Thursday, January 2, 2014

First Muslin Simplicity 1940 Dress

I've been hard at work figuring out form and fit on my first muslin.   The other two vintage patterns I've worked on, I didn't do a muslin first.  It really is a lot of extra work but I do think if you want the proper fit and you are not an expert seamstress you can learn a lot from creating a muslin.

I've already made quite a bit of adjustments already to this muslin and I do believe I need to make some more.  I think the major adjustment that I am thinking of making, is not actually doing this as a dress but as a two piece.  I'm not getting the proper fit, I'd like from the skirt and I figure if I separate them I can get more of a better fit because this pattern requires you to sew down the top to the skirt so if it isn't exact you get some pleats and tucks where you might not want them.  So if you need to make some adjustments to the skirt you also have to make them to the top, and vice versa.

Working with a vintage pattern:

I'm glad I copied the instructions, especially being a novice.  The original instructions were a bit fragile.

I bought Swedish Tracing Paper.  I quite like it and is very handy for the smaller pieces.  I do think for larger pieces it may be a bit of an extra expense and regular tissue paper may be handy.  The Swedish Tracing Paper is a bit more durable and you could certainly skip the muslin stage and just work with this, if you so desired.  But, I just used it for the smaller pieces.

Things I've adjusted because I have a muslin:

-Brought in the middle of the blouse, brought in the skirt
-Learned that I should be exact with distance on pleats for top bust area because of symmetry
-I'll stabilize the neck facing area
-Skirt area is most tricky with fit I'll have to adjust this more but will probably wait as I think the drape of the material is having an effect.
-May add decorative trim to blouse
-Be aware of the curved edge and width of the top collar accent

Things still to do:

Learn a bound buttonhole
Learn to finish edges with seam bindings
Learn to do side zipper (Or if separated this could prove to be easier to add zippers too)

Things that were not as difficult as I thought:

Sleeve area has gone in nicely, although I will have to make some adjustments to one of the caps to realign.  I love the idea of having organza as a stabilizer in the cap area.  The muslin fabric I am working with is actually a very light weight cotton so there really isn't any drape effect.

This muslin is by far not perfect I don't like the the way the skirt lays into the blouse, but this I can correct.  So, was my muslin successful?  I'd say yes, because I've been able to make adjustments that will make it so much easier when I migrate to the actual dress.

Dress Pattern I am working on is to the left.

I thought it was an interesting effect to pleat the sleeve area.


  1. This is coming along really nicely! Can't wait to see it finished. Both those patterns are great too. When ever I use a new pattern or one that I know will need adjustments I make a test muslin. It's extra work for sure but in most cases worth it in the end. I've noticed too that the little pleated detail on the sleeves is fairly common on dresses from the late 1930s and early 1940s. I like them. :)

    Emily's Vintage Visions

  2. Looking good so far. Can't wait to see the finished product. :)

  3. Amazing! I've been toying around with making m own skirt .. seems simple?


  4. Great of you to make a muslin first, I never have the patience for it! I can't wait to see it finished!
    By the way, did you ever see this post about the famous bar suit photo?

    1. I saw this thank you Renee, I had no idea that it wasn't until recently that they knew this image was not 1947. It's a great blog post. Thank you! I much prefer the black hat and rounded toe shoes. You would think more copies of the original would exist.

  5. Good progress, I think it will be lovely. Well done for having the patience to go through with a muslin. I know it is the best thing for fit but it is hard to resist just starting the real garment. Reading your list of things you have found out or changed definitely makes me see its value.

  6. Thanks everyone, I'm tackling bound button holes now and it's a bit complicated but I think I'll eventually get it.

  7. It's looking great and I love your idea of making it a two piece.

  8. It's such a lovely muslin, you could almost wear it out as a dress unto itself (especially if you dyed it your favourite hue). Excellent work, my wonderfully talented friend.

    ♥ Jessica