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Going from a muslin to the real deal

Linda03052 | Posted in Fitting on

Hi all!

I have been sewing for many years, but am still fitting-challenged.  I was recently reacing “To Fit Pants Start at the Waist” in Issue #119 (page 35).  I thought it was very good, with wonderful pictures.  However, the last paragraph on page 36 reads “Once you’ve completed all the fitting steps, . . . . adjust your pattern accordingly.  And be sure to store your test pants in a safe place:  if you ever lose or gain weight, it will be ready to fit again.”  My question, is:  How do you adjust your pattern accordingly?  Can someone run me through that process?  My thought would be to take the test pants apart and use them to trace a new pattern.  But then, you couldn’t “save” them to fit again.  And that’s what it says to do, so I’m wondering if there is a better way?  Thanks in advance for your help!

Linda 03052


  1. starzoe | | #1

    Oh, I think this is just a poor way of saying that you use the muslin to sew pants. Personally, I would make a copy of the muslin and put that away to work on (perhaps) at a later date.

    Of course it could mean that they expect you to make a permanent paper pattern of your muslin, in any case you are correct.

    1. Linda03052 | | #2


      Thanks for taking the time to answer!  I guess my problem is, for example, where the top gaps open for the larger waist, would you put it on the material that you're going to copy it onto, and just use a marker, and extend the seam up?  As I'm writing this, it seems to make sense.  I guess I'd really just have to DO it, and it would probably make more sense to me as I went along!

      Thanks again!

      Linda 03052

  2. jjgg | | #3

    For instance, if you take a one inch tuck in the front to shorten the front crotch, go to your pattern and pin out the one inch amount. You don't have to take apart the muslin, just see where you made changes in the muslin, measure the amount and then make the same markings on the paper pattern.

    1. Linda03052 | | #4

      Somehow I was hoping there was more magic to it than that--LOL!    OK!  If you insist!  LOL!


      P.S.  Thank you (don't mind me--I'm a spoiled brat!)

      1. User avater
        artfulenterprises | | #5

        If you have a gap in your muslin where you released the seam in order to fit your waist, you can use a small piece of muslin to "fill in" and mark the new seam line. Pin it firmly so the fabric won't shift when you take it off. It's always good to make an effort to have the filler piece on the same grain as the garment section you are adjusting. Or, pin out excess and remark seams accordingly.Then, if you are clever enough to go find yourself a perforating tracing wheel, you can lay your muslin out on new pattern paper, pin the pattern sections down(one at a time of course) being careful to keep the grain lines square (use punch pins to keep things in place), and trace off the new adjusted lines of your fit muslin. When you've traced over the perforations with pencil using your ruler, hip curve and french curve, then add the seam allowances. Double check your new pattern by "walking" the seams. (Checking all seams that will be sewn together by moving one piece along the seamline of the other until the seams begin to diverge, then swinging the top ptn pc into line and continuing all the way up the seam. They should be the same length. If not, split the difference by marking the halfway point between the ends of the two seamlines, then lowering one and raising the other so that they meet.It may sound like a lot of work, but in the end you will have a perfect custom pattern which you can make over and over again.Here is a photo of some of my favorite tools....showing a perforating tracing wheel just in case you've never seen one. They can be purchased at tailor's supply houses or sometimes at medical supply houses.

        1. Linda03052 | | #6

          I guess that's really the key--eventually you have enough pattern pieces that are perfectly fitted to you, that you can mix and match them.  Peggy Sagers says that once you have the (I can't remember the correct term) part of the sleeve at the top between the notches that fits for you, you should fit all armscyes to IT, not the other way around!  Those tools are interesting.  What do you use the 3rd one down for?  And I have no idea what the bottom one is at all!

          Linda 03052

          1. User avater
            artfulenterprises | | #7

            The third tool down is "Big Mama" (Or, on some days the inflection could be a little different). ;0) She is designed to cut tag paper (like file folder or manila paper only on a big, wide roll.) The bottom tool is a little beauty ...it's a notcher. It makes nice little U-shaped cuts in your paper pattern where normally home sewers see a double sided triangle shape. It's called a "slot notch". Much more efficient than cutting out those goofy triangles...all you have to do is snip the edge of the seam allowance and voila!....done. (Only exception would be cutting into a loosely woven sweater knit or something that would unravel before your eyes. In that case, it's prudent to cut "outward" from the cutting edge with a small triangle.) However, the notcher is designed to be used ONLY on paper patterns. No fabric!

