Simplicity 4727 (1943): Drunken Muskrat dress, Gingerbread Girl edition

October 15, 2012

Introducing . . . the dress I meant to wear for the Fourth of July.

At long last, I have something to show for my months of work, zillions of test muslins, and shameless pleas for help.  I believe I stated that I thought the pattern had been drafted by muskrats with drinking problems.  I stand by that assertion.

I’m not saying this pattern is bad, I’m just saying that it should not be undertaken with the expectation that it will be an instant success.

Once again, the pattern illustration:

The expectation.

Notice the mini-me at the center bottom.  Take a close look at how that dress fits.

(Sorry about the lousy resolution.)

The expectation, part II.

My pattern was a size 18 (bust 36).  I’m a size 16 (bust 34), so took it in a size before I even touched fabric.  I used the usual slash-and-overlap method.  I’ve done this before, on patterns that were far more complex than this, and gotten excellent results.  Also, I’m generally a pretty bust-waist proportional size 16.

This seems ironic in retrospect but, as I was taping the pattern pieces back together, I remember thinking, “Wow, these don’t look very big.  I hope this pattern doesn’t run that small!”  Notice I didn’t say that I actually measured the pieces to see if they were as small as they looked.  That was a mistake.  A mistake I promise I will never make again.

I fussed a long time over the skirt.  I have big hips so I was very careful to cut the skirt at the original size 18 at the hips and taper it to a 16 at the waist.

I glibly cut out the dress and sewed most of it together.  I do remember thinking that the darts were awfully large at the bottoms and hoping that the waist wouldn’t be too tight but, again–I wasn’t worried enough to do something sensible about it such as, oh, I don’t know–measure the bloody thing.

The skirt fit like a glove.

The bodice didn’t.

The reality.

This is the bodice that I feared might run small.  Now we know how good I am at eyeballing stuff.

I sort of wanted to cry at the time but now it’s pretty comical.  I mean . . . lesson learned about measuring, etc., but you have to admit–that’s kind of hilarious.

I took four inches out of the bodice just under the arms.  I took more out in other places, too, but the underarms alone were an inch too wide per quadrant.  I won’t detail all the alterations I had to make here, but you can see some of them in the Flickr set.  In a nutshell, though, I:

1) Took one inch out of the underarm on each side, front and back (four inches overall).
2) Took one inch out of the center front and center back.
3) Shortened the straps by one-half inch in both front and back (one inch overall).
The fit was better but was still snug so I:
1) Added the inch back into the front and back center.
The second muslin was lumpy and weird so I:
1) Took the inch back out of the center front and took a half-inch out of the center back.
2) Did a full-bust adjustment.  This is how I know that Hell has frozen over, because I’m not even remotely full-busted.
The third muslin was better still but still had some issues so I:
1) Lengthened the bust and waist darts.
2) The shoulder strap buckled at the back so I slashed it and rotated the strap outward/downward about half an inch.
The fourth muslin was too short, which was easily remedied, and still needed the bust darts lowered about 3/4 of an inch, but it waspretty good.
Then it turned out that the bodice wasn’t too short so I ended up having to take the skirt off, cut an inch off the bottom of the bodice, tweak the darts, and sew the dress back together.  The lowered bust darts were just right, though.
This is the result.  Well, half a result.  It’s technically a wearable muslin since it’s not even the fabric I meant to use.  I’m kind of slouching here–probably from exhaustion–and the angle is bad.  I need to get a new picture of it as I wore it Saturday, with red boots.  Now that it fits, though, it’s super comfortable, and the pattern was easy to make once I’d done a million alterations.
I'm slouching.
  1. It looks lovely and in no way shows the huge amount of angst involved in getting to that point! Sometimes it really is just worth struggling on until you get the result you want. Gorgeous 🙂

  2. Kudos to you for your persistence, I don’t think I could have made it through four muslins plus some, I would have cried and thrown it on the UFO pile to be avoided forever. So pleased you are happy with the end result, great post.

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