Making a Muslin – Liberty Edition

After feeling frustrated by my recent attempts at making woven dresses, I took a step back. What pattern has fit me the best? Could I work with it? Well I thought on it for a while and determined the Gertie dress I made a few months back is still my favorite. Light as air to wear and with a good fit. It only needed a few tweaks. So I’m saying goodbye to the Upton pattern for now. Maybe, just maybe I need to stick with misses patterns and grade out rather than starting with plus patterns. Worth trying!

So I put on my Gertie dress to access the fit. Lots of little tweaks, but nothing huge.

  1. Take out 1/2 inch the front neckline
  2. Increase the waist front darts 1/2 inch
  3. Lower the bust darts
  4. Make back darts end higher
  5. Make sway back adjustment less severe

Looks like a lot, but most of these were easy to accomplish when re-tracing the pattern. Then I conquered an adjustment I’d been mulling over for a while. A narrow back adjustment as outlined in this Threads Magazine article.

Now, one would normally use something like muslin fabric or something purchased cheaply, but I’m running low on wadder fabric. I used my Liberty!


It worked! Well, not quite! The finished dress is beautiful, but it turned out I’d over done lowering the bust darts! I had to rip it all apart to redo them. In the end that worked out well because now I have custom fit darts.

I’m thinking I might take that approach more often. These are some of my most successful darts and it wouldn’t be terrible hard to do. I could just sew the top and bottom of the side seam then try on my dress and pinch out the darts as I wanted them.


This was supposed to be a muslin to test my newly re-drafted bodice, but then when the darts were all wrong I couldn’t bear to fix the darts and then rip this all apart to trace off the pieces. I guess that’s what happens when one decides to test new ideas with Liberty of London lawn. This stuff is too expensive and dear to rip apart, but I love all my stash fabrics too much to make a wadder.

I ended up picking this yardage piece because it had been sitting unloved for too long. It was only 2 yards of Penrose Rose (color D) I purchase on an Massdrop a while back. Part of me wanted to see if I could get a whole dress out of such a small piece and I’m thrilled that I could!


One of the other issues I encountered was a lack of lining fabric in my stash. I seriously need to pick up some nice lawn to have on hand! I dug around a found a few scraps of ivory lawn left over from my 1912 dress. It wasn’t enough to make the all in one facing I’d planned. It wasn’t even enough for bias tape! But the awkwardly shaped scraps were just enough to make some very narrow facings.


These worked perfectly and do not flip out the way full sized facing usually do.

The other issue I encountered was when I finished the dress it looked too plain. It was just a simple thing with a whole lot of patterned fabric. I dug around through my lace scraps and found a length of antique cotton lace that was leftover from a 1930s dress I made years ago. It definitely made this dress look less homemade.

Lastly for the skirt I took the leftover yardage after cutting out the bodice pieces and determined I could just eek out a skirt that came to the top of my knees while still being able to line up the subtle striping pattern at the side seams. it also means the skirt is a full 100 inches wide! So wide! To keep the width from becoming overwhelming without a petticoat I pleated the fabric using my own fingertip as a guide on how large to make each pleat.

I’d thought about making a less wide skirt, but I didn’t want to have an awkward piece of fabric leftover. In retrospect I could have used the leftovers to make bias tape, but now that the dress is done I am so glad I went for the super pleated skirt.

Since I finally have a dress I love I’m trying to decide what to make next. I wanted to make a shirt dress this summer, so maybe that should be next. While I ponder I have a couple quick knit things to make. What do you all think I should tackle next?

11 thoughts on “Making a Muslin – Liberty Edition

  1. You were brave to use Liberty but it paid off, the dress looks amazing on you and the belt is very flattering and really shows off your waist. This is the first year I’ve worn shirt dresses so that’s my vote but which ever you would wear the most.


  2. “I could just sew the top and bottom of the side seam then try on my dress and pinch out the darts as I wanted them.” OMG I could do that, too!!! Lightbulb moment! And narrow facings instead of full- sized ones…another lightbulb! I’m just starting my journey to sewing a handmade wardrobe, and everything I’ve made so far looks it. Eventually my dresses will look as god as yours…thats the goal. I’m a lurker on your blog, so maybe it’s time for me to say hi. You are an inspiration to me and I can’t wait to see what you make next. I am working on knitting a sweater for myself for the cool fall days that are coming, and I plan to sew some Carolyn Pajamas because I think I’m ready for the challenge of piping and buttons ( though I have yet to do a zipper, lol). Oh, and your Liberty dress is fabulous!


    • Hi! Thank you for de-lurking and your kind words. So much of sewing is experimenting to see what works for you. While there are lots of basic guidelines and rules our there the truth is that using your own process is just fine too. Fake it ’til you make it! Good luck on your sweater and PJs. Buttons are so much easier than a zipper!


  3. Pingback: Curvy Sewn: Your Creations for August

  4. Hi – just came here from your Curvy Sewing Collective “Sewing for My Curves” post, because I’m thinking we have some similarities in shape & style. (I think you are younger & farther along in getting things to fit properly though. 🙂 ) I also have found, much to my annoyance in some ways, that I have to start with a misses’ pattern and alter from there. A plus size never seems to work for me. I tried the Concord T-shirt, and with only one muslin I knew it wouldn’t work & just set it aside. I love the well-fitting bodice/Upton skirt mashup you did, and am thinking of doing something similar, since I ordered the Concord and Upton at the same time & now have them sitting around. I am working on the Hollyburn skirt now & recognized it in your Curvy Sewing Collective post.


    • Hi Carol! Thank you! I’ve definitely found I need to alter the shoulders on Cashmerette patterns. I’m a little sad they don’t work better for me, but that’s the gamble you take with all pattern companies. Hopefully you’ll still be able to use parts of them in future projects. They are so basic that I’ve been able to still get my money’s worth. And if you need some pointers, let me know.


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