The Muslin Diaries: Simplicity 1776

Thursday, February 13, 7:35 p.m.

Day one. I have begun the muslin fitting stage of my Simplicity 1776 shift/ a-line dress. Whatever. I’m calling it a shift.

Shifts are soooo easy to sew! I had the muslin marked and sewn up (minus seam finishing and lining and all that good stuff) in about an hour. Pressing the darts and setting in the sleeves both take a chunk of time; everything else is straight seams. But, you know this, right?

Since I made no alteration to the pattern, I was prepared for a disaster. And disaster I got. I really started to second guess my ability to wear a shift when I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror. It was bad. Real bad. It looked like “two peas fighting in a pod.”

The obvious issue, as always, is that the waist was too low. So, I started pulling the waist up (I marked the waist with pencil before sewing. Super helpful.) and pinning it. After I did that, it was remarkable how much the silhouette improved!

S1776 Front

Ignore my mullet.

Since it’s dark and I’m tired, I put the muslin away. I simply can’t handle pattern alterations tonight! I have to raise the waist, pinch out excess from the shoulder seams at the neck and taper to nothing at the sleeve seams, add the length I removed at the waist back to the skirt, take in 1/2″ to 3/4″ of sleeve width (honestly, I look like I’m toting a couple of bells with extra long clappers), add 5/8″ to the neckline (I like where the neck hits now, so I need to add the seam allowance), and figure out how to make my sleeves not pull when I reach forward and upwards.

I think I’m going to re-watch the sleeve lesson from Lynda Maynard’s Sew the Perfect Fit class on Craftsy. She specifically addresses the pulling issue, I think.

That’s all for tonight. I am officially excited about this dress! I may just be a shift person after all.

Friday, February 14, 8:07 a.m.

I’m watching “Sew the Perfect Fit.” It’s been a long time since I’ve fiddled with muslins and major pattern adjustments (besides raising the waist seam. Always. I cannot escape that adjustment).

I think I need to raise the armholes and perhaps add a bit of width across my upper back.

1:04 p.m.

I took some pictures of the muslin for you!

S1776 Muslin collage

And, I did a little experiment, all Lynda Maynard-inspired. One sleeve is attached at the bottom and the other isn’t. Look at the difference when I raise my arms:

S1776 Armhole Test

The sleeve on the left is entirely attached, the right is attached at the shoulder. You can see how the left pulls the dress up far more than the right.

I’m going to try Lynda’s cut-in gusset. Should be interesting.

Tuesday, February 18, 12:55 p.m.

Today I’ve begun pattern adjustments. So far I’ve done the front of the dress. Afternoon torpor has set in and a nap is imminent.

I’ve been taking about three inches excess length from the waist area and adding that to the hem. Basically, the torso length was too long, but the leg length was just right. It may have been easier to simply re-draw the side seams. It just feels that this way I can be more certain of a correct fit.

My goal is to finish the paper adjustments today and be ready to cut another muslin tomorrow.

Somehow, muslin fitting is much less painful knowing that I plan to use this pattern multiple times.

Wednesday, February 19, 11:14 a.m.

My second muslin has been cut. I probably won’t sew it today because I need to make a Happy Birthday Pie for my dad. He’s currently on a no salt diet due to kidney complications back in January, so I have to do the crust from scratch. I haven’t made a pie crust in years. I’m prepared to end up covered in flour. It’s unavoidable when I bake.

But, just get a look at this new sleeve:

S1776 Sleeve

It looks like madness, right? Let’s see–the side seams are raised 1 1/4″, I also tapered the sleeve for a closer fit, and I’ve done Lynda Maynard’s cut-in gusset, the reason the sleeve looks like it’s sprouted wings.

One thing I did like about the original sleeve is that it eases in very well. The cap has just the right amount of ease to cover my shoulder with no poof. I tried not to change the stitching line at all, but didn’t think to double check before cutting my muslin. So, we’ll see.

6:06 p.m.

UGH!!!! This is why I love sewing with knits.

So, I ended up making muslin #2 this afternoon after completing my salt-less pies. (Haven’t tasted them yet, so I can’t report on flavor.) I went ahead and tried it on, of course, and I noticed a handful of things that need fixing.

First, guess who forgot to true her neckline after adjusting the shoulder seams. So, that needs to be fixed.

