Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In search of collective wisdom: Muslins

Dear readers, as you may know already, I am guest blogging at Burdastyle sharing my experience in learning couture sewing.  My first post was a couture quiz, and then I blogged about the making of a Classic French Jacket.

My next post is about muslins, and with so many talented sewers and bloggers around, I wanted to include your feedback. Your answers to the questions below will help me make the post as relevant as possible, because it will show examples from our home sewing rooms! So, please take a minute to look at these questions:
  • How did you learn to make a muslin? If you haven't made a muslin yet, why would you like to learn it?
  • What projects do (don’t) you make a muslin for?
  • Do you use your fitted muslins more than once? if yes, what type of garments are those?
  • Any big muslin disasters or muslin-making tips you would like to share? 

If you want, add a link to an image or a post to illustrate your thoughts. All quotes and images used in the final post will be accurately credited and linked to your blog, if you have one, of course! 

Thank you!


  1. Hi! I learned to make a muslin from my wedding gown project (led by S. Khalje's Bridal Couture and online Wedding Gowns 101 class, of course!). It might have been my first real sewing project, but now I will muslin anything that I wouldn't be comfortable scrapping all the fashion fabric (only when I make the pattern for the first time, though). I disassemble the muslins and use them as the pattern and then keep them for future pattern use after the project is finished. If I've changed significantly in size, I can resew and refit the muslin the next time I make the project.

  2. Hi Marina, like IowaHoodlum I first learned about muslins during the creation of my wedding dress. My dress was made for me back when I had relatively little sewing experience. At first I was uneasy about the muslin process. We were making my dress from an idea I had in my head, and it took many itterations to get to a fabulous dress. Over the whole process I slowly gained an appreciation for muslins, but I still thought muslins were really for projects where you were drafting a pattern from scratch. It wasn't until I started participating in online Sew-Alongs that required muslins that I truly understood the value of a pattern test run. While participating in the Male Pattern Boldness Men's Shirt Sew-Along, I would post a photo to the Sew-Along Flickr group of a muslin that I thought looked fine, and almost instantaneously I'd get input on various fitting issues that I hadn't even seen due to my inexperience. The kind seamsters would point me in the right direction, say for a square shoulder adjustment, and after I made the corrections to my muslin, I could see a world of difference in the way the garment flattered my husband. I still have a lot to learn though as many of the things I've made for myself I've skimped on the muslin.

    When you ask for images and posts, did you mean on projects where we used a muslin or on our thoughts on this topic? I've never written about this topic per se, but here is my post on the making of my wedding dress: and here is one of the posts that highlights the muslin I made during the MPB Men's Shirt Sew-Along: I ended up adding a square-shoulder adjustment, narrowing the side seams, and adding a lot of length in the final shirt.

    As someone relatively new to sewing, I'd suggest to other newbies to take advantage of their sewing community, whether that be local seamsters or the online community (particularly during Sew-Alongs). Other sets of eyes on your muslin, particularly from those with more experience, can make a world of difference on a final garment. Making a well-fitting garment builds confidence. Confidence encourages one to work with better fabrics and with fancier techniques (like those you discuss on you blog!). And, a knowledge of fabrics and techniques gives one the ability to teach others, bringing the circle back to the beginning.

    Alright, I think I've written enough of a novel. Thanks for reading!

  3. IowaHoodlum, Amy! Thank you so much for taking time for replying to the questions! It is very interesting as it seems that we start making muslins with a challenging project, such as a wedding dress. I loved reading every detail of your comment and I will include the images you linked to and quotes from your comments in my final post! Thanks again! :-)

  4. I have only recently began to use muslins, looking forward to reading your article abt it! I will be thinking abt muslinology more for sure, for now I realize that using light colors is best to work with, also using a shade close to the one your final garment is going to be is useful in predicting the visual effect! And I've never been sorry for making a muslin, while the opposite certainly happened!:))

  5. Thanks, Magda for your tips! I will include them in my post :-)

  6. do you still want commenters?
    I will be sewing my first dress soon, Butterick 6582 or 5603, and came here to learn and be inspired. I'll need alterations to fit my body, as a knitter I am used to this and know what a world of difference they make (as does a good bra and an active posture). But knitting stretches... I've read a lot but not done much sewing. Ease, fabric qualities and lining are still uncharted territory to me but muslins now make sense to me (as do grains). Thanks to your tutorial!
    Previous I've read about moulage and body blocks used in medieval garment sewing and I'm examining the galadress my mother sewed for me. It's amazing that the more I read (here), the more I see in garments in my hands! I'm also surprised how much hand stitching still has to be done on a garment.
    I want a good muslin for both patterns and after a few runs in cotton and 'other' fabric I hope to make them in advanced fabric such as silk. Thanks again, best from Anna from marvellogic and marvelknits over at wordpress



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