A Rare Muslin

My mom asked me recently (with a bit of alarm in her voice) how often I muslin. Well, the truth is, I only muslin dressy dresses, non Burdas and pants. That’s because those are the things I have the least experience with.

This muslin, is two of three. It’s the now OOS Butterick 6410 from back in 1999 and it’s a formal. I definitely prefer vintage dresses for my formal gowns.

What did I discover? That, like most empire waist dresses, I should add length to the bust. Because it’s pulling the rest of the dress up to cover my bust and causing wrinkles that end at my hips.

It’s not too tight at the hip. Look at it from the side. See, it’s pulling the dress up at the front. Which I wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t wearing heels. The dress would have pooled on the ground.

Despite a swayback adjustment of two inches, this could honestly use  a touch more. But, truth be told, I think my back is shorter than my front in addition to the swayback.

I also think the neckline is too matronly. See the difference when I tuck it in half an inch on each side? I think this is as simple as gathering the front a bit more.

And, I tried to grade from a 14 to a 16 in the hip. This, though, confirms my thoughts.  See the extra fabric kind of jutting out? It’s not hips. It’s my thighs (er, saddlebags) where I have marked in orange. I have a fairly narrow hip curve. My last three garments have looked like this pre- fixing. I need to get better about this grading / adjustment.

So, I need this dress for May 8th. Now that I know what needs to  change, I hope to get the garment fabric cut out this weekend and purchase some skirt lining too.

How long did it take? About two hours from start to finish. Personally, well worth the extra time. BTW, the muslin is from IKEA. It’s 60 inches wide and less than $2 a yard. Sadly, it’s not dark brown like the one Joann has, so I apologize that you can see my drawers. Which (besides not having made myself camera ready) is why I cut off my face.


  1. This is looking good on you. Once you’ve made the changes to the muslin, you are going to end up with a fabulous evening outfit. So what fashion fabric are you using?

    • A teal blue for the top and a chocolate brown for the bottom. I bought the fabric two summers ago from A Fabric Place. I actually bought shoes last week with the fabric (but not the dress nor occasion) in mind.

  2. What a neat design, it will be nice to see it finished. Is the skirt cut on the bias?
    The changes you have made/intend to make look good.

    • Happily, no! It’s got flare at the bottom for walking ease, but luckily not cut on the bias.

  3. That’s going to be gorgeous . . . can’t wait to see the final dress! Love the pattern!

  4. The muslin is looking great, so I know the finish dress will be fab. I bet you cannot wait to find accessories for the dress. Great going and good luck.

    • I couldn’t! I bought earrings last nigh. I’m still looking for a cocktail ring and bag tho.

  5. Shopping with the fabric is such a good idea! Great job on this muslin. Digital cameras are the best thing since muslins were invented! You are going to look so fab in this dress.

    Bomull? I think that’s what it was called at Ikea, I bought a whole bolt of it when I was sewing a lot of clothes and I still have loads of it left.

    Teal and brown is one of my favourite colour combos. Only thing better is lime green and brown!! (and if it’s not a sophisticated evening dress, more a fun bag, I’d have the teal, the brown AND the lime)

    Hope the next stage of alterations goes smoothly!


  6. Wow. Great assessment. I think you are right about all your adjustments. Can’t wait to see the finished product. IKEA coming to Denver this year. Finally!!!!!!

  7. Thanks for your in depth fitting analysis. I have the same pulling from the hips to the front bust and now I know why!

  8. This is going to be lovely once you’ve made your fit alterations. Very flattering.

  9. What an elegant and sophisticated dress, it’s such a refreshing change from the usual ‘over-exposed’ styles one sees. I can’t wait to see the final version, you’ll look stunning.
    Thanks for the tip about the muslin from Ikea – I would never have thought to look there.

  10. What a gorgeous pattern – and in teal and brown – with new shoes!!! I can see you looking radiant already. Good luck with the adjustments and the final product.

  11. Patterns always have these standardized symmetrical curves. Whenever I feel that my own curves are a little wonky, (most of the time)I take a flexible curve, lay it on that part of me, then take it off and look at my actual curve. Usually I lay the flexible curve on the pattern to see how my real curves align with it. I don’t mimic every little nuance of the my curves, but I try to gently find a medium between the patterns curves and mine.

    Doing this has been a reality check for me and a timesaver. Though I take measurements and know that my low hip is one inch less than my high hip, making my hip curve rather flat – I wasn’t translating that to my patterns. I didn’t want to ruin their saucy little C curves. (And I guess I wished my own little curves were saucier!) After doing the flexible curve thing I realized that denial wasn’t working. Now I look at the patterns more closely, remember what my own curves resemble, and go ahead and change what I need on the pattern.

    Love the dress! You are so right about that neckline. Looks great after your redraping. Can’t wait to see the finished piece.

  12. I’m often too lazy to prepare a muslin, but when I do, the result show. Very elegant dress. I’d love a short version for day wear.

  13. Muslin from IKEA?!?! I must check it out the next time I go there! Thanks!

    (I love the dress, it will look fantastic on you!)

  14. That’s going to be a great looking dress. I agree … you need to make the neckline less matronly. You’re young after all! And thanks for the tip about muslin at IKEA!

  15. This was very informative. I really should muslin more, pattern pinning works fairly well for me. Look forward to seeing this dress.

  16. I am so jealous that you have a copy of Butterick 6410. I remember wanting it DESPERATELY a while back and not being able to find a copy anywhere.

    Green eyed monster aside, this looks like it is shaping up into some serious loveliness!

  17. Haha! I have the same fabric from Ikea, and my most recent muslin also showed my undies–I couldn’t use any of the back-view pics! Good luck with the dress–it looks great so far 🙂

  18. It’s nice to see someone else with the same issue around their thighs. That is always the place where I need more room, too. Add to that the fact that my hip curve is actually about an inch lower than commercial patterns and it creates a bit of a mess.

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