The Hundred Dresses: Day 23

I think this was the first Simplicity 1577 I made — I can’t be absolutely sure, but I’m within a reasonable margin of error.
cityscape Simplicity 1577 front
The reason I’m fairly sure that this was the first 1577 is that this fabric is pretty much my “ideal first try for a new pattern” fabric. First off, it’s quilting cotton, so it’s easy to sew and medium weight. Also, with most quilting cottons, if I make the dress within a year or so after buying the fabric and end up *really* screwing up, I can generally buy more on Etsy or Ebay, even if the stores are sold out.
cityscape Simplicity 1577 collar
Also, it’s really busy, so any weird seam bobbles or fitting issues tend to get lost in the print. And if I end up having to do some repairs, as I did here, they blend in a little better, too:
cityscape Simplicity 1577 zipper
The perfect fabric for a “wearable muslin” is something where, if the dress is a success, I will be happy to wear it, but if it ends up in a tear-stained wad on the sewing room floor, I’m not inconsolable.
Occasionally I try out two new things at once with a new pattern, like this pocket piping — it’s called the “What the Hell Effect“: I’m already trying something new, what the hell, let’s try two things!
cityscape Simplicity 1577 pocket piping
I would say my wearable muslins have about a 60-70% success rate, in terms of ending up with a wearable garment. My “I’m just going to jump right in with some fabric that I really love and see what happens” first tries have about a 40-50% success rate. So I do try to make up a new pattern in a less-dear fabric first. Ideally, it’s a fabric I like, but that I bought for $1/yard and have ten yards of … that’s perfect, since I can get two or three muslins out of something like that.

This one turned out to be really wearable — I’ve worn it a LOT.
cityscape Simplicity 1577 back

Do you have a “wearable muslin” strategy?

15 thoughts on “The Hundred Dresses: Day 23

  1. My wearable muslin strategy? Poplin. It’s the cheapest fabric I can get my hands on over here (generally I can manage to find it for about $4 a metre) and I don’t cry when terrible things happen to it. Like the time my old iron instantaneously went to 7000 degrees and melted straight through the fabric all of its own accord. Or the time my boyfriend put my nice, pale yellow dress through the wash with his new black jeans. Ok. I cried a little that time. But generally, it’s not the end of the world 😉 I’m loving your hundred dresses post series by the way, its great to keep up with and be inspired by all your fabulous dresses! (Also, your witty humour. That is most excellent 🙂


  2. summer in the city.

    I make so many experiments before using the ‘good stuff’ mostly out of fear of screwing up, but also to refine techniques and pattern tweaks. 10 yards at a dollar a yard sounds like an excellent plan. Busy to hide the bumps also seems eminently sensible.


  3. This one is one of my favorites. I’m crazy about the fabric, the color and the pockets.

    I have a hard time cutting into fabric that I “like”. I have a horrible time cutting into fabric that I “love”. I only make muslins out of actual muslin and usually just a rough version of the bodice. I really must get over this. I spend a ton of time thinking through pairing a piece of fabric with a pattern. I wish that I felt more free to experiment. I ended up sewing a lot for my kids and not so much for myself for a number of years. Since they are older now, I don’t sew for them as much – mostly costumes and odd things. Now that I’m back to sewing for myself, I find that I have to adjust the patterns a bit to make them fit which I did not have to do years ago. That makes every pattern an experiment. Gone are the days that I could sew straight from the envelope.

    I blame my grandmother for a lot of my crazy fabric habits. She taught me to sew. She was born in 1910 and lived through the depression and rationing during the wars. She was very saving of fabric. She never threw out a scrap that was bigger than her hand. Every once in a while I luck upon a quilter who will take odd scraps so I can purge.


  4. oooo, that success rate stat is really interesting. Part of finding sewing daunting is having the expectation that I’m supposed to get it right on the first try. Seems like a more reasonable expectation is about 50/50 or 1 in 3 as I get started.

    I have an easier time learning something that’s hard than something that appears to be easy that I seem to be bad at.


    • You’re not the only one! And yes, 1 in 3 as you get started, with a higher success rate for simpler things (a-line skirts) and lower for complicated things (buttonholes).

      I never get things right on the first try. Right now I’m wearing a (new! finished it last night!) first-draft dress that is remarkably successful, but I still have a bunch of tweaks: remember to double-zigzag the facings so the organza interfacing isn’t itchy; adjust the center front by 1/4 inch so that it hangs better, move the pockets up 1/2 inch, and do a nicer job on the collar. (PLUS I ended up having to pick out one buttonhole — luckily I hadn’t cut it yet — because I’d sewn it 1/4 inch off from where it should be. Ugh.)


  5. I’m LOVING seeing a new dress each day. I’m teaching myself to sew, so I haven’t made any clothing items yet. You really inspire me with your patterns and choice of fabrics. I’m a bit hesitant to try sewing for myself since I’m short and very curvy. I’m afraid nothing will fit and I will end up in tears and completely frustrated. But seeing all of your dresses gives me hope that one day I will proudly wear a dress that I’ve sewn for myself!


    • Being short and curvy is an excellent reason to sew for yourself, because you can make sure things fit! (I’m sure you’ve had trouble with off-the-rack clothes, too …) You might want to pick up a fitting book, I’ve heard good things about Fit For Real People and the Simplicity Fitting Book.


    • Oh, Melissa, that’s exactly why you SHOULD sew! Things won’t fit right out of the envelope, but that’s okay, they never do! You’ll learn how to alter to fit just like the rest of us, and you’ll be SO happy with your beautiful, well fitting new dresses!


  6. Because I am a tin-plated hussy, I basically never make muslins for myself. I’ve even cut into Liberty lawn without testing the pattern out first. However, in the odd event that I’m sewing for someone else, or drafting my own pattern modifications, I use sheets from Goodwill as cutters.


  7. I think your “wearable muslin” idea is absolutely brilliant and I’m adopting it immediately. Especially the bit about using a busy sort of print on a new pattern to help hide small mistakes, and throwing in something else new because why the heck not.
    And that’s a lovely pattern and dress by the way, it’s really fun seeing so many versions of the same pattern.


  8. I think your “wearable muslin” idea is absolutely brilliant and I’m adopting it immediately. Especially the bit about using a busy sort of print on a new pattern to help hide small mistakes, and throwing in something else new because why the heck not.
    And that’s a lovely pattern and dress by the way, it’s really fun seeing so many versions of the same pattern.


  9. I’m trying to get better at making muslins, and love the idea of wearable ones, especially since I have rolls of fabric passed down from a friend of the family.
    I am incredibly glad I bothered with making a muslin for my ‘birthday dress’ last year as the pattern was a disaster and just wouldn’t fit right (I ended up turning it over to MIL who doesn’t need a pattern, then bought the Sense and Sensibility Swing dress pattern which is a better version of the vintage style I was trying to make)


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