May 9, 2014

Prom Season - Chronological steps to making a muslin

Prom Season is a very busy time of the year for me.  I truly love making prom dresses and to see the big smile on my clients faces makes it worthwhile.  This year I had 3 prom dresses to make, I decided to take pictures of the chronological order to making the prom dresses, as well as create a folder for each client and the steps involved to completed their dress.  I ALWAYS make a muslin (test garment) first before I cut the client's fashion fabric.

Listed below are the steps I take to making a muslin for my clients:
  1. I meet with the client to discuss what kind of prom dress they want to have made.  Most of my clients bring a picture of the dress they want to have made.  
  2. I take their body measurements, they have to wear a tank top and leggins so I can take accurate body measurements.  
  3. I schedule a date and time for us to go to the fabric store to look through pattern books to purchase the pattern they want.  I discuss any special needs (additions) they may want added to their dress that may not be on a pattern.  If we cannot find the pattern that's exactly like the dress they want, I know how to take two patterns to make their dress (i.e., the top from one pattern and the bottom from another pattern).
  4. I go to a Thrift Store to purchase "flat sheets" that I use as a muslin.  Normally I can purchase 6 sheets for about $12.00.
  5. I machine wash the sheets in hot bleach water to make sure they are clean before I use them.
  6. I cut out the pattern size according the client's body measurements.  I press the pattern pieces with a "dry iron" (i.e., no water in the iron).
  7. I lay the pattern pieces out on the flat sheet to make the test garment.  
  8. I cut out the pattern pieces and I label each sheet piece according to the pattern pieces so I will know what each piece is and I transfer ALL MARKINGS.
  9. I make the shell of the dress (no lining) out the flat sheet by using BASTING stitches (temporary stitching).
  10. I call the client over for their "first" fitting and I explain to the client that the sheet dress is a "test" garment (because they may not understand the term "muslin").  They have to wear the undergarments they are going to wear with the dress.  This is very important because the final fit will not be the same if they are not wearing the same undergarments they will wear on prom night. 
  11. I have the client to try on the test garment and I make the alternations that are needed to get the perfect fit.  I do this by first having the client to try the test garment on just as they will wear it, then I have them put the dress on inside out so I can use safety pins to pin out the extra fabric or cut open areas where the test garment may be too tight.
  12. After all of the pinning have been done, I have the client to put the dress back on the way it will normally be worn so they can see the actual fit of the test garment.
  13. I then turn the test garment inside out, I use a black Sharpie Pen to mark where the pins are, then I use another color Sharpie Pen (for instance green) and I measure 5/8" from the black mark and draw another line with the green Sharpie (this is my NEW seam allowance).
  14. I remove the pins and take the test garment apart (remember I used basting stitches) so it is easy to take it apart.
  15. I cut along the green line where the alterations/adjustments were made.
  16. At this point I NO LONGER use the paper pattern pieces, I use the sheet pattern pieces.  I put the pattern pieces back in the pattern envelope.
  17. I lay out the sheet pattern pieces according to the layout instructions on the fashion fabric.  I cut out everything and I make all the markings.
  18. I then start to make the prom dress out of the client's fashion fabric.
  19. Once the prom dress is made, I call the client over for another fitting with their undergarments and shoes.  The length of the dress is determined at this fitting.
  20. After the dress is hemmed and pressed, I call the client over to try the dress on for the LAST time and they take the dress home with them.
 I know this may sound like a lot but it is worth it because I do not want to cut into the fashion fabric until all of the alterations have been done on the test garment. This process guarantees the client will have the perfect fit for their prom dress.  I have been using this process for a few years since it was introduced to me by one of my sewing girlfriends.  Let me tell you, I did not adopt this method easily, I pouted about having to do what I thought was a long process.  Once I did it a few times, it became second nature to me and now I do not make a prom dress without making a muslin or test garment FIRST.  I even make a muslin for some things that I make for myself.

I wanted to share with you my method of making prom dresses.
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