Last week I gave just an overview of my three days with Gertie in Beacon, NY. Today I want to show you what we did to each of the muslin bodices I brought to class and how we changed the patterns to match the changes that were needed.

I started with the princess seam bodice. The pattern for this bodice came from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. I hadn’t made this particular bodice on my own before this class so I measured the pattern pieces and traced and cut the size closest to my body measurements. I just sewed it up and added a zipper and off I went to class.

When I put the muslin on in class Gretchen pinched out any extra fabric and pinned it until the fit felt right. I did add sleeves to this muslin because the arms have been tight in the past. You can see in the photo above that the re was extra fabric in the shoulder and the top of the princess seam near the arm hole.

You can also see the note we made about how much to add to the upper arm of the sleeve pattern.

This is the back of the initial muslin. Normally I do a sway back adjustment on my patterns but I had neglected to do that with this when I was getting ready to go. That’s what the horizontal lines are for. Also, the back was a bit wide from the shoulder down to above the waist.

What I did was take the bodice off with the pins in place and drew lines where the pins were. Then when the pins were removed I could see how much needed to be removed from the pattern.

Here are the two pieces of the bodice front. I transferred the markings from the muslin to the pattern and then cut and overlapped the pieces to match. Even though the original alteration was made almost straight down it was better to angle the overlap toward the armhole so it would lie flat rather than acting like a dart. No other alterations were required on the front.

If you scroll back up you can see that there was fabric that needed to be removed from the shoulder, across the princess seam and to the top of the sway back adjustment. This took a little fiddling and we needed to make sure the alteration was equal and even between both pattern pieces so that when the pieces were sewn everything would match perfectly again.

The sleeve pattern piece needed to be split vertically and horizontally so that the length of the sleeve head wouldn’t be changed.

And I cut a new muslin for one more fitting. If you look really close at the shoulder you can see that one more adjustment was necessary which I just took off of the pattern pieces and cut out the green dress (which I was sure would look more red when it was finished).

I started on the second dress as soon as the princess seam dress was all done except for the hems.

I brought along my last muslin for the Night and Day square neck bodice. I have made 4 other versions of the night and day bodice and I felt pretty good about it but I knew there were still some little alterations to be made to make it better.

These pattern pieces are the original pieces i have been using. For this pattern I cut the C cup with a size 14 at the waist and graded to a size 12 at the shoulder. and the part that is pinned out at the bottom of the back piece is the usual sway back adjustment I do on my own.

And this is the muslin. All it needed were those tiny little adjustments at the shoulder. So I made a new pattern with alterations.

You can see how we cut the pattern pieces and overlapped them to remove that extra that I didn’t need. So I made a new muslin including sleeves this time.

I put this on and it was beautiful all except the dart points needed a little adjustment.

If you look closely you can see the remaining thread from the original dart ad the pen mark at the point of the new dart. The bottom of the dart stayed at the same place. Scroll up and you can see the change made on the pattern piece.

All was sell and so I cut out the next dress.

Super comfy and also flattering!

So, here’s the thing, my confidence got a boost from this class. All of these directions and help are in all of Gertie’s books as well as many of the sewing books I own but doing it when somebody is there to help you make the tiny adjustments you might not know about otherwise is empowering. I know now that I can do these things on my own. The alterations to the back of a muslin can be difficult and that’s where a friend comes in handy even if they don’t really sew, most people can see where there are bits of fabric that can be pinched out. there’s always the mannequin to help too…

Anyway, hope this was helpful. Drop me a note if you need me to clarify anything.

Will I see you in 10 days at Rhinebeck? Remember I have a Norm Hall Spinning Wheel and a Schacht Baby Wolf and a Strauch Double Wide Electric carder for sale if you are in the market.

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