            Edited 8/26/2008 8:53 pm by artfulenterprises

          2. Linda03052 | | #8

            So, "designed" to be only used on paper patterns, no fabric, means that you DO use it on non-fraying fabric and you love it?  It sounds wonderful--where do you get something like that?

            Linda 03052

          3. User avater
            artfulenterprises | | #9

            No. I'm afraid it means I use it ONLY on pattern paper and tag (manila) paper. To use it on something like interfacing or any other "non fraying fabric" (Not sure what you are envisioning here) would dull the cutting edges quickly and it would then be useless. (Rather like using your finest fabric shears for cutting up cardboard boxes!) You would have to buy another one since it couldn't be sharpened. I've owned mine for about 15 years.Although, since I keep "paper scissors" and "fabric scissors" in my tool kit, you could certainly experiment with an extra notcher just for "non fraying fabric"!They are available at Tailor's Supply houses such as B. Black and Sons in Los Angeles, CA

          4. Linda03052 | | #10

            Maybe someday. . . . .!


            Linda 03052

          5. ellaluna | | #11

            <i>My thought would be to take the test pants apart and use them to trace a new pattern...</i>That's exactly what I do. Fit the muslin, take it apart, retrace (or adjust) your paper pattern from the adjustments you've made, use the paper pattern to cut a NEW muslin, then fit that. Continue as necessary. It seems like a lot of work but I actually kind of love it. And any time I try to save time and skip that step, I'm kicking myself later.Linda, re: pattern notchers: I got mine at a farm and ranch store when I was visiting my sister out in the country. They use them to mark animals ears, as horrible as that sounds. (Well, maybe not to the country folk.)Kelly Marie
            "Nothing succeeds like excess" ~Oscar Wilde

            Edited 9/3/2008 1:07 pm by ellaluna

          6. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #12

            To reassure all you folks out there, the ear notchers are no worse than getting your ears pierced. They are used to attach ear tags to an animals ears for identification purposes, and in areas where flies are a really bad problem, for bug control in the face area for cattle. After the mad cow scare, animal identification is required by law. Cathy
            PS Scrapbooking paper punches also work for notching, and are pretty.

            Edited 9/3/2008 4:13 pm ET by ThreadKoe

          7. jjgg | | #13

            boy, this is getting off topic! LOL, I learn new things every day! fitting muslins to cows and ear piercing and Mad Cow disease!
            Twice I have taken care of patients with mad cow (although it's call Crutchfield yakovs disease it's the same thing.)

          8. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #14

            Not really off topic, it is just that you never know where you will find the perfect tool for the job! And as cattle people, we do not want to have anyone think that we hurt our animals.
            When I fit a basic muslin, I take it apart, then make a posterboard pattern (sloper) to use from it. The muslin is saved for later use if I need to re-fit. If I have a really good pattern muslin that I like, then I do the same thing, only I make the pattern from heavy drafting paper, to withstand re-use multiple times. The muslin is saved as well. If I change shape too much, it can be re-used as a dustrag. Cathy

          9. Linda03052 | | #15


            You guys are all wonderful!  I guess I just have to bite the bullet and put in the work--I'm sure the results will be better than those at present.  One thing I didn't see mentioned, that I use, is STP--Swedish tracing paper, to make patterns from.  It's kind of like a non-fusible interfacing.  I got it off a co-op quite cheaply. 

            Linda 03052

          10. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #16

            The whole point of a muslin is to use cheap fabric to refine the fit before using the expensive stuff. Time=Money. It is better to spend the time now on making all the mistakes and fitting experiments on cheap fabric, rather than wasting the fabric you love. Once you get the fit where you want it, BANG, does it ever feel GREAT! Then all the work you spent fitting the one basic pair can be used to shortcut the fitting on other pants. Same goes for skirts and blouses. There is a basic pattern that you can fit for making a skirt, bodice and sleeve from the major pattern companies. From this you can make your own sloper, and then you can fit all your patterns from this, or draft your own patterns. Well worth the effort. It makes fitting a breeze, and sewing so much easier. Cathy

          11. ellaluna | | #17

            Cathy, THANK YOU! Good to know that the cows aren't suffering. LOL. And yes, any tool you find that works for you is a good tool, no matter how strange it may seem.SCRAPBOOKING PAPER PUNCHES! Duh. What a good idea!

          12. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #18

            You are welcome. Cathy

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