sdsa: muslins and pockets

So how is your muslin fitting coming along? I finally got a chance to try mine on this week and take a few notes about any changes that needed to be made. Even though I’ve fit this pattern previously, what kind of sew-along leader would I be if I didn’t start from scratch again and follow along with my own sew-along? lol. The only thing I decided not to refit is the sleeves; I just used my old pattern that I had already adjusted the sleeve ease.

02.05.11 | musling progress!

Overall I’m fairly happy with my muslin and the changes I made prior to cutting this out. One thing I did test were patch pockets, which did need a bit of revision (more room for the hand! Lesson no. 1: do not draft any pattern pieces after 9pm… lol!), but redid the tutorial this morning to reflect those changes. I still have not decided if I want to do patch pockets or side seam pockets! The only issue is that pockets set into the side seam present certain new steps and hurdles since the dress has a left side-seam zipper. It’s not impossible (see the pockets section below for more information on this!), but I think I’m going to run through a test to make sure I have my head properly wrapped around how to do this. Here are the changes I’m going to make to my final pattern based on my muslin fitting observations:

02.05.11 | musling progress!

  • Take off a smidgen of length underneath the bust gathering. The SBA I did prior to the muslin really helped a lot with the fit of the bodice, but I could still use to loose about 3/8″-1/2″ under that gathered portion. All the other length measurements for the bodice (center front and side seam) are correct. Notice the bodice isn’t skin tight–it still has some blousiness as is necessary for this style.
  • Let out the center front seam about 1/4″ over the tummy. I have a little “belly” over that area, and these pictures were taken right before dinner, so it only gets bigger after a meal! lol. Letting out a teeny bit will just make things more comfortable. I’ll probably also add a bit more to the midriff piece as well over the bottom edge.
  • Shorten the skirt a tiny bit. I only want to take off about 3/4″ of length to have the hem hit at the most flattering level at my knees.

Now for pockets! As you know, I love pockets and if every dress I owned had them, I think that would make life loads easier. hehe! Adding pockets to this pattern is not too hard at all–especially patch pockets set into the side skirt front piece. (I’ll show you how to draft bag pockets to be set into the side seam below.)

02.05.11 | sdsa: pockets!

Measure down from the top edge 3″ along the side with three notches (joins the center front piece) and 4″ along the edge with one notch (side seam); mark. (If you’d prefer your pocket further down from the waist, you can increase these measurements as required.) From these marks measure down 6″ to 8″ (this will be the pocket depth; it depends on your preference and hand size). At each of these points, measure and find the center point across to create a vertical center line down the depth of your pocket.

02.05.11 | sdsa: pockets!

At the top of the pocket rule a horizontal line connecting the two marks for the top of the pocket. At the bottom use a curved ruler or free-hand draw a curved edge connecting the two bottom points.

02.05.11 | sdsa: pockets!

Place a piece of tracing or transluscent pattern paper over the skirt piece. Trace the outline of the pocket as plotted on the skirt. Now we are going to add a bit of ease into the pocket so you can fit things in! At the top add 5/8″ to 3/4″ at either edge. Blend this new top edge width into the side seams (dotted lines), being sure to transfer the notches along the new edge lines. Also transfer the grainline from the skirt piece onto the pocket.

02.05.11 | sdsa: pockets!

Remove the skirt pattern. Add 1/2″ along the bottom edge for turning under. Along the top edge measure up 1 1/2″ and draw a line parallel to the top edge.

02.05.11 | sdsa: pockets!

Fold the top edge under along the original top edge line. Trace the outline of the side edges onto the 1 1/2″ facing. (This ensures that when you turn the facing edge under it will match up along the side edges neatly.)

02.05.11 | sdsa: pockets!

Now you have a finished pocket piece! To construct, turn under the 1/2″ and press; do the same for the facing edge turning under 1 1/2″. Pin the pocket to the skirt side front, matching notches. Top stitch along the bottom edge to the skirt; baste along the side seams to tack the pocket in place. The side edges will be caught into the skirt seams when it’s sewn up.

