14 September 2022

Fitting the Marnie Blouse and Mini Dress

Fitting the Marnie Blouse and Mini Dress

Fallen head over heels for our Marnie blouse and mini dress pattern and want a helping hand on how to get a great fit? You’ve come to the right place 😊

The Marnie blouse and mini dress is suitable for improver sewers and is available in both printed and PDF formats in sizes UK 6-34 (US 2-30 / EUR 34-62 / AUS 6-34). The easy-breezy, swishy design makes for a finished garment with lots of ease, which means not only is Marnie great for twirling in, it's also pretty simple to fit - yay!

Here, I'll talk you through the most common fitting adjustments you might want to consider for your Marnie blouse or dress. However, please bear in mind that Marnie is designed to be easy-fitting and floaty, so you might find you only need to make a couple of our suggested adjustments, or perhaps none at all!

In this post, we're going to cover:
  • Making a toile 
  • Choosing your size 
  • Lengthening or shortening pattern pieces 
  • How to combine pattern sizes 
  • Fitting the bust area
  • How to do wide and narrow shoulder adjustment
Fitting the Marnie blouse and mini dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Making a toile

A toile - or a "muslin"- is an initial mock up of your garment in fabric you don't mind using for testing purposes. Making a toile is a great opportunity to test the fit of a sewing pattern, or practise a technique (like sewing tucks) on sacrificial fabric before you cut into the nice fabric you have intended for your project. 

If you can't summon the patience to make a separate toile, you may want to make a "wearable toile", which is a full version of the garment in fabric that you don't mind ditching if it doesn't fit straight out of the packet.

Tilly has written a brilliant blog post explaining what a toile is, and why and how you might make one, which I thoroughly recommend you check out.

However, making a toile definitely isn't a requirement for Marnie! The finished garment is loose and flowy, with plenty of ease (AKA excess fabric) at the bust, waist and hips, so there's a lot more leeway on a pattern like this compared to a more fitted blouse or dress. If you're a bit reluctant to dive straight into cutting out some beautiful expensive fabric, you could make a quick toile of the bodice and upper sleeves to test the fit. However, if you don't feel overly precious about your fabric, then go for it!

Fitting the Marnie blouse and mini dress - Tilly and the Buttons
Choosing your size

Marnie includes all 15 sizes in our range. Pattern sizes 1-6 (UK 6-16) and 7-15 (UK 18-34) have been drafted, fitted and graded separately to create a better fit. For this reason, you may notice the proportions change in the measurements chart and the shaping is slightly different on the pattern pieces – sizes 7-15 include room for a larger bust (10cm/4in difference between high bust and full bust, as opposed to 5cm/2in difference on sizes 1-6) and a bit more room at the waist. 

Bear in mind that the style of the pattern is loose-fitting - take a look at the finished measurements chart below to get an idea of how Marnie will fit when it's finished.

To find your size, using a flexible tape measure, measure the circumference of your: 
  • Bust - take the measurement at the fullest point i.e. around your nipples
  • Waist - where you bend at the side
  • Hips - the fullest part - it helps to turn to the side and look in a mirror to see where this is 
Check the tape measure is sitting level with the floor - it can help to turn to the side and look in a mirror to check.

Fitting the Marnie blouse and mini dress - Tilly and the Buttons
Circle your measurements on the ‘Body Measurements’ chart in the pattern instructions. If your measurements all fall into one size, then this is the size you'll cut. But it's totally normal for your measurements to fall into different sizes too - you can create a bespoke fit for you by combining sizes (we'll come onto that later!). If your measurement falls between a size (for example, if your bust is 45in rather than 44in or 46in), it’s usually better to choose the larger size as you can take it in more easily than you can let it out.

As Marnie is designed to have a lot of ease at the waist and hips, the most important measurement here is your bust. If there's only one or two sizes difference between your bust and waist, choose your bust size and refer to the key on the pattern sheets that shows the solid or dashed line for your bust size – that’s the one to follow when you cut out your pattern. 

If your bust and waist measurements fall across more than three different sizes, you might want to combine your sizes at the side seams. If this applies to you, check out the how to combine pattern sizes section below. However, if you want to lengthen or shorten any of your pattern pieces, it's best to do this first - the next section has all you need to know about this adjustment :)

A quick note on bust sizing - if you have a particularly large or small bust, choosing a size based solely on your bust measurement can mean that you'll end up with a blouse or dress that is either too large or too small in other areas such as the shoulders and upper chest. If you know your bust is on the larger or smaller side, check out the section below on fitting the bust area.

Lengthening or shortening the bodice or sleeve

Our patterns are drafted for a height of around 5"5 (165cm), so if you're particularly taller or shorter than this, know you have a long or short torso or arms, or you want to change the length of the blouse or dress to suit your own personal style, it's easy peasy to adjust the pattern pieces. 

