(left side is the original and the right side has been pinned up at the sleeve and collar)
I hear from lots of people who like to sew clothes-- or WOULD like to sew clothes-- that they don't want to waste time on muslins or test runs or whatever you want to call them. I get it. But I will tell you that cutting into that good fabric with a pattern you haven't tested is risky behavior for even seasoned sewists. I have owned piles of unworn handmade clothes that I made this way, but didn't love because they didn't fit me the way I wanted them to. Muslins are not a waste of time. I have learned my lesson.
But there are compromises. Keeping tabs on what Melissa is making and then seeing her wear the clothes she sews, has been very helpful. I keep several yards of super cheap, lightweight/apparel, type fabric around that I like but don't love. I usually pick it up at the Fabric Depot outdoor sale for 2-3 dollars a yard. Old sheets work great, too. I trace out the pattern onto pattern paper and sew up a trial version. For dresses, it's usually just the bodice with one sleeve. If that's going to be too time consuming/difficult, I pin the tissue paper pieces together and sort of wiggle them on to test it. For blouses (depending on the difficulty) I sometimes just make the whole thing.
For the Violet blouse from Colette I just made the whole thing. I knew there would be a few issues from the get-go. The cut of the main blouse pieces are going to be flattering on all kinds of shapes and sizes, but the collar and the sleeves were wild cards on a body type like mine. If you are rolling with a little more on top, there's a fine line between looking good and looking like Gerta the Milk Maid heading out to wrangle her livestock (I love the name Gerta, by the way). This is a FANTASTIC pattern for beginners. I'm not lying. If you are careful, cut things out properly, and follow the instructions, you will happily graduate from a-line skirts and pillows to becoming a full on blouse maker. This is my fourth pattern from Colette, and they have all been stellar.
So, first off, it's too big. That's going to be easy enough to fix. I'll keep the dart at the same place/size, but bring in the sides near my natural waist while making a size down. I made a size 10 which was already a size down from my measurements. Other changes:
- The sleeve cap is great but the sleeve length is problematic. I'm redrawing the hem line on the sleeve by shaving at least two inches off the center and curving them down to shave an inch off at the arm pit. Take a sleeve you love and trace hem line and length onto the Violet pattern piece.
- The collar! I'm cutting the collar down considerably and backing it off the center at least a 1/2 inch. As long as you keep the neck curve the same, this is easy as pie.
- I made the underside of the collar a different fabric (black) and will likely do the same for the collar and the facings in the next blouse. It's cute! And you can get away with less of the main fabric.
The nice thing about functional muslins, is that you can always gift them to someone that they might fit! Or you can re-purpose the fabric into quilts or small clothes. My next version is probably going to be navy pin dot. I refuse to admit that I have enough navy in my life.