Category Archives: Muslins

Thea saves the day

I am a little late in writing this post about my lesson last week, but better late than never.  And a warning – this is a long post.

If you will recall I had made two muslins recently that required either a trash can or resuscitation,  The grandma skirt and the knit top from hell.  That post generated the most comments I have ever received for any one post.  I was overwhelmed by all of the kind words and moral support you provided as well as for all of the good ideas.  Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for putting up with my whining about my weight and pattern sizes.  I’d like to highlight some of the comments:

Faye shared: “I am in the SAME boat … I still need clothes so I sew for where I am now, and will when I do lose the weight, I’ll sew for where I am then.”  I know you’re right, that I should sew for the body I have now, but I don’t want to.  *stamping foot like a toddler in the middle of a temper tantrum*  My urge to sew is negatively correlated to how out of shape I am, unfortunately.  Ugh! 

Sue suggested: “… none of us are going to fit into any clothing/pattern without some tweaking.”  As I shared with Karen on the phone the other night, I stupidly assumed that, after the sz 14 turned out to be too small, of course the sz 16 would be just right and would require no tweaking at all.  WRONG!

Robin mentioned: “I have TNT patterns that I use over and over.  When I want a new style, I work out a frankenpattern, rather than try to sew a muslin from a commercial pattern.”  I haven’t been sewing (i.e., producing) long enough to have any TNT patterns yet.  In fact, muslining the Simplicity skirt was my first attempt to find a TNT pencil skirt (post on TNT’s still in the works).  Read on further in this post, however, for more progress on this front.

Hatty pointed out: “Oh and another thing — what’s in your construction queue — that Burda cardi/jacket thing — that’s a definite no-no unless you are feeling devastatingly attractive and tall and willowy.”  OMG!  You’re right!  I am taking that out of the queue pronto.  Thanks for saving me from some more frumpy angst!

Helen bravely brought up: “You know, underneath all the stuff about your size there is that disturbing comment about ‘not expecting to date’ for some time, which we are all politely ignoring because it is so worrying.”  You are right too Helen, I should not feel that I have to be skinny to date, but while I understand that, I still can’t feel motivation to date when I don’t feel good about myself.  It’s a little bit of a catch 22.  But hopefully, after somehow working in working out again, I will feel better about myself and feel the urge to get out into the fray again.  The problem is, though, as a single parent, it’s hard to find time to work out without having to pay a babysitter to do so.  I can do it, but it’s a tricky business, can be expensive and you have to be extremely motivated work it into your schedule.

JC asked: “Did you enjoy your sew fast sew easy class?  Yes, I did.  I wrote a couple of posts about the projects I worked on in that class where I detail what I learned.  Check them out!  I highly recommend their classes.  However, one of the reasons I have Thea as my teacher now is that she comes to my apartment so I don’t have to pay babysitting on top of the class fee.

Now back to my muslin disasters…  I showed them to Thea and we went to work on them.  For the skirt, Simplicity 2452, I just needed to nip in at the hips and down the sides of the skirt a 1/4 inch on each side seam as the waist was fine.  When it was pinned to the correct size, the skirt looked exactly the way I wanted it to look: fitted but not too fitted.  It was the pencil skirt I have been searching for; the grandma skirt had disappeared.  Yeah!  I used the french curve ruler to redraw the pattern taking it in a 1/4 inch.  It was pretty easy actually.  See my adjusted pattern below.  So this could be my TNT pencil skirt pattern.  I am going to finish up this skirt even though the more I work with the fabric, the more I dislike it and I’m going to add a lining.  I want to see how it looks all finished to be sure I like this skirt pattern before I cut into any of my nice suiting fabrics.  I don’t want to make any more “muslins” for this pattern if I can help it.  🙂

2452 pencil skirt hip alteration

I haven’t finished the skirt so no pictures yet.  Be patient dear readers. 

