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Sunday, August 18, 2013

My version of Gertie's Wiggle Dress - Step One: Muslin

When I got Gertie's book last year (New Book for Better Sewing) I was so thrilled with it.  There are a lot of nice pictures and patterns in it.  Then, inexplicably, I put in on the shelf and didn't touch it until this week. 

This is my fitting muslin for the wiggle dress. It is a strange looking muslin because it is not muslin colored.  I found this green fabric that is about muslin weight for $1.00 a yard - which is way cheaper than I can get proper muslin. And the "photography studio" - a.k.a our spare bedroom - was set up for another project, so I snuck in and snapped a couple of photos while the flattering lighting was up.  Here is the front of the dress:
And, against all better judgement, here is a picture of my backside.
Overall thoughts on the pattern:
  • This is a really, really flattering dress if you have a small waist and larger hips. I was a little skeptical about making it since I usually stick with a-lines and avoid pencil skirts like the plague.  They don't usually look good on me since I am so bottom-heavy.  But this seems to be an exception.
  • All of the pattern pieces for all of the items in the book are on only a few large pieces of paper.  The lines for all of them intersect and overlap and you trace them onto tissue to use as the pattern.  (I used tissue paper that is intended for gift wrapping.)  However, since all of the pieces and sizes are printed using the same color, it was a bit of a challenge making sure I was tracing the right line.  But there are only three main pieces plus some facings and gussets, so not so bad.
  • Facings (below).  I don't think I liked them that much and am going to see if I can make a bias binding for the finished dress instead.  The truth is that I have always hated facings and usually fully line the dress when I can.  I don't think that will work for this dress, so I am excited to try bias binding.
  • The instructions are sparse.  For example, since I have stuck to a-line and full skirts in the past, I had never sewn a vent in the back of a skirt.  In Gertie's instructions, it just says to make the vent.  I had to search You Tube for a tutorial on how to accomplish that.
  •  Gussets!  Mine aren't exactly matching seams below, but I found they were much easier than I thought they would be.  For me, the instructions in the book were enough, since I already know how to do a welt pocket and bound buttonhole, but I think if I didn't, I would have had trouble with how little detail the book provides.
  •  Ditto for the lapped zipper.  Luckily, the couture dress course at Craftsy teaches how to do a lapped zipper with an easy technique and I didn't have to search too hard.
  • The sizing was good for me, but I have heard others complain about it.  I think it must be a body type issue.  It might not work as well for women with less full hips. I cut it a size larger than I thought I might need, but I think I had too much room in the dress.  
  • The neckline feels really high when I am wearing it.  I am thinking about lowering it, but am not sure.  When I look at the photos of it, it looks ok.
Next step: I am going to make the dress in a red wool blend and have already cut out the pieces.   The heavier weight will be nice, plus it has just a little stretch.  The muslin is just a little too lightweight to work.   
Next up: red wool blend
Here is Gertie's book.  Well worth the money!  See the finished dress in part two.


  1. So excited to see the red dress finished! This book is on my Christmas wish-list :) Nice to get it reviewed. The muslin looks good, I always admire muslin-makers. I am too eager to get on with the real thing, but I really must work on this.... I am a novice home-seamstress and have just started a little blog. I love yours, it is inspiring to see people developing their skills, I hope to make my little corner of the web a testament of my own journey (although, half the time I don't know what the heck I am doing :)

    1. I am giving away a copy on my website :)

  2. I was wondering if I am the only one who uses gift wrapping tissue! It's just so much cheaper!

    I want to make this dress, and I will, but I've had a heck of a time with fitting on The Sweetheart Dress... The Portrait Blouse and The Pencil Skirt were spot on though.

    I do feel some of her instructions are a bit lacking... BUT I think it's because she expects that you read the first part of the book before doing the patterns. She explains everything there. I find YouTube is much easier for complicated things though!

    Can't wait to see the final dress :)

    1. I admit that I read through the first part, but not as thoroughly as I should have.

      Glad to know about the other patterns in the book! I like the other patterns and think I'll give them a go next.

  3. Great dress, looking forward to seeing the finished version!

  4. Lookin good. Yeah I just buy cheap fabric now as when I purchased muslin it was dearer than my fabric lol. Nipped that in the bud.

    1. Yes, I did the same thing once when I started sewing. I think it was Gertie's bombshell course that listed the supplies. I wanted to get everything exactly as listed. The muslin was more expensive than my fabric, too.


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