Sewing Vloggers

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Down and Dirty Muslins

 


The topic of Muslins and sewing can really set some people off. I made one for my wedding gown many decades ago but thru the decades they really became few and far between. I just didn't see the value unless I was making a one time very expensive investment garment. 

Then, around about the 80s , when I got back into the work force and needed and wanted to make professional clothing, I realized I needed to learn a lot to get to the point where I could make my clothing fit well. I studied books, bought quite few, taped videos, bought a few of those as well. Tried loads of techniques and tricks. Eventually I gave making a muslin a try for a complicated garment that I needed to fit. It was this Vogue Bill Blass affair with curving seams that controlled the fit but were not princess seams. The were more like fitting curves on a quilt. I made my muslin, got it to fit nicely, and had a new attitude toward the whole concept of making muslins. I did them over and over, but not too often in the beginning. As time has gone on, I am a total convert. 


This is a top I just finished. Why on earth would I bother to make a muslin for this, a simple top, no sleeves, no closures, no darts, big as heck, and pretty much just a big box? 

I am small. I needed to know if it would be too big and look ridiculous. 

I needed to know if I could get the neckline over my head, sewing it in a woven fabric.

I needed to know where to cut for a hem that would be just past my waistline.  The original is at the end of my hips. 

I needed to know if my bra would show at the side seams with the deep exposed armscyes. 

Now, when I make a muslin, it is down and dirty. People hate making muslins. The way I do it, I am done within a half hour, the most, even that Memphis dress I just made. You can see the blogpost on that muslin here. A muslin takes very little time, yet gives  you incredible feed back. 

I do no closures, using pins instead.

I cut off the hems to see where they land.


I  stay stitch my necklines and sleeveless armscyes and clip them back to the stitching line.  I have seen more people complain about their armscyes being horribly tight but they haven't trimmed the armscye back as they would in the real garment and they proceed to make a fitting adjustment. Oh,my.

There are no pockets, collars or other fussy details.  Although, sometimes I have placement concerns on my short body, wide hips and boobs. In that case I just cut an outline of fabric and pin it on. 

My muslins are brought to their absolute essence of the garment's fit and not much else. Then I try it on. I've seen people do all the details in a muslin. 

My muslins aren't made in printed fabrics. That distracts the eye and plays games with your assessment. Not a good idea to use leftover prints to make muslins, ever.

Then again, some people think they need to make an entire wearable garment in a muslin. Now that, IMO, is downright ridiculous. Hey, I'm entitled to my opinion.  A muslin, in order to give you proper fit feedback, needs to be able to be written on. You need to mark your bodices and bottoms with horizontal balance lines and vertical grainlines. You see those marked with red Sharpie on the pics here.  Why, you ask? Because the minute you put that garment on and those lines are skewed, they will show you exactly what your fitting problem is, no getting diagnoses from the tons of experts at Pattern Review. Instead you can see right where the fit is off with your lines. Next, you can write on your muslin---"decrease shoulders 5/8ths of an inch." Raise hem one inch." Etc, etc. etc. It's priceless and you will know exactly what to do when you correct and cut out your pattern. 

I know, you are a Wearable Muslin Maven, a WMM. I know for a fact that the near total percent of those who sew patterns simply are not the exact height and measurements of what is on the pattern envelope for one size.  Do all you WMMs really enjoy walking around in clothing that doesn't fit? If it fit you probably would not have tried making a muslin to begin with.  The other,  how does it help you?  You can't change much of anything if you need more room or length or have to push things forward, insert wedges, do FBAS. How can you tell if you made the right change? Perhaps another technique would be better. Wearable muslins give you ill fitting garments. Why do that, just why? That would be a huge waste of money for me as I am not about to go out in sloppy fitting clothing of my own make. Oh, but you think you are being thrifty buying cheap fabric instead of unwearable muslin. Uh, no. I use old sheets, many from the thrift, some of my own, very very  cheap. I also re use them, cutting up large pieces into small for newer muslins. No money is wasted here but by now you know me and that I have that cash angle all figured out. It's what I do. 


Then there is the " I don't have the time for that business." Well I guess you do have the money then because clothes that don't fit usually don't get worn and are eventually taken out of the back of the closet and donated or chucked.  In my world, time is money and I hate to waste it.  Again, I don't think I have ever taken more than half an hour to make  a muslin, moments very well spent. 

The fabric above became my extremely simple Eureka top. I have two more in the lineup. It is fast and simple and the next is a snug knit so I will take out some width. I went for the current very popular boxy look with my batik that you see in the first pic. There will be more on the pattern to come but I wanted to share my opinion on the value of muslin making with you all. I know you definitely have your own opinions and I do respect. If you would like to see some great examples of this simple block-y tee shirt which you are probably shaking your head at, click here for a gallery that will show you why I got hooked. Now that the fit is worked out this top can be whipped up in no time. Thanks for letting share my thoughts. 
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I was going thru my woolen fabrics the other day and found this tag on a piece of nice gray wool I picked up at a neighbor's yard sale. I thought you might enjoy seeing the tag from the original store, not the yard sale, that was on it.  If only 100% wool were that price today!


I had to really up the contrast so you could read the faded tag.  Happy Sewing..................Bunny




19 comments:

  1. I'm on team Muslin. Don't always make one, but most of the time, especially when I'm sewing for someone else. Like the 'bricked' fabric at the top of the blog. Gives me a primitive feeling.dlb

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    1. That brick batik fabric really caught me. If you see it up close, it is quite fascinating, looking like it is full of forgotten thread snips, wipes of glue and bits of leftover fabric snips. It is ideal for hiding mistakes! Ha, ha!!! Actually, it was the intense coloration that hooked me. It came out really nicely and will be part of my summer wardrobe which I am working on now. More to come.

