Modifying Mimi

Over the summer, I bought Mimi, a tailor’s dummy, to aid me in my dressmaking activities. In my younger days when I made a lot of my own clothes, my dear friend Mrs Robinson (although she wasn’t Mrs Robinson then) lived just up the road and we’d help each other out with dress fittings and adjustments. On one memorable occasion, we adjusted a dress that she was making to wear for a wedding three times before the big day (it had a fitted bodice that really needed to fit) as she seemed to expand and contract somewhat unpredictably (or maybe it was my fitting skills). Anyway, we are still very good friends, but she lives a couple of hundred miles away now, so help with dress-making is something more of a challenge.

Mimi in a shawl

But the arrival of Mimi means that I can make clothes – even fitted ones – without help. So, my first project using her has been one that allowed me to test out how useful she is… and whether I got my dimensions right. I chose to make an apron dress using a pattern from The Assembly Line. I bought some wool/linen double gauze fabric from Merchant and Mills for this project… never again (the fabric not the vendor). It’s lovely soft drapy fabric, but the loose weave and double layer means that it moves unpredictably as it is being sewn, so requires very careful pinning and stitching otherwise pattern pieces don’t align and it doesn’t hang properly – something that was essential with the particular pattern I had chosen.

The pattern itself, however, was clear and easy to follow, with the pattern pieces printed on thick paper, making them very robust. I ground to a halt at the point when I had fitted the dress to Mimi, but needed to see whether it worked on me. For quite a while Mimi wore the garment and I kept forgetting to try it on when I was getting dressed in the morning. Eventually I set aside some time and made the effort to get undressed again during the day. I’m glad that I took the time to do this because it turned out that the straps were much too short (they were only pinned in place, so this was easily remedied). When I considered it, I realised that, whilst Mimi had been set up to be the right distance around, she actually has a chest rather than a bust and she doesn’t stick out at the front much. I actually knew about this issue but it had slipped my mind. The resolution is easy – put Mimi in a bra* and stuff it so that It’s the right size. This done, the fitting went very smoothly and I’m happy with my new pinafore dress.

The process has given me confidence to make garments that require more shaping and, therefore, more careful fitting and I have already ordered another Assembly Line pattern.

-oOo-

* Good grief, I can’t believe I’m showing you my underwear AGAIN!

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15 Comments

  1. My dressform has no actual bust either so she has one of my bras on stuffed with toy stuffing and, over the top, one of those body shaper garments that I stuff with wadding here and there to stand in for, shall we say ‘fleshier’ bits. However, I still don’t completely trust her and usually try any garment on myself at various stages even though it’s a pain to keep dressing and undressing. If I’ve just finished something or still in the process of making something, she wears it to cover up her makeshift undies otherwise I wonder what anybody would think if they came into my workroom and spotted a mannequin wearing a stuffed bra.

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  2. Ann Pole

     /  December 6, 2019

    Very pretty underwear, I have to say!
    I remember sewing cotton velvet onto a gown. It wriggled and squirmed more than fur would have been even if it was still alive!
    I wear the gown quite often, but now have a new, lower status one, so I can save this one for special events.

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    • Thank you. I was toying with the idea of making a crochet bra specifically for MImi, but then I decided that it would be better to use one that I actually wear and that I know is a good fit.
      Some fabrics are a real challenge to work with and so it proved with this particular stuff – although it is really lovely and soft and will probably be very nice to wear. I am always blown away by your beautiful costumes… and how grand you look in them.

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  3. Joyce F in Kansas

     /  December 6, 2019

    And very pretty underwear too!

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  4. So… didn’t you knit Mimi some knockers? I need to remove my Rosita’s waist. The rest of her is reasonably accurate, but I’m far straighter up and down than she is, so I’m thinking a roll of the Husband’s old socks bandaged in place would be the ticket.
    Please tell me you lined the skirt of your pinafore dress – wool/linen double gauze will give you a baggy bum over time if you don’t. If you haven’t, get at least a back lining in before you wear it much more

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    • I haven’t lined it, but the facing that there is would make it very easy to add a lining, so I will see if I have some suitable fabric.
      I am seriously thinking of knitting some knockers for Mimi – at the moment she’s padded with wool stuffing, but it would be good to have something with a fixed size and shape… and easy enough to do. Perhaps I could start making them to sell for everyone who has a mannequin with insufficient endowment!

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  5. I’m reading this with delight, having just read your fabulous letter that arrived late yesterday. So glad it’s all working out with Mimi and I don’t mind seeing your underwear at all – I have pretty bras like that and often think it’s a shame they can’t be admired by the world generally 😀 I think I might have continued dressmaking had I had a model to use, they are indispensable for good fitting I think. Thank you for the pretty handmade card Jan, and all the news. I’ll be writing back soon.

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  6. Well, I echo the others–nice underwear. And good going with fitting Mimi appropriately so you can fit your clothes.

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  7. Great idea! At least she doesn’t complain when you stick her with a pin. Ummm… I closed my eyes when it came to your underwear. 🙂

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  1. Puttin' on the Ritz | The Snail of Happiness

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