Class · Review · Sewing

Tuesdays with Gertie: Fitting the Muslin II (or Setting Sleeves a Hundred Different Ways)

This year I’m sewing along with Gertie from Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up through the Craftsy online community to make her Starlet Suit. Here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

My goal of having a perfectly fitted Starlet Suit jacket muslin by today was a touch optimistic.  I’m still struggling with how the sleeves set into the back of the jacket (see original muslin here).  I drape and pin until I think I’ve fixed the problem, but when I set the sleeves in hopeful that this next time everything will be perfect, the little folds of fabric are always there in some form or another.  At this point I must have set the sleeves a hundred times, and the edges of the muslin are so frazzled that they’re useless for aligning either the seam allowances or the stitching lines any more.  I’ve decided to cut out the main pieces again and have a fresh go at it.

Despite still having this sleeve issue, I have learned a lot these past two weeks of fitting.  I know I need to lengthen the jacket above the waist.  You can see above that I lengthened my original muslin by 1″, but I think I’m going to lengthen my next muslin by 1.5″.  I’ve also let the waist out a bit at the side seams.  I don’t want to lose the shape of the jacket, but I do want to ensure that I have a little bit of ease there.

After watching more of the class videos, I also learned that the front pattern piece and the side front pattern piece have different hem allowances (5/8″ and 1 1/4″, respectively), so I should not have matched them up as I did in my original muslin.   It was easy enough to readjust those seams in all subsequent rounds of fitting with this muslin, and I will do the same in muslin number two.

I also learned from Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch that part of the sleeve weirdness is that the princess seams have not been trued at the sleeve seams.  This means that if you measure the stitching line from the highest notch on the princess seam on both the front pattern piece and the side front pattern piece, the lengths will be different.  The same is true for the back pattern pieces as well.  In my first muslin I matched the stitching lines, which left me a bit confused about the excess of fabric I had to ease in.  In subsequent fittings I matched the highest notches and stitched straight to the sleeve seam, which left me with a triangle of excess fabric in the sleeve seam that I just trimmed off.  I think I got it right in the front, but I don’t think I did in the back, hence muslin number two.

I’ve also figured out that fitting with shoulder pads is a must.  When I was trying to figure out how to fix the bagginess in the front (see original muslin here), I found this video from Silhouette Patterns.  One of the first pointers I learned from the video was to fit the muslin of any jacket that is going to have shoulder pads with the shoulder pads.  When I threw shoulder pads into my muslin, the bagginess in the front immediately disappeared.  It was an amazing moment to realize that adjusting an unexpected seam was the key to getting a good fit in the front.  The back still looked off, but, again, that could be due to my incorrectly truing that back princess seam.

Now to get cutting and sewing to see what muslin number two reveals…

16 thoughts on “Tuesdays with Gertie: Fitting the Muslin II (or Setting Sleeves a Hundred Different Ways)

  1. Hi there!

    It’s the process and the learning that makes your blog enjoyable!

    Obviously, very frustrating to you.. but great for us! I am finishing off the ‘Bombshell Dress’ right now on my blog… then the Susan Khalje class… then the Sew Retro Starlet Jacket Class. I am going to make it out of brown tweed with a leather bound detail. BUT, I don’t need that really until November (I live in the back of beyond Ireland)

    Looking forward to more! Loving your work!

    Bundana x

    1. The Susan Khalje class is also on my list. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to start with it once I get into the swing of things with this jacket. We shall see how ambitious that proves to be… Good luck with your bombshell dress (or two!)!

    1. It’s not actually that complicated, but I think it just takes experience that I don’t have. I’m learning though, which is the point of a class in the end, right? I just wish we were led through these things a little bit better. I would recommend that Craftsy use well-tested patterns in the future and include written instructions. I put most of the new muslin together already, and it’s gone so much better than the first. I plan to show you guys the weirdness with truing up the princess seam lines next Tuesday in case it will help you out in your own future projects.

  2. Ack, sleeves! Even when everything is drafted perfectly you can still have problems setting them. I usually will set in one perfectly and then spend hours sewing and ripping to get the other one to work. Hang in there!

    1. Thanks. After setting them in a hundred different times, I feel like a pro, at least with my battered and worn out muslin. We’ll see how things go with muslin number two and the actual wool…

  3. You spend so much time detailing your work – it helps us all. Thanks for sharing. Ps: That video is awesome, I’ve learnt so much. Your jacket will look amazing and it will be the perfect fit, after all your hard work. Good luck.

  4. It’s coming together quite nicely in my opinion. No garment will ever be perfect right off the bat. No, no, and no! Keep working hard and I know it will turn out!

  5. I’d missed that this sewalong was taking place, & have enrolled in the course (but of course have not started or even planned to start yet!) I will enjoy watching your progress – & will read avidly about what you learn! Maybe it’ll gird me into action. It does look such a lovely jacket though – wonderful shape. Good luck with the next muslin 🙂

  6. My first guess is that you cut a size bigger than you need. That said, a quick look at The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen [ ] provides some information regarding the princess seams. Using a pinable surface, overlap the seam lines at the bottom and stick the pin straight into the pinable surface, walk the pattern up a couple of inches and again insert the pin and remove the pin at the bottom, and repeat all the way to the top. The seam lines should be the same length unless you are large busted. If the side bust pattern piece is longer than the front (more common that you think in commercial patterns and many sources suggest that all pattern seam lines should be walked), trim off that excess and mark new notches. Right sides together, pin the armhole seam line, fold back the side front piece, and true the seam lines (page 66-67). Page 131 shows similar drag lines toward the side seam on a muslin. The drag lines point to excess fabric; drape a side bust dart in that area then decide if you want to leave that dart in or slash and overlap.

    1. I might just have to try cutting out the size smaller as I’m about at the end of my patience with this pattern. I also need to look into getting that book. Thanks for the information! If the size smaller doesn’t work, then I’ll walk the pattern as you suggest. Something’s going to work eventually!

  7. Hi Amy! Ack, that is the sort of thing that would drive me batty and toward another pattern. I love when patterns are properly trued! (Can’t wait till Tasia/Sewaholic comes out with a blazer pattern–I’ll be all over it–because her patterns are so accurate!) But I hope you get there, because the style is so darling…

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