Custom Style

Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

Transferring Fitting Marks from Mockup to Pattern

I’ve had a couple requests for a tutorial of sorts about how to transfer the fitting marks from a mockup (aka muslin or toile) to the paper sewing pattern. So since I’m in the process of making my Easter dress for this year and the pattern needed a lot of tweaking to be what I want, it was the perfect time to take some photo examples. =)

I’m currently working at The Dallas Opera (helping to build fun 19th century costumes!), so I was able to have my coworker Traci help me fit my mockup during part of a lunch break. Really convenient since the pattern needed more work than I could easily fit on myself alone! Thanks, Traci!

Behold, the truly flattering (*sarcasm*) before & after fitting photos:

Before: Ick. Just a bad fit all around.
After: Lots of pins and Sharpie markings!

Mockups aren’t meant to look pretty. They are meant to be drawn all over and pinched and pinned and then cut up. This is why my fabric choice was a cheapy bedsheet – nothing pretty because I knew I would be throwing it away in the end. I never plan to save or use a mockup once it has served its purpose. If the pieces are big enough, I might cut it up and use the fabric for another mockup later (this fabric was actually left over from Camille’s wedding dress mockup).


Marked and pinned mockup after fitting.

There was a pinch taken out of the neckline to eliminate a gap. Tucks were taken out of the side front pieces for a better fit at the bust. Some of the flare was removed from the skirt. The princess seams were moved inward a bit and the neckline was widened slightly at the edges for a more pleasing shape (these adjustments were mainly made to match a photo of the dress I’m copying).

And here’s how I transferred all those marks to my pattern:

First step was to cut right on the new line for the princess seams in the front, cut off the sleeve following drawn armseye, and rip the stitches out of the shoulder seam – all so the mockup could be opened up and traced onto the paper pattern.


Mockup cut on new seamlines. Notice that it was only necessary to mark one side with new lines because I am (for the most part) symmetrical.

The cut mockup was placed on the center front piece and aligned with the pattern’s top line of the bust dart, shoulder seam, and center front. The new lines were traced onto the paper following the mockup at the neck, armseye, and down to top of dart.


Mockup lined up on pattern for tracing new lines.

Then the mockup was shifted down to line up with the bottom line of the dart on the pattern and the rest of the new seam was traced.


New seamline ready for tracing onto paper pattern.

To eliminate the gapping neck in the front, I measured from the top safety pin to the edge of dart.


Measuring pinched amount at neckline.

I forgot to take one photo at this point (but finished alteration is seen in next couple of pictures). To remove that fabric from the pattern without changing the straight center front line (because it’s cut on a fold), I drew a line perpendicular to the neckline and down to a random point on the side seam.

Then the newly drawn line is cut almost all the way down to the side seam – only a tiny point is left attached. And the paper is overlapped the measured amount at the neck (in a V-shape) and taped.


Altered pattern piece with all mockup markings transferred.


Seam allowances are added following the new seam lines.


Final corrected pattern piece including seam allowances.

To add the new seamlines on the side front pattern piece, I needed to extend the paper so scraps were taped down the length of pattern.


Side front pattern piece with paper added to edge.

The mockup was lined up with the paper pattern and pinned down to the table (eventually, I plan to make my cutting table’s surface pinnable too!) and the front edge was traced.

I traced the new side seam (new because of the tuck taken out of the center of the piece) using a tracing wheel, but you can also use a pin to poke a line of holes through the seam and into the paper.


Dotted line on pattern made from tracing the mockup’s side seam with the tracing wheel. Seam allowances were added out from dotted line.


New skirt seam line matched on side front piece using center front pattern piece (seam allowance already included).

There were only a couple tiny tweaks to the back pattern pieces. I will adjust the center back seam in a final fitting and then insert my zipper accordingly. (It will probably be a bigger seam allowance.)


Corrected pattern with alterations made. That is one strangely curving side front piece – but it hangs straight when it’s on my body!

Altered patterns always look a little weird because they are no longer “standard”. Learn to trust your mockup markings and ignore the unusual look of the corrected pattern on paper and your real garment will fit properly in the end. (And you can always make a second mockup just to be sure!)

I hope this photo walk-through is helpful! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments of this post. =)

Now that my pattern is altered, my real Easter dress fabric (and underlining fabric) is cut and ready to assemble! (See the finished dress in this post.)


Self-dyed linen in a pale orange – sort of a melon color.

17 responses to “Transferring Fitting Marks from Mockup to Pattern

  1. Barbara March 24, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    I can’t wait to see your dress!

  2. caprimontgomery March 25, 2013 at 1:47 am

    I like the color of the material. I think the dress is going to be beautiful when you’re done with it.

  3. Leila March 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Thanks for the walk through! Looking forward to seeing your dress.

  4. sewexhausted March 25, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    This is great information- thanks for sharing… I NEED to do this and appreciate the extra tips! 🙂 Can’t wait to SEE the dress! ~Laurie

  5. Thimble & Cork March 26, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Great walkthrough! I use the actual muslin as my altered pattern pieces and have never tried to go back and make the changes to the paper pattern, so I’ve always wondered how it’s done.

    • Brooke March 26, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      I sometimes use the mockup pieces as my pattern too, but I also like to correct the paper, especially if I might use the pattern again in the future. In costume shops, paper patterns are usually corrected and stored, but the muslin mockups are usually trashed in the end.

  6. thevintagetraveler March 26, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    I love the final color. It was worth all that work!

    • Brooke March 26, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      Thanks! Yes, I was lucky that one of my current coworkers is really good with dye mixing – she was able to tell me exactly which color (and how much) I needed to add to overdye what I already had! =)

  7. sweary sewer June 10, 2013 at 2:30 am

    you are so helpful. i am slapping myself for not putting your website on my rss feeds before now. total oversight! this was a very informative read. thank you for being you. AGAIN. 🙂

  8. dramaticimpulse July 14, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Thank you for these pictures and tips! One thing I’ve always wondered about was how to accurately transfer corrections from a muslin to the pattern, and this helps me begin to get it.

    • Brooke July 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      You’re welcome! It’s all about measuring and marking – and just plain making stuff up! Lots of times there is estimating and splitting the difference between the two sides (because it’s hard to pin perfectly even). You’ll get better with each project. =)

  9. Pingback: Week 3: Fitting the Toile | Laura After Midnight

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