Monday, April 4, 2011

Simplicity 2211: Muslin of the Lisette Market Blouse

For a while I've been searching for a simple, black, short sleeved blouse to wear this spring and summer.  Something that I could dress up for work or dress down for the weekends.  Something to replace just a regular crew neck t-shirt.  Should be no problem right, that's only the holy grail of tops!  I decided to give it a try with some black cotton lawn and view E of Simplicity 2211 from the Lisette line designed by Liesl Gibson of Oliver + S fame. 
I studied the back of the pattern envelope for a long time trying to decide what size to cut.  Then after I finished studying the envelope I studied the pattern tissue a while longer.  As most home sewists are aware, Simplicity patterns have quite a bit of ease in them.  Usually there is about 5 1/2" of ease in the bust and this pattern is no different. 
I wanted my shirt to be fitted but not so fitted that I couldn't load groceries, push a stroller or sit on the floor at story hour without popping a seam.  I usually make alterations to the pattern tissue right away - I do a 1" FBA for most garments and I always take out an inch of length at the waist.  But I've changed shape quite a bit in the last month since I stopped nursing my daughter so I wasn't sure which alterations I would need.  Also, Simplicity didn't include a finished length or waist measurement for the blouse so even though I measured the flat pattern I just wasn't 100% sure what to expect.  I decided that the safest bet would be to just cut a straight 14 and make a muslin without any pattern alterations.  Here it is:

The fit through the bust has the amount of ease that I was looking for however the darts are a little too low.  The rest of the shirt kind of looks like a sack on me.  It looks boxy from the front and bags around the lower back.  The waist is too low (surprise, surprise!).  The arm hole fits but the shoulder looks slouchy.  I think the slouchy shoulder is from the neckline pulling over to one side.  I feel that if I had 2 sleeves on and the neckline facing piece this might be corrected.  Overall, I think this muslin needs the following:
1. An inch in length taken out above the waist
2. A 1/2 inch in length taken out above the bust line (then I'd need to correct the armsyth to account for the length alteration above the bust)
3.  The side seams to be taken in, about 1/2 inch at the hem and tapering to nothing at the dart.
4.  Maybe, the shoulder narrowed by 1/4 to a 1/2 inch to correct for the slouchy factor. 

That is alot of alterations!  I think maybe I should start again and muslin a size 12 with a full bust alteration instead.  But I can't decide!!!  Should I start tinkering with this muslin or try again with a size 12?  Is there something I'm missing that might get me a better fit?  What do you think?


  1. Liz,

    Pictures are great, but they don't always tell the full story. I will attempt some help here, but keep in mind, it's hard to 'read' the pictures for perfect fitting.

    First, did you do a measurement between your high bust and full bust? If so, is there a greater than 2" difference? If so, you may very well want to drop to the next size down, for the neckline area and doing your FBA.

    In your last picture, your hand is on your muslin, so I am trying to determine if your side seam is actually pulling towards the back, or is that because of your hand on the muslin? I am trying to determine if your side seam is straight, or if it's pulls towards the back. Looking at the the first and third pictures, those soft folds, along with the possibility that the side seam is pulling towards the back, say to me that you have at least one issue going on, which is a sway back. That would make sense because of the extra fabric folds at the waist in the picture with your back. It's possible there is a 'hip' issue, but that's hard to tell until you get the extra fabric out from the center back. To do that, you would do a horizontal tuck of the excess fabric, in the waistline area. Just pinch and baste it out and see how the fitting is from there. If you are still getting those folds that lead to the high hip area, I would suggest opening up that side seam to the waist and let the fabric hang and see if that gets rid of the issue. If so, then you will need to add in with(fabric) to the back portion of your pattern.

    I would attempt to first work out fitting issues in this muslin, then possibly dropping to the next size, for the neck area, if you have a greater than 2" delta between high and full bust. I would also strongly encourage you to make up at least one of the sleeves and baste it in. You will get a much better idea of how the shoulder and neckline area will fit.

    I almost always do two muslins because of my fitting issues. I want a good fit before I cut into my good fabric.

    Do you have access to a library? If so, I would try getting a hold of the book, "Fitting & Pattern alterations" by Elizabeth Liechty, Judith Rasband, Della Pottbert-Steineckert. It's an EXCELLENT book on pattern alterations and how to spot figure differences in a muslin to help you get a much better fit. They share different ways to alter patterns to get the best fit for you....well worth having in your library, but for now, I would see if you could get a copy from your library or inter-library loan program.

    I'm looking forward to seeing how you work this out. I am sure you will have a wonderful shirt when all is said and done. :)


  2. One more thing I forgot to mention, you may need to do a bit of a 'sloped' shoulder adjustment. That will help bring up the fabric in the neck and upper chest. The second picture of your back looks very much like you have sloped shoulders, but the other pictures don't really show that. There is a bit of extra fabric in the front neckline/chest area and the armcye leading me to believe you need an adjustment there.

    Happy sewing to you,


  3. Carol,
    Thanks for your great comment! I've never considered doing a sway back adjustment or the sloped shoulder adjustment. I didn't see it untill you mentioned it but the photo showing me from behind really does look like I have sloped shoulders! That's why I needed some fresh eyes to look at this muslin. I am going to work on the muslin tonight and I'll post some more pictures of the result. If I can achieve a good fit with this pattern I'll be able to make the blouse plus a dress so I feel like its a good investment of my time to get it right. Thanks again for your advice!

  4. You are most welcome, Liz! I struggled for years and still do with new types of garments, on how to get things to fit well. As a mum of 6 children, pregnancy and nursing made new body challenges for me, but I am grateful for all the help and classes I have taken over the past 9 years. :) I sure look forward to seeing how you work this out.

    All the best to you,