Next I tried on the knit top for Thea and she thought it looked just fine on me.  She thought the pulling/wrinkles on the bust were part of the drape and didn’t bother her at all.  She liked the top.  I looked at it again with kinder eyes and just may agree.  Although I am waffling on it since I still feel self conscious about my thick middle section.  Thea said we could add a little more to the side seams on the front pattern piece under the arms for more room for the bust and see what happens.  I think I may try that in my ugly dots knit fabric.  Again, I don’t want to waste any of my nice knits on another muslin.  While Thea was there, I sewed on one of the sleeves and I had my first experience of too much sleeve cap ease.  New Look requires you to gather the sleeve cap before inserting the sleeve.  Ridiculous!  It’s a pattern for a knit fabric people!  How about just drafting a knit sleeve cap that fits into the armscye?  Brilliant idea.  Now let’s do that from now on.  I asked Thea to redraw the sleeve cap as I hadn’t a clue as to how to do that.  I’ll try it out the new sleeve along with the new front pattern piece on my next iteration of this top. 

6901 altered sleeve pattern piece

crappy sleeve insertion due to excess sleeve cap

lovely drape front -- best feature of the top

I thought I could salvage this top by removing the back neck facing and finishing it in another fashion, but I can’t remove the facing for the life of me.  It’s on there but good.  I could only get two inches unattached.  I am admitting defeat with this iteration.

the gosh durned stubborn back facing

The reason why I am working so hard to make this top and skirt work is simple.  TNT’s people.  I need ’em.  I want ’em.  They’re worth the effort, the tweaking.  Once I get these two patterns working for me for how I look now, (*sigh*) I can start ramping up the wardrobe factory production because I need a lot more work clothes.  A lot.  I am sick and tired of what’s in the rotation. I want some variety and more of it.  And I want it NOW!!!  And to be truthful, it isn’t hard to make these patterns work for me and my body.  The changes are simple and easy, so it’s not like I am redrafting the pattern.  I just became easily discouraged at first.  I was focusing on the wrong thing, my body, not the fit of the pattern.  Not that I shouldn’t get in shape or anything, but I can and will sew for the body I have now.  It will take time and much effort to get back to where I want to be, shape-wise, and I am going to need to clothe myself in the interim.  So I better get cracking!

So I am going to do a little poll with New Look 6901.  I will show you a picture of me wearing the top and you let me know via the poll what you think.  Deal?

Oh and I almost forgot!  Thea also looked at my alhambra clover fabric that was printed off-grain.  She thinks it just needs a  better pressing than I gave it previously and it should be fine.  Wow!  I can’t tell you how relieved I was.  However, I think I need a little time off from this fabric for a while before I reattempt cutting it again.  We need a break from each other. 

Happy tweaking everyone!


Muslin Hell

I am in muslin hell.  I made muslins for Simplicity 2452 and New Look 6901 over the last two weeks.  I hate them.  And no I don’t have pictures.  I would die of shame if you saw pictures.  Not flattering is the kindest term I can come up with to describe the awfulness that is the state of these muslins. 

Simplicity 2452

Let’s start the discussion with Simplicity 2452.  I first made this skirt in a size 14 in true muslin.  Choosing the size 14 was an exercise in futility wishful thinking.  I know sizes are just numbers, but folks, I really have a hard time swallowing the fact that I am a size 16.  Ok, so moving on, I choked back the tears accepted my “true” size and did another test run of this skirt in size 16 with some fabric of which I am not enamored.  I originally bought this stretch cotton for my Sew Fast Sew Easy class to make an elasticized waist skirt.  It’s a heavier weight (read: stiff — could stand up on it’s on) with Jacquard like stripes in an irregular pattern.  It’s easy to work with but the hand is not pleasant, think 70’s polyester blend.  Of course it doesn’t even enter my mind at this point that the size 16 wouldn’t fit, so I didn’t baste the side seams, I just sewed them at the regular stitch length (2.5 on my machine).  I hand basted the zipper in and tried it on. 

