Making a Muslin
Welcome back! In the last post I talked about how I ended up volunteering myself to make my good friend’s wedding dress, and the choices we made going forward. Now we’re diving into the nitty gritty of sewing details. Hurray!
Now, I had chosen what patterns I’d be using as a basis for the pattern making. Personally, I am not one to draft from scratch. I have an (overly) robust inventory of patterns on hand, and do well by combining them to create what I have in mind.
For pattern pieces, I used the skirt from Butterick B5710, sleeves and armscye from Vogue V1428, and silk neckline from Vogue V8814. So I went ahead, measured Lissa, chose the size, and traced the pattern pieces. By tracing, I was able to write on, cut up, and tape together any changes I’d make to the pattern throughout the fitting process. If you don’t trace your patterns yet, please do! I cannot emphasize enough how much it helps down the line!
The plan was to make a muslin out of regular old muslin fabric to check the fit, and then a wearable muslin out of lace and rayon crepe challis, to check the drape and finishing techniques.
The purpose of a muslin is to check fit. Since I was combining a number of patterns not intended to be sewn together, this was an essential step. Luckily, the adjustments were minor! I had already made some flat adjustments based on the finished garment measurements, so the fit was nearly perfect from the start. The skirt length needed to be brought up, but that’s the easiest adjustment in the book! I also did a 3/4 in armhole raise, slimmed the sleeves down, and gave another 1/2 in of room around the hips.
The original plan was to have the top of the lace go across the neckline, straight from the shoulder seam. It was in this fitting, that I started questioning that. The lace came up so high on her collarbone that it was interfering with the gracefulness of her neck. It wasn’t until we made the final dress though that I came up with the solution!
The Wearable Muslin
Luckily for us, Lissa had a fancy wedding to attend in early 2020! It was the perfect opportunity to make a wearable wedding dress muslin, without it being over the top.
Unlike the regular muslin, I was able to test out the finishing techniques on the lace here. Lace seams were finished with french seams, and the darts were all marked with tailor’s tacks. Lack of fabric meant that I didn’t have a skirt lining, so I couldn’t try the buttons and loops for closing the back. Instead, I installed a zipper and hook and eye for closure.
The lace wasn’t long enough for a full length skirt, so we tested it out with some cheap, Joann’s polyester that would be removed after fitting. The excess length was cut off, and we went with knee length bias! Much more wearable down the line for her. The rayon challis worked beautifully for testing the drape of the bias. I’m still daydreaming about possible bias cut rayon challis makes down the line.
The sleeves were made following the pattern, but I accidentally attached them inside out with my french seams (whoops!). So we pivoted, and went with a short, little fluttery bohemian sleeve.
With the muslins completed, plan solidified, and the most beautiful, expensive lace I’d ever touched waiting for me in my sewing room, I started on making the real deal. All it took was a couple of weeks of COVID-19 furlough and some funk music to push me through. Follow along here to see how it went!