#RoyalWeddingSewAlong My Muslin & Fit Adjustments (McCall's 7684)

Missed my 90,000 instagram stories? Lucky for you I also took a bunch of photos! Bonus: no rambling.

Muslin 1:

 Okay! This is my starting point, a straight size 12. When I selected my size using the finished garment measurements, I was between sizes 10 and 12, and since it's always easier to take in than to let out, I went with the 12. As you can see it's large all over! I also noticed it's long on me--the waist band pattern has the waist mark just at the bottom of the band, and my natural waist is somewhere in the middle of the waistband. However, I like how the bust darts are hitting, and the volume of the cup, so this pattern, though large, is looking promising overall!

Muslin 2:

I decided to start with the simplest thing, taking in the side seams, straight up and down. I took in the side seams at about 1/4", making the circumference 1" smaller all around. The waistband is now snug but not restricting, and the bottom of the waistband is now resting right at my natural waist, just where it should be. The waistband being where it should be is really emphasizing that the bodice is much too long, though. In the side photo, you can see that the shoulder straps are practically floating off into the sky! However, if I take up the straps, I know that will change the level of the neckline and bust and I really like those as they are, so in the next muslin, I'll take height not out of the shoulders, but the waist.

Muslin 3:
Much better already! I took a horizontal tuck out of the front and back bodice pieces, about 3/4". There is still some bunching at the back, but I think that will be pulled out by the skirt. We'll see!

Here is what my front bodice pattern piece looks like now--I sliced off the bottom seam allowance and shifted it up 3/4". I sliced off 1/4" from the side seam. I redrew the dart legs to the new dart leg endings (which were shifted up with the seam allowance). Full disclosure: for accuracy, what you should really do is remove all seam allowances, make modifications, then add back seam allowances. That is why I cut off the seam allowance and moved it upwards, rather than just cutting it off and moving it up. I'm a cheater.

At this point, I am loving the front fit and briefly considered just taking in the side seams under the armpits, narrowing to nothing at the waist. If I didn't have y'all looking over my shoulder, I would have just done that and have called it a day! But! But! I knew I really ought to be a better example and was what was needed really less space under the armpit? No. This is what was needed:

An armhole dart to resolve a gaping armhole! Not so different than just taking a wedge out of the side seam, but definitely not exactly the same either. I transferred this armscye dart onto my flat pattern, and rotated it into the waistline dart. This made my dart huge and made me really nervous, so I sewed it up really quick and whoa whoa whoa I would have needed something from What Katie Did to fill out those pointy pointy bust darts. I also noticed some neckline gaping--I had taken too much out of the armscye, in addition to making my bust darts too wide. I didn't take pictures of this muslin, muslin 3.5, it was simply too distressing--it is on my instagram feed though, modeled by my dress form, if you must see it for yourself. I do have lots of photos of the patterning process though, since it's a little difficult to describe:

Here I drew in the dart lines, transferring them from the armscye of the muslin to the armscye of the pattern, all the way to the point of the waist dart.

I cut through the center of the armscye and waist darts, to but not through the dart point. I rotated the pattern around the dart points so that the two legs of the armscye dart were overlapped. This opens up the waist dart--a lot.

 Retraced and redrew the armscye curve. Then I made a truly disastrous muslin.

Final muslin:

For this final version, I reset after my dramatic pointy darts and made a more modest armscye dart. I rotated that into the waist dart, but also overlapped the waist dart legs very slightly (about 1/4") since I noticed a bit of extra fullness through the bust point, beyond the obvious pointiness, I mean, on the dart rotated muslin 3.5 (this is similar to how one does a small bust adjustment, if you were wondering). This combination of armscye dart rotated into waist dart and slight overlap is visible in this photo of the back of the altered pattern--the front is obscured with washi tape, my preferred pattern alteration tape due to repositionability! :)

In the first armscye dart rotation, remember that the legs were overlapped (so they looked like one  line). I took out about half the dart width at the armscye. 

 I also overlapped the tip of the waist dart--here you can see two dots just to the left of the circled cross that indicates the bust apex. That's actually the tip of the dart, cut in half!

From the back you can see the way the two darts are interacting. The darker, near 90* angle is comprised of the side leg of the armscye dart and the side leg of the waist dart. The lighter, almost 180* angle underneath is the center front leg of the armscye and waist darts. The area just to the right of the bust point that forms a little polygon is being removed from the pattern--just a little bit of fabric over the bust. (Hope you were paying attention in geometry. Also, sewing is S.T.E.M. if your school district is wondering.)

