A Fading Summer Shift

(And here we go with my backlog of summer sewing posts. . . )

Hmmmm. . .

I don’t know how I feel about this dress.

Beware the wrinkles. Some of us are lazy.

Beware the wrinkles. Some of us are lazy.

The process of making it was both simple and complicated.

Here’s why it was simple:

1. Linen is super easy to cut and sew, and it presses beautifully.

2. I was using a pattern I’d already used before. I knew it fit, for the most part.

3. The pattern had few pieces to cut and even fewer to sew (front, back, done.).

Simplicity 1776

Here’s why it was complicated:

1. Cotton/rayon batiste hates me. It hates everyone. It refuses to do what it is told. And it grows in all directions as you handle it.

2. While the pattern was already tested, it hadn’t exactly been tested in a sleeveless version, so problems cropped up that were unexpected.

3. Determining how to sew on a lining for a sleeveless dress entirely by machine isn’t nearly as complicated as figuring out how to understitch that lining by machine without ruining your life.

Simplicity 1776

As you know, I’ve used this pattern before. After all that muslining, I really wanted to use it again quickly before I lost momentum. I saw this linen/rayon in Jo-Ann’s back in the spring; it instantly grabbed my attention. I wasn’t sure what to do with it for a long time and I determined not to buy it until I had a plan. (I wasn’t worried that they would sell out because 95% of the people who shop there are quilters and crafters who are uninterested in apparel fabric.) Finally, I decided to use the linen for another shift, this time sans sleeves. My original idea was to make it in time for my seniors’ graduation, but that didn’t happen.

Simplicity 1776

Going sleeveless isn’t quite as simple as just not using the sleeve pattern. You really have to re-think the shape of your arm hole. This is a thing I did not do. I didn’t even consider it until I was sewing. My solution was to use a much deeper seam allowance around the bottom of the arm hole. It was not the best plan. It works, but it would have been better to draft a separate pattern altogether.

Losing the sleeves also causes a bit of gaping at the back neck. I think one of my biggest regrets with this dress is that I didn’t scoop the back neckline as I’d envisioned. There is a very small chance that I may go back and fix that someday.

Simplicity 1776

Other than that, I guess I’m actually quite pleased with the dress! It’s fun with the floral that isn’t overwhelming because of the simple shape. It’s very comfortable; the fabric makes it excellent for hot, humid days.

Although, to be honest, the only true fix for humid days is to be in the water or in the air conditioning. There is no other cure.

Oh, hey, do you want to see something tragic???

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Yeah. That happened as I was trying on the dress for the first time. Let it be known that I had already zipped and unzipped the dress a couple of times with no problems. But then, as I stepped in and tried to zip the dress up. . . bam. Luckily, I was still able to get myself out of the dress.

The only solution was to fuse on a bit of interfacing. Sigh. . .

What’s your worst sewing horror story? Mine ended semi-happily, but I’m sure there are others that. . . didn’t. (When you tell your story, make sure you hold the flashlight under your face for effect.)

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A Summer Top for Fighting Fate (Or Embracing It. . . Whichever)

This top was almost not meant to be. Or maybe, it was ALWAYS meant to be. . .

Red Top 2

 

To begin with, I wanted a shift with 3/4 sleeves to wear with tights in the cooler weather. Well, that was just a bad idea. Tights and knits don’t work so well for me. So, when I had my Girl Charlee fabric fail #2, I had to ditch the sleeves and make a sleeveless shift for warmer weather which was a much better idea.

My goal was to take my highly modified Simplicity 1776 shift pattern and adjust it for knits thereby making two block patterns from one. Things. . . did not go well. It ended up too big and the side seams were mis-matched. The skirt looked bad, as though it were too full and also not full enough. Very odd.

Red Top 3

As it happened, a few Thursdays ago, I was heading out for some waffles and Bourne Supremacy with friends, and I simply couldn’t decide what I wanted to wear. I wanted something light and flowy and comfy. I had been working on my shift that afternoon, and suddenly, I got an idea.

The shift dress clearly wasn’t working for me. Perhaps this fabric was never meant to be a dress. So, I got out my shears and went to work. Literally ten minutes later, I was walking out the door in an unhemmed, unfinished but supremely adorable knit top. It was everything I wanted it to be. Except done.

