Making a Muslin

The beginnings of my muslin pieces.
I am not the patient type of sewer, the one who measures twice and cuts once, who lovingly presses each seam open, and who clips threads after every line of stitches. That said, ever since I learned how to properly finish my seams, I am learning that a carefully made garment is much more gratifying and lasts longer than a hack job.

Making a muslin--sewing a mock garment in a cheap fabric to adjust the fit and details before putting the time and effort into my actual project--is the second level of my new-found sewing patience. Here is what I learned while making up one for a pair of pants.

  • Fabric for muslins can be made out of anything--it doesn't have to be muslin. That said, if your final garment will be a non-stretch woven, so should your test fabric. Knit garments should be tested using knits. Similarly, the muslin should be of a comparable weight to the final garment to get a feel for the weight and drape.
  • Cut, measure and mark your pattern pieces with as much care as you would on a regular garment. You want to make sure that everything matches up--and if it doesn't be able to adjust the pattern pieces before cutting for your real garment. The only difference--you can mark on the muslin with permanent ink because it doesn't matter if it shows up on the final product, and it will make it easier to see.
  • Seams should be done in a way that they hold the muslin together but are easy to remove and redo. After some experimentation, I decided to tack the edges of my seams but keep a relatively long stitch length--3.5 on my machine. While the tacks were a little harder to remove when redoing seams, they kept the stitching in place. Tearing the muslin a littl is no big deal. The longer stitch length is easier to remove with a seam ripper than small stitches.
  • Sewing can, for the most part, be done with right sides together, as in a regular garment. This was especially true for me for the details, such as pockets and zippers. In this instance, it was better to see how they were constructed than to be able to take them in or out. For the seams that have a lot to do with the fit, such as the side seam, I sewed them wrong sides together where possible to make them easier to alter while wearing.
  • Notions should be bright and disposable. I sewed with bright purple thread on my white muslin, which made ripping seams out easier. I used an old zipper I had lying around to test out the fly. 
  • Take notes on your pattern instructions as you work. Clarify directions that weren't clear, and specifiy any changes you have made. This is will help you to remember all of the valuable lessons you have learned!
You can check out the muslin I made up for a pair of pants here.

This tutorial was featured on Burda Style!

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