The front of my bodice fits smoothly over the bust with no pulling, there's no gaping along the neckline or shoulder in front or back, and the waist hits just where it should. Could I continue tweaking the fit? Yes, endlessly. But I think this is looking pretty good and it feels comfortable. The only thing I will be keeping an eye on is back length--on my final version, I'll pin on the skirt and see if it pulls it down and smooths it out. If not, I may shave a bit more off horizontally at center back tapering to nothing at the side seam.

To recap: muslin 2 took out excess width, muslin 3 took out excess height, (muslin 3.5 gave me extremely pointy darts), and muslin 4 resolved a gaping armhole and a bit of extra fabric over the bust all in one. Phew! After all this muslin, you can imagine I'm pretty excited to cut into my fashion fabric... that'll be next week!

One last note: don't be surprised if this is the most detailed post of the bunch; once you get your fit nailed down, the rest is smooth sailing!


ps: these are all in black and white for two reasons. first, it's less distracting! second, wildly different lighting in my room over the course of several evenings! 

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#RoyalWeddingSewAlong Choosing a Size & Fit Adjustments FAQ (McCall's 7684)

Welcome to the first proper post in my McCall's 7684 sewalong! Today I'll be going over the important first steps in making any dress: determining your size and fitting a bodice muslin. I have a lot of ground to cover, so I'm going to start with a little FAQ and then later this week, I'll walk you through my process for this project in particular. I've been working on my muslin and it's looking good!

What are your measurements?
I am currently about 34" bust, 27-28" waist, 39" hip and 5'7". (Are we body twins? Let me know!)

How do you choose what size to start with? 
If I had to give new sewers one piece of advice, it would be: Ignore the body measurements on the back flap of the pattern and use the completed garment measurements! I love love love sewing with "Big 4" patterns--that's Butterick, McCalls, Vogue, Simplicity--but a lot of people complain that they never fit correctly. In fact, all of these patterns are based on a very strict industry standard block, and therefore, are a lot more consistent than sewing indie brands (especially if you sew from a bunch of different indies, all using different blocks). You just need to crack the code! Here is the trick: do not use the body measurements chart on the back of the envelope. Instead, use the completed garment measurements, located on the relevant pattern pieces. Using your body measurements, desired ease, and completed garment measurements, you can easily select a size that will give the look you are after. How much ease you want is up to you, but a good rule of thumb for a formal dress in a woven fabric (like this one!) is an inch or two of ease in the bust and 1/2"-1 1/2" in the waist (a bit more in larger sizes). This is all personal preference though; you may like your dresses to be skintight, or a bit looser. (Here's a craftsy article on ease.)

If, for example, your waist measures 28 inches:

According to the body measurement chart, you are a size 14 at the waist. The finished waist measurement for a size 14 garment is 32", or 4" of ease, much more than the 1" of ease preferred for a formal garment. Wow! Find the waist pattern piece and look for the finished garment measurements. If you know you want only 1" of ease, look for the size that has a finished garment measurement of 29". You may want to start with that size. Or, you may way to start with the bust, since the waist is usually easier to modify...

Another hypothetical, if, for example, your bust measures 34 inches:

According to the body measurement chart, you are a size 12 bust. The finished bust measurement for a size 12 garment is 36 1/2", meaning 2 1/2" of ease, slightly more than the 1-2" of wearing ease preferred for a fitted garment. The finished garment measurement at the bust of a size 10 is 35, however, which is right at 1" of design ease, so you might want to start with a size ten and modify from there. (The bust finished measurement is often located on the back of the envelope in addition to on the front bodice pattern piece, so that's a good place to start if you suspect you will be between pattern envelope ranges, FYI!)

Finally, McCall's patterns, unless stated otherwise are drafted for a B cup (I'm pretty sure). If you have a significantly larger or smaller bust than that, you'll likely have to do a small or large bust adjustment. (also, this is a b cup using the +5 method of bra sizing. if you don't know what I'm talking about, it's your regular victorias secret size and ignore this. if you are saying "thank you allie for this helpful clarification, i wish more people would clarify what type of bra sizing they meant" then I KNOW RIGHT?)

Additionally, if you have a significantly larger or smaller bust than a B cup, you  may run into problems selecting your pattern using bust size: imagine similarly sized women, one bustier than the other, both selecting a shirt based on bust measurement alone--the smaller chested woman's shirt will be too small and the larger chested woman's shirt will be too large, right? To counteract this, you can skip using your full bust measurement and instead use the "high bust measurement." This is not something I do for myself, but you can read how to do this measurement and how/why it works here.

Do you make a muslin for every project?
No, just for important projects like this. I generally only make a bodice muslin for a full-skirted project like this dress.

