WHAT IS IT?
Muslin is a woven cotton fabric, either bleached or unbleached. The unbleached is more common and usually less expensive. “A muslin” refers to a test garment, often made using muslin fabric, that’s sewn to test a pattern in order to work out any fitting changes before cutting into the project fabric. In the UK, a muslin used for fitting purposes is called a “toile.”
Muslin test garment
WHEN DO YOU USE IT?
Muslin fabric is used for making test garments, as well as for interfacings (page link), underlining (page link) and support fabrics. A muslin test garment is used to test the fit of a new pattern or to test the fit before sewing with very expensive fabrics. You can also use muslin to mock up challenging parts of the pattern before sewing with your real fabric. Some people will make a muslin for every new pattern they use.
WHEN SHOULD YOU MAKE A MUSLIN?
If you always, always make pattern adjustments, then you’ll probably want to make a muslin each and every time you make something for yourself.
Depending on the adjustment, you may be able to make a partial muslin (just the bodice) to check the fit. Just don’t forget to consider how the rest of the garment will affect the fit. A heavy full skirt, for instance, will affect the way a bodice fits.
If the pattern is very fitted, it’s best to make a muslin. Loose-fitting and relaxed-fit patterns have more room built in for wearing ease (page link), so it’s less important to check the fit first.
If you won’t be able to fit as you go, I recommend making a muslin. Some patterns make it easy to adjust the fit as you sew. Some make it really hard because of the order of construction. Read through the pattern instructions and see if there is an opportunity to try on and fit the pattern before it’s completely sewn up.
Your fabric choice may also determine whether you need to make a muslin. If you are limited on fabric, it’s a good time to sew a muslin, as you won’t be able to recut pieces if needed. If your fabric is particularly expensive or irreplaceable, making a muslin ensures the final garment will fit just right.
HOW TO MAKE A MUSLIN TEST GARMENT
Cut your pattern pieces from muslin. You can skip facings, pockets and anything that does not make up the structure of the garment. If you’d like to test something specific that doesn’t affect the fit, such as the pocket placement, then include that piece in the muslin garment as well.
Label each muslin piece with the pattern name, number, size and description of the pattern piece. Mark darts, pleats and other internal markings. I like to write with a ballpoint pen, because it’s permanent and won’t disappear as you fit the muslin.
Machine baste (page link) along the seam lines, tracing out all edges and any darts. I do this so that sewing the muslin can be like sewing with the tissue pattern pieces. Everything is marked and labeled, and the seam lines are super clear. Any changes you make will be easy to apply to the pattern pieces this way. Run your stitching off the edges of the fabric; don’t pivot at the corners. If you need to let out the seams, or to take them in, you’ll have a clear idea of how far the new seam lines are from the original stitched seam lines.
Make all of the darts (page link), pleats (page link) or tucks (page link) in the bodice. This should be easy because you’ve stitched the pleat/tuck/dart lines with machine stitching, which is easy to follow. Press the darts, tucks or pleats toward the center or down, as you would on the real bodice.
Figure out where the closure is going to be and leave the seam with the closure open. Sew up the pattern according to the sewing instructions. Accuracy is important because if the seams aren’t sewn to the correct seam allowance, the fit will be off, and that’s the whole point of making this test garment!
Pin a zipper along the closure opening. Baste it into place. Even if you’re only making a muslin of the bodice, pin the correct-length zipper into your muslin bodice so that you’re able to unzip it properly and try it on. If your garment has buttons and an overlap (page link), mark center front so you know how far to overlap the edges.
Clip curves (page link) along the garment edges, and fold in your seam allowances. This will give you a better idea of where the neckline will sit and where the outer edges of your garment will be. Press under the clipped seam allowances. If you prefer, you can cut and sew facings to finish the edges instead of clipping.
Try on the muslin garment, and make adjustments as needed. Remember to wear the same undergarments you plan to wear under the finished garment.
Tips + Notes
- For knit fabrics, use a knit fabric with similar stretch for the muslin if you plan to test the pattern first. For heavy garments such as coats, use a heavier fabric for the test garment.
Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine