Basted Together

64 Arts

It’s finished! Well, not fully. In fact it’s a far cry from done but it is a perfectly serviceable muslin and so, as far as that goes, it’s finished.

Back to the title.

If you hear the word baste and only think of a turkey, this is your opportunity to learn something new.

A basting stitch, also known as a running stitch, is a simple stitch that’s perfect for keeping items in place that may not need to be permanently held in place.

Basting stitches in yellow on blue fabric

You just take your needle up and down through the fabric at regular intervals with no back-tracking. This makes the stitches easy to remove if you need to redo a dart or a seam or once you’ve put in the permanent stitches, whichever is appropriate to your design. All you have to do is make a small snip at the knotted end of your line of stitches and give a tug, the stitches will slide right out!

Because there’re no stops (back-stitches, etc.) in basting, this stitch is also prone to doing this:

Gathered fabric, example of basting stitch usage

Which is why it’s sometimes known as a gathering stitch, too: it makes it easy to gather a longer strip into a shorter distance, either for full skirts or to make ruffles or ruching. But it’s also a good reason not to have a basting stitch as your only stitch in any given area as puckering and pulling could result.

While you can baste on a sewing machine (most machines will have this stitch option), it’s just as easy to do it by hand. Since I needed to keep an eye on dinner while I basted the darts and pieces together, hand-sewing is what I went with.  For the record, it only took one viewing of the Emma Thompson version of Sense and Sensibility to put this dress together.

"finished" muslin of a dress to be remade later

I know it doesn’t look like much on this mannequin (poor thing isn’t nearly as well-endowed as I am*) but attempts to photograph myself in the dress in the mirror were just not working. The point of the muslin being to check fit, I did a pretty good job of adjusting the pattern to fit my measurements. For the top I needed to add a couple of darts to take in the neckline a bit, but that’s an easy fix and squares the nect a bit. Since v- and square necklines are more flattering on me, I’ll accept this alteration with glee.

The back neckline is a little low–I think I’ll redraw it on the final version to finish a little higher up on my spine. Even though I plan to wear a cardigan or shrug with this dress, I’d still be more comfortable if the back didn’t dip to my bra-line, you know? As for the waist measurements, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it came out. Yes, this fabric has some stretch to it but even without the stretch I’ll only need to add about an inch per end of the one back bodice piece just to have more wiggle room when attaching the front fasteners in the final picture-perfect dress.

Another thing about muslins and basting. If you notice in the pictures above, I used a contrasting thread color for the basting stitches. While not any sort of rule, it helps to do this so you can easily see your stitches either for adjustments or final stitch placement. In this case, though, the mustard yellow looks so good against the blue that I think I’ll be getting that same yellow in bias tape to edge the dress with. A yellow cardigan and a pair of yellow strappy sandals that I already own and this dress will be a nice addition to my work wardrobe once the final edges are sewn.

Of course, the real fun will be deciding what fabrics I want for the second dress!

(*Please ignore the chaos in the background–my studio was turned on it’s ear getting ready for the pumpkin party in October and hasn’t recovered yet!)