All I needed to complete the picture was a cane; I looked like I was at least 20 yrs older than I am.  What the?!?!??!?  It fit fine at the waist, but from the hips and down past the thighs, it was poufy (for lack of a better word).  Now I have to fit this size 16 to my apparently rectangular fat shape.  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  Have I done it yet?  NO!  Do I feel inclined to do it?  NO!  Will it be done? Maybe.  I don’t know.  We’ll see if and when I feel less bitter about this skirt. 

New Look 6901

Now for the New Look 6901 muslin…  I made view A the drape neck top in the pretty purple rain dress remnant as my muslin.  This time I “knew” to make the size 16.  First let me say that the New Look directions are great!  I understood every one of the steps.  The drafting is great too.  So let me tell you how I managed to screw up this simple top royally.  I got all fancy and decided to use my serger for the construction (not just the seam finishing).  The serger was not a good choice for attaching the back neckband facing.  Ask me how I know.  Then I proceeded to completely stretch the back neck out of all recognition by topstitching the facing after serging it.  It looks like hell.  The drape on the front, however, is beautiful.  After serging the side seams closed, I tried on my top.  Let me point out first though, before putting the top on, it looked ginormous in my hands.  Like triple XL ginormous.  I was scared it would be too big.  However, I didn’t realize how scared I should have been, because it fit.  For the most part.  It fit in the waist and shoulders.  Where it did not fit was in the bust.  Now, I am not of the opinion that I am overly well endowed in that region.  I would say that I am a little bigger than average.  I wear a C cup.  That’s it.  No FFF cups here.  Well that top was straining in the bust area with no less than three bust wrinkles.  And the drape?  The drape was draped BEHIND the bust wrinkles.   BEHIND!!!!  What the hell is up with that??  How is that even physically possible?  I can’t wrap my head around it.  And in case you’re wondering, the overall look of the top on me?  Reminiscent of women who wear clothes that are too young for their age.  I’m not that old people!!!!  

I knew I had gained some weight the last two years, but I must be suffering from some sort of delusion major body dysmorphia where I think I’m thinner than I actually am.  I have this picture in my mind of how I looked in 1997 and I’ve kind of frozen myself there in that year.  OMG, that’s thirteen years ago!  I thought it was only 5 yrs ago.  Time just flies after you turn 30 I guess.  Since I’ve had Jack, I’ve had this thought paradigm floating around my head that I can’t date right now.  Who wants to date a woman with a toddler, or who hasn’t lost the baby weight or gained more weight as if she had another baby but didn’t have another?  I can’t afford the babysitting costs required by having a social life.  So in my mind why should I bother losing weight or getting into shape again if I have no social life anyway.  What I hadn’t realized was just how much weight I have gained.  It’s shocking to me.  I guess these last two muslins have really made me look at myself in the mirror.  You know how you can look, but not really see?  That’s what I have been doing with mirrors since Jack was born, looking but not seeing.  Looking enough to put my make up on in the morning or do my hair, but not seeing the additional weight in all its glory.  

The funny thing is, I think back to when I was thin and dating and I distinctly remember thinking I was not thin.  Not fat, but not thin either.  It’s amazing how one’s perspective can be so skewed.  Now I know that I was thin then.  And now I see that I am not thin now.  *sigh*  

I have to start working out.  There’s just no hiding that fact anymore.  Even if dating is not in my near future, I still need to feel good about myself.  *double sigh*  Ok, I will stop writing TMI and get back to sewing.  I am not trying to be all self pitying right now, I am just sharing my sewing journey and a major part of sewing is being realistic about your measurements and sewing for the body you have now, not what you wish you had.  Am I making sense? 

Not sure what I am going to work on next, but probably New Look 6807. 

New Look 6807

Hope everyone else has a better sewing week than me.

Sewing Mojo Lost and Found

Thank you everyone for commenting on my last post about budgeting, I have been in mourning about how much I have to cut back and it was great to read everybody’s excuse method for working sewing into their budgets.  Very enlightening.

