The Couture Dress muslin

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Step one of my wedding dress plan is to learn how to make dresses properly. I'm not really sure I knew what "couture" meant when I signed up for The Couture Dress course on Craftsy, and while I still couldn't come up with a concrete definition, it's basically doing everything very slowly and methodically, with lots of hand stitching and adjustments at every step of the way. It also uses fancy fabrics, like silk organza instead of typical interfacing. In any case, I've finished the first step, so I figured I'd share.

The pattern that comes with the course is Vogue 8648:

Vogue 8648
This pattern provides different options for sleeve and skirt type. I decided to make it with the circle skirt, because it's more fun than the fitted option. I spent forever getting it to fit just so, and apparently didn't take many pictures. Here's the finished muslin on my dress form:

Muslin with circle skirt
I decided to fit it inside out, which is different from what Susan Khalje recommends. I used an old sheet that was thicker than average, so fitting it with the giant seam allowance on the inside just wasn't working properly. It does look kind of ugly this way though, so I don't have the best idea of what it's actually going to look like when it's all done.

After doing the circle skirt muslin I changed my mind and decided that the fitted skirt worked better with my fabric, so in the end I'm doing view A (the one that the real person is wearing in the picture). I took a risk and bought fabric on ebay! I'm pretty sure it was described as just "silk" when I bought it, but the listing has been updated to say Shantung. In any case, it's ridiculously cheap for silk, but it arrived quickly and seems pretty nice so far:

My fashion fabric
This fabric also has what may well be my favourite ebay description of all time:
the whole fabric make into shirt is very suitable for business women because of  mature. So I recommend you to make a shirt.
Thanks, seller, but I'm making a dress. Sorry.

Anyways, since most of the fitting on my muslin involved bodice adjustments, it wasn't too much lost time to make a new one for the fitted skirt. Apparently I was so eager to move on to the next step I didn't take any pictures of the finished muslin, but it's basically the same as the first one with a pencil skirt. I didn't really make any adjustments to the skirt, partly because it seemed to fit okay, and partly because I was getting impatient.

I did end up making a number of adjustments to the bodice, mostly to the back. I typically take 3/4" off the length of most sewing patterns, but I never knew I needed a "swayback" adjustment before. Check this out!

Bodice back muslin pieces
Overall, the adjustments to the back are a dead dart in the shoulder strap to remove bubbliness around the armscye, overall shortening by about an inch at the side seam, and something like 2" (there's more taken off the midriff pieces) removed in the middle. That diagonal line drawn across the back bottom is horizontal on me.

I also had to reduce the total circumference a little bit (patterns always tend to have too much ease), but I found it fit best if I took this out of the princess seams in the front. I have no idea if this is a good idea, but I'm going with it for now. Of course, this is couture - we're going to go super slow and do a bunch more test fittings, so I have time to make adjustments if need be.

The next step was tracing the sewing lines onto my silk organza interlining. I went against the recommendation in the course and pre-washed my organza (because apparently I'm obsessed with everything being washable), which really did make things more difficult because it was all squirrely to draw on. However, I got it done in an evening, and am now in the process of hand-basting the interlining to the fashion fabric along the stitch lines:

Hand basting the interlining to the fashion fabric
The next step will be to hand-baste all of the pieces together, at which point I get to make adjustments to the fit all over again. I'm starting to understand why custom wedding dresses cost so much...


  1. I looked up Shantung (as a fabric, not a province) and got this: "Shantung is a type of silk fabric historically from the province of Shandong. It is similar to Dupioni, but is slightly thinner and less irregular. Shantung is often used for bridal gowns." So it sounds like you're just right!

  2. Yup! I really can't tell much difference between this shantung and the dupioni I'm planning to use for my wedding dress, so it's nice to get experience actually working with it.