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Making a Muslin

LindaFaye | Posted in Fitting on

I read something in a post about making a muslin.  I am not sure that I understand what that means.  Does it mean that you just buy muslin material and make the entire garmet out of it (including interfacing, lining, zipper, buttons etc.) to make absoultely sure that you have a perfect fit???


  1. cafms | | #1

    You can use muslin or a cheaper fabric that is similar in weight to your more expensive fabric.  Assemble the main pieces including the sleeves and put in the zipper if it will help with checking the fit.  You can pull the zipper out and reuse it.  Mark or thread trace your seamlines on the necklines, hems, lapel roll lines, pocket placements or other details that you don't actually construct or need to check fit.  The facings, lining and interfacing aren't needed.  This will help you check the  fit  and if it needs changes you can mark on the fabric then transfer to the pattern.  Don't forget to alter any facings or linings at the same time you change the main pattern pieces.  Sometimes I will make the garment from less expensive material but something that is usable and if the pattern alterations I've already made are good I'll have something I can use.  Then I'll go ahead and add the interfacing and facings etc. to finish it properly. 

  2. From my Stash.... | | #2



    You don't need to completely finish everything. Also, don't necessarily use muslin - it's far better to use an inexpensive fabric that drapes and feels like your good fashion fabric. I also like to use a wider seam allowance in side seams  (I can sew on the original sewing line, but it gives me additional material if I need to let out the garment a little.) Then cut out and sew the main pieces together and use it for marking guidelines as to what is needed to be changed. No linings, interfacings, etc. I don't sew in my zippers, i just pin the zipper seams together. For jackets, I just quickly pin in my shoulder pads so that I get the drape correct from the shoulders. There is a really good article on muslins and using them in Threads issue 121. I have found muslins extremely helpful for pants and jackets, items where fitting is hardest and time consuming. I get a more customized fit and am much more comfortable when I am cutting that expensive fabric.


    1. LindaFaye | | #3

      Thanks From my Stash;

      this was really helpful.  I really like suit or two piece dressing.  It is much easier and quicker for me to dress for work if I know that I can pull out two pieces that match and just add a simple shell or shirt to change things up a bit.  I am making McCall's M5113 which is a taylored short jacket and pants with a back zipper and no pockets.  I'm making it in a army green gaberdine now and hope that it turns out well, if so I will make the same suit in navy.  This will really help with my work wardrobe.  Thanks again.

  3. SewNancy | | #4

    I like using regular old muslin, I get a bolt when Joannes has a 40 or 50 off coupon. One of the reasons I use it, is I am cheap, and I can easily mark it up and see the marking. I mark the outside with marker and the grain line. It doesnt' work for knits but it does for everything else. It is easy to see the wrinkles that show fit problems and it is easy to write notes on it.

    1. LindaFaye | | #5

      Hi Nancy, thanks for your response to my question about muslins.  Your suggestion is a great one.  I shop at Hancocks and they often have a 40% off coupon, next time I see one I will buy muslin as you did.  Thanks again. 

      1. mem | | #6

        I actually make up the muslin to the facing stage and then do alterartions in a red felt pen and mark all the seams with a felt tip pen . The pull it appart and iron it and I have a pattern . I actaully put that and the envelpoe and paper pattern etc into a zip lock plastic bag and store it for future use .

        1. LindaFaye | | #7

          I really like this idea, thanks.

        2. WandaJ | | #8

          Do you not transfer the markings, adjustments, changes, etc. on the original pattern and just cut from the muslin? I would like to 'see'  step-by-step illustrations of muslin construction, markings and transfer to an original pattern, or a garment being cut from the changed muslin.

          Does anyone know of a source that has such step-by-step illustrations?

