Anyway the obvious solution was to grade the pattern, but I balked at this at first. To be honest grading is one of those things that I don't really understand Once you get beyond, "increasing the size of the pattern by increments" my brain just zones out thinking about when it can eat cookies. Cookies are much more interesting than mathematical problems. This is why I have to bribe my brain with cookies to do mathematical problems.
In the end I decided to buy the pattern and give grading a shot for two reasons. The first was that I'd done a 4" grade on the Brasilia dress and that turned out fine. Secondly McCall's 9572 is a fairly simple garment and there weren't more than 4 pieces to worry about. Surely even a grading nob can manage 4 pieces. At least that's what I told myself while pressing purchase.
So hopes were running high when my pattern arrived and I gleefully traced out the bodice pieces. It was then that it struck me, A - the bodice is on the bias and B - now which way do I grade this? There was also the added question of what to do with the kimono sleeve. How much grading did it need and were would one put that grading? I decided to just grade the bust and waist area and hope that kimono sleeve was wide enough without changes.
After staring at the pattern piece a bit, I decided to put the grading parallel to the CF. Spoiler - This Was Incorrect. But hey I do stupid things so you can learn from my mistakes. Yeah that's it.
Here's my pattern piece with the grading lines running through the neckline. You'll see why this was a bad idea in a minute. But first let's talk about a 4" grade for those that may know nothing about this.
OK, so my pattern needs 4" of width added to it. I want to take the total amount of extra ease needed and divide it by 4, because each pattern piece is a quarter of the total width of the garment. Luckily for me this is elementary math and even my brain can spit out "add one 1 inch to pattern" without strain. To add the inch to the pattern, 3 lines are drawn on as cutting guide lines. The pattern is cut apart on these line and then taped back together with the extra ease added between them. The inch is broken down to 3/8" added to the outer line, 1/2" to the middle line and 3/8" to the other outer line. This process is repeated on the back and in the end you have 4 extra inches added to the pattern. And that my friends is minimum explanation of a 4" grade.
Now I have blurry muslin pics. Hooray? Here's muslin #1 with a petticoat underneath.
OK, so the reason you don't want to add an inch to your neckline is that you get a gappy neckline. No shit, Sherlock. But as you can see this didn't occur to me until after I'd gone and done it. Other fitting issues I noticed were that the skirt is too long for my 5' 6" height, the bust dart is in the wrong place and the cuff area of the kimono sleeve is too tight. On the plus side the waist area fit perfectly and I could see the torso length was almost right.
With all that information it was time to go back to the drawing board and regrade my bodice. This time I put the grading lines parallel with the grain line. On the back I had to skew them off grain slightly to get 3 to fit into the waist area.
With those changes I decided to sew muslin #2 to make sure my grading change was successful. Here's the pictures of that version.
A non gappy neckline is a plus and my waist area is still fitting nicely. Of course the dress still needs my personal fitting tweaks to look really good and we'll talk about those in part 3. Ooooohhhhh, more muslin photos just waiting in the wings. I bet you can hardly wait.