Stop It With the Lemons Already: The Story of a Girl and Her Muslin

Warning: If you’re tired of hearing about Simplicity 2444, skip to the end. I won’t mind. In fact, I’ll never know. . . 

I know that I said that I was ready to dive into my S2444. And, I really thought that I was.

When we left off our story, I had just “conquered” the sleeves and was working on a little “side effect” before cutting into my fabric. Saturday morning, I decided it was time to quit stalling and just cut already. But, I had some misgivings about not testing out my new sleeve first. So, I dutifully cut yet another muslin–confident, of course, that at least my bodice fit perfectly, though I did want to check that neckline.

This time around, I remembered to staystitch–I recommend always staystitching at least the neckline even on a muslin. I had never thought to do this before. Maybe I’m the only one.

Sidenote: While we’re only slightly on the subject, I also discovered that I really prefer to insert my sleeves in the round. I know, I know–it’s “so much easier” to do them flat. But, for some reason, mine always turn out a little off when I do them flat. They ease better for me when I do them in the round–I think because I can tug and pull to get them distributed evenly. Again, that’s probably just me.

Also (probably another obvious tip), it really helps me to mark the seam line on the sleeve and the bodice. Because of the easing process, the seam allowance on the sleeve gets ruffled, and it’s hard for me to tell that I’m actually sewing at 5/8″. I prefer to mark with a water soluble pen or pencil rather than stitching or basting along that line. If you’ve ever tried to remove basting that you’ve sewn over, you know why.

So, completely throwing all these helpful tips out the window, I sewed up my third muslin. And it turned out that it was a very, very good thing I did. First of all, the sleeves were just absolutely, ridiculously wrong. I had added way too much sleeve cap height and taken away too much width. I did not take pictures, sorry–it was awful.

(In lieu of a terrible sleeve shot, here’s a picture of a little black cat.)


But, after everything I’ve been through with sleeves, I knew that fixing that would be super simple.

The real annoyance was that my bodice had become stupid big. Well, that makes it sound like I was drowning in it. I wasn’t. But, it was still a terrible fit. For one, I was having a lot of gaping around the armhole–in spite of the armscye dart I always add. Also, it was significantly loose at the sides.

The culprit here is lots of fruits and veggies and semi-regular exercise. You see, it’s been a really rough couple of years and I noticed that I was putting on a lot of weight–due mostly to self-pity I think. Lots of stress eating and sitting around feeling sorry for myself. So, early in January (not exactly a New Year’s Resolution), I decided that enough was enough. I’m not doing any kind of plan or following any kind of exercise regime. I’ve just been consciously adding fruits and veggies to my meals (where I wouldn’t have thought to do so before), avoiding the particular “bad-for-me” foods like chips and French fries and Coke (all things that I really, really love–but I’ve found that the longer I say “no” to them, the more I don’t miss them), and absolutely refusing to midnight snack (I have always been a terrible midnight snacker). And I try to exercise some for Pete’s sake (I can run for about three minutes before I die).

I decided not to complain about it; it’s not a terrible problem to have. And, bonus: I fixed the neckline! But, I did rip the muslin off and throw it (semi-violently) into the trash. It was pretty frustrating at the time. I decided then and there that it was time to get on with my bodice sloper.

So, I hopped over to Madalynne’s updated tutorials and started taking my measurements. I took all her advice. I wore appropriate garments. I marked key points like my shoulder tips and such. I took lots of time. I used a mirror. I checked and double-checked.

And I could not get my sloper to work. Lines that were supposed to intersect, wouldn’t. Lines that were supposed to angle upwards went downwards instead. Lines that were supposed to be parallel kept running together. It was a mess.

So, feeling doubly frustrated, I abandoned the sloper and turned to my embroidery for comfort.

Oh, embroidery. . . you're always there for me!

Oh, embroidery. . . you’re always there for me!

