Sewing Vloggers

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Memphis Muslin


It's muslin time around here. That means no hair, just a little lipstick and my wooly warm  socks. I am focused on getting the muslin of the Sewing Workshop Memphis Dress completed and above you have a front view. This has really been a lot of fun.  

First of all, this pattern is just a delight. it is so clearly written and illustrated and every dot and notch matches up perfectly and is right where it is supposed to be. No mysteries anywhere.   

I made the decision to sew up this dress EXACTLY as it came from the envelope in a size XS. For my muslin I used a 30 year old 100% cotton percale sheet that I just was tired of and threw in the muslin bin, my excuse to buy new sheets. It is a very high thread count which meant it would not ease well at all but was very similar in weight to the fabric I will be using for the final garment. 

That will be the above, two vintage linen plaids and one contemporary linen/cotton blend that matches the texture and weight of the plaids perfectly.  They are soft and pretty light weight, perfect for my purpose.  All three will be in the Memphis dress. 

My purpose? This will be the third summer we attempt to go on our celebration vacation of our 50th wedding anniversary. This trip is a gift from our children and the trip will include our children, sons in law, and all grand children as well. We will be splitting our time in half at two different islands in the Azores, a place I've always wanted to visit and I got to pick the destination as we are also celebrating my milestone birthday. We are all excited and hopefully some variant will not arrive on the scene and put a stop to things as it has already done before. I really think my Memphis dress will be light, breezy and perfect for some island relaxation. The fabric is so aged and washed  that it has that wonderful soft patina of vintage linen that requires no fuss. It will be light enough to be delightful in the  island breezes. 

I was slumping through my sewing activity a couple of weeks ago in no mood to keep pushing out winter clothing to wear to no destinations as I already had tons in the closet and  it dawned on me I had better start sewing for our vacation. It got me all energized again and this is the start of my wardrobe. Armed with patterns and a lot of Essex linen  I am raring to go. Slump removed!!!

I spent yesterday cutting out and sewing the dress, all pretty easy peasy. It is a flat layout with each piece, other than the sleeves, being cut singly. Once I started sewing and fitting, you can see I made notes on my instructions for the real thing and muslin corrections.  It looks like a bit of origami but all fell into place so easily that it is nothing to fear. This is not a case of "I don't need to read the directions" so don't go there. You HAVE to read and follow these directions but they are easy and perfect. 

Since I wasn't really sure how this would fit me at all I did a tissue tracing of the pattern leaving it in tact for other sizes. I traced the XS. If you look closely at the at the first photo you will see there is enough room for my bust, the shoulders are too wide and the neckline gapes with largesse. I believe I may have to adjust the ease on the sleeve cap as well. I will see how the narrowing of the shoulders affects things first. This is the issue with every pattern I make but this is the smallest size.  When I go to cut the real deal I will slide the shoulders in and pivot out so I don't change the shape of the armscye. 

I have already cut the front neckline larger.  I can now get my head through! It slid on easily.  I have found the armscye a bit tight but it is also quite high. I know lifting the armscye allows for more movement so I am not sure what to do here. I will play with the muslin.  Since the pattern basically falls from the bust, that is it on fitting. Get a good bust and upper chest fit on this and you are done. 

Plain side.

Side with drape. 

Back view. 

This garment can have the drape just fall flat in a triangle sort of look like above or if made in a knit with some weight, it can drape with lovely curves on the side which I tried to emulate here. 

If you look at this pic, you will see a blue strip of fabric pinned to the armhole. All I did was take a strip of selvedge and pin it to the inside of the drape and bring it up to the armscye and pin it there. It made the curves! I may do this to the final version. We will see how my vintage linen reacts to this idea. 

Thanks for bearing with my self judgement and any of your thoughts will be appreciated.  I will be shortening the hem band, It is drowning me as you can tell. It will probably be half that width. I will play with my shoulders and sleeve caps before I cut any thing out. That is not a perspiration stain on the dress above. Cameras sometimes pickup th weirdest shadows. 

The next biggest challenge, which I have mulled over and over,  is how to divide up the fabrics in the various spaces on the dress. Just not sure yet.  Hope you have something you are enjoying and pulling you out of these awful winter doldrums. Think summer!!! It helps.............Bunny


  1. Like you, Bunny, I'm a firm believer in making muslims. You will work out the small fitting adjustments and make a marvelous dress for your vacation in the Azores. It's really lovely there and such friendly people. Karen

    1. We are looking forward to it. We lived and worked in New Bedford in our very early marriage and teens and came to know a lot of Azoreans and the food and culture. We heard so much about its beauty and enjoyed much of its cuisine so have always wanted to visit there.

  2. WHAT a kewl dress!!! It's going to be lovely! Here's hoping the third time is the charm ;-)

    1. Thank you. We are all so looking forward to this big family trip.

  3. I love the breezy look of the piece. Look forward to seeing which fabrics go where.

    1. I've worked that out fifty times over but last night woke up in the night with my solution. Go figure!

  4. "the neckline gapes with largesse" that phrase! I love that your sewing for your summer vacation. I will be hoping right along with you that you get to go with a suitcase full of wonderful summer makes!

  5. What a daredevil you are, Bunny. I clicked on the link and it says to use 54 or 60 inch wide 2 or 4 way knit but the thought of your linen samples just makes me drool!I could use a breezy dress like that for our hot summers here! I'd make a muslin too using woven fabrics and probaby add some armscye bust darts just because I need them in everything I make. Maybe going nuts and adding thin piping between fabrics might work too?

    1. I thought about the piping. I haven't started yet so that is still an option. I did get the muslin all worked out today. The finished measurements are on the envelope and more than accommodate my current shape. I proceeded with fingers crossed with the smallest size and no knit and it worked. The only tightness I had were the armscyes but as soon as I got the shoulders in the right place every thing worked out fine and got over my head and on to my arms easily, as if they were meant for a woven. I know the tall employee, Erin, said in the dress that inspired me, that she used a woven in that one but went up two sizes. It fit her beautifully so I didn't know quite what to expect. Fingers crossed. I woke up in the night with my color blocking all worked out. Weird how that happens to me all the time when I have to think out an issue.


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