Muslin Help!

Why, hello!  I hope you are all enjoying the new crispness in the air that signifies the arrival of fall disgusting humidity and rain that is going on in NYC right now!  Ah, September in the city!

I have to beg for your expert guidance yet again, gals!  I’m working on Simplicity 2444 for my mother, and I need to add some width to the waistline (5”, to be exact… I knew that the waist measurement for the size 12 wasn’t even close, but for some reason I thought I would just make it as is in case there was a huge amount of ease in the pattern… dumb…).  So I need to add 5” to the waist—should I do this at the sides?  The hitch in this is that I also need to nip in the armhole a bit.  Should I add 1 ¼” to each side, then just taper it in dramatically to the armhole?  The bust fits perfectly, so I don’t want to disturb that.  Basically, the fabric doesn’t meet along the back and forms a sort of open triangle at the lower center back (I was super rushed fitting the muslin and didn’t have time to take photos—nooooo!).  I can’t seem to find any tips online and I’m worried about getting this right, especially since I won’t see my mom again until the day of the wedding (!).

Question #2: I need to add 1” to the bodice length and the darts also need to be lowered 1”—is there a way to do this in one fell swoop?  The darts scare me!

What do you guys think?

11 responses

  1. okay. i know there’s someone more qualified than i… but here’s my two cents:

    first, i’d add 1 inch to bodice length at the “lengthen/shorten here” line. if the darts are too high, just mark the center line of the dart, make a mark 1 inch down from the point of the dart triangle to that center line, and use that as your new dart point. then draw new dart lines from dart point to bodice bottom, using bottom of the original dart legs as your guide. don’t be sacred, it’s EASY, and even if my way is wrong it totally works. which means is easy.

    i usually add waist width at center front, but i’ve never added 5 before…..


  2. That’s such a bummer you’re not seeing her until the wedding!

    (Warning: Novice advice ahead that might not even be right, but just in case…): I agree with Oona about the darts. With adding the 5″ I imagine you’d add it to the sides. Usually I like to add the width everywhere (i.e. a bit to the front centre seam, back centre seam, and sides), but if it already fits her well in the bust I’d leave the front centre alone.

    Hopefully she’s wearing a belt so if it’s a touch big you can just get her to hide and cinch it (mwahahaha). Get her to make a clone of herself! Or do you have a similar-shaped aunty that lives nearby? Good luck! Can’t wait to see all of your masterpieces 😀


    • Ooh, great ideas! Sadly, no aunties around, BUT, my mom WILL have a belt (actually, the tie-on self-bow shown in the picture), so I can err on the side of generosity! Yay! Thanks for the advice!


  3. similar shaped aunty and BELT. good idea!!!

    do you remember the size of this triangle of non-meeting fabric in the back? if the side seams fell right where they should, maybe you should add the width at center back… or, it looks like there are back darts. you could decrease the width of those darts, just make them skinnier? i do that all the time when a pattern is too snug, sometimes i take the dart out altogether.

    and! if you needed to add another inch to the bodice, that’ll change the size of the waist too…

    at any rate, what you make her will fit better (and be more special) than anything storebought,


  4. I meant to reply to this earlier, but my day got away from me. Everyone’s advice above sounds great to me, and I do trust that you’ll take what I say with a grain of salt. But, here goes. I’m assuming that you sewed up the darts and side seams but not the back in order to fit your mom. Did you notice if the front center and side seams fell straight down? Also, for the darts, other than lowering them, was their placement flattering? My guess is that adding the five inches only to the back or the front will push the side seams askew, unless all of the extra width falls in one half or the other. Looking at the pattern, I see it tapering to the waist through the darts. To keep the bust the same but widen the waist, it seems like you could narrow all six darts, the four on the front and the two on the back. Maybe you narrow each dart by half an inch and then add a half an inch to each side seam – you’d get the five inches of fabric into the waist without all of it going into one place and throwing the pattern offline. And, when you narrow the darts, just make them end lower – two birds with one stone. One thing to keep in mind is that if you alter the darts on the bodice, you’ll want to check to make sure they still match with the pleats on the skirt. Also, if you can leave the inside of the dress accessible, then you could give yourself wide seam allowances and bring matching thread, a good hand needle, a seam ripper, and a pair of scissors along to the wedding. Because there’s extra fabric hidden in the pleats, darts, and seam allowances, you should be able to make any game day fixes that can’t be covered by the fabric belt – whether it be letting out the seams a bit more or taking them in. A backstitch should make sure that the hand-stitched seams stay put during the celebration. Anyway, this is basically what the other wonderful seamsters above have all said, but I wanted to put my two cents in as well. Even if it’s really just a long “I agree with Oona and Reana!”


    • You raise a good point! It seemed like the side seams hung correctly and all the gapping was at the back, but when I think about it, I don’t know how that could be possible! Narrowing all the darts seems like a good solution… and then I guess I would probably need to do the same to the pleats to line them up. Yikes! This is super intimidating!! Maybe I’ll have to mock up a quick muslin to overcome the serious fear I’m feeling right now! But thanks so much for the input– I hadn’t even thought about needing to distribute the additional width evenly!


  5. I’ve checked my Vogue sewing book (I’m glad to use it for something!). However unintentionally you have chosen the right size if the bust fits as the waist and hips are easier to adjust! Everyone’s right about lengthening bodice. It says for adjustments to enlarge waist and hips of over 1″ slash the pattern pieces and spread the slashed pattern edges 1/4 of the amount needed at the waist and hipline. I don’t understand the next bit but it also says “A small pleat will form in the seam allowance or hem area”. The picture in the book shows the bodice being slashed starting from about 1″ to 2″ from the side seams of bodice and skirt pieces. The point of the bodice slash is at the bodice side seam just on or below the lower line of the bust dart going from the side but in a bit, about 1 cm. The skirt pattern piece is slashed starting about 1 to 2 inches into the side seam and the slash ends quite low down so it can be spread easily. It’s hard to describe in words without seeing the picture!


  6. I’m so glad you’ve received feedback from experienced sewists. I didn’t post a comment before because I was at a loss as to how to help. In fact, I’m having a Rooibos muslin dilemma right now and have no clue how to fix it. Thank goodness for all the good and helpful sewists out there. How’s it going with the dress? When’s the wedding?


    • So far so good with the dress! I unpicked the muslin and eliminated the back darts, then I narrowed the front darts by 5/8″ each, which actually gives me all the room that I need. I’m still trying to decide how to add the additional width to the skirt and somehow try to line up the pleats to the front darts, but my brain was like butter last night and I had to set it down! The wedding is November 11th– yikes! My sister hasn’t had time yet to drive up and try on her muslin, but she’s supposed to come next weekend. The Peony pattern arrived yesterday, so I just need to get some more muslin and I’ll be ready to dive in with that dress!

      I hope you’re able to get your Rooibos issue resolved painlessly…


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