Friday, December 10, 2010

The Art of Muslining

Do you muslin? Is that even a verb? Back when I was a skinny, little thing I didn't. I just whacked away at the pattern, trusting the measurements on the envelope. But then much time past, and now that I'm "more mature" so to speak, my body has lumps and bumps and measurements that certainly fall across several size ranges as I go top to toe.

But having said that, I still resist, and I don't do it with every garment. The Mondo top... nope, no muslin. The Lady Grey coat, 3(!) muslins. Actually, I find that even though the lovely Colette Patterns are more "true to size" than the Big 4, I still cross the size ranges, AND the designs are more fitted, and they especially need to be muslined.

[And aside, since I'm on the subject, my idea of muslin is not to make it wearable. Oh, no. I think wearable muslin is a misnomer anyway. If you are making a garment out of some kind of fashion fabric, even cheap, expendable, fabric, and you have the idea that you might wear it out in public, then I call that simply practice, and it certainly has its place in sewing... I've done it, too.]

So, yeah. Here's the pattern that is up next:

And here's what the muslin looks like on me:
Kind of like an ill-fitting nurse's dress, truth be told. I was going to make it out of green satin and sequins, but the direction has totally changed now, and I think I'll surprise you. The point of this post is to say "reading" a muslin takes some practice. I'd say I'm an advanced beginner at this point. Some things I've learned:
  • First, check out Pattern Review to see what quirks others have discovered. Might save some time if you're looking out for a particular issue.
  • Cut out one size to start with and go from there. Did I do that? No.
  • I don't really have narrow shoulders, but rather the area under my neck and above the boobs, in between my arms, is kind of narrow.
  • Sleeve fit/armscye fit is really difficult. Even for pattern makers. This length looks right for me, but I'll have to add the hem.
  • Colette Patterns are notoriously short bodiced, and short in length.
  • Don't get obsessed. You can over fit a pattern.
  • This muslin is misleading. I have actually redone the front yoke to take into account the narrow chest issue.

And... I'm ready to cut. I'm not going to use the muslin as pattern. I am going to make the seam allowance of the skirt and the midriff pieces 1". My fashion fabric has a bit of stretch, but I want some leeway. I'm also going to put the zipper in the center back and not the side.

That's it. I learn a lot from each muslin I make, both about the garment construction and about my own shape. I can't wait to get started on this dress. Finally. Of course, there is all that pesky Christmas stuff that must be done this weekend, too, so I'm not sure how much sewing I'll get done.


  1. I am really glad to see you are making this pattern. I have always been drawn to it, but have wondered if it is too young for me. Can't wait to see the finished project. And that length is terrific on you!

  2. I think your fit is good as this is your first run muslin. I know the white can leave quite an impression as my husband is always a bit astounded when I show him my muslins. I keep telling him it is for FIT, not the final fabric.

  3. I'm exactly like you with muslins. I never used to have to make them, but I've "matured" too. Now I make them sometimes. I'm interested in seeing this dress made up --the whiteness of the muslin aside it looks good on you.

  4. I resist muslin'ing and pay the price with every single garment that's the least bit fitted. I applaud you for DOING muslins. I WILL do one next time... you make a good point, that YOU learn something every time you muslin. I look forward to seeing your finished dress...

    by the way, I'm new to your blog, and am loving to see your creations. Lots of lovely things.

  5. I (almost)always make a muslin for anything that involves the waist upwards - it is essential because I have to make so many fitting changes and it's really important to me to get clothes that fit well - I don't want to spend a lot of time making something that doesn't feel right. Your muslin is looking good - I'm looking forward to seeing the dress, I really like this pattern.



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