Drafting a lace bodice over bustier from scratch: Rosarios first muslin

Hi readers! I have a new sewing adventure this week. Isabelle’s classmate from high school, the lovely Rosario, is getting married! I’ve know her since she was a tween, and boy does time fly, doesn’t it? Rosario already bought a dress at BHLDN in Beverly Hills but after that, she realized she didn’t like it after all.  It’s a lovely dress, but she feels very constricted in it due to the high illusion neckline and tight armhole. She loves the skirt, but wants something different on top.

rosario2rosario1She also didn’t like the way the buttons were just tacked on the zipper which is tacked onto the English net in back. I have to agree the zipper is very obvious looking. pinterest1She sent me this photo of a bodice with a lace overlay. She likes the sleeves and the V front.pinterest2

And she wants a deep plunging back neckline with buttons in back. To keep that back from gaping will take some serious pattern work, slashing and drafting out the natural gaping that occurs with such a low back. newdesignfrontdrawingbackShe made some very good sketches for me. So we decided to start working on the left view from her sketch.

First, I got out my basic block for a size 6 which I drafted a few years ago. I made a muslin of it and realized a few tweaks needed to be made. It was too long at the waist. I hadn’t been very precise when I made it. Now that I see it, I also think I made the armscye a little too wide. changingbasic

newstlelinebackAfter adjusting it, I traced it and drew the new front and back neckline. I knew I would have to contour the front and back neck lines quite a bit to stop the gaping that occurs with lowered necklines. I slashed little bits and overlapped them by 1/4 inch.

I then had to draw a sleeve pattern since I don’t have one for size 6. Lots of fun, but now I have a nice size 6 sleeve sloper. I used my pattern making book by Connnie Crawford.

The sleeve had almost two inches of ease at the sleeve cap. I removed an inch of ease by slashing the sleeve and overlapping it at the center and sides of sleeve cap. I will readjust my amscyes today and recheck my arm pattern and see it they come out better. There should be only about an inch to an inch and a half.

muslin1frontAfter sewing this first muslin, I could see I had to remove even more gaping, so I sewed small darts. On my pattern I made a slash from the darted area to the apex and cut up the center of the waist dart to meet the slashed line from the neck I made. I closed the amount I needed to remove at the neck and  that naturally transferred opened up my waist dart. But now it’s too wide. I have to now create two darts from that dart. One at the side and the original one which will be half the width and give a smoother look.

Because wide darts look ugly as hell. See below.

muslin2I also have to move the darts closer to the apex and shorten them.


I slashed and closed the cap by 1/4 inch amounts in three spots on the sleeve for the second muslin to remove an inch of ease. I’m going to trash this sleeve and start over after I adjust my basic bodice. It’s too tall and pointy and narrow.

newstylelinesbustieradjustmentsThis was the first muslin for the bustier I tried on Rosario last week. I made it from my basic size 6 strapless bustier pattern pattern block I made last month for Lily’s dress. You can see the new style lines we made and lots of fitting changes. I’m going to add padding too. I recently read this sew along on Pattern Review that shows how to add custom padding cups to a bustier.newbustierdesignAfter our first fitting, I realized that while Rosario’s measurements are almost the same as my form, her body is actually very different. Of course it is! She’s a human and not a molded creature…

Fitting someone besides yourself is chellenging. Its hard enough learning our own issues, but then we have to think quickly when learning about new bodies and also with a time crunch! My work on play costumes in the past has helped a bit for sure. After analyzing these photos, I’ve come to the conclusion that she needs a forward shoulder adjustment, square shoulder adjustment, but also a narrow shoulder adjustment, too. Any of you who have these issues or see something I don’t please leave a comment! rosariomuslin1 shoulderHappy sewing!

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  1. says

    If the forward shoulder adjustment doesn’t do what you want, Rosario looks like her right shoulder is dropped compared to her left. I have that problem but more severely, it causes my clothing to hang funny. So if you notice that the neckline still is off center, that is why. I don’t have any good suggestions except to slant that shoulder seam (essentially taking a dart at the neck) more and see how it affects the fit.

    Otherwise, you look like you are doing super. The new bodice is going to be gorgeous.

    • Justine says

      Thanks Theresa. The good thing about taking fitting photos is you later see things you didn’t
      at first. I do see that now that you mention it. What type of adjustment would you make for that?

      • says

        Taking fitting photos is brilliant, there is so much that we edit out. It never occurred to me to do that, even though I’ve done it for other things

        Just take up the shoulder seam next to the neck, like a dart. That should do it for her, I think. Just a pinch and see how it affects the little gab on her shoulder. In other words mimic the slope of her shoulder with the seam. That might also help with some of the slight wrinkles in the bust area.


  2. Ruth L says

    Really great job Justine! I’m always amazed at how incredibly skilled you are. I hope you will share the rest of this adventure with us – I can’t wait to see the finished dress! Thank you for all the ways you inspire me to be a better sewist