WIP: Butterick 9975 muslin

You lovely folks told me I should make Butterick 9975 in March, so I’m plugging away at it.


I started out with a 34″ bust pattern which should be about 3″ too small around for me but thanks to the generous ease that the Big 4 pattern companies love, I measured the pattern pieces and the finished bust on this dress is 39″. That leaves plenty of wiggle room for me in the chest – even with a woven fabric.

Since I’m not going to add any width to the bust, I double checked the shoulder width because I have rather wide shoulders compared to my bust. Surprisingly, it came out to the proper dimensions! I guess this pattern was really way more slouchy of a fit than the illustrations would leave one to believe.

When it came to the waist measurement, I wasn’t so lucky. The waist left me with about 1″ of negative ease – which clearly doesn’t work on a woven. I took a suggestion from the previous owner of my pattern who so thoughtfully wrote her notes on the envelope:

“May ’62: Shortened skirt as indicated before cutting. Made waist 1-1/2 in. bigger by letting out 2 lge. front darts 3/8″ and skirt facing 3/4”

Why, thank you, dear Seamstress of the Past! I will follow your lead. I traced the front waist darts about 1/2 inch narrower on each dart leg on each side giving me a total of 2″ added to the waist. That’s 1″ to meet my measurements and 1″ of positive ease so that I can actually breathe and maybe have a light meal.

I’m quite short between the shoulder and waist – 14.5″ as compared to the standard 16″ (or sometimes 16.5″) for my pattern size. Most of my shortness really falls between the shoulder and bust apex, though I often adjust between apex and waist as well. I measured the bodice pattern pieces and found that the shoulder-to-apex length was close to my measurement – I suppose because the pattern is a smaller size than I should be. I decided to leave that alone and just take a little over an inch off at the lengthen/shorten lines below the bust.

I was also concerned about the sleeve being too tight. I have beefy biceps, though not in a “she hits the gym everyday” kind of way. I measured the sleeve piece and decided I’d better add at least a half inch of ease at the bicep. I just cut the pattern piece 1/4″ wider at the bicep. I was a little wary of the double dart at the elbow and I wasn’t the least bit sure I liked this design feature.

I’ve worked up a muslin for the bodice  and one sleeve to check my modifications and that funky double elbow dart. I included the collar and front facing so I could really get a good feel for the look and fit of the bodice. I’m glad I took the time to use the facing and collar because as I stitched it together I noticed something in the pattern directions that wasn’t mentioned in the cutting layout. You have to cut a bias strip of fabric to face the back of the neck below the collar. I would have gone on my merry cutting way and never noticed that until it was possibly too late (read: corduroy pants/skirt fiasco).

Now here’s where I need you to boss me around again. I need a little feedback on the fit. Keep in mind that I like my clothes to be close-fitting, even wovens, but I still need room to breathe. Pease disregard my folded, crooked waistband and trashy black bra under the semi-sheer muslin and focus on the fit.


It looks like I actually need to hike up that side bust dart after all but perhaps leave the waist-to-bust dart alone. Look particularly at my right side. I think the left is where I pulled it up a little.

Remember there’s a seam allowance still hanging down there causing it to ride up a little but I’m fairly sure I need to take out another half inch or so horizontally. Maybe right between the armscye and the bust dart?

The waist width feels ok but I might not be able to eat that little meal after all. I think since I added all the width at the front I’ll add a little bit more at the center back. That’ll give me a little more wiggle room through the shoulder blades as well. It’s easy to lift my arms with only one sleeve but I’m not so sure about once I have two sleeves. Unfortunately that will mean adjusting the collar, too. Boo.


As soon as I pulled it on, I realized, DUH. I have short arms so my elbow is higher than those darts. I didn’t even think to adjust the sleeve length because it’s 3/4 length sleeves. I figured they’d just fall a little longer on my arms. Clearly I need to take out some length above the elbow to get those darts – which I decided I like, by the way – in the right place.


The sleeve cap feels fine. Please disregard the gathers that I settled for because who has time to ease in a sleeve cap properly on a muslin? Not I. I’m pretty pleased with my width adjustment to the bicep. I don’t feel like a sausage.

The problem I’m having is that pooling of fabric right under the bust and I just noticed it’s on the back as well.


Do you think all that will be fixed by taking out that half inch between the armscye and side bust dart as well as not having the waist seam allowance riding up? Or is there something else entirely happening here? I’m not sure. Please save me. I don’t want to enter the muslin-making-spiral-of-death!


6 thoughts on “WIP: Butterick 9975 muslin

  1. I’m not a fitting expert by any stretch of the imagination, but what would happen if you took the waist out a little more or reduced the length from under bust to your waist? The shoulders/bust/sleeves/collar etc all look good and I wonder if the pooling is just happening because the waist bit is gravitating to an area a bit higher/narrower than the muslin is currently sewn. Does that make sense? Rachel ☺

  2. I would bring up the bust side darts like a 1/2″, as you mentioned, it’s a little low. You can see the diagonal pull pointing to the princess seam, so start letting it out little by little until it releases and the fabric settles naturally. You’ll need to measure and fill in your pattern with the difference, just make sure your side seams (which aren’t shown) are straight and vertical. At that point, you’ll need to see where the waist is hitting you (you may need to shorten it as Rachel said), mark it, and then balance the waist seam out so that it runs horizontal. Also, the sleeve head is at an angle, rather than vertical, so you may need to take that in a little at the shoulder tip and then blend down to the notch so that the head straightens out vertically… Otherwise, it’s looking good!! =o)

  3. I agree with your assessment of the situation. Taking out the bit above the buat dart will help with the dart placement as well as eliminate the bunching of fabric below the bust. Notausure of the amount though that has to be your call.

  4. In the fitting classes I’ve taken online (Craftsy, mainly), the rule is to always start at the top and work your way down, because one thing may fix the next.

    I’m wondering if you need to take up the shoulder seam. the shoulder at the neck appears to be good, but at the shoulder it appears to have too much room?? allowing that buckle at the arm? Sloping that seam may take that out and may cause that side dart to fall into place.

    Release the waist enough to allow it to fall and see if that removes those pooling at the side.

    I’m really impressed with how well it fits. I’ve always thought the truly vintage patterns were sized small. I may have to take another look at them.

  5. FWIW, here are my thoughts: The neckline and upper chest and upper back look really good. I would narrow the shoulders a bit as the end of the shoulder seam appears to be about a half inch appx too long and drooping off. Personally, I think the bust is a bit too big. There is dimpling around the apex and center front. So a smaller bust adjustment is in order. Release your side seams for about 3 inches and let them fall naturally where they want to go. That will release the pulling you are getting from the dart to the side seam. Repin them where they want to go. For the elbow just cut it and move it up so the elbow darts are right at the point of the elbow. Hope these suggestions help.

    I found your blog through the ready to wear fast. It is a challenge, isn’t it?

  6. Pingback: I’m Still Alive… | Vint Hill Vintage

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