After writing about how excited I was about 2010 and all the cool stuff I want to learn and sew, my mojo promptly went on vacation.  I hope it went somewhere nice and warm.  Fortunately, I had a sewing lesson this week which forced said mojo to show up to work.  Yeah!!! 

Burda 11-2009-120

I am currently working on Burda 11-2009-120, the super cute, tweedy, inverted double front pleat skirt.  Of course, I looked up some of the reviews of this skirt on Pattern Review and there were some really helpful hints.  One person mentioned it ran large.  Another said that if you sew the pockets up for the belt, the opening for your hand is too small, etc.  I made the muslin with my teacher on Wednesday night.  

Here’s where my Nike ad comes into play, “Just Do It”.  That day, before my lesson, I just didn’t feel like sewing (remember, my mojo was vacationing in the South of France or somewhere equally nice).  I wanted to relax and completely veg in front of the tv and go to bed early.  I was really tired.  But I didn’t want to cancel on Thea and got myself psyched up.  Boy am I glad I did.  Can I tell you how much I love pleats?   And the crisper the pleat the better.  Yum!  I had read that one of the reviewers did some serious clipping of those pleats at the yoke of the skirt to reduce bulk at the tummy, so Thea taught me how to do that.  So cool!  I would never have thought to do that and the Burda instructions make no mention of doing that at all. 

Clipped pleats

So this is what you do, per Thea: 

  1. Cut horizontally right above where the end of your pleat stitching line ends, about 3/4 inch or an inch
  2. Then cut vertically up from there to the top of the pleat. 
  3. Grade the vertical cut so that the two layers of the cut pleat are different widths
  4. Do this for all the pleats (four in total on this skirt) so that you have four grades or levels of the cut pleat (is that the right way to term that?)
  5. Then stitch horizontally to the end of your pleat stitching line to hold the shape of the pleat.
  6. Later, you can tack the top of the pleat to the back of your pocket to make it even more stable.  This will help the pleats to stay in place and hold their shape.
  7. Do a dance because you have nice sharp pleats that will please you every time you look at them.  (You may even take the skirt out of the closet just to look at the pleats occasionally.  Really!)

So, I finished the muslin (up to attaching the waistband and sewing up the side seams) to check the fit.  I cut out the size 38.  Well, I guess that was wishful thinking, because there was no way I could have zipped it closed even had I inserted a zipper.  Whoo boy, was this sucker small.  I knew I put on a couple of pounds lately, but really!  Is it really necessary for these patterns to mock me??? 

I will not show you a picture of the muslin on me due to fear of internet humiliation modesty concerns.  Here is a picture of my beautiful muslin pleats from the right side however, for your viewing pleasure. 


As for the pockets, I did not bother sewing them on my muslin.  If they do end up too small to put my hands into after stitching the belt loops in, Thea suggested that I draw the scoop of the pocket pattern deeper (lower) to widen the opening.  I think that will be the perfect solution to that problem.  I will be tracing out the size 40 pattern tonight and pretreating my brown tweed so that I can start sewing my beloved pleats this weekend.    Can’t wait!  Thank goodness for the return of my sewing mojo.  Yeah!!!

Happy pleating everyone!

Burda Lite

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Remember how I ♥’d this skirt in the December Burda?

Burda 12-2009-112

Well, I made up the muslin yesterday (sz 40) and it fit!  Here’s a pic of my muslin. 

I can’t believe it but I actually understood all of the directions on my own without any help.  It’s a 1.5 dot pattern with 1 dot being the easiest, hence the title of this post.  It went together pretty easily.  I hope making up the fashion fabric goes even better.

stretch suiting from paron's

I pre-treated the fashion fabric (the grey one) by steaming it with a wet towel in the dryer and cut it out last night.  I have two yards left I think, in case someday I want to make a matching jacket or a dress. 

Today, while Jack is napping, I’ll try to sew most of it.  I am adding a lining using a method from this book, “Easy Guide to Sewing Linings,” by Connie Long.  It sure sounds easy.  Let’s hope that’s the case. 

