Monday, May 12, 2008

Knock off muslin


Before my holidays I showed you this top I want to knock off. Here you can find the original on The tie and arm-opening bands are topstitched. Thinking about what was the main issue to make this top I found that a pattern was needed with a close fitting arm opening. The cowl in front and back could be made the front pattern piece wider and longer. I decided to use this Vogue pattern, that I made last year.

  Vogue1809DKNY   DKNY dress side 2    Anne Klein muslin front

(I only wore the dress for the first time yesterday, as the weather was never good enough after I made it).

As you can see this dress has a close fitting arm opening.

Here is what I did to the pattern.

IMG_2522 For the front pattern I closed the dart in the armhole and ignored the dart in the front, thus already creating extra space in the front.
After drawing the armhole part in the back I went down 4 cm for the tie space and drew a horizontal line.
IMG_2524 Here you can see what I did to make the draping.
I cut the pattern piece in several pieces above the point where the gathers start and laid them apart. Also I made the width on top wider. The bottom width remains the same.
The same change was made for the front.
IMG_2597 Muslin front
IMG_2598 Muslin back

The general idea is good, but it needs a cowl stay, as the drape is not perfect now, the armhole tends to be distorted by the weigth of the drape. This is what I already had in mind, so that's no surprise to me.
Of course I'll make it longer too, and I'll add some self facing fabric on the top of the cowl/drape pattern pieces.

I'm curious how they manage to keep front and back well draped in the original, anyone an idea about that? Will they have used a cowl stay?
Any other suggestions on pattern and muslin are always highly appreciated.


  1. It's possible that there is an underlying front (and back) that holds the armholes together. The cowl might be another piece of fabric applied on top.

    With a knit and with such snug armholes, you could perhaps use a really light weight knit for a lining. That would finish the neck edge, stabilize the drape in front and back without adding too much weigh or fabric.

  2. I agree with Helen - there might be another front underneath the draped front. That would be like the cowl stay you suggested.

  3. What a cute top to knock off! I looked at the link you gave. The back of the shirt has ties at the top. Would this give the support to keep the cowl in place?


  4. Please excuse my ignorance - what's a cowl stay?

  5. Ok, Helen and Summerset have already voiced what I was thinking.

  6. I have a RTW top similar to this one and it is constructed with separate arm bands and then a double layer of the fabric. There is no hem and no seams because of the way it is sewn together. It gives a very nice finish. I could email you some detailed pictures if you would like to see the insides/finishing. I hope I'm not out of place in offering.

  7. I believe you have a bit too much gathering a bit too low on the armhole. Also, since there is a wide neck to begin with the neckline gets wide very quickly so there is no need to spread so much. On page 88 of A Custom Touch by Mary J. Wadlington a book I have owned since the mid 1980's (amazingly still available on Amazon at prices lower than I paid) are instructions for creating a cowl neckline from an existing pattern or block. I would use this technique, and rotate the slashes to the upper armhole after you cut the banding; I think some of your pleating is too low on the "armhole edge". One has to be careful with cowls as the drape can get quite low very quickly and you don't want the drape dragging below the bustline. Mary uses only three slashes to the shoulder seam, again not too low. You would make these 3 slashes from the armhole edge instead. I can scan this page for you, if you wish and e-mail it to you. Just give me the word. Claire Shaffer discusses a cowl stay in her book High Fashion Sewing Secrets on pages 134 & 135 with excellent illustrations. I consider both theses books must haves.

  8. I once made a blouse like this without the armhole detail. The cowl was double in length as it faced itself to just below the bustline. I do not remember the facing being narrower than the front, but you could easily have less drape on the facing part to control the gathers in the front.

  9. I like this style of top.
    There is a Vogue pattern that looks very similar.
    You received good information, good luck:)

  10. oops.. I just realized that vogue pattern doesn't have the bands around the armhole.....

  11. I have no suggestions to offer just a thank you for sharing the muslining process with us...this is fascinating stuff!

  12. You are doing a wonderful job! I agree with Helen too, it must be a non drapable underlay to keep the shoulder pieces from moving apart