Teaching Ciarra to Sew-Our new blog series

Teaching Ciarra to Sew! Our new blog series @ www.amystebbins.com

Choosing the style, fabrics, and making of the muslin…

Hello everyone! This will be the first post in our new blog series where I teach Ciarra how to sew her very own outfit. Ciarra has limited sewing experience, and has only made an apron in the past. This will be the first time she will be making actual wardrobe pieces for the summer season.

For this project…

Ciarra decided she wanted to make separates. Because it is summer, she chose a loose fitting off shoulder blouse, and a single ruffle mini shirt to match.

Teaching Ciarra to Sew! Our new blog series @ www.amystebbins.com
The pattern pieces for the outfit Ciarra selected.

Her choice of fabric is rather ambitious for someone who has never sewn a piece of clothing before, but I admire her enthusiasm! For her selection she went with a black and white gingham. Because this is technically a plaid, she will have to learn to match up the pattern correctly, so the seams look copacetic.

Teaching Ciarra to Sew! Our new blog series @ www.amystebbins.com
Ciarra’s choice of fabric and trim.

The first step in the process of making her outfit, was to make a muslin of the top to test fit. The area of the top that we were the most concerned with was the armcye (armhole) This area usually has to be adjusted on Ciarra, so we were very curious to see how that would come out. Unfortunately I was running low on muslin, and when I pulled out what I had left, we didn’t have enough to make two sleeves for the top. Because this style of top is one that is more “loose” and has no shoulder cap, we threw caution to the wind, and only cut out one sleeve. Sometimes you just have to make do with what you have (plus we are dealing with time constraints!) This worked fine for us.

The following photos show Ciarra going through the process of cutting, marking, and sewing her muslin…and away we go!

First up, Cutting out the pieces of the top. This is the part of the outfit we were concerned with the most, as it was one we recently drafted. The skirt portion will be easier because it is based on a pattern we already had fitted in the waist.

Cutting the curves of the armscye can be tricky business. Its not always easy, so you must go slow.
cutting the back pieces of the top



I had Ciarra cut out the interfacings to fuse to the facing parts. Usually you can avoid this step if you like. The purpose of the muslin is usually just to test fit. If you want to see exactly how a garment will look when it is finished (especially if you designed the garment yourself) then you will do a full muslin complete with facings or linings to see if any changes to the style should be made.

Ciarra then trimmed up the interfacing from the seam allowance areas to reduce bulk. Then she fused the interfacing to the facing pieces.



Ciarra transferred all markings to the muslin, so that she will be able to line up shoulder straps, close darts properly, and line up side seams correctly.

poking a hole with a pin through the pattern in order to make the markings on the piece.


marking the bust darts on the front of the bodice


Next Ciarra folded, and pinned the dart to prep it for sewing.




Sewing the dart. Sew in the direction from the side seam to the point.



Pressing the finished dart
sewing the center back seam, and then sewing the back piece to the front on the side seams.
Ciarra then pressed back and side seams open.
next it was time to stitch up the sleeve seam, so she could attach to the armscye. This proved to be difficult for her, so I had to lend a bit of a hand to help her around that tight curve.
sewing the sleeve to the armscye
Next ciarra had to sew the facing pieces together, then attach it to the top.

next it was time to fold and press the shoulder straps. From there she stitched them up.

After she trimmed the seam alliance to reduce some of the bulk before turning them right side out.
turning the straps right side out.

Next she attached the straps to the bodice. She left holes open in the facing seams to slip the other ends of the straps in, and fit them to were she wanted them, before stitching them in place (which is the last step)


Here is the muslin on. The straps are not completely sewn into place yet, as we needed to see where we wanted them sewn down. We did not make a hem, due to time, and because this was made mainly for fitting purposes. Ciarra stitched the strap adjustment holes a little too close on one side, but that is ok! This is just the muslin, and she is just learning to sew. I don’t think she did such a bad job for her first try!
back view. It is just pinned in the back. This will have a hook and eye closure on the final top.
We think the sleeve is ok where it is. As you can see here, when she bends the fit looks ok around the shoulder. If it was any tighter, it might make it difficult to move.
testing movement again. The final top will obviously have two sleeves!


So there you have it! Muslin is complete. Next blog post will be fitting the skirt waistband just to make sure, and cutting out the pieces with the final fabric choices!

See you next time!



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