Hey! Remember this post? The one with the giant orange and pink striped turtleneck and a yet-to-be made dress to go over it by my recent pattern-designer-obsession? A few of you got it right – I’m making the Colette Parfait, a cute little dress with straps, buttons and what should be a flattering fitted midriff piece. Here’s my first muslin (sans-skirt – what’s the point until I get the bodice to fit?)


OK, let’s begin at the beginning. I knew that I’d have to grade this pattern up a bit as the Colette size 18 is three inches short on my waist and hip measurements, although it’s fine on the bust, actually a bit big. Here’s a line drawing of the dress, for anyone who isn’t familiar.

And here’s a photo of the pattern pieces laid out. The strap pieces are off to the right and the non-essential pieces (facings, pockets, etc.) are stashed away.

I decided to start out by fitting the midriff pieces (the skinny ones in the middle) and taking it from there. Here’s a shot of me double-checking the fit of the unaltered pattern piece. The envelope has the finished measurements printed on it and there’s only a half-inch of ease on the waist, so I was pretty set with my plan before this step, but I thought it’d be worth it to double check!

Step 1 – add 3 inches to the midriff pieces

I added three inches to the midriff by cutting the pieces and adding .75 inch of wax paper to each piece. I was careful to take the existing notches and darts under consideration and try to avoid those when adding my wax paper. I also wanted to make sure it the upper curve on the front midriff piece stayed the correct shape and curved  under the bust area like it was supposed to, so the width was added over to the side.

Step 2 – add to the bodice back piece

Next I added width to the back bodice piece – the same .75” as the midriff piece. I added to the same spot on the back bodice piece by lining the two up. The photo is a little confusing, sorry – the bodice back piece should be laying ABOVE the midriff back piece, not below it like they are laid out!

Step 3 – mini-FBA, draw lines and cut

Next I wanted to add a little width to the bottom of the front bodice piece, since I had added to the front midriff piece and the two match up. I was a little unsure about this, since the actual bust measurement is fine for me, and with the gathers on the bottom of the front bodice piece, I thought there might be enough fabric that I could fudge the extra .75”. But then I fought off the lazy and did a modified FBA. I drew a line (shown in blue below) up to the general area of the bust apex, then angled off towards the arm area. I was careful to avoid any existing markings. I cut along the blue line up to where the arrow is pointing, then snipped from the edge in to the arrow to leave a little paper hinge.

Step 4 – mini-FBA, anchor and measure

I taped along the edge on the left side, then measured .75” from that edge and drew a nice, straight line (shown in pink.)

Step 5 – mini-FBA, finish securing pattern edges

I swung the right side back and lined the bottom edge up with the line I drew in the previous step and taped everything down. See? A little extra width on the bottom, none on the top, a little in the middle. We’ll see how it goes.

{we interrupt this mini tutorial to bring a possible drafting issue to to your attention}

Here are the bodice front and midriff front all lined up. I noticed what I think is a drafting error that was confusing. Presumably the notches I’ve circled in green are there to help line up the two pieces. The problem is, the midriff front piece is not intended to be gathered, and if the notches line up, the midriff piece would have be be gathered… what’s more, if you look at the bottom of the midriff front piece, you can see a notch that would line up PERFECTLY with the bodice front piece! I think the notches were flipped at print, perhaps? In any case, I just attached the bodice and midriff pieces smoothly between the notches on the BODCIE piece, and then I gathered to make the ends meet. Worked like a charm.

Analyze the muslin – an overview

So here’s the first fitting. Looks foxy, doesn’t it? While the fit is fine in terms of ease, I do have a couple of concerns and will be doing a few more alterations before the second muslin. First is the gaping next to the strap. I don’t know how visible it is here (there’s a better photo below.) This is something I’ve noticed on a lot of the finished versions I’ve seen, and makes sense, what with the general bust roominess that seems to be a Colette thing. The other problem I’ve noticed on other versions (and mine) is that the top of the midriff seems to sit a bit high, which I think adds to the droop factor, something I’m trying to avoid (via expensive underoos, clever dressing and plain old photoshopping, if necessary). Again, it’s not super obvious in this photo (better one below), but there are some issues around where I drew the pink horizontal line below!

Analyze the muslin – a problem in the empire

More empire waist pictures – you can see a bit better from the side the issue I’m having. I’d like the midriff piece to fit smoothly against my torso, with the bodice and gathers covering the bust. The seam is running a bit high for my taste on this version. I made the pink mark to show where I’d like the seam dropped.

Analyze the muslin – huge underarms

And back to the gaping in the underarm area. Here I’ve pinched out the excess, to show a bit better what I don’t like. After I pinned, I made marks on either side of the fold (where the pin is) so I could see the issue once I took everything off and got it laying flat on the table.

Granny called, she wants her bra back

Here’s muslin #1, laid flat on the table. Tomorrow I’ll pick back up with the alterations, using the marks I just made! This looks a bit like a granny-brassiere, doesn’t it? An over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder? Note to self… do not make a white Parfait…

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