This project was a win, even though I did not even try to make a finished project. After the poor fit of Butterick 4443, I decided that the time has come for me to start making muslins so that I can alter patterns to better suit my body. One of my problems is that I’m not very intuitive about recognizing what is causing fit problems and how to fix them. I just see that a garment doesn’t fit right and am disappointed- or worse, my lazy instincts take over and I pretend the garment looks fine and that I don’t need to deal with any problems. But, I want to learn how to make great-looking, great-fitting clothes, so I opened my copy of The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns and started studying.
The first thing I did was make a muslin in a standard size 12. I used cheap fabric I bought on sale, and used a sharpie to mark fitting indications like grainline, waist, and bust lines on the outside of the dress so they would be easy to see and adjust. I made bodices for both views, and only one bottom. I strongly suspected that I would need to shorten the dress by several inches, since I need to shorten pretty much everything. I have been doing this by just cutting length off the hem, but I have learned that this is not the best way to do it. Those “lengthen or shorten here” markings on patterns aren’t there by accident! The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns says that many fitting problems can be fixed by adjusting the length, so this is the first step in getting a nice looking garment.
Making the muslin was nice- yay not having to do interfacing, and yay just cutting off the indicated amount instead of actually having to hem!
I used view A- the scoop neck version with the side tie- for the initial fitting. The look of the dress was definitely underwhelming- it was too long, the armholes were too small (my upper arms are larger than I would like, but oh well), and it made me look pregnant when I’m not. I also tried view B (the V neck). Wow, adding that bow at the center of my chest sure is a great way for me to look dowdy and ridiculous.
I know there are clear instructions on where to adjust length, but I still wanted extra instruction on how to do it. I followed the instructions provided by Love to Sew Studioto take off 4 inches from the length. Making sure to keep the grainline straight, I folded 2 inches of paper along the length adjustment line to remove 4 inches total.
This turned out to be a bit too much, so in the final version I planned to only remove 3 inches. Hoping to get rid of the faux pregnant effect, I took the skirt off of the bodice and removed 1 1/2 inches from each side of the skirt and reattached it. Alas, I still looked pregnant.
To fix the armholes, I used my Dritz Styling Design Ruler to remove a tapered 1/2 inch deep arc from the underarm area. This improved the fit of the top- it looked bigger and less cramped.
I’ve decided to blame this sewing fail on the artist. If you compare where the waistband hits on the two versions, you’ll notice that the one in green is considerably higher than the one in white, which hits much closer to the natural waist. In the dress itself, the natural waist should hit a few inches down in the skirt. On my muslin, the waist was hitting nearly where it should according to the pattern, but did not look good at all- because the drawings don’t have the same silhouette! If you are making this dress, ignore the silhouette in view A and just look at view B, because that is the more accurate one. Sure, I might have been able to fix the problem by adding length to the bodice, but at this point in my sewing career, I don’t feel confident enough to do it. I’m abandoning this pattern for now. Still, I learned a lot- enlarging the armholes on things is something I suspect I’ll have to do many, many times, and I am planning on making muslins for most of the dresses I make from now on.