Red Top 4

I later went back and bound the neckline and arms with a new-to-me technique that leaves the insides looking much cleaner. I sewed the binding to the inside and then flipped it out to the right side and top stitched it down enclosing the raw edges underneath.

Red Top Neck Binding

I actually received a compliment from a Jo-Ann’s employee when I was dashing in for some thread or a zipper or something the other day. She asked if I’d made the top. I said, “Yes.” And being a Jo-Ann’s employee, she thought to ask what pattern I’d used. I said, “We-ell. . . ” and by the time I’d finished explaining, she looked very sorry she’d asked. 🙂

Here’s a thing I will always tell: The Whole Story.

Red Top 1

So, in spite of all the troubles, I am stupidly happy with this top. If you would like to make something similar, I suggest using Deer and Doe’s Plantain tee sans sleeves with a slightly modified hem if you’re into the high/low thing (LIKE I CLEARLY AM!!). I won’t use my cobbled 1776 for knits pattern again as it was wrongity-wrong (And yet, SO RIGHT).

(Wait–could I use the Plantain to make a knit shift? That could be a thing, right???)

Here’s what I want to know: what is your favorite top/shirt/tee/blouse pattern for summer? Drop me a link to one you’ve made–I’m always up for inspiration!

The Shift in My Fortunes Dress

Fitting is an invisible art.

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If you read my Muslin Diary posts–if you didn’t, no worries. There was a lot of blather–you know that the struggle to fit Simplicity 1776 was no simple afternoon of muslin-making. It was hours and hours of measuring, marking, cutting, taping, stitching, pressing, wearing, removing, and starting over again stretched out over several weeks (over two months, I think).

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Yet, when you look at this dress, you probably don’t see all that work. I know that I never notice when someone’s clothes are particularly well-fitting. I definitely notice if something is too tight or very baggy–but if it fits just right, all I see is the person wearing it. And, of course, color and style and all that. But, aren’t color and style meant to somehow reflect the person within?

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So, I guess the purpose for the long-fought fitting battle is two-fold. One, of course, is that I wanted the dress (any garment, really) to be comfortable. I have to be able to move freely. Fighting my clothes all day just adds a level of exhaustion that I don’t need in my life. Plus, when I am comfortable, I am confident.

Two is to make the clothes “invisible.” Not like the “Emperor’s New Clothes” (scandalous!). But, to make sure that what I wear doesn’t detract from me.

It makes me sound “egomaniacal” now that I’ve written it down, but it’s still true.

I do wonder if there are some lovely people out there thinking, “Wait a second–this is the dress she spent months fitting? It’s a shift! It’s easy shapelessness is supposed to be a breeze to whip up!”

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Well, that may be true, but when you have bumps and squiggles and proportions that defy logic, you have to work a little harder at “effortlessness” and the invisibility of a fine fit.

Alas, even after all that work, I cannot say that this is perfect. But, I can say that I can easily raise my arms and move them about in ALL directions! I confess that the sleeves are still a bit tight across the tops of my shoulders. And after wearing the dress to work, I realize that it’s not the most comfortable to drive in. Also, it really is too warm and sticky (already!) to be wearing a lined dress. When I planned this dress, it was still winter. I had no idea it would take so long to make! However, I am content to store it away until fall. Rather than feel like I failed my winter wardrobe, I feel like I’ve got a jump on my autumn.

You can see how the sleeves are pulling. Obviously, my shoulder needs more length.

You can see how the sleeves are pulling. Obviously, my shoulder needs more length.

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During construction, just after I had inserted the lining to be exact, I tried the dress on and discovered quite a bit of bagginess under the bust at the side seams. It turns out that I did something crazy with my darts and added some unnecessary width. I undid my side seams and removed about 3/4″ from just the front. It’s still a bit baggier than I’d like, but it looks so much better! And I might just be getting used to the whole shift silhouette, which is very new to me.

On it’s first day out, the dress received tons of compliments, which is always nice. Most people at school (did you know I was a teacher now? I can’t remember if I told you) know that I sew, so they automatically ask, “Did you make that?” whenever I’m wearing something they haven’t noticed before.

This is a miracle. My arms are comfortably raised. The neckline is crazy, to be sure, but the rest of the dress--no problem. Success!