How do you know what fabric to use for your muslin?
Pick a fabric as similar in stretch and weight to your final fabric as possible. This can be tricky!

Any other muslin tips?
Use a contrasting thread (I like to use those weird bobbin colors I don't anticipate needing again soon) and a long stitch length to make unpicking easy!

Once you've chosen a size and made a preliminary muslin, how do you know what adjustments to make?
Look for pull/drag lines on your muslin--they often point to the locations you need to adjust. Also, anywhere uncomfortable, either physically (i.e. smushed chest, armpits digging in) or mentally (i.e. will be worried about bra straps showing all. night.).

How did you learn to make fit adjustments?
A lot of trial and error! Try checking out a book on fitting (for example, Fit for Real People) from your library, or purchasing a craftsy class on fit for a deep dive. Also, googling the issue you have will usually bring up a lot of blog posts on the topic--that's the great part about the sewing community online!

What are your common bodice adjustments?
After you have to make the same adjustments across multiple patterns, you can begin to anticipate them--or perhaps you already know you are very petite and will have to shorten everything, or have a large bust and will have to do an FBA (full bust adjustment) on everything. I am short-waisted so I often have to shorten bodices. I have a small bust so I sometimes make an SBA (small bust adjustment) on indie patterns, which are often drafted for larger bust sizes than Big 4 patterns. You'll see at least one of these alterations on my muslin--check back here later this week!

How do you know when you are done adjusting?
Listen, I'm all for perfection when it comes to spring afternoons or gin and tonics, but sewing? Nope. You are done adjusting whenever you feel comfortable in your muslin and you think it meets your standards for fit, whatever those might be. This is supposed to be a challenge, yes, but it's also supposed to be fun!

Any other FAQs you can think about? No question too big or small... I'm here to help! let me know in the comments and I'll try and respond and/or add them here :)


ps: phew!

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#RoyalWeddingSewAlong Style Inspo & Suitable Fabrics (McCall's 7684)

As part of the Royal Wedding Sew Along, I'm excited to do something a little different than what I usually do--all finished outfits, all the time! Typically y'all see inspirational collages and to-do lists and then in a few weeks, a completed garment--as if I had Cinderella's fairy godmother toiling away in my sewing room. Doing a structured sew along means I'll be going slowly and taking y'all with me as I sew McCall's 7684 week by week.
This is a David Tutera dress with a bunch of mix-and-matchable options: a high square neck or a v neck, a few different lengths including a high-low option, and a plain, sash, or cummerbund-style waistband. I've chosen the shorter length for my skirt, the sash waistband, and the v-neck (and I'll be chatting next week about whether I decide to lower it slightly or not! I haven't decided yet).

I'm taking inspiration from the elaborate dresses and fascinators worn to British weddings and incorporating a bit of drama into my dress with an exaggerated bow waist and, I hope, a detachable bow at the shoulder. While I won't be wearing any wild hats or fascinators, I want to incorporate that sense of fun into the dress itself! My fabric is semi-sheer, so I think a dual-layered full skirt, along with the bow sash and fitted waist, will give it a slight vintage look. It's also preeeeetty bright, so definitely a spring look!

M7684 suggests taffetta, brocade, shantung, or satin, but this is one of those patterns that could be made in almost anything with a bit of structure, from a suiting wool (for a jumper look with that pleated skirt and a turtleneck underneath? so cute) to a cotton print. I'm keeping my fabric a surprise for now (although I do have it picked) but I think you'll agree it will make a fun, springy dress perfect for a Royal Wedding or a day at the races! Here are a few of my favorite fabrics for this style; click through to the pinterest board for the full fabric details and links!

Will you be sewing along? I hope so! Not sure? Check the McCall's blog for all the details and say yes to the dress (sewalong)... ;)


ps: i. can't. wait.

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Spring/Summer Sewing Plans

It may be raining and gloomy outside today, but it got up to 70 degrees this past week and so I have spring sewing on my mind! Actually, I started my spring sewing extra early this year because I'm going on a cruise(!) and wanted to make a few things for the trip, so confession: I have already completed a few of the things on this list.

You may notice there's a lot of Sewaholic on this list. I own a lot of Sewaholic patterns, but haven't gotten around to making many of the ones in my stash, despite having loved the ones I have made. This spring I'd like to rectify that!

In various degress of completion, here's my spring sewing list:

My white Gingers (full length)

White Ginger Shorts - I'm not a big shorts wearer but I bought a pair of jean shorts from Grana last spring and ended up wearing them a lot. It's not my favorite thing to style, but they are so practical. I think I'll get a lot of use out of a white version as well! These are finished (you may have seen them on my instagram stories) with details/photos to come!

