The Frankenstein Muslin

I’ve been working on a muslin for New Look 6557, a pattern I bought last March at a JoAnn’s sale. This is one of those patterns on Pattern Review that everyone loves — a “best pattern” of 2007.

New Look 6557 Muslin, front view

I’m planning to use a brown and cream linen that I bought in Vietnam, but I don’t have quite enough for the whole dress. When we went to Hart’s Fabric in August, I picked up a piece of solid brown linen to use for the midriff piece (around the waist in the front), the bodice lining, and the back facings.

New Look 6557 Muslin, side view

I call it the Frankenstein muslin because I’ve been using up all kinds of things I have lying around. This is actually the third muslin I’ve made of this dress, and at this point I ended up with a green bodice, brown skirt, gray facings in the back, red thread, and a light blue zipper. Totally cracks me up. Though I actually think the contrasting bodice looks kind of cute.

New Look 6557 Muslin, back view

Just ignore the fact that I didn’t do my best zipper installation ever. Or sew on the hook and eye. The zipper will definitely be installed correctly on the final version! (Of course, it also won’t be light blue on brown fabric!)

I loved the style and cut of this dress when I made the first muslin, but it needed some alterations and a fitting with my awesome friend Dolin to get it to a wearable point. I don’t have photos of any of the earlier versions, but I wanted to show you the alterations I did.

The dress had two major issues. One was serious gaping at the armholes. The dress has gathers under the bust and no darts, so I couldn’t increase the dart size and I thought adding darts would look funny. And there was no shoulder seam to take anything out of, so the majority of the problem was fixed at the side seam.

New Look 6557, bodice adjustments

The red line shows the original pattern lines and the green shows my adjustments. I took out a bunch at the top of the side seam and tapered it down to the bottom. Later, I also went back and folded out another tiny bit from the bust like a dart, without actually making a dart (that’s the green oval). These worked like a charm and there is absolutely no more gaping at the armholes! (I talk below about the adjustment to the bottom seam of this piece.)

New Look 6557, midriff adjustments

My other problem was tons of bunching around the waist and especially in the back, since I’m a bit sway backed. I’m short-waisted, so I shorted the waist 1/2 inch all the way around (so the back and the midriff piece that goes just under the bodice in the front). That’s the fold you see in the piece above and the smaller fold in the piece below.

New Look 6557, back adjustments

But I also had to take out more for the back, and I did this by removing another 1″ from the back and smoothing out the side seams again. When I got to the side seams, I needed to blend that inch down to nothing at the first notch in the midriff piece in the front. I took half the amount out of the top of the midriff piece and half out of the bottom of the bodice, which you can see in both of those images.

New Look 6557 Muslin, Marking the Lining

Some other suggestions from Dolin (who is totally brilliant) were to line the midriff piece to keep it from collapsing and to adjust the position of the straps in the back so they are closer to the center back line. The repositioning also helped with armhole gaping and made everything lie much more nicely in the front.

And one tip from me — if you are using the same fabric for the lining and the exterior of something, label your lining fabric fabrics with chalk — and label them BIG! — so you don’t have to keep figuring out which side is which.

New Look 6557 Muslin

I’m excited at how it has turned out and looking forward to having a chance to start cutting out the fabric for the real thing!

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8 comments to The Frankenstein Muslin

  • mjb

    You were smart to muslin this. I attempted it back when I was just getting back into sewing in a silky charmeuse (which I’ve never sewn) without enough fabric for the whole length. The hem was a terrible thing, and by the time I could face fixing it I realized the fit on top left something to be desired as well, so the thing got trashed in favor of bigger and better things.

  • This is going to look lovely – I really like the dress design. It’s also precisely why I’ve all but stopped garment sewing — I get annoyed with the multiple rounds of tailoring ever garment seems to take – good for you for persevering!

  • Dang, the site just swallowed my original comment.

    Anyway, in awe of all the work with muslins and adjusting! It keeps me firmly in my spot of doing quilts and children’s clothes – sounds tedious to me, but I’m sure your end result will be great – can’t wait to see it!

  • I think my eyes just glazed over. When we were first married, I sewed nearly everything we wore. We lived in Western Kansas, not many stores that had anything we could afford. Anyway, I said I would never sew clothing again.

    That being said, I’m so totally impressed. That dress is going to be awesome. And I’m also impressed that you have a waist!

    But now I have an adorable granddaughter and I have decided I WOULD like to sew clothing again, on a much smaller scale–toddler size.

    Anxious to see the “bride” version of your Frankenstein dress. Um, did that make sense. Wasn’t there a movie called Frankenstein’s Bride or something? Never mind. Just ignore.

  • Rita C

    Wow, that dress looks so lovely on you.

  • That style is very flattering on you. Great job with the fitting.

  • Anne

    very nice….it’s so great when you finally have the fit right and can make it a couple of times without thinking so much!!!

  • Wow, I love that color combination on you! You should make that dress for real.

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