This is a miracle. My arms are comfortably raised. The neckline is crazy, to be sure, but the rest of the dress–no problem. Success! Very curious to try the cut-in gusset out when there’s a waist seam.

Question: have you ever had trouble with your zipper when you attach a lining? I’m speaking specifically of finishing the top of the zipper. On one side, the zipper seems to cause the lining to peak out at the top. I’m thinking of either interfacing the lining in the back just to give it more structure to fight against the zipper or cutting facings of the self fabric for the back to sew to the lining or attempting to remove the zipper teeth above the neck seam line. I suppose I could just line the plastic stopper up just underneath the seam, but then the zipper doesn’t quite zip all the way up. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s such a minor thing, really.

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Let’s see–construction details. The zipper is interfaced–best thing ever. I’m going to always do this from now on. It just makes the zipper better. All better.

I used a cotton/rayon chambray twill–and let me tell you, if you ever see a listing for this stuff, get it. It is probably one of my very favorite fabrics I’ve ever worked with–top three, even. It’s soft and smooth and has this lovely sheen in person. The dress is lined with aubergine rayon bemberg which is perfectly lovely except when it’s sticky out. The lining was in my stash, so that’s why it’s sort of a random color pick. I used my rolled hem foot to do a narrow hem. It worked really well most of the time. When it screwed up, it was generally due to me rushing and not keeping everything taut and properly folded. But I’m really rather pleased with it overall.

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I decided at the last minute to add the pockets. And then I decided to add the flaps and some gold buttons from my grandmother’s button stash. I do love to use up old buttons. The buttons and buttonholes are functional.

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Sorry about the wrinkles. This is what happens when a dress gets worn all day. So, you’re seeing it in its most natural state. Just keepin’ it real.

I did not know that I liked shift dresses. I assumed that I would feel flabby and shapeless in them. But, I felt great wearing this all day! When I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror, I couldn’t help but think, “Man–this dress is amazing!” I have one, possibly two, more versions planned for this summer.

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It still needs some tweaking before obtaining official “TNT” status, but I’m fairly confident that it will happily join the ranks of the Magnificent Eleven-ish. . . and there shall be great rejoicing throughout the land.

And now, my lovelies, do tell–what was your greatest sewing victory?

The Muslin Diaries: Simplicity 1776 (Finale/ Finally!)

I’m still here! Some craziness has happened–which I’ll get to later. Sorry this post is super long and pictures are random at best. Skip to the end for the punchline!

Monday, March 10, 5:39 p.m.

I have spent a weekend with a friend away from muslins and fitting woes, and I have returned with a renewed will to conquer. After my last post on the subject, my frustration with Simplicity 1776 was making me question whether I really needed to spend all this time fitting a single dress.

Without some much-needed inspiration, I was dangerously close to quitting and sewing only Lady Skaters for the rest of my life. (Come on–would that really be such a bad thing?) So, I turned to Pinterest. I quick search for “shift dresses” revealed so many get-in-my-closet-right-now styling options to pin to my shiny, new “Shifty” board that I felt a renewed interest in defeating my shift dress fitting issues.

The biggest problem was making the armhole seam quit cutting into my arm in front. I drew in a new seam line and then clipped to it. Instant relief. I also pinned in a small armhole dart which helped immensely. It eliminated the armhole gaping and scooped the seam line enough to give my arm some breathing room.

I noticed that there was a lot of wrinkling at the back armhole. A little bit of scoop action back there solved that problem as well. After making the corresponding changes to the pattern, it’s time to sew another muslin. And that’s where I’m stuck. I need to run to Jo-Ann’s for some actual muslin as I no longer have icky fabric I don’t want to sew with. I’m waiting for a 50% fabric coupon. Paying full price at Jo-Ann’s just proves you have no patience 🙂

Once I get the armhole sorted, I’m going to attack those back darts. After that, I’ll work on the sleeve. And then I’ll be done. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

Wednesday, March 12, 4:14 p.m.

I found some muslin! I have no idea what I originally bought it for, but it has definitely come in handy. I’m really hoping this current version works as I have just enough left to test some sleeves.

5:50 p.m.

How much chips and salsa can one eat in one day before it becomes weird?

Unrelated: How much salsa can one’s hair retain before one can be termed “slovenly”?

