Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pendrell Blouse Muslin

Well, didn't this blouse throw me a curve (no pun intended)!

I have learned a lot in making the Pendrell blouse muslin (shell only) - and hopefully this may inform your experience if you haven't yet begun to make it.

First off, I spoke with Tasia about choosing the size that would work best on me. I thought, given bust measurement, the 12 might be in order. However, I opted to go with the 10, after consultation, the idea being that I could do a full bust adjustment if necessary, and the shoulder/upper bust dimensions would likely be better.

Imagine my surprise when the size 10 muslin fit well in the bust and shoulders but was huge everywhere else. For some reason, maybe because Tasia is so petite, I supposed that this pattern would fit small. My shape is an hourglass, the pattern is designed for a pear. It struck me that the chest would be tight and the hips, perhaps, too loose but easily gradable.

I'm glad I went with the 10 a) because it fit in the chest and I do loathe the idea of the FBA - it's so unknowable how it will translate in the finished garment, IMO... and b) because it allowed me to practice some other (strangely) less objectionable - if much more time consuming - alterations. In truth, it would have been easier to cut an 8 and (potentially, though not certainly) do an FBA.

Here are the pieces that comprise the shell of the top - in their original pattern dimensions:

On me, the waist and hips were swimming. This pattern is designed for a true pear with a LONG waist. First off I had to decide where I'd subtract the excess from. Tasia has a great post about doing this (you think I would have reread it before embarking on my experiment), but I just went with my intuition. I decided that I like where the princess seam lies, particularly at the full bust. So I didn't want to screw with those 2 seams. However, the largest amount of extra fabric was in the waist down to the hips and a bit at the back side seam. I opted to remove a total of 2.5 inches over 4 seams - those that connect the back side to the back panel and those that connect at the waist seam.

These photos show the graded new seam lines on 3 of the 4 pieces (look on the right - sorry the lines are light...)

But from where to remove? Again, I didn't want to screw with bust ease, so I chose to grade from the middle waist

I prefer to sew with 1/2 inch seam allowances - which gives me enough to finish edges with a narrow serge, but which doesn't leave a lot of seam fabric inside the garment. I believe, with the rescaled dimensions of the pattern, I'll be alright.

Here are the pieces with the excess width removed:

Alas, then I had to address the length of this top. No joke, and I would have taken a photo if Scott had been around - it was practically a tunic on me. Seriously, I considered adding 3 inches and calling it a dress. Now, we know, I am a fairly short person. And I have a fairly short waist. But this really blew me away. I had to remove 4 inches of fabric - again, I did this below the upper waist on the pattern - and that got rid of the fabric pool at my back waist. The top is still hip-length, but I could make it, easily, with 1/2 a yard of fabric less than the pattern calls for, just in the length I've lopped off.

These are the shell pattern pieces after the alterations.

I'm curious to know if anyone else who's making this has a similar shape to mine. If yes, I'd love to hear about any alterations you have made.


  1. You are so productive and patient! I would *never" have the patience to make a muslin, no matter how precious the fabric. . . And I just saw your embroidery machine tweet. Truly, I prefer to do it all by hand, though I do appreciate the machine's perfection!

  2. I've been following Tasia'a sewalong entries, and she says there's supposed to be four inches (10cm) ease, which may explain why you didn't need to do an FBA.

  3. Miss C: Really, I am NOT patient. I've just wrecked enough things to know that it's part of the process of sewing. In my mind (for most projects), I count it into the sewing timeline. I don't love doing them, but producing clothes that I have to make again is just as time consuming :-)

    jade: Interesting you should mention that. I know she says that the pattern has quite a bit of built in ease to fit over one's head with no closures required. I didn't realize it was that much. I can still get this thing on and off no problem (with the fabric ease in my muslin fabric). I have bought 2 fashion fabrics to work with - one has a lot of fabric ease (beautiful, expensive silk) and the other has practically none (cute synthetic with nice drape, "muslin priced"). We'll see if the fabric weighs heavily into the end fit.

  4. How I figure out where to do what is by pinning the muslin into the correct shape and then transferring that shaping to the pattern alterations. I find that way there is less guessing.

  5. Myrna: That's exactly what I did! And I'm starting to "feel" what fabric alterations look like on paper. Of course, figuring out the alterations in the fabric can be even more difficult than transferring them to the paper!

    I have done that with the Kwik Sew pants - actually using the basted muslin (as you have suggested in the past) as a model to change the paper. Then using the paper to recut the muslin (so as not to waste a fashion fabric). Won't work for everything, but denim is pretty forgiving that way.

  6. I'm also doing the Pendrell sewalong and have had to make some adjustments to account for the fact that I look nothing like a pear-shaped woman. I look more like a rectangle (an hourglass on good days), so I took 4.5 inches off from the hip width, dividing it by the number of seams, and took off 3 inches from the length (I took if off at the hip). After reading your post, I am a bit worried though that I didn't do more... hopefully the drape of my fabric will camouflage any excess.

  7. Anon: I'm not sure what size you're making (if you're in a smaller size than me - 8 or even 6 - then the proportions would be about the same). Also, there's a diff between shortening the length (which you've done) and removing fabric from the waist (which is specifically a short waist alteration). If you aren't particularly short in the waist, I think you're likely fine.

  8. I had to shorten mine (by about 2.5 inches), and I also took some of the full-ness out of the back princess seams on the centre back pattern piece.
    I thought I might need to do a FBA too, but didn't end up with it, but I think the same as you, i might be a little better off using a smaller size and doing a FBA, as it would fit better in the back and shoulders then.
    I think i'll make one up as is, and then maybe try the other options in the future - that's why i chose to trace my pattern pieces rather than cut them out.

  9. Rachel: Interesting. I trace 9 times out of 10 after having made a couple of mistakes in alterations that cost me a pattern. I just feel more comfortable taking chances that way. But it sure does add to the time...

  10. Hello there.
    I've had pretty much the EXACT same comments about the Pendrell myself. I made a 10 to match measurements- should have made an 8 or maybe even a 6!
    It is a long top! But I don't mind as you just bring it up, only have to be careful not to slice too much length off and end up navel gazing ;)
    I made mine in a craft cotton I found from a remnants shops, it was kind of a muslin if it's bad, house top if it's good.
    Check it out; I'm under 'Zeegang' at Burda Style website.
    PS - I hear you for your dramas on the dress dummy - if I'm feeling too hung up over not fitting into a perfect size 4, I grab my swimmers, head to the local pool, have fun swimming and then when getting changed just check out all the girls in the change room quickly ( not in a creepy way of course!). How beautiful all the women are - so much more than a headless dummy!

  11. Zeezang: I'll head over and check it out! And I think you are so right about recognizing that all shapes are gorgeous (and totally unique). It's how the body moves that adds so much to its elegance. :-)