The “unwearable” muslin is saved!

As recounted in my previous post, I attempted to make a wearable muslin of Simplicity 2151. I fell in love with the neckline, so it was supposed to be the first blouse I would perfect the fit of in my Vintage Separates Project. And when it was complete, it did fit beautifully; but unfortunately, with the fabric I chose, I was just NOT willing to wear it. It was an “unwearable muslin,” if you will.

Well, two of my delightful readers came to my rescue with suggestions on how to save it.

They identified the two main problems with the blouse: the sleeves and the lack of contrast. And although I did not fix the blouse with their exact suggestions, I did address the problems they noted. And now my “unwearable” muslin is wearable!

First, a refresher on the sad state of affairs before the fix:

Here’s the finished blouse. Dowdy! The sleeves are all wrong, and there’s no contrast.

The dowdiness is only exacerbated when the blouse is paired with the matching skirt. So sad!

And here is the new version!

This has much more of the 1940s vibe I was going for. I still LOVE the neckline.

Here’s the whole outfit:

So much better, isn’t it? It would be really snappy in rayon.

Let me share how this transformation came to be.

After my readers weighed in, I went searching for inspiration on my Vintage Style Pinterest boardThen I went about tucking and pinning my sad blouse until I had something I thought would work. Then I began to sew.

The changes I made:

  • Sleeves: The sleeves looked too full at the top (more so on me than on the dress form) and more suited to the prairie than the vintage look I had in mind. Part of the problem was that the shoulders were too wide. I took those in by ripping the armhole seam from dot to dot, trimming the bodice from dot to dot, then reattaching the sleeves. I also hacked off the sleeves and hemmed them.
  • Contrast: The blouse suffered from a serious lack of contrast, so I changed out the clear buttons from my stash for some vintage blue buttons that were recently acquired. They came from an intact button card with great graphics of a man’s suit. It killed me to use them, but that’s what they’re for.
  • Hem: I changed the hem to a V-shape (to echo the neckline) so the blouse would look like it was supposed to be worn with the hem outside.
  • Pockets: I added some fun pocket details. Since the button card had two sizes of buttons, I used the larger ones on the pockets.

The change I didn’t make:

I had also planned to shorten the 30-inch skirt to 28 or 26 inches (just below knee length on me) to be more in line with the mid-1940s, but I had done so much work redoing the blouse that I was out of gas when it came to redoing the skirt and lining hems!

The change I still need to make:

I still want to change the two buttons that close the skirt to the same buttons on the blouse (I have four left), but that’s for another evening.

This disappointing project turned out to be a good exercise in transforming a garment. It turned out to be really fun to change a top that I wouldn’t wear into one that I will. It feels pretty powerful to have those kinds of skills.

Since I have perfected the fit of this princess-seamed blouse, it has many future possibilities (a sweetheart neckline comes to mind), but I’m not sure how I’d style the sleeves in a nicer fabric. Meanwhile, I just received Sense & Sensibility Patterns’ Romantic Blouse pattern. The short sleeve version looks like a great 1940s blouse, as shown by Katrina of Edelweiss Patterns. So that will become a (hopefully) wearable muslin some time soon.

Next up: I think it’s time to move on from wearable muslins to my first quality garment for my Vintage Separates Project: a simple navy poly-wool blend version of the A-line skirt. But first I think I need to take in the waistband an inch. It’s always something.

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6 thoughts on “The “unwearable” muslin is saved!

  1. 97point6 July 17, 2012 at 10:50 pm Reply

    Yes, I do need a job … BUT … until then Lord, give me the power to weigh in on subjects I have not a clue about. Here goes. Love the new version, don’t disagree with you in any way whatsoever. However, when I first saw the outfit on the Facebook thumbnail it looked like you had paired the top with a solid colored skirt. Let’s say in something like a medium sage green (hard to tell with the colors on my screen). I think that would be a very workable solution. You’re welcome. Back to my job search 🙂


    • Jeanne Marie July 18, 2012 at 8:12 pm Reply

      Thank you! The print is teal blue on beige, that would be why it looks sage green. Good luck with the search.


  2. Corinne July 18, 2012 at 6:08 am Reply

    Looking really good. The sleeve transformation totally alters the line of the piece. And the detailing on the bodice is genius. It looks entirely different and much more wearable.


    • Jeanne Marie July 18, 2012 at 8:14 pm Reply

      Thanks, Corinne! I actually did wear the ensemble to work today. I’m amazed how comfortable a woven blouse can be when it fits properly! I could use a snap in a certain area, though. 😉


      • Corinne July 19, 2012 at 6:04 am Reply

        I do know what you mean. I suspect you already know this, but I never follow the button placement guide on patterns. I try it on, place the first button in the most crucial place and then arrange and space the remaining buttons from there. Sometimes I use one more button sometimes less. But my own little rule also requires an uneven number of buttons on a blouse that is not tucked it. It creates a line, versus a tuck in blouse where the waistline demarcation creates a line. Does that make sense?


        • Jeanne Marie July 19, 2012 at 6:41 am Reply

          I always have to lower the bust point 2 inches, which renders the button placement guide useless. Since I know where the bust point is, I start with one there. If I’m going to tuck in (like I thought with this blouse), I avoid the waistline and then space things out from there. For this one, there’s too big an opening between buttons, which creates a peep show just under the bust point from the side angle! I may put in three more buttons since I have them. That would give me seven, and I was thinking an uneven number would be better anyway.


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