Mrs. Parks Sew-Along: Mrs. Bennett: Mock Up Fitting

from Mrs. Bennett

What week is it again? The dance is in three days? and I’m sick again? (I’m always sick with something right before an historical event!). Lordy.  “I’m behind” doesn’t even begin to cover it!

So, yes, I’m home with a sinus infection that came on mid-week. Yesterday, I took it easy, but did promise myself to keep going with my new Rout dress. (I could probably fake up something with one of my maxi dresses from my closet, if need be. . . but I’d really like to complete this project!)

So I moved forward with the mock up and bodice yesterday. I had the mock-up pieces cut out so I started by doing a quick “self-fit”.

14-6Note 1: Fitting is nearly always easier with someone else’s help. They can make pencil marks more easily than you can and pin things together more accurately. For more elaborate costumes, I have Mrs. Parks help me fit (she’s quite a genius at fitting figures). But for basic bodices, a self-fit can be done in a few key places. 

Note 2: If you are a larger woman with some fabulously unruly curves, learning to do a basic self-fit will come in handy. Most patterns will need to be adjusted for figures that resist straight lines. I nearly always cut out the largest size possible of any pattern and then fit to my body-eccentricities as needed. For example, I’m ample and round of bosom,  am quite short-waisted, and I have fairly round, sloping shoulders and thick arms. But learning how to fit just a few key spots helps me look put-together!

IMG_8085First, I sew the mock up parts together. In this case it is the front/side lining, the back piece, the shoulder straps, and then (later) the front/bib panel.  Then I try it on and take a look at what’s going on. First thing I notice is that the front lining portion fully overlaps so I pin it together. I decided I’m going to stick with this method instead of using ties. I really like using straight-pins as fasteners in Regency wear. Maybe its because I’m lazy!

The first issues I see are two very common ones for me. #1 the bust needs some darts on the sides to help it fit better to the side of my bosom. The darts help the fabric create a round, 3D shape for my very 3D body.  #2 The shoulders have what I call “gaposis”. Often shoulder patterns have a bit too much up there and I have to trim them.

IMG_8086  IMG_8087

So, I create the dart in the side and affix it with a pin. Then I take a pencil and mark the bottom of the dart on each side. I mark this so that when I take it off and remove the pins, I can remember exactly where and how deep I made that dart. I’ll transfer these marks to the lining I actually use.

For the shoulder, I took up the slack and put in a pin and marked where the seam should go with a pencil. After I take off the bodice, I take the mock up to the sewing machine and sew in the darts and take in the bodice along the penciled in line. I try it on again and the issues seem as fixed as I’m going to get them.

I then go ahead and take the front/bib panel and test its general shape. Remember, I am vaguely inspired by the shape of this gown, but I don’t think mine will be exactly like it. On the mock up piece, I add the darts to the bottom of the panel, as instructed in the pattern and pin it to my person. I then play with darts or gathers in the top of the panel to achieve a shape I like. I’m going with only two darts at the top. I like the general shape and coverage of the panel. So I mark with a pencil all of the darts on the mock up.


Next is the sleeve test. Sleeves are notoriously difficult for a lot of people to set. It is very easy to get it turned wrong side out or set in backwards/upside down. Don’t feel bad if it happens to you!  I’ve learned to turn the bodice inside out, tuck the sleeve piece INSIDE the bodice, and pin the sleeve in that way. After it is pinned in, when I flip the bodice back to right side out, the sleeve and bodice are both right side out. It’s just how I remember to do it.

The other thing I do is decide where I want the sleeve seam to start on the bottom portion of the armscye. In this case, I lined up the sleeve seam almost with the side/back seam. I then put a white-pin at the top shoulder of the armscye so I know better show to space the pinning. I tend to put more gathers or pleats toward the top. I then play with gathers or pleats on the sleeve until I know how I want to do it. (I didn’t play much on this one because I was running out of steam!)


IMG_8096          IMG_8097


At this point, I have to take apart the mock-up with the seam ripper – reverting it back to just four individual pieces. I remembered to trim off the excess at the shoulders first so that the pattern piece reflects the alteration in my self-fitting.  These four pieces are now the REAL pattern pieces for my own, fitted bodice.


I cut out lining for all four pieces and marked where things like darts would be added. (I like to line the whole of the bodice because it think it supports the silk better, feels sturdier on my body, and smooths out the appearance of lines from my undergarments – like corset lines.) After I cut out the linings of those pieces, I went ahead and cut out the silk pieces as well.


I attached the lining to the silk pieces and set them aside for assembly.

  • Fabrics I’m using: Garnet silk dupioni fashion fabric. Garnet cotton for lining.

A few lazy hacks I’m doing on this pattern.  Please note, I’m absolutely positive that there are very real reasons for the methods this pattern gives for the things I’m omitting. I think it has to do with the piece being so much more historically accurate and just for good sewing practices. I, however, am making a costume for a dance, and at this late date, I’m making this in a way that makes sense to me. My costume goal was to get this done and for it to look nice enough for a Regency party. If your goals are to have a garment of clothing as close to historically accurate as possible, please ignore this section. In fact, ignore me altogether!

  1. The pattern has a side-front LINING piece and a BODICE SIDE piece. I believe the lining goes under the bodice side piece and extends out further, so that there is a section of lining from which the ties extend. Like so:
    bib lining

    But I will be using just the side-front LINING piece. I will add my fashion fabric overlay to it ALL THE WAY across so there is no lining readily showing. Similar to this:

    Except, mine will overlap a bit in front so I can just pin it, instead of adding ties.

  2. I’m not using the skirt ties pattern piece and will instead use ribbon.


I’ll be working on the dress more on Friday, obviously! Whether I’m still sick or not!

Tootle pip from Mrs. Bennett!


NEXT UP: Assembling the bodice and affixing the skirt!

Go here to read the full Sew-Along Blog!




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