Monday, March 26, 2012

Mad Men Muslin #1: Giving Up on the "Wearable Muslin"?

Mad Men Dress Bodice Muslin - 1

Good: bodice not terribly ill-fitting. Bad: shoulders like, two inches too wide. Ugly: serious gapping problems, remedied here with carefully placed pins.

So here's my Joan Blue Bow Dress (previous posts here) bodice muslin for the Mad Men Challenge, with one sleeve. I made it up in a rayon/poly/lycra blend doubleknit I bought ages ago for $3.99 or something from fabric has almost identical stretch and recovery to my blue wool doubleknit (at least, I THINK/HOPE it does).

So, oh fitting Oracles--what sayeth these wrinkles? Will I be in business with a few simple alterations, or am I really in for it?

Here's my sketch again, if you're not completely sick of it by now:

Mad Men Sewing Challenge Sketch: Joan Dress

Muslin back view:

Mad Men Dress Bodice Muslin - 3

Is that all that annoying wrinkling just swayback, or also because I'm shorter-waisted than the pattern? Or is it because the waist is too tight? Hmm....

Side view--what the heck is going on with these diagonal wrinkles? (Also, yes: I have NO BUTT. It is completely 2-dimensional back there.)

Mad Men Dress Bodice Muslin - 2

The shoulder and sleeve have issues (other issue: accidentally put sleeve seams on outside):

Mad Men Dress Bodice Muslin - 4

Gapping isn't so bad now that I've pinned up a bit of the bottom:

Mad Men Dress Bodice Muslin - 6

I really hate this part of sewing. I always doubt my ability to read the wrinkles, and I'm afraid I'll over or underfit, and sometimes I just get really, really confused as to what the actual fitting issues are and what are, say, poor posture issues or weird photo issues. That said, I adore a well-fitted garment (isn't that why I'm sewing, after all?), and I know this effort will be worth it.

So, the good:

  • It's not way too small. I cut two-inch (I know!) seam allowances out of unfounded fear. The pattern is in a bust 34" (my high bust measurement), and my full bust is 38", but there was plenty of ease built in. Though I'm surprised the waist is even close to fitting--the pattern measures less than 26" in the waist, and my waist is a good 2 inches bigger than that. Hurrah for knits!
  • The bust darts even seem to generally be in the right places. Shocking! Though perhaps they are a smidge to close to the "bust apex."
  • This v-neck bodice is totally flattering, no?

The bad, and my tentative plan of alteration attack.

  • The shoulders are ridiculously wide on me. I always have this problem with set-in-sleeve styles--I have super narrow shoulders.
    • The fix: a narrow shoulder adjustment. At least 1 inch...
  • The waist is too long. It's at least an inch below my natural waist.
    • The fix: shortening the bodice by a bit.
  • The sleeve is too loose. Probably as a result of being made up in a knit, albeit a stable one.
    • The fix: take in the sleeve at the underseam.
  • The waist might be a smidge tight? There seems to be some pulling/wrinkles at the front overlap.
    • The fix: unbaste side seams and pin to fit?
  • Something really awful and bunchy and wrinkly is going on at the back waist.
    • The fix: I don't know! Maybe this will go away when I shorten the bodice... but it might also be too tight? And I KNOW I have swayback, as all my RTW things bunch like this, so I probably need a swayback adjustment, too. Not that I've ever done one. Err...
  • There are some weird diagonal wrinkles on the side.
    • The fix: ???
  • Bust darts end too close to "apex"?
    • The fix: End a bit farther from "apex?"

At this point I think I'm going to give up on the wearable muslin concept. While I think I COULD easily alter this to fit, it would take up precious sewing time I don't have. Plus I think it'll be easier to adjust if I just give myself permission to draw all over this thing without fear. Most importantly, I have limited closet space, and a gray dress just isn't ME (or Joan, for that matter).

I think I'm also going to give up on altering the pattern to be more like the inspiration dress--I'm not sure that I want to invest time/energy in widening the V and drafting my own shawl collar here. I am going to make a bow belt instead of the plain belt, though. It is a bow dress after all! And I will lower the neckline on the dickey, too.