Would you prefer pockets set into the side seam? These are the type of pocket that are hidden on the inside and are formed with two seperate pieces seamed to the front and back side seams and joined to for a bag. The only tricky part of doing this sort of pocket with this style of dress is that the zipper is inserted in the side seam. Adding this style of pocket with a zipper at the side is note impossible; but it is probably best reserved for those of you planning to use an invisible zipper or centered zipper insertion; if you plan on doing a 40s-style lapped placket insertion it may get a bit tricky. I plan on playing with this a bit next week to see if it’s possible though! But without further ado, here’s how to draft your own pocket pieces:

02.05.11 | sdsa: pockets!

Measure down along the side seam (one notch edge) 3 1/4″ (or more, depending on your pocket-level preference) and then 6″-7″ from that mark for the pocket depth.

02.05.11 | sdsa: pockets!

Draw the pouch shape for the pocket, being sure to drop the bottom edge of the pouch below the side seam opening level.

02.05.11 | sdsa: pockets!

Place a piece of tracing or translucent pattern paper over the skirt piece. Trace the outline of the pouch piece, transferring the notch and grainline markings.

02.05.11 | sdsa: pockets!

Add 1/2″ seam allowance to the curved edge (not the side seam). Be sure to refer to this tutorial for information on constructing the pocket to set it in a side seam with a zipper.

February 5, 2011 · 28 lovely thoughts
posted in misc · tags: ,

Wendygital February 5, 2011 at 14:06

Very interesting and useful post!
I’m a pocket lover too.
Thanks for the tips!
Can’t wait to see this dress on a lovely fabric!

Portia February 5, 2011 at 14:29

Thanks for the tip re FFRP in the last SDSA post. It’s on my wish list. Shall be fitting my first muslin tomorrow. Fingers crossed! At least i know roughly how it should look now having seen yours.;)

Little Black Car February 5, 2011 at 14:38

You could do a side-seam pocket only on the right side.

In general, I’m an energetic supporter of patch pockets, but I know that they don’t go with everything. (Or, at least, that they don’t go with everything in the eyes of the public. Me? I’d have them on my business suits. On my wedding dress. On my Oscar gown. But not everyone would agree with me.)

I’m not saying the swing dress shouldn’t have them, but . . . proceed with caution, I guess.

Casey February 7, 2011 at 06:32

I agree–this design could easily go downhill with patch pockets if the right fabric and proportions aren’t used! I’m not too keen on them for myself, but they would be similar to these and an option for those who wanted them. ;) I’m more inclined towards side-seam pockets with my version; if nothing else I’m using silk and it seems to “demand” it! lol.

♥ Casey

Jenny @ Kerrfect! February 5, 2011 at 14:45

Love the shoes!

Alli February 5, 2011 at 15:50

Great job on the muslin Casey. It looks great. I can’t wait to see when you (and the other girls) have finished your dress. The suspense is killing me! lol :)
(I love your shoes- SO cute!)

Kristin February 5, 2011 at 15:54

I made my muslin yesterday, and I’m so happy with it! I did a SBA and took two inches off the length. It’s actually a little tight in the bodice, because apparently I don’t need a SBA (go figure) and I think things will fit better when the bodice an inch longer. So I’m going to go back and redo the bodice, just as it is in the original pattern, except take 1 inch off the length. Then I think things will be perfect. Even though it was a little snug, every other dress I’ve ever made came out big and gapey, so this is a huge improvement! =)

By the way, I’m thinking about putting an invisible zipper in the side of my dress…do you think I could use this tutorial ( for it? (I’ve only used it for a zipper in the back center of a skirt before.)


Casey February 7, 2011 at 06:35

Great to know that your muslin is coming along, Kristen! :)

I dare say you could use that tutorial (which is a great one, btw) for the zipper insertion. Just remember that the zipper will be going in the side seam, which is a bit different than the straight-seam insertion being shown in the tutorial. But it shouldn’t be too much of a difference, and if in doubt: baste! :)

♥ Casey

Scissors February 5, 2011 at 20:56

Love the dress in muslin! So modern looking!

