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Ruffletastic or frilly trainwreck? Muslin of the Anna Sui shirt (Vogue 2850)


Greeting tree dwelling octopuses! Tonight’s post is brought to you by an old Ikea curtain; torn down and forgotten when newer, thicker curtains came to live with us. Granted new life when I decided to take Vogue 2850 out for a test drive. The muslin has been hanging in my sewing room for weeks as I’m not really sure what I think of the style. I have to say, though, that after snapping some pictures I’m warming to it… it’s just so…frilly…

Sorry the white fabric’s so hard to see! This shirt is an Anna Sui design in the current Vogue pattern catalog. I originally picked it as part of my Spring Palette Challenge, and I even have two lovely, fluttery fabrics ready to be made into uber ruffle shirts! Once I finished this muslin and tried it on, I felt really over the top. I had planned to cut the shoulder flounce a bit smaller for the final versions, but even so…

Clearly my curtain isn’t very thick – hello brasephina!! You can see why we upgraded – these were in our bedroom. I’m certain the neighbors have seen me change right through those sheer drapes. Or at the very least, their handsome young German shepherd, Rin Tin, has spied on me.

Altering the Pattern

Anyway, Octopi, back to business, you tentacled tree dwelling monsters, you. Why don’t we start at the very beginning – the technical drawing.


The pattern pieces

I cut a size 20. I’ve marked the pattern pieces below to show the front and back pieces. That crazy swirly piece in the upper right hand corner is the neck and shoulder flounce. And all the  rectangles in the lower right hand corner are the arm and neck facings and the tie. It’s not super obvious from the drawing, but the upper bodice has vertical darts (marked in pink below.)

The full bust adjustment

Since this shirt is a wrap shirt, the bodice pieces are large triangle-shaped pieces that cross over each other. I wasn’t too sure how to do an FBA on this style of shirt, so I just went ahead and did a regular old FBA.

  • First cut from the hem to the bust apex, then veer off to the armscye (the pink lines below.)
  • Second cut where a horizontal dart would normally be (shown in yellow below.)
  • Slide the pink edges away from each other the amount of the FBA (mine was around 2.5 inches), letting the yellow edges slide naturally apart.
  • Third cut where the blue lines are.
  • Slide the center front part of the pattern down so the bottom edge of the pattern pieces are in a nice straight line (the center front is in the lower right hand corner in the photo below.)

Next, I evened up the center front and added dart extensions (outlined in blue below.) Finally, I drew in new darts. I don’t know about all ya’ll, but I’m a 40 DD (or at least, that’s what I buy) and if I put the points of my vertical and horizontal darts the inch and a half to two inches away from the bust apex like the books all say to do, then I have serious boobage poufing. When I’m doing this combo of darts, I put the points nearly ON my bust apex. Really, a princess seam would be better, wouldn’t it?

Tissue fitting

In my opinion, tissue fitting isn’t the most helpful of fitting techniques. The wax paper and scotch tape make everything too stiff. That being said, when grading up a bodice (or really, anything) my general order is to alter the pattern using the paper measurements and my actual measurements to get it approximately right. Then I tissue fit, mainly to make sure it fits around me and in the case of an FBA I also check to make sure there’s enough length over my bust area. To tissue fit I pin out the darts and pin the front bodice piece to my shirt. Sometimes I go ahead and pin the front and back bodice pieces together so I can ‘try on’ the tissue. In this case it looked fine just lining up the shoulder and side seams where they should be and checking the front bodice, so I moved on.

Grade up the hips and waist

A size 20 is significantly smaller than my actual waist/hip measurements, but for this particular pattern, I was placing the ‘waistline’ pretty high up – above my actual waistline and at my most narrow part. That, plus the whole wrap aspect meant I wasn’t too concerned about the waist measurement. I wanted to be sure that the skirt part of the shirt would be nice and ruffled, though, so I added a few inches to the front skirt piece (shown in blue below.) The FBA didn’t add any width to the lower edge of the upper bodice piece, since I ‘buried’ the extra FBA inches in the dart. I wasn’t sure if this would fit, but thought it’d be good enough for a muslin.

Grading up the facings and flounce

Whenever I finish up with an FBA I grab all the unaltered pattern pieces and line them up with the altered pieces, just to make sure that everything still lines up. For this pattern, I had to add a few inches to the neckline facing piece. The neckline facing is the long rectangle in the left upper corner. I’ve shown the additional tissue that I added with the blue lines below. You can sort of see how I’ve lined up the facing and added the extra length where the extra tissue is on the bodice piece. Make sense?

I did the same sort of adjustment with the flounce piece, although I’m not sure if it’ll make sense from these pictures! The round piece below is the flounce. The blue lines mark the edges of the extra length I added. The bodice piece is shown in the inset photo and the amount I added to the flounce is the same as the distance between the two blue lines on the bodice piece. The blue lines will roughly meet up on the finished garment.

Analyzing the muslin

To continue with my fitting method… first, adjust the pattern. Then, tissue fit. Make muslin. Make any needed changes, transfer changes back to paper pattern, then either make another muslin or make the garment. In this case, if I choose to continue, I’ll probably make another muslin. Here’s why.

First, the waistline is SUPER high!! The pattern description claims an empire waist and they are not lying! On muslin #1 following an FBA, I frequently find that the front waistline is too high, but the back is fine. Not so with this rufflemonster! The purple line shows the seam between the bodice and the skirt. The yellow line follows where the tie sort of naturally wanted to go. I know the purple line ‘looks’ better, since it’s straight! But if you really look at where it is, you can see how high it is – it’s above the bottom of my bra band!


