Wren Muslin

Absolutely ages ago, I ordered the Colette Wren pattern.  I then promptly stuck it in the pattern box and never got around to it.  I’ve had appropriate fabric for ages, a lovely black bamboo silk which will make a lovely dress, but I’ve had no motivation to actually get started.

Well, we are heading into Autumn, which means Christmas will be here before we know it (I know, I know, shut up!).  So I’m looking to make a fancy dress and Wren fits the bill, largely because it’s not so formal that I’ll only wear it once.

I did a bit of research and discovered that a lot of people have had fitting issues, either with it being slightly small or with bodice length.  I therefore thought it best to muslin it first, especially since I normally need a FBA but that’s not always the case with a wrap dress.  The muslin was very informative.

The fabric I used to muslin this was some jersey I picked up cheap in the local market.  It has very similar stretch and drape to my intended fabric.  Based on comments from others who have already made this up, I cut a size L and went down to an M at the waist.  I lengthened the bodice by 2″ and, because I wasn’t terribly fond of the sleeves, I drafted a tulip sleeve based on the provided pattern piece following the very helpful instructions from Sew Chic.  This was the outcome.  I’ve turned the background white for clarity, since my walls are a similar colour to the fabric – please forgive my dodgy photoshopping.



The front looks ok.  The neckline doesn’t pull so I think I’m ok without the FBA and it isn’t too low.  It is obvious though that this is too short.  It needs lengthening by at least another 2″, possibly a little bit more.


The side is a little bit more problematic.  The side seam is very nearly vertical but not quite.  It is pulling forward a little beneath the armhole, although this could just be down to having my arms raised.  The sleeve looks absolutely fine and I’m really happy with it, but the fabric looks to be pulling across the back.  I’m getting a nice close fit across the bust, but that causes me to ask about closures – this pattern isn’t meant to have any, but it was a bit of a struggle getting it on.  Perhaps the fit is meant to have a bit more ease, but I like the close fit, so I may need to consider a zipper or something – what are we meant to use for knit garments?


Finally the back.  Again, you can see the places where the fabric pulls a little from the side seams up towards the shoulders.  There’s also the beginnings of a bit of pooling going on right at the bottom, but I’m not certain if that needs a swayback adjustment or if it is just the fabric curling under at the bottom, or even if it needs more width to the fabric at the bottom.  The weight of the skirt might sort it out.  I will probably need a second, longer muslin to be sure what’s going on there.

Not being particularly experienced with fitting adjustments, I am currently working from the Colette Sewing Handbook.  The fit section says that tight diagonal wrinkles like I have here indicate that there is not quite enough fabric to go around my back.  I think this needs adding to the back, which I’ll attempt on this first muslin before trying it on the pattern pieces.

There are a couple of other things I learned from this too.  First of all, I can’t sew hems on knits neatly to save my life.  I am thinking a clean finish binding might be best for the neckline and probably the sleeves as well.  If I can figure out the twin needle, I’ll use that to edgestitch it down.  I’ll need to adjust the seam allowances to do this though, so I’ll need to keep track of what I’m doing where.

Gosh, who knew it would be this complicated?


3 thoughts on “Wren Muslin

  1. That’s a lot of alterations to do! I’d plan to add a zip if it’s already feeling tight. The pattern may be asking for a stretchier jersey than you have which is why you’re finding it hard to get on/off. You can add a zip on knits – I always interface the seam edges to make sure it doesn’t stretch as I insert it!

    • It’s actually a bit stretchier than called for. I had no problems getting it well past the guide on the envelope. A few other people seem to have found that too though – some have just gone up a size but I think I’d rather go the zipper route. I’ve found some useful tutorials around the internet about how to interface knits to stabilise a zipper. I’ll give it a go anyway – what’s the worst that could happen?

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