V1419 Sewalong: Making Your Muslin

Muslin made by the McCall Pattern Company for the #V1419 Sewalong. Ralph Rucci coat for Vogue Patterns.My sewalong co-host Lauren and I are as different as night and day, but on this we completely agree: You need to make a V1419 muslin before you cut into your fashion fabric. Here are three main reasons why:

  1. This coat style has a slim fit through the bust, waist and shoulders. You need to ensure the fit in these areas before you proceed to working with your actual fabric.
  2. This coat, while not very hard to make, does require time, especially with the interior finishings. You want to make sure you are 100% happy with the way this style looks on you. Sewing a muslin gives you a chance to try before you buy.
  3. This coat has a slightly tricky area to sew, and making a muslin gives you a chance to practice first. Then you’ll put less stress on your fashion fabric by not having to rip seams and re-stitch it excessively, because you’ll get it right on the first try.

Bottom line about sewing muslins in general: You’ll never regret making a muslin, but you’ll always regret not making a muslin.

Laying out my muslin for V1419 sewalong using cotton duck. Ralph Rucci coat pattern for Vogue Patterns
Laying out my muslin for V1419 using cotton duck.

Ok, enough preaching, let’s talk about sewing this muslin (“toile” in other parts of the world). Here are 10 tips:

  1. Use a muslin fabric that mimics your fashion fabric. I made my two muslins out of cotton duck, which is stiff and substantial. Use solid fabric if you can: At the McCall Pattern Company we sew all our muslins out of solid fabric so we can easily make notes on them.
  2. Transfer all the pattern markings to each muslin piece. This is really important. Indicate every single grain line and every single dot that’s there to help you line up pattern pieces when you stitch. You will not regret this. Also, on the side piece (#3), write on your muslin that the seam with the point that juts out is the back seam. On the gusset (#4), write on your muslin that the seam with the two dots (bottom of triangle) is the part that gets stitched to the top of the side piece (#3).
  3. Choose your size first by bust size on the pattern envelope, then by looking at the bust and waist measurements on the tissue pieces. The tissue measurements are the actual circumferences of the finished garment as though it were buttoned up ready for wear. I confess I made my first muslin of this pattern by using solely the tissue measurements, and I had a hunch it was going to be too small but I went ahead anyway. Yup, too small. I cut the size up for my next muslin and it’s 95% there, just needs one small tweak near the front shoulder, and I’m going to make the sleeves straight instead of belled.
  4. Stitch your muslin by machine basting, and use an easily visible contrasting thread.
  5. Stitch following the instructions but omit the parts about any interior finishing. You’re just sewing to ensure you like the fit and the style on you. Add the belt and welt pockets but don’t worry about stitching these pieces. I just baste them on more or less to make sure I like the way they look and that the placement works for my body.
  6. As I said above, this coat has a slightly tricky area to sew. That would be around step #18, where you attach the side piece with gusset to the front and back pieces of the coat. This is where you will be so happy you marked the pattern dots on the muslin piece. Match the dots and then ease the pieces to fit, pinning where necessary to ease-in fullness. If you have ever sewn a sleeve where you had to ease in fullness on the sleeve cap, then this is the same principle and you’ll be fine with this step. Take your time.
  7. Press open seams and clip every place we tell you to. Don’t feel you can skip these two steps just because you’re sewing a muslin. You won’t be able to truly assess the fit unless you press and clip. Trust us on this.
  8. When you’re finished, hopefully you’ve gotten lucky as Lauren did and your muslin fits just like you want it to. If not and you’re not quite sure what kind of adjustments you should make, then please feel free to post a photo of you wearing your muslin to the V1419 Sewalong group we just created on Flickr and ask for opinions. (Please join and follow this Flickr group so we can share, support and encourage each another!)
  9. If you do have to make another muslin, save the side piece and gusset stitched together, plus the lower sleeve piece. These do not change per size and you can save time by reusing them. Just cut a new front, back and upper sleeve as needed. You also don’t need to cut new belts, pockets or welts.
  10. Once you are happy with the size of your muslin, rip it apart, press it flat, and use these pieces to cut your fashion fabric. Remember to transfer all the markings on your muslin, like the dots, to your fashion fabric.
Mark pertinent information, like grain lines and name of piece on your muslin. V1419 sewalong for Ralph Rucci Vogue Patterns coat.
Mark pertinent information, like grain lines and name of piece on your muslin.

You’re gonna be surprised at how quickly this muslin stitches up. It’s actually not that hard a pattern to sew, and when you’re just machine-basting it will make up fast.

Tip: Keep everything for this pattern sewalong organized by using a clear jumbo bag like this one. I swear by these Ziploc Big Bags you can get at your local grocery store.
Tip: Keep everything for this pattern sewalong organized by using a clear jumbo bag like this one. I swear by these Ziploc Big Bags you can get at your local grocery store.

