adopting the vintage method of extending my side seams to 3/4″ works a lot better. I would do this to the skirt side seams, bodice and midriff pieces (just the side seams–no need to have super wide seams on all the other edges!). This is especially necessary if you plan on inserting a placket-style zipper (which I will be posting about!), since it requires a bit more fabric to work with. (But, if you’ve already cut out the dress with 1/2″ seams, don’t worry–you can always extend those seams with some extra fabric.) So if you want to do this, now is the time to adjust your pattern as necessary (I just tape on a bit of extra paper to extend the seams an additional 1/4″).

02.08.11 | finalizing the muslin

Adding the new side seam allowance to make it 3/4″ instead of 1/2″ wide.

But first: how do you transfer all those changes you made to the muslin onto your paper pattern? It sounds a bit tricky, but I promise you it really isn’t. You have two options in regards to how you approach this.

02.08.11 | finalizing the muslin
02.08.11 | finalizing the muslin

Unpicking the muslin. Unless you made different changes to each side of the pattern, you only need to use one half of the muslin.

Use your muslin as a pattern. If you’ve made signifigant changes to your muslin, this might be the way to go. Simply unpick your basting stitches, marking your final stitching line on the muslin as you go. Press all the pieces flat and lay on your cutting surface. Measure from the stitching line to the edge, marking the new seam allowance (the pattern calls for 1/2″). Trim the muslin down to this seam allowance as needed. Of course the downside of this is if you have to add additional width/length to your final pattern; in that case I’d recommend going with one of the other options below.

02.08.11 | finalizing the muslin

The old seam line (solid), new seamline (small dashes), and new cutting line that takes into account the seam allowance (large dashes). Be sure to remark those notches if you’re using your muslin as a pattern!

You can now treat that muslin as a pattern piece; just be sure to transfer all markings and such to your fashion fabric after cutting out as you would with a paper pattern. Just be careful not to pull the muslin around so it throws the original shape of the pattern piece off (since fabric is obviously more flexible and prone to distortion than paper). Bonus: because using muslin has a bit of “grip” to it, your pattern pieces won’t slide around as much on your fashion fabric!

02.08.11 | finalizing the muslin

Reducing the curve under the bust gathers on my bodice front piece. I measured the length and width that I pinned out on the muslin, marked this on my paper pattern, and cut it off. Easy!

Transfer all changes to your paper pattern. This is a great option if you don’t have major changes, although you can still do this if you have quite a few–it may just take awhile. There are two ways I approach this. The first is to measure and mark the amount I need to let out/take in on the muslin, and then go to my paper pattern and mark this new line as well. This works well if you have a short space or “landmark” on the pattern so the difference gets marked from the muslin to the paper evenly.

02.08.11 | finalizing the muslin

Adjusting the hem.

The other option it to unpick your muslin, marking adjustments with a marker as you go. Iron any wrinkles and seam-folds out of the pieces, and lay your pattern overtop to mark any changes. This is a great option for changes that may be a little more involved to mark.

02.08.11 | finalizing the muslin

A good idea is to mark on the pattern pieces/muslin the month and year that you fit this. If you want to make this design again in the future, you know whether you’ll need to check for fit again or not (I usually only do this if my weight has fluctuated greatly).

*So that pretty much wraps up the muslin portion of the sew-along. How does it feel to have finally finished fitting this garment? Have I converted any of you to the muslin-process or made you want to go screaming into the night? lol. I’m going to go ahead and cut out my fabric this week, and will be back Thursday with a post on seam finishes that would be appropriate for this project (with pictures and samples!). Then on Monday we’ll officially start construction of the dress (though you are more than welcome to jump ahead of course!). The real fun begins now!!! Here’s a little checklist of things to remember while cutting the garment fabric:

  • Garment Fabric: be sure to follow the grainlines carefully on the pattern and use the cutting layout as a guideline for how to treat your placement of pattern pieces. Cut all pieces, including facings and pockets if you decided to go with them.
  • Interfacing: cut the interfacing for the midriff piece as well as the back neckline facing (this is optional, but I find helps).
  • Underlining: if your fabric is lightweight and you wish you underline it, cut all pieces out of the underlining material as well (except for pockets and the back neckline facing). The underlining is basted to the fabric and then treated as one piece. I’ll touch on this a bit more later in the week.

February 8, 2011 · 19 lovely thoughts
posted in sewing · tags: ,

Corinne February 8, 2011 at 20:12

Before I became a fan of the muslin, I did a lot of screaming into the night. I learned to also write measurements on my adjusted pattern because of weight changes. Sometimes a year will pass before I reuse a pattern. Unfortunately, gravity in middle age and arthritic changes also distort what I fondly refer to as “registration points.” ( back neck length, clavicle to bust apex, height of my shrinking self, sway back curvature…I use a flexible rule and have someone mold it to my back…I know…geez!) I buy the inexpensive muslin by the bolt at Joann’s for 50% discount.

