Wednesday, October 1, 2014

High Anxiety

I've always been an "anxious" person, but sewing is one of those things that usually calms me.  Until I start digging myself a hole that starts spiraling to hell.

Well, the changes to the muslin were not completely successful.  In fact, the phrase "epic fail" comes to mind.  Stephanie tried to tell me "everything is fine".  So I took a picture for her.  "THIS is fine?  You want to wear THIS?"  I admit my voice was raised.  A perfect storm of disappointment in my sewing skills, the realization that we were really close to a deadline (and she wouldn't be home next weekend for another fitting), as well as the fact that I'm remodeling a bathroom, pushed me over the edge.  As my son watched from the couch, he calmly suggested buying a dress for her.  Why didn't I think of that?!

I thought I got rid of all that extra gaping.  

Once we calmed down a bit, I took an assessment of what changes were needed:
 - more room in the shoulder cap
 - increase width at shoulder seam
 - add height to side back armscye
 - add a sleeve gusset or add a lot of height to the sleeve and armscye
 - there appears to be too much fabric above the bust, but that is partially caused by the sleeve pulling the bodice off her body, pinched out some anyway.
 - the neckline still gaped a tiny bit, but I think I can ease that out with ease-stitching the seam allowance and some stay tape.

My husband offered to take our son to a movie, and I sat down and tried to figure out where I went wrong and how to correct it.   Having a cup of coffee, was probably a mistake.  I panicked.  I pulled out the inspiration dress and started doing a knockoff of the bodice (it's two pieces with a few darts, how bad could it be?).  10 minutes into that exercise, I realized I was crazy and abandoned it.  I briefly considered recutting the bodice with the original pattern, which had no problems other than a slightly tight armscye.  But we didn't really like the neckline.  Do I have another TNT bodice that I could substitute?  I was pretty wound up.  So I shelved it for 24 hours.

After finishing the work I get paid for on Monday, I pulled it out again and gave it a fresh look.  The gusset was really my first choice for increasing her range of motion.  I probably could redraft the sleeve with little wings to build in the gusset, but it's a bit late in the game to experiment.  A gusset worked during the fitting, keep it.  Latest changes include:
 - Redrafted sleeve with more room in the cap
 - Redrafted the front/back bodice pieces with a tad more room in the shoulder
 - Extended the armscye of the side back piece about 3/8"
 - Created a gusset
How can we be missing that much room in the armpit?

Since I doubted my skills so much more than usual, I spent way too much time researching gussets. Should it be square/angled or "football" shaped?  In the end, I just went with the shape that I pinned in to cover the gap in the muslin.  As you can see, it is roughly a russet potato.  A russet gusset.

I did a terrible job marking my gusset, so I had another little meltdown trying to sew it to the new sleeve and bodice. ("Is this the top or the bottom?  Does this attach at the notch or a random location? Wahhhhhhh!)  Pin, unpin, pin again, unpin again.  Hand baste.  It's a very fiddly spot to try to sew with a machine.

Also, there's an odd little curve to the gusset piece on one side.  I left the weird curve in on the right sleeve, and smoothed it out on the left just to test if I needed it, or if it was a mistake.  My hypothesis is that the weird curve adds problems.  I know I said no more experimentation, but I can't help myself.
Gusset with smoothed curve from below. 
from side

Muslin #4?  Who's counting, anyway. The left sleeve
seems to hang nicer than the right.  Probably that odd curve!
I felt a lot better doing something, rather than worrying about what I needed to do.  It gives me a little bit of control to think I'm making progress.  I know it's just the illusion of control, but sometimes a placebo is all I need.

Now I need a fitting on the real body.  I'm working that out.  This weekend she has a "leadership retreat" and won't be able to come home. The concert is one week from today.  Okay.  More panic. Can I come down there?  No answer.  I'm sure her dorm room is a mess and she doesn't want me near it.  I offered to meet her at Walmart and try it on in the ladies room. The handicapped stalls have plenty of room, and the light is pretty good.  Fitting a muslin is probably one of the least weird things that has happened in a Walmart bathroom.


  1. I feel your pain. Can you make it in a nice black knit? That can solve a multitude of fitting problems, you won't need a gusset, and she can play in it. Cut it low so she can wear a pretty lace cami under it.

    1. My mind went right to the knit, too. Unfortunately, no nice black knits to be had within driving distance. Also worried about the heavy skirt pulling the knit. I really like the lines of the top and want to make it work! Although I was so desperate at one point, that I thought about the very cheezy "Amazing Arms" as-seen-on-TV product.

  2. Just a few suggestions: You could use 1 inch or larger seam allowances in the sleeve cap. Mark the horizontal balance and vertical grain lines on the sleeve. Sew it in on the lower part only. Let the sleeve fall until the horizontal line is parallel to the floor. Pin in place/mark the new seam allowance.

    I have a few other thoughts but don't want to intrude in your process unless invited.You can email me at bunnypep at gmail dot com. Would love to help. Any back pictures?

    1. Bunny, you are so sweet to offer to help me! The larger seam allowance is part of what I used for the last fitting -- it definitely needed it. Part of the problem is at the undersleeve seam, as well. I will take you up on your offer if this trail of changes didn't work!


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