While the studio work was being done, I spent some time studying better fit keeping in mind my goal to simplify the process. I studied Pati Palmer's, Sandra Betzina's, Sarah Veblen's, Peggy Sager's, and Lynda Maynard's techniques in particular and have combined tips from my multiple muslin mentors to develop a system that works for me. In the end, I want a sloper of my shape to compare to patterns to make any necessary adjustments up front and increase my success ratio. Both Lynda and Peggy illustrate this process and it makes so much sense. Why keep re-inventing the wheel. Let's get to the good stuff faster.
I also want to fit myself by myself and have realized that all I need is one person - me - because I know exactly what I want to accomplish and I'm the only one I can count on being around when I need me. While there's a little more taking the muslin on and off using the self-fitting process, that's okay because I eventually get exactly where I'm going with a lot less frustration than I've experienced trying to explain to someone else what I want. Surprisingly - LOL - they haven't watched all the videos I've watched or read all the books I've read.
On Sunday, I watched Lynda Maynard's Craftsy course Sew The Perfect Fit. It's fabulous and clearly illustrates the process of fitting the garment. If you're wondering how to go about making a muslin, I highly recommend this course only - LOL - I do a few things differently.
Lynda uses Vogue 8766, view D, with a fitted bodice, waist seam, darted skirt, and set in sleeve. Any pattern like that will work. Vogue 8766 is a multi-sized pattern and yet in the demo a singular size was cut. That made absolutely no sense to me because it's much easier to fit when there is enough circumference to begin with. I used the Butterick 5627 fitting shell for my upper body because it comes with cup sizes, is already drafted with 1" seams, and clearly marks the different fitting lines and options. I merged it with...
... the fitted skirt in McCall's 3830 because I needed a lot more hip width than the singular bodice size provided. Working this way made things a lot easier as did...
... using a zipper. Most of the fitting instructions I've read say not to use a zipper and to instead pin yourself into the garment. That's really hard to do by yourself and incredibly fiddly if you're taking it on and off repetitively. What I do instead is stitch the left and right, front and back, skirt and bodice sections together and then seam them at the middle. Then I pin the shoulder seams, put the garment on over my head, pin the underarm seam, and make any adjustments necessary to the shoulder to bust, bust to waist, and waist to hip lengths. I stitch those tucks by machine, press them, and then baste a zipper down center front so I can get in and out. It doesn't have to be pretty. It just needs to work. After that, I pin fit the side seams.
As you can see, I also cut off the seam allowance at the neckline - and the hem allowances - as they get in the way so what's the point. With the first bodice, I needed a 1" adjustment to the center front and center back length. On one of the videos, it said to begin adjusting with the back because it's much easier to see what you need there without the interference of the bust line. I could feel the extra fabric in the back and see in the front that I needed to adjust the bust level so I pinned the tuck in the front and then...
... pinned it in the back. In both cases, I pinned through the armhole because I wanted to determine if I should be making the adjustment above or below the armhole. Do you see those pushed down wrinkles at the back underarm and how the drawn line bends downward at the side? Those both indicate that the armhole is too high so in the second muslin I made the 1" adjustment below the armhole to confirm that positioning and at the same time moved the bust point back down 1/2" and took the other 1/2" out between the bust and waist. At one point, I worked on the bodice and the skirt separately. This is optional but I found it helpful.
You can see that my lines are drawn with felt pen. Apparently that's a no-no and will compromise the integrity of the muslin except it was never stated HOW and without an explanation that makes sense, it seems to me that a lightly drawn felt line is easier to see and quicker to make and no less intrusive than a stitched line. I've used it for years and it works so good and enough although...
... I learned a new way to mark the lines with tracing paper and a wheel. After cutting out the pattern piece, roll the wheel across the lines with the tracing paper underneath marking the under side of the bottom layer and then...
... take off the pattern tissue, put in a few stabilizing pins, turn the fabric over, and trace over the lines you just drew marking the opposite side. After tracing, I then drew with felt pen over those lines as they were quite faint.
As you can see, my fabric is somewhat wrinkly. Some instructors are very particular about how pristine the muslin fabric is. I could have pressed this image first but really I smoothed the fabric before cutting out the pieces and pinned securely. The fit is more likely to be affected by what I ate for breakfast and which undergarments I'm wearing than these slight wrinkles... which are now pressed out.
The Butterick fitting shell pattern comes with three options for shoulder lines. The narrowest one fit my shoulder perfectly although I squared out the shoulder line by 3/8". My right shoulder seems to be more sloped than my left. I'm not sure if I'm going to worry about that or not in the future but for the purposes of this sloper, I'm ignoring it.
In her webcasts, Peggy often comments that there is no anatomical mark on the body that designates the side seam or the shoulder seam... which there isn't... but she doesn't say how you know where to put that seam. With the underarm seam, I'm guessing that you put it where it looks pleasing and balanced however, with the shoulder seam Lynda mentions in the Craftsy course that the shoulder seam is not supposed to be visible at eye level from the back or the front. If you can see it from the front, it's too far forward and if you can see it from the back, it's too far to the back. That's helpful and could be applied to the sides seam. If you can see it from the front...
In this image, you can see how much I increased the waist to merge with my hip size. This creates a winged out look to the side seam so I decreased the size of the original dart by....
... cutting up the center of the dart and over to a hinge at the side seam. Then I moved the tissue the other way overlapping and decreasing the original dart to half the size while transferring the other half to the side seam to create a better line.
The bottom is filled in and the new narrower shape of the dart is redrawn. It's orange. There are a lot of lines on this tissue. It's rather messy but I'm ready to test the final version with 5/8" as opposed to 1" seam lines and once everything has been confirmed, I'll redraw a neater sloper on card stock for repeated use.
The last time I made a muslin, I hired a seamstress to help me and we ended up pinning this and pinning that and there were way more adjustments than I have determined in this process working by myself. As instructed by all the mentors, I started at the top making sure the shoulder slope was correct and then moved down to the bust point, the waist, and the hips. I'm about to put the sleeves in and perhaps that will change things but at this point, the only alterations I've made are to square the shoulders, shorten CF and CB by 1", and add sufficient circumference for my pear shaped figure. That's minimal. Apparently, I've been over-working things. You think ! ! ! ! LOL
In Sarah Veblen's book The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting, she writes on page 86, step 2, to Note that the back of the arm is crushing or pushing down on the fabric at the back armhole. This indicates that the back of the garment is too wide and that the back armhole needs to be clipped. Another way to conceptualize this is that the back armhole seam is not in the correct place, but needs to be farther in on the garment.
I have never read that description in another book nor seen a picture but that is exactly the issue I've been having behind the armhole and the solution is the solution I'd worked out. It doesn't seem to be present in the fitting shell but if it is once the sleeves are in, I know what the solution is. Once I draw that adjustment into my sloper and then use it to adjust other patterns, I can stop dealing with this issue.
In a recent posting, Kristen asked how many muslins do you have in you? VBG - as many as it takes because it's time well worth the benefits of taking that information forward to future garments BUT... I don't want to be making the same discoveries over and over. This fitting shell is work up front. The benefit will be the information and the sloper that makes every other project more successful right from the beginning. Peggy illustrates this in Success From The Start and Lynda in her book DeMystifying Fit.
After watching all the videos, I've worked on the actual muslin in two sewing sessions so far - probably not more than six hours. Today will be the third session and this should be the last version and the one from which I can develop my templates.
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - multiple muslin mentors and combined wisdom