Friday, 21 October 2016

Lisette B6168 - musings on muslins

When I got my gorgeous See You At Six rayon from Maaidesign I knew what I wanted it to be, but I also knew I should make a muslin first...

I'd run out of calico, and to be honest I was kind of sick of making things up in calico, only to find it felt and behaved so differently to the final fabric. So I wisely (eye roll) chose a cotton from the fabric stash which would obviously feel and behave nothing like the rayon I was planning to use. Duh.

I decided to sew the dress "as is" only making some arbitrary length additions to the bodice and skirt.

Well, it turns out you need to be darn careful when you try and add length to the bodice of a cross over dress, 'cause the crossing over point will move! - and a certain tipping point, that of indecency, will probably be reached.

For this version I had added a good three centimetres to the bodice length. I took two of those away again for the final version. For the final version I also did my "standard" 1cm pinch out of the flat pattern at the front mid sleeve to get ride of that fabric puddle that I always get just above and to the outside of my bust.

I've tried tacking the bodice closed, but my verdict is that this muslin is not "wearable" at all.

I include it here only because it helps demonstrate how vastly different the same dress, in the same size, can be when made in a completely different fabric. This one is really quite fitted. More so than I'd want in a casual day dress. Yet, when I made the version in rayon it was loose - super loose.

What's with all that saggy fabric under the bust area? That sure didn't happen with the cotton... Obviously not, you say, but you probably know about these things. I'm still figuring this stuff out and amazingly I continue to be surprised by the outcome of most of what I sew. I say "amazingly" not because I should know what to expect by now, but because I am still surprised that I'm oblivious to how much I don't know.

So I was a bit shlumpy wearing this dress for my Maaidesign Blog Tour post, I knew it wasn't right and I decided I had to do something about the front in order to like it enough to wear it. I unpicked the front bodice/waistband seams and shortened the upper edge of the waistband by bringing it in on an angle where the front triangle meets the side parts of the waistband.

Then I fiddled with the crossover and the pleat depth to tighten up the bodice under the bust a bit. I stitched the bodice back onto the outer waistband piece then stitched in the ditch to catch the waistband facing on the inside. It was a much easier fix than I had anticipated.

In hindsight, what I should have done was gather the rayon rather than pleating it. The pleats look great in a cotton or linen, but pleating rayon (as I discovered with these nightmare-to-iron pants) is a mug's game.

Still, at least now it's a dress which feels ok, and while I struggled to photograph it in all the crazy wind we've had lately, it looks kind of ok too.

I think the short sleeve version (with a bit more sleeve width - they're narrow sleeves) with the corrected bodice length and anti-chest-puddle adjustment in a linen would be lovely. Maybe with the passing of time I'll go back for round three....

In the meantime, I've got a brief spiel on the Oliver + S blog about the tinkering with the sleeve length. Have you seen the Building Block Dress Book yet? It's a tinkerer's wet dream! Such a great sewing resource and one that's worth having even if you don't sew little girl's dresses. I can't wait to get stuck into my copy - and I may have 'accidentally' bought a second copy that I think should find a worthy home.... Watch this space!

Pattern: Lisette for Butterick B6168
Size: 16: alterations as described above and here
Fabric: printed cotton from The Fabric Store and See You At Six rayon


  1. I love this! So real! HA, you are very, er, sexy, in that muslin! It's a bit distracting LOL! It is so interesting how different it looks in the final fabric. I actually like the slight blousing of your final version, I think it looks quite elegant.

  2. I still get caught out with how fabric will behave so don't be hard on yourself. The details on this dress are very nice and you did an excellent job in getting rid of that excess fabric, I think it will be a very handy dress for summer.


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