Archive for August, 2009


Birth of a Muslin

I spent a couple days this past week drafting the pattern and sewing up the muslin for a bridal gown I’ll be making in the near future. I thought I’d share the experience with my readers!

I pretty much always begin by sizing my dressform to my client’s measurements. This particular gown will be made for a plus sized gal with an hourglass figure, whose measurements were a bit larger than my adjustable dressform adjusts. I needed a good representation of her figure to be able to drape the bodice, and I didn’t want to swing for one of those deluxe uber adjustable dressforms just for the muslin. So, I cut 4″ wide strips of quilt batting and wrapped them around the form to pad it.  I had lots of control over *where* the extra padding went, and the batting is just fuzzy enough to sort of stick to itself which made it easy to put it on. Right after taking this snapshot, I took a roll of masking tape to it so I wouldn’t have to deal with the batting shifting each time I put the muslin onto and off of the dress form.

Padded Dressform

Once I was sure I had a good size and shape, I drew up the pattern for the bodice lining. For the lining I used a simple princess seamed strapless pattern, converted it to a sweetheart neckline, shortened and tapered the skirt. I left it a little longer than the final bodice would be, so I could draw out the asymmetrical line where the bodice attaches to the skirt in 3D, right up on my dress form. (It doesn’t show terribly well in the picture, but I drew my line straight on the muslin with a ballpoint pen). I also adjusted the back of the bodice, to allow for corset style lacing in the back. I drafted the skirt pieces and matched them up to the bodice to mark out the same angled lines for that seam.

Muslin Pattern

Having removed the skirt pattern from the bodice lining, I moved on to draping the bodice itself. This was by far the most time consuming part of the process. I pinned muslin fabric straight onto the bodice lining, taking up small, irregular pintucks. I didn’t want the dress to look pleated, but rather to have a slightly random, organic look to the ruching, so I spent a lot of time undoing and redoing the pinning, twisting and stretching the fabric, until I had everything in place. Then after a strong blast of steam from my iron to set the wrinkles (and make them a tad less poofy), I had to carefully remove the pins from the lining, and replace them in the outer fabric, so I could take it over to my machine and stitch it down. Had to do this four times for the different sections of ruched fabric, then sew them together.

Bodice Draping

Once the bodice fabric was sewn together I attached it to the lining, and then sewed the skirt onto the bodice. Added the laces in the back, and there you have it, a muslin that gives a really good feel for what the final product will be!

Rhianna Muslin Front Rhianna Muslin Back


Something Blue

Recently, I created a beautiful custom skirt for a lovely plus sized bride to wear to her wedding. She already owned a stunning tight lacing corset that had been custom made for her in a beautiful silvery blue silk dupioni fabric. She wanted to wear this corset on her wedding day, and I could easily see why! It had been beautifully made; the workmanship was just lovely. The corset brought in her waist by several inches and gave her a dramatic hourglass figure, and it had a romantic, almost fairy tale feel to it.

Rena's Inspiration PicThe bride presented this photo to me as an inspiration picture. She loved the lower portion of this bridal gown, and wanted a skirt made to look like that, from the piece of silk dupioni she had remaining after her corset had been made and chiffon fabric purchased to match. I could see that we needed to take great care for this; there was exactly 44″ by 100″ of the fabric remaining and it would take all of it to be able to make a skirt with the trumpet shape and train in the inspiration picture. I drafted the pattern carefully, and double and triple checked my pattern pieces to be sure they would fit within the available fabric piece. When she let me know her muslin needed a few adjustments to fit, I offered to create a second muslin before working with the silk – an extra step I don’t often take – because we wouldn’t have a second chance once I cut the silk. And I’m glad we did this – the final version of the pattern left less than a 1/4″ of allowance from the edge of the silk fabric. Absolutely all of it was needed!

Once the silk skirt was sewn up, I was able to drape the layered ruffles of chiffon fabric that sort of cascade down the skirt. I studied the inspiration picture at this point, to try to create a very similar shape and feel to the original, but proportioned for the skirt. This both required that the chiffon begin lower on the skirt than where her corset would sit, and that it be of a length to drape beautifully on a shorter and wider figure than the model in the inspiration picture.

I’m really proud of the end result on this item, and I think my client will look simply breathtaking on her wedding day!

IMG_0028 IMG_0016 IMG_0021



Have you ever seen a dress you loved in a movie, on the red carpet, or in some magazine, but been completely unable to find one you could purchase? One of my clients had fallen completely in love with the little black dress actress Kirstin Dunst wears in the movie Elizabethtown, but despite her best efforts my customer couldn’t find a similar dress anywhere. So she asked me to recreate the dress for her.

Here’s a few pictures of the original dress.

And here’s mine:


I used a polyester matte jersey fabric for the dress to have the dressy look and a comfortable feel my client wanted and to avoid the shiny look of a satin or taffeta.


I was able to use one of my favorite commercial patterns as the foundation for the pattern, altering as needed for my customer’s extra long torso, and the knee length she wanted for her dress. I made self-fabric ties for the neck, and used a simple satin ribbon to create the trim along the neckline from the original dress.


The end result was a very good replica of the inspiration, if I may say so!


Like Daddy like Daughter


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