Friday, July 16, 2021

Muslining a Self Drafted Dress

As I've mentioned a few times now, I've been sewing along with some members of my local Garment Guild this summer (via Zoom) as we work through 10 lessons on pattern drafting by Cal Patch on CreativeBug. 

This week's challenge was to take the dress draft from last week and muslin it, so that you could do any necessary adjustments and then rework the pattern. 

As suspected, I am going to have to make sure to trace off a separate back piece and make some tweaks there -- specifically to take a 1/2" swayback adjustment. In this class the front and back are drafted as one piece, with no bust darts included. If you have a larger bust you may have many more adjustments to make but I didn't have to worry about that. I do have to adjust the back though! 

One other small tweak is that I had to shorten the lower back darts by a fair amount -- I raised them 1.5" but could even raise them another 1/2" -- I have a shorter waist to hip and the original dart I'd drawn in had the points sitting way down on my butt. Now it's much better! 

The primary adjustment that I had to make with the actual muslin was in the shoulder area, however. I basted the muslin (made from an old sheet) together and added one sleeve. Then tried it on and realized that my shoulder slope was pretty significantly different from my first draft. The shoulder is drawn in by measurement and then you add in a recommended 1/4-1/2" point at the neckline to slope down to the outer edge, but that didn't work for me in reality. 

I ended up with a shoulder that had far too much fabric in it - I could pinch a good inch up as excess. Not only were both the shoulder seam and sleeve cap too high at the shoulder point, the shoulder seam sat slightly below my shoulder hinge as well. So I changed the shoulder line by marking a spot 1/2" lower at the shoulder edge and 1/4" down at the neck edge, and basting a slanted line between them, on the side without a sleeve attached. That allowed the shoulder line to sit flat, and lie right across the top of my shoulder.



I also shaved a scant 1/4" out of the armscye, starting at the shoulder seam and blending back the original line by about halfway down. I also lowered the bottom of the armscye by a 1/4". I then removed almost an inch from the sleeve cap so that it was still only about an inch larger than my armscye. I basted that in carefully, and found that it was perfect. No excess fabric to pool at the shoulder, but enough movement in the sleeve to be able to reach and move my arm normally. I am going to add in a bit of width at the bicep for a little more comfort but overall I am very happy with this draft, and think that I'll retrace the pattern onto heavier paper so that I have a basic close-fitting sloper of sorts to compare with commercial patterns and to use as a basis for any designs I want to play with.

I really enjoyed this process and feel like I've learned a lot. As one of my fellow sewists in this project mentioned, this feels empowering. We're now more comfortable with adjusting patterns to fit ourselves, aside from the whole self-drafting excitement ;) 


  1. I was so glad to read you are enjoying this process. It can be overwhelming for some sewists. I have taken several pattern drafting classes (different formulas for ease, shoulder slope armseye shape, etc.) that included making muslins, making fit adjustments to the muslins and transferring them back to the drafted pattern. It is a lot of work but I learned so much and the final garment fit great.

    1. These classes are very straightforward so the intimidation factor is low ;) The instruction is pretty simple; I know that if I want to continue on this road there will be a whole lot more to learn as well. But I find it so engaging!


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