What is a muslin? A muslin is a trial run of your finished garment. There is actual muslin fabric you can buy that is very cheap. It is basically so you can test and try your garment on in a cheaper fabric before you cut into your awesome fabric! It is a simple shell of a garment. Its purpose is to see the basic fit of the garment and make any changes or alterations to the pattern before using your good fabric.
Making a muslin is often an easy thing to skip doing. You are so exited about making your garment, and you don’t want to waste time making a muslin. I personally think there is a time and place for muslins. For easy fitting garments, or knit wear, I usually skip the muslin. I use muslins for more fitted garments, or garments that have darts or seams that you want to make sure are in a good place. When you do a muslin on these types of patterns, if there are any problems with the garment fit, you didn’t waste your awesome fabric. I tend to skip muslins on easy fitting garments because if the fit is slightly wrong it is forgiving and you can make adjustments to the pattern for next time. The beauty of sewing for yourself, is that you are the judge! You can decide to make one or not make one, the choice is yours!
How to make a muslin.
A muslin is basically just to test the fit of a garment. So there is no need to add buttons closures and finish all the hems and sleeves. It is simply a fast test garment. You stitch the seams with a basting stitch, to even further speed up the time it takes to make one. You do need to add any darts, gathers, pleats, etc because these will affect the fit. When making a muslin, you do only what needs be done to test the actual fit. Any embellishments or extra finishing touches can be left off. Once you have the basic muslin constructed, try it on. If it is too small, go up a size, and try again. If it is too big, try pinching the gaping places, to see if you can take it in at the seams. You can even draw lines on your muslin where you want to make adjustments. For example, if you want to take in the seams, mark right on it where you want the new seam to be. Then when you take it off you can measure how much you took off and convert that alteration to your pattern piece. If you want to move a dart, mark right on your muslin while you are wearing it, where you want the new dart. You can always perfect it once its off, so marking it on yourself doesn’t have to be perfect! Like I said yesterday, getting the right fit is a huge in depth topic that I can’t begin to touch in this beginner series. If you are wanting to sew fitted clothing with many details, I would invest some time and money in learning all you can learn about different altering techniques.
Muslins don’t have to be made out of muslin material. Basically the point of muslin material is to be cheap since you are not going to wear it. I have found it’s probably even cheaper to go to Walmart and buy the $5 twin flat sheets to use as my muslin instead of the actual muslin fabric. You can use anything though, old sheets, fabric you don’t like, the sky is the limit. Just try to get fabric with similar properties of what the garment calls for. For example, if you are doing a knit muslin, don’t use woven fabric! The fit will be totally different!
Making a muslin for more difficult and fitted garments is a huge time saver and money saver in the end. It may not feel like it at first, but take it from me, when you spend lots of time making a garment to find out you don’t like the fit and never wear it, it is very disappointing and can discourage you from sewing other clothes.
If you are a total beginner at sewing clothes, it may benefit you to sew a muslin even for an easy fitting garment. For example, if you haven’t really sewn on knits, test the pattern out on a knit material you don’t really care about. Maybe try making the entire garment on fabric you don’t care about, that way if it doesn’t turn out you don’t care that you wasted the fabric. If it does turn out, you could still wear it! Pretty much you can make an in-between muslin, one that really isn’t a muslin but isn’t your beloved fabric. You can practice and feel confident when you finally do tackle a for real project! Check Walmart, I have bought some fabric there for $1 a yard. Fabric you can still wear, but since it’s so cheap you don’t mind ruining!
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