Pattern: Butterick 8020 - vintage pattern - no date - most likely 50s.
This dress has an empire waistline. The skirt and lower torso are cut as one and the front and back upper bodice are separate pieces. There is a band and bow detail just beneath the bust. There is a small cap sleeve and a flared skirt. The closure is a side zipper.
Size: One size in package - 12S (the "S" stands for "sub-teen") - bust 31", waist 25", hip 31".
Jones New York dark brown stretch cotton with tan floral motifs from Fabric Mart - used for first muslin.
Red cotton with mustard paisley print from the WalMart bargain bin & a mustard cotton jersey from Wazoodle - used for second muslin.
This is yet another pattern I will be using for my SWAP. I had never used a vintage pattern with a "sub-teen" sizing designation, so I figured I had better make a muslin (or two).
I cut the pattern out as is - no adjustments whatsoever. I figured most vintage patterns with a bust size between 30.5" and 31.5" had been fairly good for me in the past. That will teach me not to flat pattern measure like I usually do, because when I tried on the dress, it was huge. I could gather a least 4" of fabric at the waist and probably 3" of fabric at the bust (the hip was fine because of the flared skirt). The other problem was the placement of the waist. It sat about 1" too high on me. I sewed all the seams 1/2" deeper, effectively shaving off 1" at each seam. I could not remove any fabric at the two sides since I had already sewn in the zipper and I refuse to pick out a zipper on a muslin. These alterations have now made the dress wearable.
To fix the problems faced with the first muslin, I traced out all the skirt pattern pieces - there are 4 of them. Each skirt section was lengthened above the waist by 1". Each piece was also cut down the middle along the grainline and then pasted back together with 1/4" overlapping. This removes 1/2" per pattern piece, reducing the waist by the 4" required. I also shortened the skirt at the bottom by 1".
Due to the alteration of the skirt (and the lower torso), the bodice needed to be downsized in terms of its width. . I left the back bodice the same size across the neckline and shoulders, as it fit perfectly. However, I deepened the two darts at the lower end by scant 1" each. The front bodice and its facing are cut on a fold - I removed 1/2" along the foldline. The lower front torso is gathered to provide room for the bust - I just gathered this area an extra bit to take up any excess fabric. You can see the pattern adjustments that were made in the photos.
To give the dress a finishing touch, I choose to handstitch a coordinating ribbon just below the bust, instead of using the band and bow detail provided by the pattern.
The second muslin was made out of a non-stretch fabric for the skirt and a stretch fabric for the bodice, as these are the types of fabrics that will be used in the final SWAP garment. The alterations to the pattern were dead on - everything now fits exactly the way it should and I am pleased with the result. I choose to use the band and bow on this dress, as they will be used on the SWAP dress and I wanted to be sure of the placement. Last but not least, I zigzag topstitched the seams in the skirt with mustard thread and I must say the vertical lines are quite becoming.
After two muslins, I am now confident about cutting into the good fabric to create my SWAP dress. After that dress is complete, I'm not sure I will want to sew this pattern again for a while, because of the effort that went into it. I always seem to do this - get a pattern perfectly fitted and then I abandon it because, quite frankly, I'm sick of looking at it. Who knows, when spring rolls around, I will likely feel the irresistable urge to sew a sundress and this pattern would be lovely in linen, with topstitched seams.