After taking a day off from sewing, I began to realize a couple of things: 1. Of course my sloper wouldn’t work. There are modifications I have to make to every pattern that I would naturally have to make to a sloper, too, (such as: full bust + skinny shoulders = armscye darts) that you can’t really show on paper. I would have had to make my armhole measurement much longer than it really was and then add the dart to cinch it back up. Make sense? And 2. Considering all the work I’ve already done on my S2444 bodice, couldn’t I just use that as a starting point to make a sloper rather than using my measurements? Once I got it fitted correctly, I could play with dart manipulation and such to change it around how I wanted.

More embroidery!

More embroidery!

So, that’s what I decided to do. Monday morning, I literally pulled my muslin out of the trash and tried it on again. By making my armscye darts 3/4″ deeper and taking in the side seams 3/8″, it fit much, much better. But, there was this odd hollow under my bust between the two front darts in the center. No amount of taking in the side seams would really help get rid of it. I puzzled about this for several whiles. I felt that what I really needed to do was fix the darts somehow. But, I didn’t want to make them wider because the bodice fit really well at the waist.

The fairly simple solution was to curve the dart legs so that they were drawing in more fabric near the top and middle but not more at the base. And I found that when I made this adjustment, I didn’t have to remove anything from the side seams after all.

S2444 Bodice Darts

I also adjusted the armhole a little by scooping out just a bit in the front, and then set to work on the sleeve. I removed a half-inch of height and added a half-inch of width. The sleeve now has 7/8″ of ease and I think I can live with that.

S2444 Front Armhole

S2444 Sleeve

I really feel that this sleeve might still need some work. We shall see. . .

And, if you’ve made it through all of this, congratulations! You’ve just read the driest post in the history of the world.

Anyone else out there conquering the sloper or working through a difficult pattern? How’s it going?

P.S. I’ve decided that I need to be more “sewcial.” So, I’ve started a Bobbins and Whimsy Twitter! If you tweet, would you ever so kindly leave me your Twitter name so I can follow you and be amused by your antics and witticisms? If you would like to follow me (I haven’t tweeted anything yet; been too busy with pattern frustration!), I’m @bobbinsnwhimsy. Also, it would be extra special if you’d let me know your Instagram handle, too–if you “gram,” that is! I’m @jennylcarver–but, be advised: my Instagram comes with a heaping helping of kitty goodness. ‘Cause that’s how I roll.


13 thoughts on “Stop It With the Lemons Already: The Story of a Girl and Her Muslin

  1. I’m sorry to hear that the tutorials did not work. If you’re up for it, email me and I can help you. My sloper has helped me so much since I drafted it and I think every seamstress should have one.

    • I’d love some help! Thank you 🙂
      I agree with you that having a sloper would be incredibly helpful. And while I may have some success modifying an existing bodice like I’m doing, I would really love to create one from scratch!

  2. All that hard work is going to make for one perfect sloper. I’ve been too lazy thus far to make so many alterations but, I’m planning to tackle it this year.

    Btw, 3 minutes of running is more than I can do! 😛

    Oh, and I’m @jennyhomemaker on Twitter but, I’m still working on being more sewcial too.

    • It’s definitely been an irritating process, so I hope it will all be worth it in the end! I’m totally willing to put in all this time now so that I don’t have to keep re-figuring out every single pattern I do.

      Thanks for your twitter name–consider yourself followed 🙂

  3. I feel your pain, and from the sounds of it, almost identically. But at least you made some beautiful embroidery!

    I really should make a sloper too, and then just use patterns to customize it. But for some reason I can’t be bothered, so I have to go through a lot of futzing on every pattern; cut out a way too small size to fit my tiny tyke shoulders, scoop out a sizeable chunk from the armhole, and then add in a mega FBA.

    • It’s one of those things that’s next to impossible to start, but once you get going, it’s not so bad. You know, unless it REFUSES to cooperate.

    • Me too! The bodice fit is fantastic, but the sleeves are still wrong and I canNOT figure out why! Grrr. . . The good news is I’ve made some progress on my sloper. So. . . silver linings and all that.

I'm done. Now, YOU can talk :)

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