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melanie | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Earlier to-day I read a discussion about preparing a “muslin” prior to making a garment but can’t join in as I can’t locate that discussion now.

 Forget muslin, think “toile”!  Muslin is a very unstable fabric without any body so save your money. For instance, my most recent project has been a winter coat in a very heavy Irish tweed so the ideal toile fabric was an old blanket. This was the same weight as the fashion fabric so I could see exactly how bulky or not darts etc. might be before cutting out the precious tweed.  For light garments, say in cotton, old sheets or tablecloths are ideal. For wrap dresses in fine jersey, cast-off large size Tshirts give exactly the look and hang of the finished dress. For other fabrics consider calico, available in several weights the weave of it won’t keep shifting as muslin does. 


  1. Josefly | | #1

    Your suggestions for fabrics to be used in test, or fitting, garments, are good ones. Never thought of using a large t-shirt. Thanks.

    Just to note the reason why you might not be able to find the discussion thread you saw earlier in the day: on the left side of your screen, where the thread topics are listed, if you scroll up to the top of that list, you'll see a button that says "Show Discussions..."; often that is set at "Unread Messages", and if you've read all the postings in that thread, and no new ones have been added in the meantime, it won't show up on the list the next time you log in. You can change the setting to "Today" or "Last 2 days", etc., options which show when you click on the button beneath "Show Discussions...". Hope this helps you find that lost thread.

    Edited 5/3/2007 10:39 pm ET by Josefly

    Edited 5/3/2007 10:40 pm ET by Josefly

    1. melanie | | #2

      Thank you for your helpful suggestion which I appreciate. - now I will try to join a discussion I saw last week about the pros and cons of Vogue and Simplicity patterns.

  2. Fruzzle | | #3

    Are you in the UK?

    This is one of the places where Britain and the other commonwealth countries are divided from the US by their common language. I grew up in the UK and in Australia, and now I live in the US. I've been here for a while, so I don't usually get tripped up by this stuff any more, but I have to say, the muslin/toile took me a while to work out and left me very confused when I first started learning to sew (in the US).

    But US "muslin" = UK "toile" -- a practice garment made from inexpensive fabric.

    UK "muslin" = the very loose woven fabric; I want to say this would be called "cheesecloth" in the US, but there are some things I might call muslin that are much finer than cheesecloth and could be used for scarves or fine quality garments. Something like chiffon. But not quite.

    When I first started reading sewing books, I did in fact think people were making muslins from muslin -- I wondered why I could never find it in the fabric shops.

    1. melanie | | #4

      No, in Ireland.

      My muslin, your cheesecloth, I could never come to terms with since it completely lacks "body" or "hang". I'm happier with calico, in different weights although I can usually find some cast-off bedding etc. which I hoard for the purpose - I'm big into re-cycling!

      I use cheesecloth, yes, but for making curd cheese and crab apple jelly - roll on Autumn. I can understand your difficulty with the different vocabularies U.S. / UK. I worked in Brooklyn during the fifties - I never could get used to calling my handbag a pocketbook!

  3. tmorris1 | | #5


    I like Gingham better than muslin, because the check pattern shows all of the imperfections very clearly. But I definitely agree with matching the weight of your construction fabric with the weight of your fashion fabric. I have made some REALLY ugly construction garments just trying to match the weight and feel of the garment that I am trying to create in a combination of lovely fashion fabrics.

    I made a test dress for a bride once out of blue and aqua striped satin and a disgusting green swirled organza like creation. Just so that the bride could see how the final fabric would fall and drape. It was u-u-u-gly!!! But she was immensely happy with the final product in a nice bridal cream.

    1. melanie | | #6

      Yes, you are right about the gingham, in fact if the fabric you are using for the mock-up has checks or lines going criss-cross it's a great help and saves a lot of measuring.

       You are also right about how weird the garments look which are are made up from a fabric that just happens to be the weight of the real fabric regardless of appearance - the coat I made up from the old blanket is a sight to behold !! but it was worth its weight in gold. With all the problems of fit, matching herringbone, darts etc. solved  beforehand - making up my coat was a doddle. For expensive fabrics it's worth the trouble.

      Continued success with the sewing

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