Sewaholic Pendrell - I have already made one version of the Sewaholic Pendrell in a total mish mash of seersuckers left over from a bunch of other projects, details/photos pending. I love the fit right out of the envelope so I think this will be a nice, easy pattern to sew a few versions of, and the different ruffle options provide some variation so it's not just the same top over and over again. I'd like to make at least one more, in a lighter, floatier fabric like a rayon.

Sewaholic Granville - I made a blue oxford Granville here and want to make a couple more: one in eyelet (I have the fabric all ready and waiting) and one in another color of oxford with a rounded peter pan collar (maybe pink, or white).

Carolyn Pajamas - These have been cut out of nice Cotton and Steel flamingo lawn and ready to sew for, um, a long time. I want to make a little three-piece set with a long sleeve Carolyn top, Carolyn shorts (both cut out already) and a little Ogden Cami to swap in when it's extra hot. (Previous Carolyn/Ogden pjs here and here.)

Sewaholic Oakridge - A Sewaholic pattern I've never made! I'm not sure if I'll actually end up making an Oakridge or some sort of Oakridge/Granville hybrid, but I definitely want a top with a bow neck. I do think I prefer the higher neck of the Granville, so I may do some creative combining.

Sewaholic Lonsdale - Ashley was nice enough to send me her old copy of this OOP pattern last summer and even I ordered a stretch twill to make it in. Tragically, it was much too thick and I ended up using it to make a Rae (duh) but I still want to make this dress!

Trench Coat (McCall 5525 or Deer and Doe Luzerne) - A classic tan trench was on my winter capsule list as well--a trench is really a year-round garment in NC :) Still deciding on whether to remake the Deer and Doe Luzerne or branch out and make the super-classic McCall's 5525. I also have the trench from the Japanese coat book on my list for #menswearmakenine. That one is more classic so it would probably be good to make the McCall's one for myself and as practice before I try and decipher Japanese instructions for the men's version...

I also have a few more things that I've been busily working on for my cruise (a couple bikinis and some things for Alex) that I'll be sharing over the next few weeks! For now though--head over to instagram! Although there isn't a nice new garment to share there is... a giveaway! I'm running #menswearmakenine giveaways all week--you won't want to miss it!


ps: currently on my cutting table: two bikini bottoms, one pair men's shorts, one men's shirt, one woman's shirt, and one tank top. phew!

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Practical & Pretty (Emerald Erin Tuesday Boyshorts & Jordy Bralette)

This year, in addition to not purchasing any podcast hoodies, Quidditch jerseys, boring white tee shirts, etc., etc., as part of my RTW Fast, I have also made a personal pledge to make, not buy, any and all lingerie. Although the official RTW fast does not technically include lingerie, my ever-increasing stash of lingerie supplies begged and begged me to include bras and underwear in my personal pledge, and who was I to deny it? Luckily, my friend Erin asked me to test a few patterns for her very first pattern launch, so I had a great excuse--and a motivational deadline!--to get started right away. The patterns are launching today in honor of Valentine's Day and I hope you'll take a look here!

If you aren't familiar with Emerald Studios, Erin has been on the forefront of the lingerie sewing scene since, like, before sewing lingerie was cool. She has two amazing etsy shops with everything you need to get started and has always been there for me when I need, for example, a LOT of help picking out the right size underwires. Her blog is super informative too--I recommend you just go explore for a while. Obviously, I'm so excited that she's releasing patterns!

First, the bralette: the Jordy is a great intro bralette with a few mix-and-match options. Although both of mine have bra foam and lace detail, you can make a softer, more basic bra by leaving out the bra foam and lace and just using jersey knit fabric for the cup for a sporty kind of look. If you want more sweet than sporty, using no bra foam, sheer mesh and lace is a super sexy, girly look. Keep in mind that it is a pretty minimalist bralette, with an all-elastic underbust band and triangle cups, so it's not going to be super supportive, but I love it for lounging around the house and it's really getting me more into bralettes!

The matching underwear, the Tuesday boyshorts, are my new. favorite. thing. I prefer wearing boyshorts as everyday underwear (specifically the aerie boy briefs which have been my preference for about... 15 years) and so I was thrilled that Erin was designing a pattern in this style. I love that the front is cut in one piece and the back in two for a little shaping, and the construction is so clever (it uses the burrito method for, er... a clean crotch). This is my second pair and the only different I made was to raise the front leg opening slightly. This is a full-coverage back (unlike, for example, the Evie la Luve Maxine, whice I've made as a swimsuit here) so it's super easy to wear and very comfortable. One thing I appreciate about this pattern is that it leaves the finishes up to you--so if you prefer using fold over elastic, you can, or if you want to use lace trim, you can do that too. My first version used FOE to match the bralette but my second uses lingerie elastic... The FOE definitely makes it more of a "matched set" feel but I think I prefer the lingerie elastic to wear. The pink fabric I used for underwear and bralette is available in Erin's shop!

