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.
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.
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.
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!