Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Do Your homework - The muslin!

Marie Antoinette in her Muslin
Before cutting pieces from the final fabric, a dressmaker may test the fit of a garment, using an inexpensive muslin fabric, thereby avoiding potential costly mistakes. This garment is often called a "muslin," and the process is called making a muslin. In this context, the term, "muslin" has become the generic term for a test or fitting garment, regardless of what it's made from.

In previous posts, we have mentioned the importance of making a muslin, especially when you're using a pattern that you've not tried before.  No matter how much you sew or how many garments you have made, pattern designers all have their own concepts of how a particular garment should fit. Making a muslin is the only way to insure that your garment will fit you the way you want it to. Isn't that why we sew for ourselves, anyway?

Remember the pants we were going to make out of a lovely wool? The muslin proved that this pattern was not going to look good on my body, no matter how great it fit.

Our New Look 6013 dress is another perfect example of why it's important not to assume that your customary pattern size will have a good fit.  This pattern is a basic sheath dress with a raglan sleeve - it's meant to hug the body, so proper fitting is important.

Cutting out the muslin should be just as precise as the layout and cutting of the actual finished fabric - otherwise, proper fit could still be an issue.

Certain pattern pieces can be skipped in the muslin stage, as an option.  For instance, we did not make a muslin of the facing pieces.

Here is why we make muslins: this pattern is my normal size, but look how much extra fabric there is in the body of the dress...we are so glad that we took the time to do a muslin test - this could have been another fitting disaster!

Pinning and marking the muslin shows us where we will adjust the final pattern of the fabric. Me thinks Laurel looks a little stressed, but she assured me that this process is well worth spending time to ensure a good fit.

After the muslin fitting, we know exactly where we will be adjusting the pattern pieces. The final garment will fit like a glove, all because of the care we took in the initial stages.

I am super excited about this dress! Stay tuned to see how we funk it up a bit...

Creatively Yours,
Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics


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  2. The pattern looks like it comes in multipl sizes would you cut it out in a smaller size or alter the larger one?

    1. Hi Shirlee, Great question! Let me look into this and we will get back with some info to guide you!
      Cheers, Suzan

  3. Cherie wrote emailed me!

    I really enjoy reading your blog. I was reading your blog post on using a muslin. I am still somewhat of a newbie sewist. I was wondering after you make the adjustments on your muslin, how do you go about it on the paper pattern? For instance if the seams need to be made smaller in the waist, do you cut out that part on the paper pattern piece? I don't know if that makes any sense. :-)

    I love your store and wish that I lived closer to it. I did take a class a few years ago and loved it!! It was using the Titus perfect skirt pattern. I can't tell you how many of these skirts I have made. I love this pattern!!


    Our response:
    Dear Cheri,

    I am so happy your enjoy our blog! We LOVE newbie sewists!

    I can tackle your questions a little bit. When you say "the seams need to be smaller at the waist" I am assuming you mean you need to take in the pattern at the waist. This can be done by either taking in at the side seams (pin your muslin at the side seams to where the waist fits) or adding darts at the waist to take away the excess fabric. Those pin marks become your new sewing line. I mark the spot with a pin (or several pins to get the right curve to my hips and up to my ribcage/bust) then remove the muslin and mark onto the muslin where the pins where. Then I will measure out the seam allowance from those pin marks and cut off the excess fabric. To transfer onto my paper pattern, I take apart the muslin, lay it over my paper pattern, pin them together and draw onto the paper pattern, where I have made changes. To double check my changes, I may make a new muslin from my new paper pattern and check the fit again. When I made my wedding dress, I made 3 muslins!

    Although this link covers making a little girl's dress, the principles are the same:
    You can also see how to add length and width and other marking techniques here:

    If you're making a lot of adjustments, you might like to take apart the muslin and use that as your pattern. Be sure to only baste the muslin together. You can also just take a colored pencil and transfer your changes onto your paper pattern with a ruler after measuring out the changes on the muslin. If you widened or lengthened darts, or took in a half inch from the sides, just measure them onto the paper the same way you drew them on the muslin. This way you could keep the muslin for future fittings. But, if you anticipate needing the pattern again in a different size, maybe you don't want to mark up the paper pattern.

    Cherie's response:

    Wow! Thank you so much!! I can't wait to read the information on the blogs.

    You hit the nail on the head of what I was trying to say. I didn't know the right phrase. lol. Transferring marks to the paper pattern. With your comments already I am getting an understanding of how to do it.

    Thank you again and I so appreciate the time that you took to write me. I can't wait to be visiting Stonemountain and Daughter!!