Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Constructing and Fitting the Muslin Part 1

This is how I make my coat muslin. There are more ways than one to make a muslin from a pattern—I'm not saying this is the only way—it's just the way I do it.

My pattern includes 17 pieces. For the fitting muslin I am going to use:

  • front
  • side front
  • side back
  • back
  • upper collar
  • sleeve (this is a 1-piece that I will be converting to a 2 piece)
  • and welt
Step 1: Pattern

Press pattern tissue flat, then mark seam allowances.
(I'm using a vintage Vogue pattern, which is one size, and the seam allowances are marked on the tissue. Makes it nice for illustrating this .)

Pin main body of pattern pieces together on seam lines, and measure tissue.
Wearing ease for a fitted coat will be minimum of:
  • 4" in the bust (circumference)
  • 2" at the waist
  • 5"-6" at the hip
  • for the sleeve, at the bicep is also 4"
If you're planning to wear your coat over a suit every day to work:
  • 6" at the bust
  • 4-5" at the waist
  • 6-8" at the hip
These are minimums for wearing ease, and do not account for style/design ease.

Make any pattern alterations you need to make.
Extensive pattern alterations are beyond the scope of this sew-along. If you need help with altering your pattern I'd suggest consulting one of the myriad of fitting books out there or taking your questions to the fitting boards on Pattern Review and Stitchers Guild.

Here's a tip for drawing seam allowances onto pattern tissue for the Big 4: Use your standard tape measure as a guide. It's 5/8" wide, and typically the seam allowances for the Big4 are 5/8". Just lay the tape right on the cutting line and draw your seam lines on with a pencil.

Step 2: Place pattern pieces on muslin and transfer all markings, including seam lines, to muslin.

***Allow for 1" seam allowances on all vertical seams***

I have several large pieces of the old-fashioned wax tracing paper from Greenberg & Hammer (link on sidebar) that I use for this purpose.

Using a double tracing wheel with the spacing set at 1." I trace all my seamlines and the corresponding cutting line. Then I get out the single tracing wheel and make all markings, and trace the grain lines onto the fabric.

Not pictured: I remove the pattern pieces, remove the tracing paper, then cut the muslin out single layer, cutting on the outlines of the 1" lines on all the vertical seams. I cut 5/8" seam allowances on armsyce and neckline seams.

Be sure to label each pattern piece as you cut it with the piece name (e.g., "side front"), the pattern number, and the name of who the garment is for. It's always nice to remember to put a date on the pieces too.

Step 3: Stitch all lines on muslin with machine basting stitches.

This is obsessive and excessive, I know. But, when I try this muslin on my grainlines and other markings will be visible right and wrong sides, and as I work with it my markings are not likely to disappear on me.

I've stitched along my seam lines, my CF and CB, my buttonhole placement lines, hem lines, and horizontal lines marking both waist and hip.

This is also obsessive, but I stitch all my marking lines in one color family. Here I've used red and burgundy (whatever I have sitting around in old thread). Then when I baste the entire garment together, I've used threads in the blue family. That way, when I need to release stitches during fitting, I cut and pull on the right threads. Ask me how I learned to do this.

Step 4: Assemble the body

For the first fitting stitch together the main body pieces. No sleeves, collars or pocket welts at this point.

You'll notice that my waistline markings don't match up front to side front. I realized this was due to the pattern alteration I did, and I didn't re-verify my match points. I'll re-mark this on the muslin after fitting but before transferring the marking to my wool.

I am now ready to try this on, but I need someone else to be at home to take pictures. Having tried it on, without benefit of a photographer, I can tell that I'm going to need to change the angle a bit on my shoulder seam, and I think I've got a bit of a fitting issue on the back. The pictures will tell, and then I'll need to make a decision about whether it's enough to take care of now, or if it is something that can be adjusted at the first fitting during construction.


The Collar

There has been quite a bit of discussion already about the collar draft. KayY has posted about how she's added fabric to the upper collar for the Turn of the Cloth, and NancyK has posted about how she's trimmed off from the under collar of equally cut collar pieces, also to account for Turn of the Cloth. In any event, no matter how you accomplish it, you will want to cut your upper collar larger than your under collar.

The older Vogue pattern I'm using accounted for this in the pattern draft. It is highly unlikely that you'll find any contemporary patterns that have this feature drafted in.

Notice the difference between the under collar and the upper collar. The upper collar pattern piece is directly below the under collar and is lined up at the CB.

After we get the muslins all fit, and you have your collar the size you want it in proportion for your coat and your body, then I'll assemble all the info into one post so that you can cut your collar pieces to account for the Turn of the Cloth.

Another interesting shot of the front piece of the vintage pattern I'm using. Notice the seam allowance on the pattern tissue is 3/4"


Nancy K said...

From what I can see on your collar pieces, if you are using a very heavy wool, as I am , you would need more room for turn of cloth. There is a way to figure it out and if I can dig out the Threads article that talked about it I'll post a reference.
Marji I have never been that precise with a muslin before, but considering how fabulous your fit is, I am going to be doing it your way!

Els said...

Threads magazine issue 53 page 60, has an article about turn of cloth.
How much you need to add is depending on the thickness of the fabric you use.
I add to the upper collar and at the facing lapel pattern.

Sigrid said...

In a more recent Threads issue, no. 131 (July 2007), page 71 there is also an article on Turn of cloth.