Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vintage Formal Muslin Challenge

Since the new year began, I've had a post in mind that I really wanted to write... Sew Along Envy! There were so many sew alongs that started that I was interested in, but I just couldn't commit. One that I was particularly interested in was the Great Vintage Sew Along, and I hope it's successful and repeated. The dress that I'm making now is what I would have made. Yes, I've had this one planned out for awhile.

So now about this pattern. The bodice is all I'm muslining, and there are 2 main challenges. The first is fit. I do not have a vintage body. No waspy waist here. Every time I make a muslin, I plan to make it "as is" first, and then do the tweaking. But really, if you know you are going to need to add about 6" or so to the waist, well, why not go ahead with that change.

So, that's all I did initially. Most of my "width" is in the front, so I only added 1/2" to each side seam on the back. There are 4 waistline darts in the front, so I shaved 1/4" off each dart "leg", and then added another 1-1/2" to each side seam. Oh, and almost forgot, moved the darts 1/2" toward the center on each side. Seems the girls are closer together than the darts.

Challenge #2 is the construction. There are 4 pieces: bodice front and back, and a sleeve and yoke combo piece for the front and back. There is a seam at the shoulder that runs the length of the sleeve.

Ordinarily, I do all my seams in machine basting length for easy rip out. However, this is a tricky attachment so I made the stitches only slightly longer than a regular stitch. The pattern instructions have you sew with the bodice piece on top, and do it all in one go, pivoting at the "peak". They do give you 3 options for reinforcing that V on the sleeve/yoke piece. They are kind of funny... I'll do a "funny vintage pattern instructions" post another time.

Since I had already tried this last year, I decided to experiment, and had 4 chances to get it right. Step one, do each attachment separately. By that I mean:
Actually, what I should say is first, stay stitch the seamlines on both pieces. Then stitch the sleeve seam. I did that on the front.
When pinning and stitching the yoke seam, the yoke will be clipped. When I did the front, I discovered it was easier and more accurate to stitch with the sleeve/yoke piece on top, so that's what I'll do for the real thing.
Now for the fitting. The pattern is a Bust 36, and while that matches my measurements, in reality, I have kind of a narrow upper chest, so the neckline was far too wide, and the under bust area turned out to be too loose. I ended up taking about an inch or so on the neckline by pinching out small darts on the front and back. I also just cinched up the side seams by sewing more of an hourglass seam. Now for the blurry pictures of me actually wearing it. I tried to crop out the worst of the muffin top to spare your eyes.

In this version, I cinched up the side seams just a wee bit much. You can see the pulling, horizontal lines there around my middle. I came back out just a bit, and it fixed that right up. There is a big wrinkle still by my armpit, but the top of the shoulder is finished with a bit of elastic, and I think that will pull it up enough to remove it. I may sew the shoulder seam just a bit deeper, as well. Now the back view, which is pretty hideous, but if you've stuck it out this far, well, here ya go:
Oh, I did do a sway back adjustment. I think that where the waistline hits now is actually a good spot, so I'll add a seam allowance to the bottom, lengthening the bodice just a little bit. And yes, I did put a zipper in. I find it very frustrating to work with a bodice that you just are trying to pin on, so it's basted in, and can be easily ripped out.

A couple of final thoughts... in the original design the bodice has buttons, and then the skirt has a zipper. I think I'm just going to put an invisible zipper in the whole thing and be done with it. I'm also going to use, for the first time, the muslin as pattern pieces, at least the 2 main bodice pieces. I think I'm just going to cut them along the seam, and then add seam allowances, though the jury is still out on that decision.

I'll talk about the skirt portion tomorrow, and show you the fabric.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad that you're persevering. This is going to look wonderful - I just know.
    When sewing vintage patterns, I think, everyone forgets about those cinching undergarments that everyone wore in those days. I, for one, doubt that figures were all that different from to-day - they just sucked it all in with elastic.



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