Next week on her blog Lauren will talk about prep work, cutting your fabric, underlining and more. Don’t worry if you are behind us or ahead: This is a go-at-your-own-pace sewalong. No pressure, people! Just relax and enjoy sewing a couture coat with your friends. Leave me a comment here and let us know how you’re doing, sewalong-wise.

20 Questions with Vogue Patterns Designer Carlos Correa

Carlos Correa, Vogue Patterns designer

We admit it, we love those features where celebrities answer random questions about themselves. Since you’ve told us you like getting to know the people behind the brands, we thought we’d ask Vogue Patterns designer Carlos Correa to share a little bit about himself:

1. Where did you grow up? Bayamon, Puerto Rico

McCall Pattern Company blog
Carlos at age 10 with his sister Elizabeth. “She was a huge influence on me as I was growing up. One of my most vivid memories from the 70’s was of her going out one night in a silk chiffon peasant dress à la YSL. She looked amazing.”

2. When did you realize you wanted to be a fashion designer? I grew up with four sisters and a mother who all sewed very well, so I was aware of clothing and fashion at a very early age. Somewhere around age 15 I realized what a fashion designer was and that this was something I could actually do for a living.

3. Where did you go to college? Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City.

4. When did you join the McCall Pattern Company? 1992. I was very young.

5. Can you and do you sew for yourself? Yes, I sew. My last project was V8842 parka and I took about three months to make it.

V8842 parka made by Carlos Correa, Vogue Patterns designer.
V8842 parka made by Carlos.

6. What item in your closet do you wear the most? My slim-fit pants from V8940.

7. Who are your favorite designers? Donna Karan and Ralph Rucci always inspire me.

8. What was your favorite vacation? I went to Iceland in 2008 and it was amazing. The country has an unspoiled natural beauty that you can’t find elsewhere. And Icelanders really respect their environment.

9. What is your favorite food? I could live on cookies and cakes. They call me the cookie monster here at work.

marlene dietrich
Marlene Dietrich, favorite style icon.

10. Who is your style icon? Marlene Dietrich, because she was very daring and she knew her body and her style very well.

11. What’s your favorite pattern in the current Vogue Patterns collection? V9041 men’s jacket. It’s a modern take on a classic pea coat design. For women, V1419 coat by Ralph Rucci, because it’s modern and classic at the same time.

12. What’s your favorite store? Century 21 in NYC for the thrill of the hunt. They have everything and you can’t beat the discounts.

13. What brings you your greatest joy? A job well done.

Carlos on vacation in Iceland.
On vacation in Iceland.

14. What makes you laugh? Celebrities acting foolish.

15. What’s your favorite vintage clothing era? The 1930s-1940s. In the ’30s we saw a lot of pre-war experimentation in fashion that was almost daring for the day. In the ’40s with the big shoulder pads and tailored suits women’s style was assertive and confident, before ’50s style turned them into dainty things.

16. What’s your favorite TV show? Anything with Real Housewives. Doesn’t matter where the location is, I’ll watch it.

17. What’s the one thing you splurge on? Skin care. I love anything by Origins, especially their anti-aging products.

18. What’s your favorite thing about working and living in New York City? The incredible diversity of the city.

19. What are the last three things on your credit card? Wee-wee pads, dog food and a trip to the groomer, all for Bella, my 10-year-old Maltese.

20. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? “Silence is golden.” Sometimes it’s better to keep your cards close to your vest.

Behind the Scenes: Vogue Designer Patterns

Vogue Pattern V1416 by Guy Laroche.

Today we’d like to talk about the designer patterns for Vogue Patterns, specifically to clear up a common misperception that often appears online in blog posts and discussion threads. True or false: The models in the Vogue Patterns designer patterns are wearing the actual designer garments.

Give yourself a pat on the back if you answered true. The models in the product photography are indeed wearing the actual designer garments as supplied by the designers. We don’t remake these designer patterns using our own fabrics, nor do we alter the garments’ designs in any way. The designer labels are intact and very often the original price tags are still hanging from them.

Model wearing an actual Tom and Linda Platt top. Voge Patterns V1415.
Model wearing an actual Tom and Linda Platt top. V1415.

Some designers, like Ralph Rucci, will supply the patterns for us to use when we translate their designs for home sewers. If we don’t have a pattern from the designer to start with, our patternmaking team will study the garment very closely so we can replicate it as exactly as possible.

Ralph Rucci pattern pieces used by Vogue Patterns to create one of his designer sewing patterns.
A Ralph Rucci pattern, as supplied by the designer.

Every now and then we’ll see online discussions comparing a designer runway photo with the same designer pattern, and if there are differences between the two garments people  assume we altered the garment for our home sewing market. Not so at all. Designers frequently modify their runway garments for the RTW market—changing a hemline or fabric, for example—if they feel that will broaden a garment’s appeal. But we don’t alter the garments that come from the designers who allow us to license their clothes.

We hope this clears up this common misperception about how we create Vogue Patterns from designers. Let us know if you found this post informative and if there are other questions you may have about our designer patterns. We may feature them in future posts!