Vintage Sewing

“I dream of Tiki” sew-along part 1

May 3, 2016

It’s finally here! Week one of the Hawaiian dress sew-along! This week, we’ll do the prep work.

1. Tracing/cutting the pattern pieces

2. Assembling a bodice muslin

3. Making fit adjustments before cutting into fashion fabric

4. Preparing fabric

I always choose to trace my pattern pieces, not only to preserve the original, but to allow for customizations that can be saved for the future. I used the sweetheart bodice pattern from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book attached to a basic circle skirt. I also used Gertie’s yellow floral cotton poplin fabric from Joann’s. (I saw a dress she made here, and fell in love!)

Pattern page from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book

Traced pattern pieces

After your pieces are traced or cut, I strongly recommend making a muslin, or practice bodice to check for any fit issues before cutting into your good fabric.

This bodice is very basic, so there aren’t any complex markings to trace. I would recommend tracing wheel and chalk tracing paper if you have a lot of markings to transfer. It’s really easy, and a quick way to mark your pieces!

Bat muslin

I used some scraps of a random cotton fabric I had for my practice bodice, because I was out of muslin at the time.

Once I have all the pieces sewn together, I like to pin  it to my dress form inside out. This makes it easier to mark where changes need to be made.

Muslin side-seam

When making alterations, make sure the side seams and center front are lined up, and to make equal changes to both the left and right side.


At this point, I usually make the changes to the muslin pieces as I have marked, then lay them on top of the pattern pieces, and transfer those changes. (I like to re-use the pattern pieces, so I want to make sure the pieces are accurate to avoid making the same alterations in the future!) However, you can also just make the changes to the muslin pieces and use them as the altered pattern (if that makes sense??)

Pieces on lining

To prepare your fabric, make sure you prewash in whatever way is appropriate for the fabric type you chose. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have the cut edge perfectly straight. In Gertie’s book she calls it “grain perfection.” Essentially, you are ensuring everything you cut is perfectly in line. Some fabrics can be torn along the grain, some need to be cut in the method demonstrated below. It might be a little time consuming, but it’s probably worth it 😉

Grain detection 2 Grain detection 3

If you end up with some extra time this week, feel free to cut your pieces to prepare for the bodice construction next week! Think about how structured you want the bodice to be. I opted for some interfacing and boning to give mine a good amount of support.

Feel free to leave your questions and comments, and also post your progress on the WSR Sew and Tell Facebook page! I’ll start a thread each week to share progress and discuss any issues anyone may come across! Good luck!


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