Lyra February 6, 2011 at 00:03

I’ve been reading you blog for some time and I’m delurking to say that the muslin looks great! I bought the pattern last night and I can’t wait to get to sewing it. <3

Seersucker Sally February 6, 2011 at 07:23

Thanks for the pocket tutorial. I’m going to skip the pockets for the swing dress, but I’ll be bookmarking it for future projects. Still working on the muslin…

Jillbert February 6, 2011 at 13:57

Your muslin look so nice! I did mine this morning and, boy, I need help. My first bodice (as traced) was too short. So, I lengthened the bodice and now it’s too long (attempt at FBA). The skirt is a bit snug, too. I think I may have traced the wrong size? I’ll post photos to flickr tomorrow and maybe some fellow sew-along-ers can give advice. I like the directions it’s going in but I feel like I have a way to go….

Casey February 7, 2011 at 06:37

I’ll go check out the Flickr group this afternoon and see if I can offer any advice! :)

♥ Casey

Megan February 6, 2011 at 15:29

Hi Casey!
I have a question about patch pockets and underlining. I am doing patch pockets in my dress, like in your tutorial. I’m working with a sorta-sheer fashion fabric, and underlining it with batiste. Do you recommend underlining the pockets as well, or perhaps using some lightweight fusible interfacing on them? I don’t think my fashion fabric is strong enough to stand alone for the pockets.
Thanks for the great instructions for the pockets-I’m loving this sew-along!

Casey February 7, 2011 at 06:39

I think underlining would be a great option–and in fact doing so means you can eliminate the need for a top-edge facing all together! Just add 1/2″ instead of 1 1/2″ to that edge, then seam the underlining and fashion fabric together along the top and bottom edges, clip any curves, and pin as directed to the skirt pieces. This means you’ll have lovely, finished edges in a jiffy. ;)

♥ Casey

seeks corey February 6, 2011 at 22:25

Finally finished my muslin tonight and I think my adjustments will be similar to yours. I will have to do the sleeves too to make sure the length is what I had in mind. But I can wait on that until I tweak the bodice. I will post pictures though, as I want to make sure I do not alter it too much and lose some of the blousing. I added the panel pockets and think they’re super cute! I may cut back on some of the ease, but cannot choose between spacious and droopy pockets.

I look forward to reading more from you on transferring the changes back to the pattern. Are you going to get a chance to do that? If not, I’ll wing it.

Casey February 7, 2011 at 06:41

I plan on posting a tutorial on taking the muslin changes and transferring them to your paper pattern tomorrow (look for it around late afternoon), so no need to wing it! ;)

♥ Casey

Elizabeth VP February 7, 2011 at 00:27

I think I recognize those shoes–Remix “Rita,” right? I’ve got them in red and they always get compliments. The fabric I chose for the Swing Dress has red accents, to go with them.

Casey February 7, 2011 at 06:42

You’ve got a keen eye! ;) They were a Christmas gift from my in-laws this year, and now (of course ;) ) I’m itching to get them in another color!

♥ Casey

Lisa February 7, 2011 at 19:23

Ok, so I am horribly impatient and cheap to boot. I UNDERSTAND the reasons to do the muslin fitting but what do you do with it after you make your alterations and move on to the dress?? I have done muslin fitting for more expensive fabrics – ones that are less likely to live through an alteration but for cottons and polys I have to admit, I am too cheap. My biggest reason for this is that I end up with fabric (muslin) that I can’t wear. Any suggestions??

Casey February 7, 2011 at 19:28

I generally keep my muslins for future references or cut them up to use as underlining pieces on other projects. I completely understand your reasons for not doing one, but I think it is somewhat important for a style that is based on a vintage pattern since proportions can be so different than what we’re used to! However, there is always the option of making a “wearable muslin” out of cheaper dress material and fitting as you go… ;)

♥ Casey

Lisa February 11, 2011 at 10:56

EXCELLENT POINTS!! Thanks for the great tips!!

Judi W February 8, 2011 at 13:12

I posted my muslin to the Flickr group and could use some advice when you get the time :)

Piia February 15, 2011 at 13:56

Hi, I just wanted to let you know in case you haven’t noticed already, that this post is not tagged as sew-along post, which made it tad bit harder to find this post :) .

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