Why would you want to spend the extra time making a muslin for patterns? Making 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.
While most of us say ‘making a muslin” the French and many designers call it making a ‘toile’ (pronounced twahl).
What is a muslin?
A muslin or toile is simply a mock-up 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 garment. There is no need for fancy seam finishings or neat sewing since the purpose is simply to try out and fit the pattern.
Why Make a muslin?
Making 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.
Fabrics to Use for a muslin
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.
Unbleached calico or muslin is the most commonly used woven fabric but any cheap fabric of a similar weight to your pattern requirement will do.
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 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.
How do you make a muslin pattern that fits perfectly?
Step one: 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 in the hips.
Step two: 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.
- Ensure you use the grain of the fabric correctly at this point.
- If there are some areas that may need to have a bit more room added, add some extra seam allowance to make the alterations easier.
Step four: Sew the garment together 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 five: Try your garment on and make any alterations. 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 to make a muslin test pattern!
- It’s a professional way to get a perfect fit.
- It gives you a chance to check the style suits your figure.
- By choosing a similar weight of 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.