Thursday, March 13, 3:35 p.m.

Is this my third muslin or my fourth? I’ve lost track. . .

Good news! I’ve almost got the armhole perfect! It needs to be lowered about 1/4″ and scooped more at front and back. Scooping the armhole not only makes it more comfortable, but also gets rid of excess fabric that wrinkles up right at my armpit.

Finding that there was lots of gaping at the back of the armhole, I pinched about 1/2″ out from armhole to neckline. And then pinched out a little 1/4″ dart a little lower down.

The new bust darts look good–they just need to be shortened about an inch. Easy-peasy.

Because the muslin felt a little tight at my chest, I restitched the side seams (front only) at about 1/4″ in between the sleeve seam and the dart. It seemed to help some. I think I’m either going to add a little at the side seams (1/2″ maybe?) or add to the CF. I just don’t want the neckline to be any wider. I’m thinking of splitting my muslin up the middle and sewing a 1/2″ strip in to test.

You know how I was worried about the back darts? Well they looked really good on this muslin, so maybe I just sewed them stupidly last time.

Also, I need to remember to even up the hem line and for Pete’s sake true my neckline!

Slaving away on this fitting process has opened my eyes to fit problems on other patterns which I previously thought were great. Example? The Lady Skater. She is amazing, but she is also very wrong at the arm holes. Very, very wrong. I’ve been cutting off desperately needed visual torso length by wearing armholes too low. I’m a short-waisted person! I need all the torso length I can get!

So, things seem to be progressing in a positive direction. I confess, however, that I am a little scared of trying to get the sleeves to work. I’ve been down this road before. Granted, I know more now and the cut-in gusset really does work wonders. But still. . .

Okay, I’m going to go away now.

Thursday, March 20, 6:46 p.m.

I know I said last time that I had the armhole almost perfect, well this time, I mean it!

So there have been several arm/shoulder adjustments since I last blathered away here. Let me try to sum up: continued back armhole gaping was solved by a combination of scooping the armhole curve and repositioning of the shoulder seam.

There, that was rather neat and tidy.

Of course, it took lots and lots of staring at the muslin and pinning and trying on and pinching and long showers so I could think clearly before I finally got there. I think it was when I realized just how far back the shoulder seam was sitting that I finally started making progress. Now, I have an armhole that fits comfortably all the way around and doesn’t gape. There’s still a bit of wrinkling at the underarm, but let’s face it, I’m working with fabric not plastic. Wrinkles are going to happen.

Also, it’s gone baggy in the middle, so I need to take out that tummy curve I randomly put in.

Also, I’ve decided on the patch pockets.

Now, it’s time for (I hope!) the last round of dress paper adjustments. Then, the sleeves. (“And after that, the deluge. . .” )

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Neville! R.I.P. ugly green flip-flop that I’ve had for about ten years that finally broke. I was not so sorry to see you go. This picture is just to break up the monotony.

Wednesday, April 9, 4:14 p.m.

Friends. Holy freaking cow, friends.

It has been a longish time since I’ve been around here. I have not been idle. I started a new old job which I may or may not have already told you about. I have been very focussed on (and exhausted by) that, but now it is Spring Break and I am accomplishing the things. I have two goals for this week: 1. Finally finish my navy Archer–which I was actually making decent progress on last Wednesday before there was a significant derailment, which I shall tell you about in due time and 2. Finish this freakin’ shift dress for the love of chocolate and be able to move on with my life.

So the most recent solution that I had come up with to solve the armhole fitting issues managed to fix the back gaping (yay!) but made the armhole too tight once again (boo!). (Also, I had to lower the darts which I’d previously raised. This is why we fit from shoulder down.) This discovery occurred yesterday. So frustrated I started to hate sewing all together, I tossed the muslin back in its box (to think about what it had done) and went outside.

This is a habit of mine–and I’m so glad it’s warm enough for me to not freeze while I do it. When I get tired or feel like I’m losing my focus, I always head outside to play with the cats or weed the flower beds or just wander around and let the wind blow the thread fluff and general frustration out from between my ears. While I was verbally complaining to the cats about my weird shape (they didn’t sympathize, FYI), the simplest of all solutions hit me. I realized that it wasn’t just the armhole that was tight. It was also tight across the bust. And how do we fix that? We let out the side seams, of course! So easy!

