1940’s Dress–Part 2 (the muslin)

Last night I finished my muslin, sort of.  It was after 10pm and I’d only set one sleeve, but I needed to snap pictures and go to bed.

But I feel I got enough done to get a feel for the fit and construction.

I didn’t want to take pictures wearing the dress last night because this was post-workout and shower, and my hair was doing crazy things.  No time to blow-dry, I had sleeve(s) to set!  But here’s a photo from the night before, pre-sleeves.

I feel pretty confident in the fit of the dress–I added 2″ to the waist and hips when tracing the pattern, based on the size chart measurements.  The bodice has tucks and gathers, so it’s slightly loose and billowy–but I think that’s the design, right?

The sleeve went in quite poorly, despite gathering and basting first.

So many little tucks!  I think I might try setting in the sleeve flat on my final garment.  It’s a tight space to work in with the sides sewn up.

The addition of the sleeve did seem to limit my arm movement to an extent.  I would like to improve on this, but I’m not totally sure how.  It fits at least as well as any RTW button up shirt I’ve worn, so dare I say this seems “normal” to me?!  From what little research I could do online, it seems I need to raise up the armscye for a closer fit, which enables better movement?  I think I’ll try tapering down on the seam allowance around the under arm of the sleeve to slightly bring it up.  I would love input from anyone who knows more about this though!!

The collar and vestee were a bit challenging–I didn’t find the directions to be very clear.  But now that I’ve done it once, I’m sure I can do it again.  I think the collar points and the vestee points look a little extreme and pointy, so I plan to make those a little smaller and softer around the edges.  Although the addition of a sleeve seemed to balance out the collar some, so maybe it’s not so bad?

The muslin was a great opportunity to practice the construction of this dress, including my first hand picked zipper.

There’s definitely room for improvement on the zipper application, but I did enjoy this method and will try it again.  (And Sallie, I totally used fabric glue to “baste” the zipper in place before stitching–worked like a charm!)

I didn’t have time for any saddle stitching, but I will probably practice some decorative stitches on the muslin before the final garment.  I don’t think I have time (or the desire) to do the saddle stitching by hand, so I’m hoping that top-stitching with a thick thread will do the trick instead.

I don’t find the pleated skirt to be especially flattering to my shape, but it really reads “1940’s” to me, so I’m gonna stick with it.  I hope with a shorter hem I’ll like it more.

I’m excited to get started on my final garment now!  This dress has way more details than anything I’ve done recently, so it is definitely challenging me and a lot more work.  But I think the time investment is totally worth it.

Talk soon,



  1. I like the collar. I think it works well. Once you put the final touches on and add some great high heels, the dress will look awesome!!

  2. Qui, it looks soooo good! I don’t think the collar looks too pointy at all, I was actually admiring it before you mentioned it.

    One day can you help me do a hand picked zipper? :)

  3. I think the sleeve definitely softens the collar without needing to make any adjustments to the collar itself. Your muslin is coming along very well! Well done on the hand picked zipper – I havent tried one yet and I love how it’s looking on your muslin. I’m iffy on pleats, but I’ve had luck with shorter hems, so if you’re not crazy about the pleat details, I think the hem might be able to address that issue a bit. It’s coming along beautifully – can’t wait to see what your final fabric looks like!

  4. Ahhhhh! This is so amazing– what a fab dress! I’m so excited to see the final on you!

    OK, re: the sleeve. If you can’t raise your arms comfortably, you may need to raise the armscye. Since this shortens the distance around the armhole, you need to shorten the distance around the sleeve, too (does that make sense?). Or you’ll have way more tucks when you set in your sleeve. The other thing to check is to make sure that your shoulder seam is hitting at the right place. If the shoulder seam is too low (so the sleeve is kinda falling off your shoulder), that will also limit your motion, so make sure that’s not what’s causing the discomfort in the sleeve area.

    I really, really like this dress! The details are so unique and cool! I can’t WAIT to see this finished!

  5. I think this dress will be spectacular when you finish it, only missing a few accessories to get a wonderful outfit … I also hope to finish my dress on Sunday …

  6. It looks like this will be a lovely dress. I really like the collar and the tucks at the waist. Can’t wait to see the finished dress!

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