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Muslin – different weights?

jatman | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I have a question for those of you who make muslins before making your actual garment – do you use different weights of muslin or just whatever you have?

I’m about to go on a trip where I’ll be going to a couple of fabric markets and I will probably be able to find all sorts of different weights of muslin at really inexpensive prices.  I’d appreciate any advice anyone could give me!

Thank you!



  1. solosmocker | | #1

    Muslin in regards to trial fit garments is kind of a generic concept. You can use any old fabric, but want it to be close to the fabric that you will make the garment up in. So if you are going to make pants of of wool gabardine, you would want something heavier than a muslin fabric. This is when its good to hit the dollar aisle at Walmart or Joanns and look for something of similar weight. So what if its a 60s flower power prin? Don't get locked in to using actual muslin. JMHO.

    1. jatman | | #2

      I've never made a muslin before attacking a new garment but since I just bought some nice silks I think it might be a good idea.

      Thank you for the advice!


      1. Rubydarling | | #3

        I haven't been sewing for long and hadn't heard of the term Muslin till I discovered sewing blogs.  I'm about to make some parts from expen$ive fabric for my mum so might try using a muslin first.

        1. solosmocker | | #4

          Wise move! If you need any help with your pants efforts just ask.

  2. From my Stash.... | | #5

    Hi, solosmockern is right. What you need is a selection of inexpensive material in different weights and drape - don't worry about the colour or pattern.  In fact, if the material for any one garment doesn't all have to be the same colour or pattern as long as they all handle the same way.

    For example, I am making shirts for my husband and just used a 25 year-old cotton sheet for the muslin (don't ask why I've kept the set when we haven't had a bed which fits it in over 15 years!). But the soft cotton was just the right weight and hand for the muslin. 

    Another example, if you are making say a pair of pants out of a heavy twill or denim, then you will want a heavier fabric since the drape on the heavier fabric won't match if you use a light cotton for your muslin.

    For my good cashmere coat, I made two muslins - the first out of a heavier weight cotton which I had on hand and then the second out of a similar weight wool on sale at a really low price. Doing this made gave me confidence cutting into my expensive fabric.

    Have fun on your trip,


    1. jatman | | #7

      Thank you for the advice, too!  I thought that it only would make sense if the test material was somewhat similar in weight to the garment material.

      And it sounds to me like you kept that sheet set for a good cause!


  3. Ralphetta | | #6

    Solosmocker is right.  Sometimes I use the wrong side if I think the pattern is so weird that it will distract me. 

    1. jatman | | #8

      Thank you Raphetta - I was thinking that a wild pattern might be a bit too distracting.  Didn't think about reversing it!


  4. Teaf5 | | #9

    I never use actual muslin for my "muslins" as I never sew with anything remotely like it! Real muslin shrinks like crazy, wrinkles like crazy, and seems to act completely different from any fashion fabric I've ever used, so it's not particularly helpful for fitting. Real muslin is a delight to wear if you have time to wash and dry and iron it a hundred times before wearing it, but who wants to do that for a test garment?I do, however, like real muslin for dust covers, for linen cases, or pattern-making for furniture or large objects; the larger widths are nice to work with and hold up well in storage.

    1. jatman | | #10

      Hi Teaf5!  Thank you for that insight.  I have one small piece of very thick muslin and a couple of meters of a very thin muslin - I haven't washed either of them yet.  Maybe I should do that before getting any more!


      1. User avater
        artfulenterprises | | #11

        While all of the posters have offered valid options, let me introduce one more. First....please don't wash the muslin! As a fashion draper, I use a very lightly woven muslin which allows me to pull straight and cross grain threads and square the fabric with rulers and steam iron before cutting out a test pattern. This is particularly helpful when trying to establish a basic pattern for yourself. Not washing the fabric also leaves a bit smoother finish to the fabric which helps with accuracy of fit. After fitting the muslin and making adustments, don't use steam again since it might shrink the cotton and change the fit. You can then transfer your new adjustment markings to your paper pattern. Of course, I agree that sometimes nothing else will do but a fabric with a similar hand to your expensive fashion fabric, but generally speaking, a plain lightweight muslin is best for designing and fitting. The product I recommend is P&B Textiles muslin style #6445 (the style number is an indicator of the thread count in the weave). (http://www.pbtex.com) They are suppliers to retailers so you might ask your local fabric or quilt shop to order a bolt for you. Best of luck to you on your sewing adventures.

        1. dotty | | #12

          Thank you. I've been wondering about washing muslin for a long time. I've been suspecting I was wasting my time. It didn't occur to me to use a dry iron and I'd been washing it because the steam shrinks it so much.

        2. jatman | | #13

          Thank you, Artfulenterprises!  Never thought to use the sizing in the fabric as a means to get a better drape.  One of the things that I hope to accomplish is not only better fit from patterns that I've purchased but to make some creations of my own.

          Thank you for the info for ordering, too!



          1. User avater
            artfulenterprises | | #14

            You are welcome! just another little tidbit....if you are going to pull threads to establish straight and cross grain before squaring the fabric (which I hope you will), don't press the muslin before you pull the threads. Pressing tends to "set" the threads and they are much easier to remove from the weave straight off the bolt.

          2. dotty | | #15

            Another invaluable piece of information! Whats your opinion of tearing the muslin to get a straight grain?

          3. User avater
            artfulenterprises | | #16

            Tearing the muslin is absolutely the best way to find a straight grain edge. Once you have measured out and torn a piece of muslin from which to test your pattern, pull threads, then carefully iron the edges smooth so that the fluttery, rolled edges don't distract from being able to see the straight of grain. Then, line up your ruler using the pulled threads as your guide and square the fabric using an "L-square" ruler and steaming any bubbles toward the 4 corners.

            Edited 4/30/2007 1:14 pm ET by artfulenterprises

          4. jatman | | #17

            Thank you for sharing this wealth of information!


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