Casey February 9, 2011 at 08:38

Writing measurements on the patterns is a great idea! I find that even in my 20s, my weight has shifted about a bit (like suddenly I’m not as “hippy” as I used to be, but it’s gone elsewhere… lol!), and sometime things are a bit tighter/looser in places than they were before!

Those bolts of muslin with the 50% off coupons at JoAnns are a lifesaver for me! Can’t beat the price. ;)

♥ Casey

Gina February 8, 2011 at 21:09

Hey Casey, I wanted to say thanks again. This sew along has been the best learning experience for me. I am learning to slow down. The biggest lesson I have learned is that if I change anything on a pattern it effects something else. I had some light bulb moments putting this dress together. I am so glad you chose this dress because it pushed me farther and deeper into learning about a craft that I truly love. And this is what it is all about, at least for me, learning, pushing myself to make it work, to find solutions to my own fit issues. Thanks, I feel like a better sewer because of YOU and this project. Your are the best! I say all this from the bottom of my heart.

Casey February 9, 2011 at 09:16

Aw, thank you ever so much Gina!!! :) One of my main goals in writing my blog is to inspire others in creative pursuits, so it does my heart good to know that you are learning and enjoying this sew-along. Thank you!!! :)

♥ Casey

Lyra February 8, 2011 at 21:47

What an excellent post! I have always been so impatient that I usually skip the mockup and go straight to cutting fashion fabric from the pattern. It’s almost always a big mistake. You have inspired me to be more patient and fit with muslin always. :)

Casey February 9, 2011 at 09:18

I have to confess something: I don’t always sew a mockup first! But they do help loads with more fiddly pieces like this garment–though it’s tough to persevere through sometimes (I’m an impatient seamstress too! ;) ). lol.

♥ Casey

Tisha February 8, 2011 at 22:50

I have already cut my “fashion” blue fabric over the weekend. Alas, and it so happens that when I went looking for blue thread, I couldn’t find any!! Eh, a trip to the store on Thursday will remedy this, although I am getting antsy at sewing the dress that I chose. (So far I’ve done this without assistance, but my mother who is a long-time seamstress, will be there IF I need her. LOL)

Casey February 9, 2011 at 09:20

Don’t you hate when that happens?! I don’t know how many times I could have sworn I had the right color thread in my stash, and don’t (or only have a fraction of a spool left… even worse! ;) . Augh! lol.

♥ Casey

Seersucker Sally February 9, 2011 at 07:52

Definitely a muslin convert. Still tinkering with the fit, but I’m getting close. Thanks for all your tips!

Casey February 9, 2011 at 09:30

Glad they are helping! :)

♥ Casey

Laurie February 9, 2011 at 09:12

I did the muslin last weekend and needed to rely heavily on your photos and the ones from Sense and Sensibility to figure out the bodice shoulder line. I missed the zipper part of the instructions and wondered how anyone ever squeezes into these dresses. I kept thinking I saw a zipper on the notions list,.then I found the zipper instructions. Thank you so much for sharing your photos!

Casey February 9, 2011 at 09:31

So glad these tutorials are helping, Laurie! I know the shoulders are a bit tricky… they definitely gave me fits the first time ’round.

♥ Casey

Isis February 9, 2011 at 09:37

I have just cut out my mock-up! But then I alreadu knew I was behind. :) So on to the basting…

Isis February 9, 2011 at 13:13

I must confess that I don’t get the sleeve. I haven’t tried to cut it, just looked at it. I don’t understan why there is such a difference between the short sleeve and the long- how do one cut the long sleeve? I feel very stupid… (Bought the online pattern, but I assume it looks like the paper one)

Casey February 10, 2011 at 08:16

I tend to just blend the lines from the short to the lone sleeve over the difference area with a gentle, sloping line to connect the two. :)

♥ Casey

Isis February 10, 2011 at 09:27

I see. Thank you!

Jane February 10, 2011 at 05:27

Hi Casey, I’m pleased to say I’m 99.9% ready to go, muslin made, pattern pieces amended etc. But before I cut into my fabric I’ve just noticed that my bodice front piece doesn’t have a grain line marked on it (I’ve got the old fashioned version, not the PDF). Can you give me an indicator as to where to put it please? I know I should be able to work it out myself but I don’t want to cut it in the wrong direction! Thanks so much. Jane x

Casey February 10, 2011 at 08:17

Yay that your muslin is about ready to go–bravo! :) The front bodice piece is cut with the center front edge on the straight of grain.

♥ Casey

Mia February 10, 2011 at 10:29

I decided to try a FBA (for the first time) because I have some pulling in the bodice, so this has set me back some. I also really wish I had a dress form, trying on my muslin 500 times is annoying! LOL!

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