The Pain-Free Guide to Getting Your Dream Wedding Dress, Part 2: The Half-Muslin

After an experiment with off-the-rack dresses, I made my next appointment at Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier. My consultant was the fantastic Kelsey. When she asked me what style dress I was interested in trying on, I showed her a couple of picture of dresses I liked, but told her my bra size and clothes size and asked her to use her expertise and bring whatever she thought would fit and flatter me. A few minutes later, she brought in 3 dresses that fit my shape and my budget!

The first was a very simple A-line. It fit, but it was a little ho-hum. The second was a silk taffeta Ulla-Maija in a kind of 50s retro column style. I’d never seen anything like it and it looked stunning on. Unfortunately, I busted out of the top (take a look at the photo of the original dress, right, via Ulla-Maija’s web site, to see how much — or, rather, how little — fabric is used around the bust). Kelsey, however, instantly put me at ease. She told me that a half-muslin would make this dress a real possibility for me.

A muslin is basically a practice version of a piece of clothing that a designer makes from inexpensive material so they have a customized pattern. They use this pretend version of a garment for fittings before they cut their real material so they don’t make any expensive mistakes. Foxy Wedding has a good explanation of the process here.

Ulla-Maija was one of the designers that Mark Ingram carried who would make a half-muslin, from the waist up, on request. If I purchased the dress, my measurements would be taken and sent to the designer to begin work on the half-muslin. On my first fitting, I would just be fitted in the half-muslin and nothing else. The half-muslin would be sent back to Ulla-Maija with alterations. Then, on my second fitting, I’d be fitted in my actual dress, including the custom-made top half. This additional step would ensure that the dress fit my bust BEFORE the designers ever cut the actual material for my dress.

TIP #2: If you’re busty, ask your bridal consultant if they have any designers in their store that do half-muslins. Ask to try on those designers, and then if you like any of them, see if a half-muslin would be a possibility for that dress.

I knew that I’d found my dress, but since I’d only tried on a handful of dresses at this point, I decided to go to Kleinfeld’s … just to make sure. Read about that experience (and an experience it was!) tomorrow. (Nothing after the jump.)


  1. cheeky curves says:

    When I am making for a new customer I always find it useful to make toile or muslin as it is called in USA, great for ironing out any problem areas especially if you are using very expensive fabric.

  2. Hi Cheeky! The muslin was new to me, but it's pure genius. I wonder why more stores don't offer this option for very busty brides?