We have a blog post dedicated to explaining how to lengthen or shorten pattern pieces. It talks you through the process, step by step, so go check it out. 

We have included the following sets of lengthen or shorten lines on the Marnie pattern pieces:
Fitting the Marnie blouse and mini dress - Tilly and the Buttons

1) Bodice

If you often find that tops and dresses are a bit too long or short for you in the bodice, you can lengthen or shorten the side front panel, the centre panel, and the side back panel pattern pieces using the lengthen or shorten lines. We've included the nape (nobbly bit at the bottom of your neck) to hem measurements for both the blouse and mini dress versions in the finished garment measurements section of the booklet so you can compare them to your own measurements. 

The lengthen or shorten lines on the bodice pieces are located halfway between the waist and hip notches on the side front panel, the centre panel, and the side back panel pattern pieces. You can adjust your pattern here if you feel like you need a bit more or a bit less length in the torso, or would like the finished hemline to be longer or shorter.

Remember to adjust the side front panel, the centre panel, and the side back panel pattern pieces all by the same amount!

Fitting the Marnie blouse and mini dress - Tilly and the Buttons
2) Sleeve

Marnie features a two-piece full-length bishop sleeve that's designed to sit at the wrist and is cinched in with elastic. It's a tad longer than a regular sleeve to create lots of poofy, big sleeve energy!

If your arms are particularly long or short you can use the lengthen or shorten lines on the lower sleeve pattern piece to adjust the length.

How to combine pattern sizes

If your bust, waist and/or hip measurements fall in different sizes on the body measurements chart, you can combine sizes in these areas to get a bespoke fit for your exact body measurements. 

Marnie is a looser-fitting garment with a lot of "positive ease" which means the finished garment is designed to be bigger than your body. Practically, this means you don't have to worry too much about combining sizes, as Marnie's flowy, romantic nature means a couple of inches difference in those areas won't make a huge amount of difference to the overall fit. 

So, if your waist measurement is 2 or 3 sizes different to your bust, then you probably won't need to make any alterations here. The same applies to the hip measurement - the design is loose and flowy so a few sizes difference between your body measurements won't affect the fit of the garment too much. However, if your bust and waist span across more than 3 sizes you might want to consider grading between sizes. Check out our blog post about how to combine sizes to find out more. 

Fitting the Marnie blouse and mini dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Fitting the bust area

If your bodices don't tend to pull or aren't baggy across the bust area, then in almost all cases, you'll be fine to pick a size for Marnie based on your full bust measurement. Happy days!

If your bodices don't tend to fit quite right, you might want to try picking your size based on your high bust measurement. To work this out, measure your high bust (your upper chest, just under your armpits). If you're making a size 1-6, add 5cm (2in), or if you're making a size 7-15, add 10cm (4in). Choose the pattern size with that bust measurement.

Marnie is designed with lots of ease in the bust so it's unlikely that you'll find it fits tightly across your full bust, but you might find that, after picking your size based on your high bust measurement, you need to adjust the shoulders...

How to do wide or narrow shoulder adjustments

The shoulder seam on the Marnie blouse and mini dress is designed to sit on your shoulder socket. To find out where your shoulder socket is, bend your arm at the elbow, lift it up and down to the side, and feel with the fingers on your other hand for where the "hinge" is, where your arm meets the shoulder socket. As you move your arm up and down you'll be able to feel where the socket is moving. This point is where the shoulder seam for Marnie should sit. 

If you know you have particularly wide or narrow shoulders, or if you find after making a toile that the shoulder isn't sitting in exactly the right place for you, you can adjust the front and back bodices to reflect this. Check out our blog post on how to do wide and narrow shoulder adjustments for more details. 

Fitting the Marnie blouse and mini dress - Tilly and the Buttons

I hope this post has helped you decide which (if any!) fitting adjustments you need to make to your Marnie blouse or mini dress. As I've said previously, Marnie is designed to be swishy, romantic and super floaty so there's a lot of wiggle room (literally) when it comes to fitting. 

With that in mind, don't get too carried away with fitting adjustments – remember sewing is supposed to be fun! Life’s too short to worry about a perfect fit :) 

We love seeing your finished makes and progress shots. Tag us on Insta @TillyButtons using the hashtag #SewingMarnie


Author: Frances Buddery
Photographer: Jane Looker 
Samples: Sewn by Vanessa Allen

Georgina's samples:
1. Rita Viscose Crepe – Fabric Godmother (gifted)
2. Yarn Dyed Gingham – Pigeon Wishes (gifted)

Bethany's sample:
1. Cotton Lawn - Lavender – Higgs & Higgs (gifted)