So I began work on the muslin for B5558 this past Sunday. Here's the envelope photo to refresh your memory:
Cute dress, no? It doesn't look like it would be that difficult, does it? Well, I shouldn't say difficult. It's not difficult, it's just fiddly. I started adjusting the pattern Sunday afternoon. It took all afternoon and into the evening to adjust and cut this out, and I wasn't even being particularly careful with the cutting (it was a muslin after all.)
The skirt front is one huge piece that you cut out on a single layer. It takes up almost a whole width of 45" fabric. And it has 15 pleats across the front. That's right, I said 15. And they have to all be stitched down. That's what makes the shaping in the waist. And they are supposed to be top stitched, too. No, I didn't top stitch the muslin. I'm not that crazy! Oh, and there are two separate back skirt pieces, a right and a left. And each one has 7 more pleats that have to be stitched down. Needless to say, getting the skirt pieces marked and pleated took all evening. There was no way around it- if you want to make a muslin that shows the true fit of the dress, you have to go all the way.
Luckily, even though the dress is fully lined, Butterick kindly provided separate lining pieces for the skirt which are simple A-line with darts. Whew!
The bodice on this dress is quite unique, too. There is a shoulder dart that is hidden under the lapel, and the bodice piece extends around the back of the neck forming a sort of collar stand. The dart is easy to sew, but there is an inset corner to deal with right at the top of it. It's really not too bad, you just have to mark accurately, sew carefully, and be patient.
I cut a straight size 16 for my muslin and added a 5/8" FBA. The resulting bodice was big and sloppy, so I had to go back and remove the FBA. That's why there's so much tape on the pattern piece in the photo above. I also discovered that the V-neck was much lower than the pattern photo seems to be. I ended up raising the bottom of my V 1.75". In the photo, the original neckline came down to the upper red dot. (The lower red dot is the point where the bodice and skirt intersect.) The green dot is my new V and the blue lines show my new cutting and stitching lines. This adjustment made my lapels slightly smaller, but the neckline is much more practical and modest now. I'll be able to wear the finished dress to work or church without feeling funny.
In the end, I discovered that I really didn't need to adjust a whole lot. I made a second bodice muslin (complete with lining because the lining has darts instead of gathers) and determined that I will cut a 14 through the shoulders and neck, and a 16 everywhere else. The skirt is full, so I don't need to grade out to an 18/20 like I would on a more fitted pattern. I do not need an FBA on this pattern. I did add 1.25" of length at the waist, making my waist pleats slightly longer, and I added a full 3" of length to the rest of the skirt. The muslin raw edge still only reached my knee. This thing is drafted SHORT.
It's taken me four days to get a satisfactory muslin- skirt once, and bodice twice. I have the skirt pieces cut, but I still need to cut the bodice and the lining. I had hoped to have this done for Easter, but I don't see that happening now. I just don't have enough time. No problem, though. I'm making it in linen and seersucker, and with the sleeveless bodice and full skirt, I'm sure I'll get plenty of wear throughout the summer.
Stay tuned for an update soon! How's your spring/summer sewing going?