Why would you want to spend the extra time sewing a muslin for patterns? Sewing a muslin is actually a time and money-saving exercise and worth considering for the best fit for new patterns. It is also an opportunity to try out any new techniques involved.
Sewing a Muslin Tutorial
While most of us say ‘sewing a muslin” the French and many designers call it making a ‘toile’ (pronounced twahl).
This tutorial will discuss what is a muslin as well as give you step-by-step instructions for sewing a muslin and making alterations.
What is a Muslin in Sewing?
A muslin or toile is simply a mock-up or prototype of the pattern you plan to make. The careful dressmaker will use muslin, calico, or a similar cheap fabric to cut out and fit a new pattern.
The muslin fabric is cut, and all pattern markings and seam allowances are transferred from the pattern. It is then assembled into the final garment.
There is no need for fancy seam finishings or neat sewing in a muslin since the purpose is simply to try out and fit the pattern.
Why Sewing a Muslin is Necessary
Sewing a muslin test pattern is going to save you time and money in the LONG RUN. This may seem like a contradiction, you may think, but there are advantages to having a muslin test pattern done.
- You can test the pattern for sizing and any tricky parts of the process before you make up your real garment.
- Using a cheap fabric to get the pattern correct ensures any glitches happen on the cheap fabric and not the expensive material you want to use for the final garment.
- Making a test pattern will also ensure that every time you sew this pattern, you have the perfect fit.
Supplies for Sewing a Muslin
- Fabric - This will be an inexpensive fabric similar to your final fabric.
- Sewing Machine
- Sewing Basics - Pins, thread, needles, scissors
- Sewing Pattern
- Marking tools - tailor's chalk or pencil
Best Fabrics to Use for Sewing a Muslin
The best fabric to use for sewing a muslin is inexpensive but has a similar weight and feel to your final fabric.
Ideally, the fabrics you buy should be plain with no pattern markings. In saying that, it doesn't really matter if it has a print but generally, plain fabric makes it easier to assess the fit and to mark any alterations on it.
MONEY SAVING TIP: If you really want to save money, then try cutting up old sheets bought cheaply at second-hand shops.
If you are searching for a test fabric for leotards or stretch items, get the cheapest knit fabric with a similar stretch factor. It will most likely be in a hideous print that no one wants but don't worry, as you won't be leaving the house in it. You would laugh at some of the test leotards I've made in the world's ugliest swimwear fabrics.
Sewing a Muslin Pattern that Fits Perfectly
Here is how to make a muslin for perfectly fitting garments:
Step 1 - Muslin Pattern Making
Cut out your paper pattern in the size you think will fit you the best. If you range between several sizes, you may want to blend your pattern into several sizes. For example, if you are pear-shaped like me, you may be one size on the top and a larger size on the hips.
If there are some areas that may need to have a bit more room added, add some extra seam allowance in the side seams to make the alterations easier.
Step 2 - Transfer Markings
Cut your fabric and transfer all necessary markings – darts, tucks, facings etc. My sewing patterns always include seam allowance, but if your pattern doesn't, then add it now.
You should transfer the stitch lines from the pattern piece for the greatest accuracy. It can also be useful to mark the hip, waist, and bust if it is marked on the pattern. This way, you can easily alter the length later.
Ensure you use the grain of the fabric correctly at this point.
Step 3 - Sewing a Muslin
Sew the garment together. There is often no need to add the zipper or buttons as you can asses the fit by just pinning the opening closed. Clip the seams and any curves in necklines or sleeves, and press all seams. There is no need to neaten the seams, as this is just a test pattern. Try out any tricky or unfamiliar additions like collars, sleeves, and waistbands.
Step 4 - Fitting Muslin Patterns
Try your garment on and make any alterations. You may decide to just mark the alterations with a pen or actually sew them and try the garment on again.
If there are a large number of changes, you may even want to make a second sewing muslin. While this may seem like an absolute pain, it will be faster and safer, particularly if your final fabric is expensive. Trust me, your second muslin will be even faster to sew.
You will need to alter your paper pattern. Make a note on the pattern if there are any adjustments to the cutting and stitching lines, and voila, you have the perfect pattern made to suit your size and shape.
Top Reasons For Sewing a Muslin Test!
- It’s a professional way to get a perfect fit.
- It gives you a chance to check that the style suits your figure.
- By choosing a similar weight of the fabric, the test garment shows how suitable the pattern is to the type of fabric you plan to use.
- This is an opportunity to double-check any difficult details.
- The test pattern saves time in the long run, especially if the style is one you like to repeat.
- The test pattern saves money because any errors are ironed out on the cheaper material.
- Sewing a test pattern encourages creativity as you brainstorm how to make something uniquely yours.
Test drive, with a test pattern, the next garment you sew. You will be on the road to success and won't look back after trying this valuable sewing exercise.