What is muslin? Muslin is a handy fabric for clothing designers and seamstresses since it can be used for drafting designs. But there’s more to muslin than just that. Designers can utilize the fabric for many other pieces other than rough designs. So if you’re wondering what is muslin, then keep reading.
What Is Muslin?
Muslin is a breathable, lightweight, and finely woven cloth. It is considered one of the simplest, most gentle, and purest fabrics. Moreover, it can produce very distinct designs because it is fabricated layer by layer.
Many designers and cloth makers like the muslin fabric due to its simplicity. What is muslin made of? Even though there are many kinds of muslin, the composition is almost the same, and it is made of cotton.
What is Muslin History?
Muslin originated from Dacca or what is now called Dhaka, Bangladesh. During the prehistoric period, it was a valuable commodity that was traded throughout the world. In the 1600s, the fabric was introduced to Europe, and this is where it acquired its name.
During the colonial rule, muslin weavers in India and Bangladesh were subjected to brutality and forced to weave other fabrics. At the same time, muslin was imported from Europe.
Muslin was originally completely woven by hand. Originally, an uncommon, handspun, and delicate yarn was used to create the fabric. Dhaka in Bangladesh was the only place at that time that produced muslin.
Phuti karpas, a special species of the cotton plant, were native to the area. Nevertheless, trying to grow this plant in other places failed despite many attempts. Weavers were mostly young women who had bowls of water around to keep the air moist and humidified.
What is Muslin in Modern Times?
Today, muslin can be produced using cotton or poly-cotton. Nonetheless, the quality of the original plain-woven muslin has been retained. You can still enjoy the hard texture of the synthetic fabric and the softness of cotton muslin because of its open-sett and net-like structure that is similar to a cheesecloth.
What is Muslin vs Cotton
Since muslin is made from cotton, it is only natural to wonder whether it is actually cotton fabric. However, muslin has a loose and more open weave, making it different from other cotton weaves used to produce garments like dresses and shirts. In addition, other forms of muslin are made from viscose and silk.
In some parts of the Middle East and Europe, muslin has still the same popularity as it had in the 18th and 19th centuries. Though cotton is a popular fabric, muslin is preferred in places with warmer weather because it has a gauzy and light feel. Also, although cotton is breathable, it is not as breathable as most muslin fabrics. Its breathability is perfect for the hot weather.
What is Muslin Fabric Quality vs. Cotton quality?
- WEIGHT - The muslin fabric is available in thick and medium weights. Nevertheless, it is generally somewhat lightweight. It’s also made of 100% cotton which means that there are no synthetic fibers used in making it.
- TEXTURE - What is muslin in terms of texture compared to other cotton fabrics? Even though there are coarse muslin variations, most of them are delicate and smooth. Therefore, this fabric is ideal for clothes and blankets for babies. Moreover, other cotton fabrics extensively differ in weight. You can search for cotton fabrics that are heavy-duty or light depending on the style of the fabric.
All in all, the minor differences between cotton and muslin make it easy to appreciate the appeal of the latter and why it should be your favorite fabric option.
What Is Muslin and Its Varieties?
Muslin has different weights and forms. High-grade muslin fabrics are smooth and soft. Since evenly-spun yarns are used to weave it, the thread has the same width throughout the fabric. Bleached or unbleached uneven yarns are used to produce muslin fabrics that have coarse and lower quality.
Here are the 4 main varieties of muslin:
This muslin variation is very lightweight and sheer. It is commonly used to dress wounds and make clothes and filters in kitchens.
This plain muslin fabric is lightweight and typically made from silk and cotton or viscose. The fabric is often used to make the underlining of dresses which give more shape and weight to clothes. It can also be used to do pattern testing on garments. Read more about sewing a muslin.
Swiss muslin is lightweight and sheer with elevated dots or patterns. It is generally used to make clothes for warm weather.
This is the coarsest and thickest muslin variation. It is used to make home furniture and decorations and clothes.
What Is Muslin Used For?