I already have another version of this pattern on my sewing table, although once it makes it onto the blog I expect it will be near unrecognizable with all the hacking I'm doing! I have some bits of this gorgeous swim fabric from Spoonflower left over from my Beverly bikini and I'm trying to replicate the J. Crew French bikini top... pretty different from the Jordy, right? Wish me luck--I'm a pretty experienced pattern hacker but I've never attempted it with intimates before!


ps: i tested Erin's other boyshorts pattern, the Classic, a few years ago and despite my atrocious sewing and horrible fabric choices (they are bright pink with purple elastic and random serger and thread colors since they were a wearable muslin) i still wear them because they are super comfortable--sadly, due to aforementioned horrendous sewing and terrible colors, you won't be seeing those on the blog!

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two piece "shirtdress" (sewaholic rae and granville)


I shared this shirt previously here and I mentioned then that I made a little matching Rae skirt with the leftovers. I've worn them each of these pieces alone--the shirt goes with basically everything and the skirt is really cute with a tee shirt or Breton top--today I've paired them together styled as a faux shirtdress!

This skirt was born of having too much fabric to just toss, but not quite enough to make the pattern properly; I had to make some adjustments based on my very limited amount of material! First, the Rae skirt has three views: a full mini, a regular mini, and a knee-length version. My favorite is the full mini, but I didn't have quite enough of my fabric left over to make that one, so I cut the sides from one mini and the center front and back from the other--I can't remember if it's the sides that are full or the center though, sorry.

Also, after making my first Rae as written, all the others were made by gathering the skirt into a waistband. It's just a long rectangle, nothing fancy, but this time I didn't have enough material to even do that! I debated making a ribbon waistband but ended up going with a new-to-me type of elastic inspired by the boxers I was making at the same time--so if this gathered waistband looks a bit like your boyfriend's boxer elastic, that's why! It uses less fabric than the gathered waistband as written and minimizes bulk at the waist to keep my "shirtdress" streamlined, so it all worked out well in the end.

You may have noticed I really like making two-piece outfits, and although this is my first two-piece shirtdress, I don't think it will be my last. It's so nice to relax and make a little skirt after the precision of a collared shirt, and it's great to have two pieces that you can wear separately or together.

Tragically this skirt waistband is slightly too large, so I really ought to take it in slightly. Will I do it? We shall see.


ps: a bit of early springiness here on the blog... in fact I was a bit warm in this outfit. not super excited about summer.

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Black to Basics (Closet Case Ginger Jeans)

I know, I know... that's two "basic" titles in a month, and bad puns at that! But my Girlsack-inspired classic capsule combined with my pledge to not buy any clothing during 2018 has me sewing all the practical pieces, like oxford shirts, navy skirts, and these black jeans!

This is the third version of the Closet Case Ginger Jeans I've made in the past year and I now have a whole Ginger wardrobe: classic blue denim, white, and now black. If you've followed me in my Ginger making adventures, you may remember that I thought the first pair (in blue denim) wasn't quite high-rise enough--view B is supposed to be natural waist, but that first pair hit just below my belly button which I didn't love. (Does anyone else feel dumb writing belly button? But navel seems just as bad? Ugh, the things we type for sewing blogs!) For the white pair, I added two whole inches to the rise, and while I think they look cute they feel just slightly too high. For this pair, I added one inch to the original pattern, so halfway between versions one and two, and, like Goldilocks, it's just right. I also shaved a little bit out of the lower back, and I think the fit in these is the best to date. Unfortunately, I think this pair has the worst waistband yet (although nothing egregious) with some flaws at the fly and I somehow managed to sew my back pockets on totally crooked despite having double and triple checked. Luckily these issues don't stand out in black, no one besides sewing people will even notice, and Alex says anyone who is looking at my butt will be distracted by how nice it looks in these jeans and will definitely not notice the pocket placement. (Isn't he sweet! haha)

This fabric is from Hart's and I was pretty worried while sewing that it wouldn't have enough recovery--my pattern pieces were stretching all over the place and curling up like crazy. I was so relieved when I tried them on and they not only fit perfectly, but stayed snug throughout the whole day. This fabric is really great--a nice weight with a hefty stretch and a deep black color (I called the store to make sure it was black black before ordering). Unfortunately, it's all sold out! You may be able to find it at a different store since Telio fabrics are sold elsewhere.



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