by Diva Ann, GorgeousThings
I have just finished the HotPatterns Tango Blouse. It’s a very pretty look, and I wanted to make it in a wavy eyelet that I bought from Kashi at Metro last month. I love the lines of the blouse, and I especially love the sleeves, with their fluted cuffs. I also know that, as with just about any new blouse, I wanted to make this one work out, so I made a muslin. And as always, I’m glad I did.
Even in the event that a pattern fits me with very few changes, making a muslin first allows me to find any glitches or tweaks, and it gives me a dry run on the construction process. I know some of you are rolling your eyes and saying, “A muslin? But that takes too much time!” Well, sorry to be harsh, but get over it people. It’s far less time for me to spend whipping up a basted together shell using cheap fabric (yes, this is the one time that I use cheap fabric), than to cut my good fabric and end up ruining the whole thing. Nothing ticks me off more than having to toss good fabric into the trash because I wanted to save time. I also find that muslins give me a much better view of the fit on my body than, say, tissue fitting. I’m not dissing tissue fitting. I do it. But I find that muslins just work better for me.
Let me show you the process I went through to make my blouse. After tracing off the appropriate size, I cut out the blouse using a stiff muslin I bought from Fabric.com. You can argue that this particular fabric isn’t that great as a muslin for my purposes – it’s much stiffer than my final fabric, which I have washed umpteen times and tea-dyed until it is very soft. But it suits my purpose for showing the drag lines. The first thing I did was lower the waistline darts by an inch. I knew I would have to do that before making the muslin. Then I sewed the test garment together. Here is the result of the first run:
Sharona, my old dress form, doesn’t fill it out quite the same as I do, but you can still see a couple of things. Look at the right front (on your left as you look at the screen). Here’s a close-up:
You notice some drag lines emanating from the shoulder and the armpit. The shoulder lines aren’t a problem when I wear the muslin because my shoulders are much broader than the form. But there was a definite diagonal drag line from the middle of the armscye pointing to the bust. I pinched that out and made a dart from it. I sewed that up on the left front, as you can see here:
This took care of the excess fabric. Then after conferring with my fellow Divas, I rotated that dart to the side seam:
At that point I decided to make a second muslin. Believe it or not, it’s easier and faster to cut out a whole new muslin than ripping my basted seams and resewing everything. I also changed the neckline slightly to give it a more V-neck. This was a styling detail that someone pointed out on PatternReview, and while I like the original neckline, I figured I would try it with a V and see if I like that better. To make the V, I measured to the point on my chest where I wanted the opening, and used my curved ruler to draw the new cutting line. I lengthened the collar by adding 5/8″ at the center back. Here is the result of the second run:
After trying it on, I was satisfied with the fit in the upper chest area. I still needed to adjust the armscye slightly since I had taken some length out of the armhole seam. Again, my dear Divas came to my rescue and showed me how to do that. I was able to transfer all the changes to my final pattern and make the blouse from my eyelet:
Now you may be wondering, how long did all this take? Not very. I cut out and sewed the first two muslins on Saturday afternoon. Yesterday I cut out and sewed most of the blouse (except the sleeve frill and the buttonholes) in less than an hour. It took me another hour to finish it today, but that had more to do with my Pfaff buttonhole being persnickety and not with any major construction issues. The total time I spent on this blouse, from start to finish, was less than 6 hours, maybe even less than 5. The result is very satisfying. The fit is exactly as I want it. I have a “tried and true” pattern now, and I know I can whip one of these together in less than an afternoon. Here’s what the final version looks like on me:
So the moral, dear friends, is don’t be afraid to make muslins. Yep, I mean muslinS plural, if that’s what is necessary. They don’t take that much more time, and the results will be worth every bit of effort, and you will have a garment that you will be proud to wear for a long time.