Next, something funky was happening with my left sleeve. The right sleeve was fantastic! Freedom of movement in every direction, armscye seam sitting right at the tip of my shoulder, the armhole was maybe a smidge high but still totally wearable–I am a cut-in gusset believer! But, the left sleeve was tight on my shoulder and my elbow, the shoulder seam was pulling past the edge of my shoulder and throwing off the neckline.

The good news is I’m pretty sure I know how to fix it. Pretty sure. Maybe. I did sew the left side differently (for the sake of experimentation), so I just have to not do what I did. (I think I added some unnecessary length to the “wings.” On one side, I sewed all the way to the tip–so hard to do!–and on the other, I didn’t. The side where I didn’t worked a lot better.)

The other major problem that showed up was some lovely diagonal drag lines on the front. I sliced into the front while I was wearing it (a la Lynda) and realized I was right: I needed more length, about an inch. The back and sides are good, so I just need the length under the bust. So, that’s going to be a fun alteration to figure out. What I’m thinking now is going to cause more skirt flare than I want. Hmmm. . .

I might need a slice of width as well. However, I’m a wee bit bustier at the moment than normal, if you follow.

Speaking of which, I need to lay off this particular project for a few days. Clear my head.

But seriously–the cut-in gusset is glorious. It is significantly unfun to sew, but worth it, I think. This is what I needed when I was struggling with Simplicity 2444 sleeves many moons ago.

(GUYS! I am finally catching up on the last season of Burn Notice! WHAT. THE. CRAP!? Also, since when does Netflix play trailers in the middle of shows??)

Okay. That’s all for now. I’ll be back for muslin #3.

Tuesday, February 25, 5:58 p.m.

Sooooo I’ve started working on my muslin again. In order to add the bust length I need without adding the side length I didn’t need, I had to slash and spread at odd angles which resulted in more front skirt flare than the back skirt. Here’s my conundrum, does the front and back skirt flare have to match? How do I even Google that??? I guess I could redraw the side seam without the flare. Do I want the flare??

I’m too tired.

Monday, March 3, 9:50 p.m.

I got rid of the flare. I also drew in a very subtle tummy curve. I don’t know–it felt right. I sewed up the muslin again on Saturday. There are still some diagonal drag lines, but I have to admit, I rather like them. To my eye, they simulate an hourglass shape. And since the front hem isn’t pulling up, it doesn’t look like the dress is straining to cover my bust.

The next issue to conquer is one that I struggled with last year during my Simplicity 2444 adventures. The front armhole tends to cut into my arms. I think I need to scoop the curve a little bit. I just don’t know what the appropriate counter adjustment would be for the sleeve. The last time I tried scooping the armhole and adding extra fullness to the sleeve cap at the front, I was still getting a lot of pulling across my high bust. And since I’ve finally gotten the sleeves where I want them, I’m a little hesitant to slash into them again.

I also can’t figure out if the back darts are correct. Are they too long? Too short? How do I get rid of the puckers at the bottom of the dart? I iron them out on a tailor’s ham, but whenever I put the dress on, the puckers show up. I’ve had the same problem with my A-line skirts I’ve made. The back darts just don’t seem to be right. It’s super frustrating!

Speaking of darts, I think I’ve finally determined the the front darts are aiming a little high. I’ve been trying to ignore it.

Honestly, I’m getting really tired of working on this muslin. The more changes I make, the more problems seem to arise. I can say that the current version looks so much better than the original, so I think I’m headed in the right direction. And I could make it up as is and have a totally wearable dress, but the armholes would be uncomfortable and I would always be worried about how those back darts look. And since I plan on multiple versions of this basic pattern, it’s worth it to make it as perfect as possible, right? RIGHT???

So, we end this post on a cliffhanger. . .

Will Simplicity 1776 be conquered? 

Stay tuned to find out!

Do you have any muslin horror stories to tell? How did it work out for you?

P.S. GUYS. I have been on Pinterest. ALL SHIFT DRESSES HAVE DIAGONAL DRAG LINES. All of them. It’s not a flaw. It’s how the dress works. I’m going to go sit in a corner and think about what I’ve done.

P.P.S. You know you’ve been on Pinterest too long when you find yourself screaming, “It’s not a shift dress if it has a waist seam, you idiot!!” at the screen. As it turns out, I have very little patience for inaccurate Pinterest descriptions. I might be a terrible person.


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