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I hereby declare this month to be “MAMM”

OK, so this month out there is everything from “Me Made May” to “International Business Image Improvement Month” (which could use it, I admit) and I am going to totally avoid the entire thing and declare my own celebration: MAMM, which stands for:

MAKE A MUSLIN MONTH

I know there are folks out there who have been sewing since we were slapping laundry on rocks down by the old mill stream and avoid making a muslin of a new garment like the plague (and I suspect that most of them either have a sloper/block/tried and true pattern that they use religiously, OR they are perfect size whatever and have figured out which size in the Big Three fits them). I am not one of those people. I have physical issues that preclude whipping the tissue out of the envelop and just cutting out. I’m short, stocky, stout, short-waisted, broad in the back, have a tummy, big upper arms, and a rear-end you could set a potted-palm on. I also have arms like a T-rex (as in even petite size stuff is several inches too long in the sleeves) and low knees. I don’t like making ‘wearable muslins’ because by and large, this does not work for me; I end up with things that are too big in the shoulders with the waist in the wrong place, the armscye is way too low and the sleeves do not fit. And I will have ruined a piece of fabric; I’d rather work out all the issues on muslin first.

Now, the DH and I have our yearly ‘formal affair’ coming up next month. While will be wearing the same dress I wore last year, I invariably find that the evening is, weather-wise, chillier than I expect, so I wanted to make a nice evening jacket to wear with the dress; if it’s warm enough, I can always wear it open — but I suspect it won’t be (it never is; the number of times it has been warm and clear rather than chilly and damp can be counted on less than one hand). I have some lovely shocking pink fabric for the jacket and I’ve been itching to make it up in this pattern:

Maharajah Jacket

And this, for all sorts of reasons, necessitates my making a muslin of this (of course one of the nifty dividends of doing a muslin is that once you’ve worked out all the fitting issues – you can make this over and over and over). When I get into a brand new (to me) pattern, I always like to first look at the sketch of the pattern (not the illustration or photo on the envelop because sometimes I miss details with that). What first caught my eye was this:
Front:
Princess seam with a bust dart
Shaped integrated neck and front edge facing as a design feature.
Horizontal division of the front under the bust
In-seam pocket with a flap

Back:
Princess seam
Horizontal division of the back

Side:
Side panel with no side seam, again, with horizontal division

Sleeves: Two-piece sleeve

Now, the princess seams are a great benefit – gives all sorts of fitting opportunities in the bust, tummy and back (plus one for me with the big bust and broad back and the tummy). However, this is a princess seam that goes into the armscye, NOT a vertical princess seam going into the shoulder seam (which is something I love because that not only gives me the fitting opportunities in the bust and tummy but also let’s me narrow the shoulders, which is something I always need to do). So, boo, hiss on that, but we go to fashion war with the pattern we’ve got, right?

I do have a live-in helper – the DH has been helping me fit my muslins for a very long time, and he’s pretty good at answering the ‘Are there any wrinkles back there? ” sorts of questions – but not everyone does, so I am taking the position with this that I do NOT have a helper so that you can see that you can make a muslin without one (not to say that you should not get on Meet-up or Craigslist or whatever and advertise for a sewing buddy).

First task: what size should I choose? Now the envelop has a lovely detailed chart with measurements. What I do, always, is use a garment that already fits (for this I use a jacket; for a dress or a blouse, I’d use a blouse). I made a basic diagram on a piece of paper and measured in various spots on the jacket and marked those on the diagram. Then, I compared those measurements to information on the chart. There are measurements which put me into a 12, one which put me into a 16. Since to me, the shoulder and upper bust area are really key to fitting a jacket, I paid a lot of attention to those and that put me into a size 14. I traced the basic parts of those on the pattern for the fronts, back and sleeves and cut those all out of muslin. I always label those pieces with what they are and what size I cut out before I sew them together. Once that is done, we’ll do a first try on.

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