Self-drafted maxi dress muslin

Self-drafted maxi dress - compilation image

It seems like I’ve been sewing nothing but muslin around here lately!  After my failed attempt at getting the Simone dress to fit properly, I decided to put my newly-drafted sloper into action and draft the dress of my dreams from scratch.  Well, since it’s my very first self-drafted garment, I think “dress of my dreams” might be pushing it.  But you get the idea.  : )  I’m excited!

Self-drafted maxi dress - sketches

I even made sketches and everything.  You know, like a real designer.  Ha!  I wanted a simple summer maxi dress with a fitted bodice and a hi-lo hem, similar to the design of the Simone dress that I liked so much (in theory).  I envisioned using a contrast fabric panel in the center front and center back to add a bit of interest.  I even thought about doing the panel in a solid color with some hand embroidery.  So many possibilities!

I haven’t quite decided exactly what I’ll do in terms of fabric or embellishment yet, but I did draft the basic pattern.

Self-drafted maxi dress - pattern pieces

Since I had already drafted a bodice and skirt sloper, turning it into a maxi dress was actually pretty straightforward.  I just traced my sloper pattern pieces onto fresh tracing paper, drew in my style lines, and cut out the new pieces.  That’s it!  Simple and liberating.  This whole drafting thing is blowing my mind.  : )

Self-drafted maxi dress - muslin front

And here’s the result – my maxi dress muslin.  Can you tell I was feeling a little smug when I took this photo?  It’s far from perfect, but I fully admit that I was proud of myself for getting this far.  : )  I actually think the dress looks a little matronly for some reason.  Maybe it’ll look better in real fabric, and a print to camouflage the darts a bit?

Self-drafted maxi dress - muslin back

For the back, I only used the bottom half of the bodice sloper and drafted some simple straps… and I was careful to make sure my strapless bra was fully covered.  Oh, the convenience of drafting a pattern yourself!  Unfortunately, there’s a bit of strain since the huge skirt is being supported by the two small areas where the straps are attached.  I don’t hate the look of it, but I’m not completely sold on it either.

Self-drafted maxi dress - muslin side

The side view is… well… not very sexy.  Clearly I still have a lot to learn in the drafting department.  There’s some weird pulling and wrinkling around the bust, and the skirt is definitely pulling the bodice down.  Maybe I should get rid of the waist seam?  That seems like so much extra work though… the thought of more alterations and more muslins isn’t very appealing at this point!

BTW, my arm is obscuring a side zipper.  I thought it might be nice to hide the zipper on the side, especially if I decide to do a contrast panel down the center back.  The beauty of drafting is that you can put the zipper wherever the heck you want.

Self-drafted maxi dress - muslin hi-lo hem

My favorite part of the dress: the hi-lo hem.  I didn’t think I’d be a fan of these hems when I first started seeing them in RTW, but I loved it on the Simone.  Since I paid $20 for that stupid pattern and was determined to get my money’s worth, I used the Simone hem for my dress.  Once I had drafted the skirt, I just overlaid the Simone curve and adjusted it to fit.  Easy!

I put this all together over the weekend, but I still had one thing on my mind that I couldn’t seem to escape: I still loved the racerback from the Simone.  People, it was keeping me awake at night.  I was a woman obsessed!  So, last night after work I once again busted out the Simone pattern, overlaid it on my back bodice sloper pattern, and adjusted the racerback curves to fit.  Would it work?

Self-drafted maxi dress - muslin back round 2 racerback

I think it works!  The racerback lays more smoothly than my original strappy back, and it provides more support for the long skirt.  I’m still debating between the two versions, but I think the racerback will ultimately win me over.  What do you think?

And did I mention how great this drafting thing is?  All the pieces fit so well right from the start!  It was quite an amazing feeling to try on the dress for the first time and have it fit so well… like it was specifically made for my body.  Oh wait, it was.  : )  If you’ve been thinking about learning to draft your own patterns but haven’t gotten around to it yet, I would highly recommend giving it a shot!  You can see my first attempt here isn’t perfect, but it’s all uphill from here, right?

Self-drafted maxi dress - muslin front round 2One last thing: after trying on this muslin so many times over the past few days, it’s gotten a little loose and wrinkly.  Doesn’t it seem to fit much better in the photos at the beginning of this post?  I’m hoping that the fabric just stretched out and that my pattern pieces are still good.  Hmmmmmmm…..

BTW, did you notice Maggie hanging out on the couch during this photo shoot?  She always likes to get in on the sewing action.  : )

Now to pick out some fabric and make this dress a reality!

29 thoughts on “Self-drafted maxi dress muslin

  1. Hello Carolyn, i enjoy following you and your muslins! I’m just wondering if you might need a small swayback alteration – even with your second version there seems to be some room in the upper back of your skirt piece…


    • Thanks Shorella – I’m glad you’re not bored of all the muslin yet. 🙂 Agreed that a swayback adjustment would help, but we’ll see if I have the energy for more adjustments, haha.


    • Thanks – I agree about the racerback, and it seems to be the overwhelming consensus! I won’t be using a knit as I haven’t figured out how to draft for knits yet, but I want to use a very lightweight cotton – maybe a voile?


    • Thanks Zoya. I’m definitely having fun with it! There is a huge learning curve and I’m just a beginner, but it’s an interesting and enjoyable challenge.


  2. Great job!! I would also suggest a small sway back adjustment and shortening your bust darts just a bit so they don’t end so close to the apex. That might help the wrinkling above the bust before pinching-out some of the fullness (as it appears you have done). You’ll be the next Indie Pattern Designer?? 😀


    • Thanks for your helpful suggestions, Ellen. I agree on both points – it’s just a matter of psyching myself up for more adjustments. 🙂 I did pinch out quite a bit from the front straps in the last photo, but I suspect my fabric was stretched out a bit by that point. Not sure though, as it was staystitched beforehand. Hmmmmm….

      There is no way I’ll ever become a pattern designer, so don’t hold your breath on that one. 🙂 I barely have enough patience to draft for myself!


    • Thanks! Drafting is actually pretty straightforward, but I think *good* drafting is the challenge. I’m not there yet. 🙂 And I agree about the racerback, and seems like everyone else does too. Glad I asked for feedback!


    • Thanks Erika, racerback it is. As I mentioned above, basic drafting isn’t all that difficult – you should give it a try! I have a feeling you just learn as you go, just like with sewing. Baby steps.


  3. This looks great! I like both backs but I think I prefer the racerback – it looks a bit more comfortable too. I love the pictures of Maggie 🙂


    • Thanks Kim! The racerback is definitely more comfortable, and it’s more stable too (i.e., the dress doesn’t shift around as much when I’m wearing it).

      Glad you like the Maggie photos – she’s an excellent sewing supervisor. 🙂


  4. I agree with everyone else – the racerback matches the solidity of the front better. I can’t wait to see it in real fabric!


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