Because of its many characteristics, muslin has a lot of uses which include the following:
- Clothes - Before using a very expensive and elegant fabric in dressmaking, a dressmaker or a seamstress can test how a garment fits by using muslin. For sewing, muslin can be used to line or support quilts to make them easier to maintain in wider girths.
- French Polishing - Muslin is commonly used as a French polishing pad
- Theatrical - In many theatrical applications, the fabric helps conceal the set background, and it is also easy to maneuver. Moreover, muslin holds color from paints and dyes well, making them translucent with the correct treatment.
- Backdrops for Pictures and Films - Because of the almost wavy and elegant texture of muslin, it can be used as a backdrop to show the sky. Aside from films, it is also commonly used in photography. Muslin can become a makeshift green backdrop when diluted latex paint is used. In the past years, silent movie makers used this to diffuse light.
- Food - Not only is muslin very useful in theatrics but also has several uses for food. The fabric can be used as a filter to decant wine. Additionally, you can use it in cheesemaking and as a traditional cloth to wrap your holiday pudding. Muslin is also used to filter debris and particles from beeswax in beekeeping.
- Medicine - Muslin shows its versatility in medical uses. Surgeons use gauze in surgeries because it is delicate.
- Infants - Muslin squares or muslin cloth are widely used by mothers. The square piece of fabric comes in handy for mothers to protect their clothes while bottle-feeding their babies. They also use it to cover the changing mats so that their babies will not be exposed to the cold and harsh surface. In summer, the fabric can be used to swaddle babies if a blanket is too thick. It is ideal for infants because it is very soft.
How to Identify the Finest Muslin
First, you can look at the yarn and check if it is fine yet durable. A low-quality muslin fabric will look strong and hard because of the starch. However, when you bring it home and wash it, all the starch will be washed off. Therefore, you will end up having a flimsy muslin cloth that you will likely not want to use anymore.
Another issue with purchasing muslin is that you might get fabrics with off-grain textures of cheap quality. So what is muslin buying advice? First, it is best to check and make sure that you get a muslin fabric with the finest grain when shopping for muslin.
How to Sew Muslin
Now that you know what is muslin and what its sewing techniques are, you probably want to know how to sew it. You can sew it the same way you sew other types of woven fabrics. You need a small sharp needle, preferably with sizes 90/14 or 75/11.
If you sew delicate muslin using a large needle, your fabric will have visible holes. You can also use standard straight stitching with a 2.5 stitch length to sew the fabric. A serged edge is ideal for muslin because you will end up with fabric edges from shredding at the cut edges.
How to Care for Muslin
When it comes to caring for your muslin fabric, make sure that you do not wash or dry fire-resistant muslin. This is because it will lose its fire-resistant properties. Nevertheless, poly muslin is an exception.
Poly muslin, which has fire-resistant properties, has a blend of medium-weight muslin and polyester. When exposed to water, this kind of muslin does not lose its fire-resistant feature. Hence, you can wash it without any worries.
Other muslin types can be washed in a washing machine using mild detergent. It is recommended to hand wash muslin. If you do this, hang the fabric or allow it to try on a flat surface. Use the lowest heat setting and take off the fabric while still damp from the dryer to prevent wrinkles.
What is muslin caring instruction for backdrops and curtains? First, you have to check that they are dry and clean. Then, you can fold and store them in containers and storage bags to avoid pest infiltration, such as mice and moths. These pests can damage the fabric when they chew it.
What is Muslin - Conclusion
Finally, you have a better understanding of muslin. The finest muslin quality is often used to make final clothing pieces. What is muslin in the future? It is too early to forecast that, but we cannot deny that this fabric has come a long way. From the time of wrapping Egyptian pharaoh’s mummies until now, this fabric has many uses indeed.
Hi, the softness could have been due to the weave and not just the fiber types. Often open weave muslin like that used for babies has more texture after washing.
I once bought unbleached muslin which was thicker and extremely soft compared to most muslin. After washing, it had an every so lightly bit of texture. It was the most wonderful "muslin" I had every used. I went to the fabric store to get more, found none, and asked the clerk(s) for help. They didn't know what the fabric was (I took a sample) and said it must be "some type" of muslin. Any idea what it could have been?