Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Grad Dress, Part II: Muslins 1 and 2

Wow, it's been a while since I last posted anything. Up until a couple weeks ago, I hadn't really sewn much since Christmas break... yikes! 

When I was planning for making my grad dress, I wanted to have started it by March. This would give me 3 months to sew it, including spring break. 

It was a good plan, but I haven't even finished my wearable muslin yet. 

The past couple months have been pretty hectic. I've been working on all my university applications as well as a few other applications for scholarships and special programs, and my workload at school was pretty crazy. It seemed like every time I would think I'd be able to sew, I'd be given another essay to write, or another test to study for. With my tendinitis on top of that, I haven't really sewn much since winter break.

Thankfully, all my university applications are done now, and I've finished enough scholarship applications that future ones shouldn't be too difficult.

At least I did manage to get my muslins done over the break, so I'm on the right track. It's now spring break, and my arms are feeling better than ever, so I'm hoping to make some real progress soon.

After I found my pattern, I knew I would have to work on sizing it down. It was a size 14, and according to the sizing chart, I was approximately a size 10. 

But... I had no idea where to even start with sizing down this pattern. The pieces were just such strange shapes that it was hard to believe that they would even come together to make a dress. So, I decided to just make a muslin of the upper part out of some stash fabric, just to see if I could pinch out the excess.



As you can see, that wouldn't have really worked. This thing was just too big everywhere. I was dreading having to figure out how to size it down... and then my mom had the idea to size it down using a photocopier. You can scale down pictures and pretty much anything else, why not patterns?

We googled it, we found this post. It can be done! I traced all the pattern pieces, and then sent my mom off to photocopy them for me... thanks, Mom!

I reduced them to 90%, which is a little small on purpose. I was debating whether I should reduce it to my high bust measurement (87%) or my actual bust measurement (93%). My high bust measurement makes for a better fit through the shoulders and back, but I really, really didn't want to have to do a FBA on this. With all those pleats, I wouldn't even know where to start. I ended up reducing it by 90%, in the hopes that it would be small enough to fit through the shoulders and back, but big enough that I could avoid a FBA.

Luckily, this worked really well!



The fit of this second muslin was spot on... I was amazed.




I've never sewn anything straight out of the envelope before. I was simply blown away by the fit. I couldn't have picked a better pattern!

Next, I sewed up the middle section, down to about 4 inches below the waist, including 6 mini-godets. The waist ended up being a smidge too tight, but I knew it would be because I would have only needed to size it down 92% at the waist. I added on about a 1/2" , distributed over 6 seams, so all in all that was a really minor alteration.



The only other thing I did was to shorten the front pieces just a bit right under the bust - you can probably see how they bunch up a little in the picture above.

I'm so happy with the fit! I'm currently working on my trial run (a wearable muslin, if you will), but I'm stuck on those fiddly underarm gussets. 

Oh and... I bought fabric for the real thing! After cutting out my wearable muslin, I knew how much I needed so there was no point in waiting. More on that soon!

16 comments:

  1. Great call on the photocopying I'd never have thought of that! I'll try to remember that one.

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    1. Thanks! I would definitely recommend it. It does require a bit of piecing, but it's far easier than the usual slash-and-overlap or slash-and-spread method.

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  2. Thank you for letting us know about the photocopying! So far, your muslin looks great, I can't wait to see the full dress! :D

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    1. You're welcome! I just finished my wearable muslin, so I'll have a post up about that soon (as soon as it stops raining so I can take pictures)!

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  3. That is so clever! I dont think I would ever have thought about that. Then again, I dont have the need so scale anything down... sadly:p
    The fit looks great! Looking forward to seeing more, and the fabric!

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    1. Thanks! If you had a vintage pattern that you needed to size up (which seems to be more common than sizing them down), I'm sure that this would work for sizing them up as well.

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  4. Well this may well be Sewing Genius territory. I have a couple of patterns which although simpler in construction would require at least 4" or more reduction, which is quite a bit. I may just do it this way and see what happens. So much easier than tracing them and cutting and retracing!!

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    1. I would go for it! My only concern was that the pieces might get a little distorted, but I don't think they did. It does still need a bit of piecing, but it's far easier than the usual method of sizing down.

      Also, I avoided photocopying the entire lower bodice/skirt pieces, since after the waist, the edges are straight lines. I just traced the part I did size down, then extended the sides to the length that I wanted.

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  5. Looks great! Smart idea to photocopy it and size it down.

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  6. It looks wonderful! Your mockup looks like a perfect fit! =)

    I usually go with full bust measurement when shrinking too (but I'm also an A cup and most patterns are drafted for B cup). Isn't it amazing how much difference the shrinking makes?! The alterations always seem so minor and shrinking always seems to work better than using a vintage pattern in my actual size.

    I can't wait to see the finished dress - you chose a beautiful pattern!

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    1. Thanks! It's funny how that works... although I haven't sewn with a vintage pattern that was actually in my size yet so I can't really say for sure. I found your post comparing the sized down pattern to the pattern in your size really interesting, though!

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  7. Very clever! And it looks great!!

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  8. So clever...you're making good progress. Can't wait to see how pretty you'll be in the finished dress.

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