          1. mem | | #9

            What i have done is do tissue fitting and make full bust adjustment and lengthening and narrowing across the upper back which are my standard fit changes most of the time . Then I make up a muslin and make any more chnages which might occurr to me . Mark all the seams by running a felt pen over the groove created by the seam line and then pull it all apprt whic is easy as I have run it all up with a large length stitch .THEN I cut OFF the seam allowances and I have a pattern which I can trace around and and have different width seam allowances on ie 1 inch wide on the side seams. This is useful depending on the give in you fabric ie differnt knit fabrics or a stretch woven as opposed to just a woven . If you have that bit extra in the side seam allowances all eventualities are covered.

            I dont do this with every pattern but with the ones that are staples . I do do the tissue fitting with all patterns.

          2. nisee | | #10

            I found Sandra Betzini's Power Sewing, Fast Fit good references.  After making a muslin for pants I altered the pattern then fused it to pellon. This made a very stable pattern for the final pant.  Just be careful when ironing over any taped alterations.  I've used the last of my "pink hair setting tape"  ( a very old product I bought by the case).  It was perfect for this use. I wonder if anyone out there has found a good tape to use.

          3. SewNancy | | #12

            Tape on the front only and iron on low heat on the back.

          4. nisee | | #13

            Ofcourse! thank you.  Sometimes you get so focused---good to have a place to discuss.

          5. user-213513 | | #14

            Paper adhesive tape -- from the first aid section of the grocery or drug store works well. It's available in a couple of widths; some brands come in a plastic case with a cutter; it is exactly the same as the old pink hair setting tape -- just a different color. Just be sure to get the paper tape, the other alternative is a nylon (I think) which makes as big, even bigger, mess than 'scotch tape' when hit with a hot iron.If you would like more info and ideas on making a muslin and using it as both a fitting tool and a pattern for cutting out the fashion fabric, I would recommend Susan Khalje's book "Bridal Couture". She has covered these topics very thoroughly. You might not be making a wedding dress, but the method of making and using a muslin is pretty much the same, regardless of the garment you are making. Julie

          6. nisee | | #15

            WoW thank you, a replacement for pink tape! and you knew what it was!! I will look into that book. I have been using several books on this issue.  A good tip was using drapery leftover for Jacket fitting.  I have access to a work room and found some leftover pieces for my latest project.  The weight gives a better idea of fit.  Thanks again for your input.

          7. mygaley | | #16

            Pink hairsetting tape is still available in some places that sell beauty supplies. I saw some this week in the Walgreen's drugstore. Galey

          8. WandaJ | | #17

            Thanks for the reference to the books and article on making muslins step-by-step.

          9. Leafy100 | | #20

            Regarding tape..3M micropore paper tape.  You can find it in the First Aid section...it isn't cheap, but it is removable (!!!!) without tearing the tissue.  I like it much better than 'the pink stuff', the adhesive isn't as 'gooey'...  It is also very re-usable, and I store my dibs and dabs of it on the front edge of the shelves of a bookcase in my sewing room.

          10. nisee | | #21

            Thank you for the info.

          11. SewNancy | | #11

            Kenneth King did a well illustrated article on just this subject a few years ago. Just look in the Threads index

    2. NewRenaissanceWoman | | #22

      I have found that the unbleached muslin seems to be so much stiffer than the bleached muslin which is much more workable.

      We have a couple of flea markets here on weekends where we can buy some very cheap light colored fabrics  for as little as 40-50c/yd, even cheaper than $1 on sale at JoAnn's although I have picked suitable fabrics at JoAnn's clearance for as little as 25c/yd. You could check out your local flea markets if you have any nearby.

  4. zuwena | | #18

    I think all the responses pretty much cover the gamut with regard to the uses of muslin.  I would just add by way of further explanation:  in the historical context of dressmaking, muslin was used because it would usually be the cheapest and therefore most disposable of the fabrics one might use.  In the fashion schools muslin is the fabric of choice for learning to create and develop patterns, and for learing draping techniques.  When you go shopping for muslin, note that it comes in about three different weights and weaves although all stores may not carry a full offering.

    1. LindaFaye | | #19

      Thanks zuwena.

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