After some more trial and error, I ended up letting out the side seam (about 1/4″ front and back) from underarm to bust, cinched it back in from bust to waist, and let it out again over my tummy and hips. The lines of the dress drastically improved. Then, I lengthened the back darts and voila! A fitted-but-not-too-fitted shift dress.

And this is how my scribbly pattern pieces looked after all the struggle:

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See? Work happened.

Now, it’s time for the sleeves. I confess, I’m frightened. I’ve adjusted the armhole so much that I’m not even sure where to begin on the sleeve head! The armscye is the only part that needs to be adjusted since the rest of the sleeve already fits. I just have to make the armscye fit the armhole.

Time to find my bendy ruler!

Saturday, April 12, 3:24 p.m.

Suck it, Simplicity! YOU DID NOT DEFEAT ME!!! Not this time. . .

Friends–true friends who have actually read this far, I salute you!–my Simplicity 1776 shift block is complete. My final step before cutting out the real thing is to make clean copies of all the pieces.

This is, indeed, a momentous occasion.

Let’s talk about the sleeves.

If you remember, I thought that the only thing I had to adjust was the armscye (I learned from Lynda Maynard that the “armscye” is the curved seam line at the top of a sleeve. Knowledge!). I was wrongity wrong. I made so many changes I’m not even sure I remember them all.

The goal, of course, was comfort and full mobility. Adding the underarm cut-in gusset allowed me to raise my arms comfortably, so that was taken care of. The front of the sleeve was pulling at the bodice–a familiar problem I attempted to deal with in my S2444 days. Because my front armhole was scooped, I had to add extra volume to the sleeve at the corresponding point on the armscye. Follow? I simply redrew the seam line out more. What happened is a little fold of fabric on the front of the sleeve–similar to Lynda Maynard’s cut-in gusset fold under the sleeve. It didn’t bother me really. And it eased the front pulling. I decided to leave it.

Remember the fold. It becomes important.

My next issue was that the sleeve was too tight across the bicep. Now remember, my armhole fits perfectly, so the simple solution of cutting a bigger sleeve was not going to work. Adding more ease to the armscye would only create a poofiness situation that was certainly not the goal. Some of the problem was relieved by adding 5/8″ to the top curve of the armscye. It added very little ease and enough volume to relieve the tightness right at the top of my shoulder. I remember adding some width at this point, but I honestly can’t remember what my methods were. I remember it started like this. . .

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And I somehow transferred some of those changes to the pattern. I’m sorry–it feels like ages ago. (It was yesterday.)

So, the sleeve was far more comfortable. The remaining mobility issue was that I couldn’t raise my arms forward. Up and back were both fine. Forward was super uncomfortable. As in driving to work was going to be a nightmare. Also impersonating zombies. You know–like I do.

I puzzled over this issue for a longish time. Then, while weeding the flowerbeds, I remembered the fold. Remember the fold? The one in front? It was the reason that moving my arms backwards was no problem. Couldn’t I do the same thing to the back of the sleeve? My only other option was to add width across the back which would result in wrinkles and/or a gaping neckline when my arms were raised. But, if I just added extra fabric along the back of the sleeve, I should be able to raise my arms to the front without all the pulling, right?

I WAS SO RIGHT.

I don’t mean to get all braggy, but this is the best idea I ever had. Executing it was tricky, but I ended up just redrawing that armscye yet again, bubbling it out a bit along the backside where the pulling was happening.

And the final problem: the sleeves were belling (is that the word I want?) out at the hem. The problem was that I needed more length along the top of my shoulder. I made a quick horizontal incision on the muslin sleeve and noted the length I needed to make the hem behave properly.

To make the changes to the pattern, I drew in a horizontal line where I’d made my cut on the sleeve. I then cut a vertical line from the hem to that horizontal mark and then cut along the horizontal mark from stitching line to stitching line so I could sort of wing my pattern out at the sides. You can sort of see what I did here:

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I added an inch at the cap and then redrew the sides. It was pretty simple actually.

And that was it.

Now to draw the clean copies and. . . well, I feel that I should memorialize my working pattern copies somehow. . . What’s the best way to honor them, I wonder. . .

Next time, I promise to show you something pretty! Well. . . something finished, at least 🙂

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.