Sometimes you make a muslin

..even when you don’t want to.  This is a truism I read on Stitchers Guild several years ago.  I certainly can understand it from the perspective that the first use of a pattern will always be a test and some tests are more successful than others. Take today’s shared sewing experience   …. A shorter version of the just fit Kwik Sew 2599.

After doing the initial fitting a few days ago, I thought this is  now a pattern I can pull out every year and make another summer dress. I love the long length but I find  tea and knee-length versions are more appropriate for summer weddings (which I seem to have a few to attend this year).  I thought the shorter length might be repeated frequently and pulled out the tissue to make another copy.  I traced along the ‘short dress’ line then folded and put away the long dress tissue. In addition to the shorter length, I  wanted more of  a  tank top appearance which means narrower shoulders and deeper necklines. I narrowed the shoulders 1/2″ on each side (which concurrently widens the neckline) and then measured down 6″ on the center front before using my curve to draw the new front neckline.  I left the back as is other than 1/2″ wider.  It’s pretty easy to scoop that out when desired.

Then it was the hunt through the stash. This should fit. It should be wearable, I’m just testing neckline and length and the final tweaks that I transferred from the final fitting of the long dress back to the tissue.  So I pulled one fabric after the other out only to put them back on the shelf. This is a pattern for wovens. I want to use a woven as long as there is still a chance I’ve got something wrong. I was seriously considering a 100% cotton until I realized it just wouldn’t have the drape I want.  I think this is a monumental step for me.   I’ve had this pattern a good 20 years and made at least than many versions. I’ve used all kinds of fabric. Only now have I had the realization that my favorite dresses were made with rayon  challis or ITY. IOW soft, drapey, flowing fabrics. That helped me narrow the fabrics in consideration until I finally chose a rayon challis.


During layout I realized that this flower print had a strong horizontal stripe. Maybe not strong. It’s one of those things you don’t see on the bolt. You see when the fabric is laid out or on your body.  I chose to cut cross grain which on my body is the most flattering direction for stripes.

This was even faster to sew than the long dress. In addition to already fitting, it didn’t need a vent for walking. I did tape the necklines and armscyes and stitched the side seams with water-soluble thread for the first fitting.

I was astounded. Somehow the high tight armscye of the long dress was barely above my bra.

The shoulders which barely were narrow enough to fit on my own were now really narrow–far more than the tank top style I was envisioning. Both the long dress and this were cut from rayon challis.  This challis is slightly lighter. I’m having a hard time understanding what when wrong. I did not make the armscye longer by scooping out the underarm.  Narrowing as I did would have made the measured length slightly longer but not 2″.  I think it was cutting cross grain but then again, I’ve never had a cross grain layout create this kind of problem before and I’m pretty free about switching between on-grain and cross grain.

But it is what it is and I’d like to be able to wear this dress.  I tackle the problem of the very low underarm from 2 directions.  1) I deepen the shoulder seam from 3/8″ to a full 1″.  2) I increase the side seam at the underarm to 1″ and angle it out sharply to so that by the bust dart it has returned to the drafted 1/2″.  While this does help, it’s not completely fixed and now my bust dart is no longer pointing to my apex.  Also, I just don’t like the look of the shorter dress. Cutting at the ‘short dress’ has created not a knee-length but an above knee-length. Oh and it’s the above length that in shorts I always make higher. There are not an endless  number of lengths which look good on me, IMO. This one makes me look dumpy.  I’m contemplating adding a 6″ ruffle to add length; and some way to fill in the armscye. If this were a knit, I’d trim the armscye out so that I could add a ribbing. But it is what it is … and I need a break to think this through.


2 thoughts on “Sometimes you make a muslin

  1. I personally really like your dress. You could shorten it a bit since you look so nice in shorts. Or the ruffle is a good idea also. I also love that pattern in the long version. It looks so nice going many places,

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