Bonus: my entire fancy muslin-wearing outfit (that's a RTW doubleknit pencil skirt from Target). Fairly certain Joan does NOT wear stripey wool knee socks with heels.

Mad Men Dress Bodice Muslin - 7

So what do you think? Is my assessment on-target? Any help with interpreting these photos is much appreciated.

P.S. One of the essential rules of fitting is wearing the same undergarments you plan to wear with the finished item. I don't normally do shapewear, but I know Joan always wears a long-line bra and girdle... so I tried to approximate that look with some weird Spanx thing that comes up to right below my bra. BUT I COULDN'T BREATHE. So half of these photos are with that thing, half are without. Oddly enough, the fit issues were mainly the same either way.


  1. The sleeve/bodice issue is one I have all..the...time. It's the armscye - if you open up the seam from about 2 o'clock to 10 o'clock (and keep midnight, the top sewn), you'll see the issue better. You'll be able to raise your arm over your head and the bodice won't move. Part of it is moving the shoulder seam to the shoulder point. The other issue is raising the bottom of the armscyle. I usually have to raise it about an inch; your mileage may vary.

  2. I'm absolutely zero help with the fit issues; we might have exact opposite body types, I have a huge backside and no boobs... and, yeah...but I'm great at moral support, so here goes!



  3. This is going to be so awesome when you finish it!!
    I'm wondering if you don't need to "petite" the upper bodice. I find myself with this problem often, as I am quite short waisted. Try taking a tuck out of the bodice horizontally above the bust and continuing down the sleeve. This raises the armscye and tightens up the neckline to eliminate the gaping. Of course, it also raises the bust darts, so you'd have to move them and they are pretty darn perfect right now. It might be worth it if it solves several fitting problems though. Might even help with the lower back pooling if you do the same tuck across the back.

  4. I see 2 possible ways to proceed. 1 - try what KID,MD said. Tightening up the armscye and sleeve may help a number of issues, possibly including those wrinkles from armscye to bust (looks like too much fabric as opposed to being tight). 2 - if that doesn't seem to be working out, honestly, I think going down a size but with a larger fba is what I would try next. I have bizarrely narrow shoulders too, and usually going down a size from midriff up and doing an fba is the solution to many ills. GOOD luck! It already looks good!

    1. Thanks Clio--sadly it's a one-size vintage pattern, so there is no other size! So I'll have to see what adjustments I can make to it as is. Maybe my high bust is actually smaller than 34", I haven't measured it in the last few weeks.

  5. It's getting there!

    I'm thinking along the lines of Katie--the armscye looks really low...part of that is probably the shoulder dropping off of your shoulder. Folding out 1/2" in across the front/back/sleeve about 4" down from the top of the sleeve cap is an alteration I've added recently to help remedy just that, and it helps a lot with mobility in my tops and dresses.

    Definitely a narrow shoulder adjustment would help, and I think a lot of whoo ha will get taken out when you fold out the extra length in the waist. It looks like the finished length is otherwise good though for you, so you might end up adding length. You might still need a swayback, but I'd start with the bodice length, and maybe a fold out in the armscye too to see if you like what that does.

  6. I HATE when shoulders are too wide on me - I swear this happens every time. And wrinkles? Oy. My stomach always drops when I see them because I'm never exactly sure how to fix. I think your muslin is looking very well indeed! The V neck is fantastic on you, and I agree with all of your fixes - it's going to be a stunner, that's for sure!!

  7. Shortening the bodice may help a bit with the wrinkles in the back but I think you may need a swayback adjustment as well. If it was just the length you would see the same wrinkles in the front as you would in the back.

  8. I'm far from an expert but will throw in my 2 cents:
    The bust looks great! Raising the armscye will improve range of motion and maybe remove some wrinkling by the bust. I'd try shortening the back above and below the waist, then reassess for swayback. I don't know about the diagonal wrinkles on the side--I'm having the same problem. It's a knit, you'll be moving, in the end you'll look fantastic :)

  9. Remember that doubleknit is a LOT more forgiving than a woven, I wouldn't worry too much about whether the waist is slightly too tight...

    You'll get rid of those back wrinkles by shortening the bodice. :) Luckily there's a waistline seam.


I'd love to hear from you! But no ads please--I'll just have to delete them.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...