I hope Jack takes a long nap!  😉

Happy sewing!

Trench update and new skill

I had another lesson with Thea last night…  We completed the muslin for my trench coat (Burda 03/09 #115) and I learned a new skill.  Click on over to the Trench Sew Along for my post on the trench muslin

My new skill?  Hemming pants.  Sounds simple right?  Well it is.  But I wanted to be sure I was doing it correctly.  So before I butchered my suit pants on my own, I waited until Thea came over and we went through the process together.  

Here’s what I learned:

  1. Measure both legs:  One hip can be higher than the other, so just measuring one leg might give you uneven results even if you are exacting in your measurements.   Mine had different measurements, so I’m glad that I waited to do this with Thea. 
  2.  Not all thread is created equally:  On the RTW pants I was altering, the overlocked (serged) hem allowance was thin in thickness, meaning the threads didn’t create a bulky edge.  The thread I bought for my serger, Maxilock, was thick thread and was definitely bulky when I finished trimming down the hem allowance.  Now I will have to be careful when I press these pants so that the ridge from the overlocked edge won’t show through the pant leg.
  3. I don’t like my blind hem stitch on my Emerald 183:  Well at least for fine garments like suits.  I can see the tiny stitches on the outside pant and it bothers me.  No one else would probably notice, but it would bother me to the point of never wearing the pants.  Solution: hand sew the hems.  Which is fine with me, since I enjoy hand sewing.
  4. That there’s always something to learn or a little trick of the trade with even the simplest sewing task: I’m so glad I waited for Thea to hem these pants.

 For the next couple of weeks, I will be working on my trench coat pretty exclusively.  There are a lot of great projects to watch unfold on the Trench Sew Along, so please check in on us.

Happy sewing everyone!

Fear of Trenches

Check out my latest sewing phobia on the Trench Sew Along….

What a fun evening!

Just what I needed to recharge…  I met Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic for the first time for dinner last night and it was a blast.  I have been reading Carolyn’s blog for over a year now and am always impressed with her tremendous output and bottomless creativity.

We had a lovely dinner at a restaurant in Rockefeller Center and just talked and talked.  Carolyn shared more of her sewing history with me.  We commiserated on parenting and work.  We talked about Fabricmart, Gorgeous Fabrics and Kashi at Metro Textiles.  Time just flew. 

As we were walking to the subway/Port Authority after dinner, we continued our conversation.  Carolyn kindly offered to pre-approve my future online fabric purchases as I am still not an experienced fabric buyer in person, much less online.  Remember the dot fiasco???  This afternoon I needed to rest my eyes at work and took a little trip to Fabricmart online.  I found all of their prices to be ridiculously reasonable.  I especially liked the silk chiffons but I know to stay away from those until my sewing chops are a little better.  However, I did find the following fabric (click the picture for a link to the site so you can buy some yourself!)…

Fabricmart imperial purple wool coating

Isn’t that a gorgeous eggplant purple?!?!?  If you haven’t already noticed, purple is my favorite color.  I asked Carolyn if she thought the wool would be a good fabric for the following unlined coat, Vogue 1060…


Carolyn said it would be great for that pattern, so I “accidentally” bought 4 yards of it.  Can’t wait to feel it in my own two hands.  I definitely need a fall coat.  Don’t you?  🙂

Now I know what you’re thinking, “What’s she doing buying fabric for a fall coat when she hasn’t even started the trench coat yet???”  Well, I am about to post my trench coat progress on the Trench Sew Along, so check it out at after 9pm ET today (Sept 18). 

Needless to say, I am feeling better now after my too small muslin for Butterick 5314.  Thank you to all who were supportive with my perhaps TMI post about it (hey, at least I didn’t post a picture of my post-baby belly!).  And a special thanks to Karen for politely saying I didn’t look pregnant.  😉  Actually, I am going to meet Karen for some textile shopping tomorrow and she’s going to meet my little guy for the first time.  Can’t wait.

Happy sewing and muslining!