With no preamble or sewing story set-up I give you today’s project:
Now I’m sure you get the title of the post.
This version of this dress is what in the sewing world is called a “wearable” muslin. A muslin refers to the trial run on a pattern done with inexpensive fabric or even the actual beige cotton “muslin”. The purpose of the muslin is to work out fitting and construction kinks before cutting into an expensive piece of fabric. Because I find working with beige muslin deadly dull, and frankly it’s useless for a knit garment, I tend to make muslins that I could potentially wear. That doesn’t mean I always do.
In terms of finding inexpensive fabric, we have in Tucson a store called SAS fabric which is a warehouse filled with remnants, casts-offs, discontinued bolts and lots of other trims and notions. It’s wearable muslin heaven because I’ll give anything a go at $2.99 or $3.99 a yard. Sometimes you can even get a yard or two of something really nice if you know what you’re looking at.
I was thrilled last week to find this lovely soft knit made of some poly blend. They had several yards available so I grabbed it with a muslin for this project in mind:
I washed the fabric like I always do and then I discovered that part of my yardage looked like this:
and part looked like this:
Oops. I guess I know now why it landed at SAS. But I was undaunted, and I decided to do the bodice with the top fabric and the skirt part with the bottom. The fabric is so busy anyway I actually thought at the outset that it might not be so noticeable. Uh, maybe not.
Anyway this pattern provided me with a few ways to stretch my sewing skills, which is a good thing no matter what the outcome. The bodice of this dress is self-lined with the main fabric which enables the neckline and armholes to have a clean finish. It’s not super easy to see with the busy pattern but here’s a close-up of the neckline finish:
I tried this on midway and took my first ever selfie in the mirror:
I knew from that point that the top was going to be a little big on me but I pressed on anyway. This dress also used clear elastic to create gathers on the skirt without having to actually gather. You stretch the clear elastic as you sew, and if you space it right the end length of the waist mirrors the length of the bodice. It took some time futzing with it and one wholesale rip-out before I got the hang of it. I actually like this technique and here’s a look at how the clear elastic looks on the inside (before finishing the seam).
I have to say that many times as I was constructing I said “I’m going to hate this”. This is common chatter for me when I’m trying something new before the whole thing comes together. As is the case with each project, at some point I just have to conjure my inner Tim Gunn and “keep going”. I’ve had experiences being pleasantly surprised, moderately surprised and not at all surprised at the various final outcomes. In this case as soon as I slid the finished garment over my head I was shocked by how super comfortable it was. For that reason alone I will definitely give it another go with a better quality fabric.
Regarding this wearable muslin, though, there’s lots of room for improvement. First of all the fit is a little loose around the neckline. It’s hard to know if that’s a pattern issue or construction issue because knit necklines frequently stretch out. Whatever the reason it needs to get fixed. Next, I had a mystery “bump” on the shoulder here:
When I joined the bodice lining to the shell I got a little hung up on the seam and I think that’s where it got a little bunched. I figured out how to do it better on the other side. And finally there’s this:
Nothing to do about that, but I’ll let David tell me how noticeable it really is (and he’ll be honest).
So that’s the dress.
And if you’re wondering about the new hairdo, it’s actually my “hanging around, no one is going to see me” look. The problem was the flash. Not the camera flash, the hot flash. I just had to get the hair out of the way. And you know, I’m glad I did because the dress has enough pattern all by itself, and I like this look better with this dress. Like I said, sometimes you just gotta mix it up (and take a picture).