So here’s a close up of the front. Since this is a muslin, I didn’t bother topstitching the neck facing down, so that adds to the gapey neckline, but not too much. I was pleasantly surprised at how nicely the neckline behaved. It’s definitely lowcut, but I’d totally wear this without a cami or anything underneath. I am not a huge fan of the cami under the surplice neckline look.

In addition to the too-high waistline, the other issue I had with fit is that the arms are much too big! My bra isn’t showing and the flounce covers most of it up (unless I’m raising up my arm to take a photo!), so I suppose I could deal with it, but I don’t really like it all that much and I’m not 100% certain how to to fix it! I suppose I’ll compare this pattern to the pattern of a shirt that I like and copy the arm opening.

So there’s the shirt. Like I said, I like it more after seeing the photos of it. It’s cute! Perhaps too cute. I think I might like this in a slightly less transparent, non-curtain white fabric. The pattern is totally a fabric hog, calling for over THREE YARDS of fabric (for a 45” width.) That’s more than a lot of dresses. All those ruffles, though. Perhaps I’ll shelve this until RenFest season and I’m in need of lusty serving wench garb…


  1. Kate says:

    I LOVE this, and in no way feel it is too over the top with the ruffles. I think they are so flattering!!! The shoulder and back/neck flounce is a great way to give some upper arm coverage without looking like you are trying to hide any parts of your body (I am always sensitive to how my upper arms are covered), and the flounce under the empire waist means no worries of clinging or muffin top or anything. :) And it looks so easy breezy for summer. Great with a pencil skirt or some jeans or even a nice pair of wide leg trousers. Definitely make this up in a bold, summery printed voile or lightweight fabric. I am headed to the store for my own pattern today. :)

  2. eimat says:

    Another ruffle-tastic vote, here. I wonder what it would look like a little longer (rule of thirds/golden segment…?)

    I might even try this myself. I'm a size 18 with an H cup. And since I'm pregnant, I think I'm allowed an over-the-top version. I'll be looking for pink & flowery fabric… *big grin*

  3. lsaspacey says:

    Oh, and that necklace you are wearing? WOW! Where oh where can I get one?!

  4. Alessa says:

    Ruffle-tastic! It's a very cute style and I love wrap-tops…

  5. Corrine says:

    All in all I think this one is a go. I think it is very flattering on you and will look feminine but not fru-fru. If the fabric has a nice drape the flounce does not look like it will be too much. I would raise the armscye though, many patterns are like this and I don't understand why. I prefer a higher european fit there. I think you will be darn cute!

  6. Cindy says:

    Just found your blog and loving it! I have had this pattern for a lonnnggg time. Can't wait to see the results.

  7. flyskim says:

    I think that you're right about cutting down the flounce, at least across the back. And I can see where you are hesitating for this one because I have an aversion to too much frippery, particularly in regards to my shoulders. My other concern with this shirt is that you can't really wear another layer over because of the flounce. But the front is lovely on you, and it at least deserves another muslin when you've got the time. This would be very nice as a light-weight summer blouse.

  8. Stevie says:

    I really like this although I think I would reign in the ruffles a bit im not too kool with ruffles exceeding my shoulders.
    I have nominated you for a blog award on my own blog.
    Swing by beebeesvintagedress.blogspot.com
    Have a great day.
    Stevie x

  9. woolcat says:

    Very very pretty! I agree those armholes need a good talking to. But I like the flounce, and I think you should leave it the length it is, as shorter might look even flouncier.

  10. Carolyn says:

    Hi Patty, I have given you a Stylish Blogger award. There is no obligation, natch, but if you like you can check it out over on my blog here

    I've got this pattern too. Your pretty muslin is inspiring me to give it a go!

  11. LAP says:

    I think it looks pretty low-key considering what an out of control fabric hog it is. I really like how it fits as well, especially the ruffle as sleeve, which I usually find less flattering in practice. Even in the white drapery it isn't even piratey on at all!

    I will admit that I was very distracted by the super cute lemon tree print shirt you appear to be wearing in the tissue fitting shots. It's incredibly cute.

  12. Andrea says:

    I have this pattern in my stash because it was love at first sight. I think it looks great and won't be a frilly trainwreck as long as you don't use an overly feminine fabric. Pink with little flowers would push it over the top, ya know?

  13. Tanit-Isis says:

    That is cute, but MAN what a fabric pig! I am a big fan of empire waists, though, so I love it. In fact, I might even have to break this pattern out sone time….

  14. Laurwyn says:

    OK, 3 yards is quite a lot
    OK the ruffles might be a bit too much (in your opinion)

    BUT it looks great!

  15. Sølvi says:

    Three yards of fabric! That is an impressive amount of fabric for a blouse. But it looks darn cute, though…

  16. Sue says:

    I don't mind it at all, I say 'go for it'!

  17. Donna says:

    I think it looks great – not too ruffley. I say go for it.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Definitely ruffle-tastic! It looks great on you!

  19. ms. modiste says:

    I also vote ruffle-tastic, it looks awesome on you!

  20. Nicola1968 says:

    I vote for ruffle-tastic. I was sorely tempted to add this pattern to my stash but that ruffle is going to be a seriously bad look for me from the back. With my wide shoulders I'm going to look like a man in very bad drag!
    I totally see what you mean about the high waist tho'

  21. Sarah says:

    I vote for ruffle-tastic! I think a top like this would be great with something very simple and fitted on the bottom so it doesn't compete with the volume around the neckline of the top.

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