An Aurora in Voile: The Muslin
Okay, I’m going to brave posting pictures of my muslin since I’m curious about your input. Here is Simplicity 2145 straight out of the envelope in a size 10, although I left most of the length in the front pleats unsewn. I would typically cut a size 8, but my body has changed a lot these past few months from the pregnancy. Now, can we pause for a second right here? If you’ve been following along for awhile, you’ve probably realized that I don’t have any other kids – this pregnancy is my first. While I’m excited for why my body is changing, I’m also having a tough time watching all of my measurements creep up. My bust and my waist were the first to go, and now my hips are also gaining in circumference. It’s just that I’ve had the same measurements for so long, and now I look down and I don’t recognize anything! Then I see a little heel or elbow or something push out from my belly, and I really start to wonder what kind of alien has taken over! No, really, the whole thing is pretty magical, but this past week of working in a woven fabric has really brought to my attention just how much my body has changed. And, I’ll admit there’s been a small amount of panic over whether I’ll ever see my old body again. I’m sure it’s okay if I don’t; it’ll just take time to get used to the new me.
Now, before I begin to express my own opinions about the fit of this muslin, I wanted to first remind you of the fabric the real dress will be made in. It’s a soft and supple cross-dyed cotton voile, so it’s much more forgiving than the stiff muslin I’ve used for this toile. I took another photo of the fabric this week that shows off the cross dye on the corner where last week‘s untreated swatch was cut. I hadn’t noticed how cool it looked with the purple threads come off one side and the emerald off the other until I was laying the fabric out to give it a good press.
Now on to the fit of the muslin. Let me start by reminding you I am no expert in fitting. If I were, I’d probably be cutting my fashion fabric right now instead of writing this post! No, I’m just beginning to learn how to assess different issues, and I imagine I’ll still be learning years from now as well! That’s why I’m turning to you. If you see things I don’t see, or disagree with things I do see, please speak up! I’d love to hear your opinion.
My initial reaction was that this muslin was not so bad. There’s enough fabric in the skirt portion to expand around my belly, and overall everything seemed pretty decent. The most obvious fitting issues to me were the small amount of gaping at the neckline and the drag lines pulling from the empire waistline to the side seams.
But, before starting to mess with any of those issues, I tried to channel all the little lessons I learned in Lynda Maynard’s Sew the Perfect Fit Craftsy class. First up: the shoulder seams. And, would you believe it – the front shoulder seams seemed to be pulling a bit forward at the neckline. In the photo below, the top of my shoulder (as my husband and I saw it!) is marked in blue. You can see that while the shoulder seam meets the blue line pretty closely at the sleeve, there’s at least a centimeter difference at the neckline. Lopping the difference off the back bodice seems to do the trick to bring the shoulder seam up to where it should be. Then, without making any changes to the front, the front of the neckline is tightened up since it is pulled that centimeter or so tauter when sewn to the new back.
That said, I’ve never had this large of a bust before. Is the shadow running from the shoulder to the side of my bust in the first and third photos in this post indicative of needing more adjustments in that area? I was just planning on adding a little extra to the side seams from the bottom of the armhole down to my hips (which I’ll discuss more below), but I figured I’d at least throw out the possibility of potentially needing to do more bodice adjustments just to see what you all thought. Though I remembered to add the grain line to the bodice pieces (and both the grain and cross grain lines to the dress pieces), I forgot to add the horizontal cross-grain lines to both the front and the back bodice pieces, which means I can’t follow Lynda’s method of determining fit through this region. Perhaps forgetting those cross grain lines this time means I’ll always remember them in the future!
Next up: the pleats at the top of the front dress portion. Though I was hoping to keep at least the top of the pleats so that I could quickly sew down their entire intended length when I want to turn this dress back into the non-maternity dress it was meant to be, I don’t think even the tiniest hint of the pleats work for my belly. There’s just too much pulling going on from the top of each of the pleats to the side seams. My current plan is just to gather the dress to the waist instead to help more evenly distribute the fabric.
And, though the dress zipped up just fine, I plan to sew the side seams with a smaller seam allowance from the bottom of the sleeve to the hip since I think a bit more ease through that area will help things out a bit. Going down to a 3/8″ seam allowance will give me 1″ extra all around. I hope that’s enough, though now that I think about it, a safer bet might be to actually widen the dress through that region to give me plenty of fabric in case I end up liking even more ease. What do you think – will 1″ extra be enough?
I think the back looks pretty good. All the marked grain and cross-grain lines seem straight (though, just as with the front, I forgot the cross grain lines on the back bodice). I also think the extra ease I’m already planning on adding through the midsection of the dress will help erase any snugness in that region of the back as well.
Now, one final decision: the sleeves. The long sleeve pattern pieces come with these tuck-pleat details right near their hem. I can’t decide whether I like them or not. They’re kind of fun, but they’re also kind of weird – at least in the muslin. And, I’m having trouble imagining how it’ll look in the voile. I could just pin or baste them into the voile to check before stitching them up, but if I don’t like them, I’ll probably want to narrow the sleeves the amount they’re narrowed by the tuck in the pattern, which means some extra work down the road in the voile. What do you think? Are the tuck-pleat things a plus?
Now one last photo from the side to show off my ginormous belly. I can’t believe it has to get even bigger than it is now before the baby is due!
- Pattern: Simplicity 2145
- Fabric: FineFabrics.com Emerald and Purple Cross-Dyed Voile