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  2. Very well said. There is a reason you are one of my very favorite "bloggists"... On the list of always read. Thank you.

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  3. Tell it! Yes, what is the point of a "wearable muslin"? That's like a wearable pillow case...not pretty. Love your posts.

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    1. I've never understood the concept, Allie. You wouldn't make a muslin if you knew it fit fine. You make a muslin to see the issues. Once made, mos can't be fixed until the next iteration, like FBAs, etc. So now you wear as an ill fitting garment? I just don't get it.

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  4. Sing it, sister! I just finished a muslin for a jacket that has a lining integral to the construction of the collar. I have a list of fitting adjustments . . . . and then thought, maybe a simpler style would work as well with that fabric? I love the fabric and lining that coordinates so beautifully with it. It took me hours to trace the pattern, cut the muslin, and sew up the fitting garment. But my lovely fabric is still intact. What if I'd just plowed ahead without all this prior work? Then I'd have lost the joy of wearing something I really like. Thanks for your very informative post. A new blog post from you is a joy of any day. I'm grateful for the effort you make to maintain your excellent blog, one of the very few excellent ones left.

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    1. Thank you , so much. Luckily I enjoy writing almost as much as sewing.

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  5. I think I'll relocate that stack of old sheets that was headed to the garage or garden shed (to cover plants from frost) to the sewing room for muslins. Now to figure out how to crank up my desire to sew garments again.

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    1. You read my mind, Gail. After writing this post I went into a rather messy bin of muslin type fabric and old sheets and such. I am so proud of myself as I just reorganized and and am pleased to say I have enough for a few more dresses. I also had a moment this morning where I got a great design idea and this sheeting will now be folded, flat and easy access for the project. I am sure your desire will come right back.

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  6. I am firmly on team muslin. I am 5 feet tall (proportionately short), deep alphabet cup size, and curvy; making muslins is a must!

    I also do not make wearable muslins. If I try to make a muslin wearable, then my focus will be on finish and not fit. I want to be able to cut up and mark the test garment and I can't do that if I'm trying to make it look nice.

    For garments that use techniques with which I am unfamiliar, I'll use the muslin for practice. So sometimes I do cut collars, facings, etc.

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    1. I love your bust description and will say it is the best I have heard yet, "deep alphabet". Thanks for that. You also well express how the focus is altered by the idea of finishing a garment as opposed to fit on a "wearable muslin." Thanks for your input, L. Greatly appreciated.

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  7. Me too! Muslining a jean's pattern as we speak. Week 3, muslin #4, but almost done. I'm 5'3" with "deep alphabet boobs" and no hips. NOTHING in the store EVER fits.

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    1. I hear ya, Vicki. Jeans do take time. Once I got a pair that fit I made one and never made another. I have no idea why. It was as if I met my goal and moved on. At least I still have that pattern I ended up with and pull on together if the feeling hits. Good luck with yours. I am sure you will have success soon.

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  8. Another member of Team Muslin, when trying out a new pattern or new design variation. (No muslin when using my blocks, though. They fit out of the box, of course!)

    I will say, contrarian that I am, that I do make wearable muslins in a very specific situation. With many fitting challenges ("deep alphabet" chesticles, etc etc - and also LOVE that expression), I often have to make multiple muslins. When I get close to the fit and design I'm looking for, I'll make it up in a nice wearable fabric, just not the final fabric. It's my last look at the tweaks to make sure I'm set before I cut into the good stuff. It's like a dress rehearsal...full production with all the bells and whistles, good enough to sell tickets to, but not the gala opening night.

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  9. Up till now i have always made a wearable muslin, sometimes just for the hell of it because i want to try a new construction. You've just blown my mind as I always try to sew as per pattern with all the bells and whistles. Have to say you are always at the top of my blog lists to read your posts always spread that love of sewing very thickly.

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  10. Where I live muslin is pricey and old sheets hard to come by, although I've certainly repurposed some of my own. I muslin complicated patterns, or anything that needs draping or a close fit, and I use washable markers so pieces can be reused later if I wish. I'm team wearable muslin for the rest. I'll typically use a potentially wearable but not precious fabric for the trial run...I'm not a particularly fast sewist so I don't mind taking the time to do a bit of finishing or even detail if things are looking promising. If it fits, great, I've got a new garment. If it needs changes, I note those for proper alterations to the pattern for the next make and get down and dirty fixing the existing garment--some of those off-the-cuff changes have led to some of my favorite pieces. A few years ago I made a wearable muslin for a big event, decided I liked the test version so much that I just packed that and set the fancy fabric aside for another day.

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  11. I have spent a lifetime making muslins for myself and clients. They are always amazed at the differences between the pattern and themselves. Who actually fits a B-cup paper pattern right out of the envelope? Everyone has a sloping shoulder and a high hip and that will show up on the muslin. We older gals may have a rounded back or a protruding tummy or sagging boobs...the muslin will help to define those areas.Look to older movie stars and she how good they look in their clothes and the fit is so flattering no matter what their age. Even if you are a dyed in the wool Elaine Fisher devotee and her baggy clothes...you can still make them flatter your shape. Why not make sure your paper pattern flatters you right from the start with a muslin? Get a tape measure and write down all your numbers and transfer that to your pattern before cutting. Draw on your muslin, horizontal and vertical lines, slash your muslin to add volume where you need it, fold and pin out what you don't want before cutting your fashion fabrics. sure this takes time but what other option is there for perfectly fitting and flattering clothes? Thank you, Bunny for always leading us to the best techniques!!!

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  12. New sewist here---is a 'wearable muslin' like making the pattern COMPLETELY(like putting in a zipper) where you just do the big parts with a lot of pinning? Maybe I can be convinced! This is like doing a gauge swatch for knitting. I am finally doing that. And--what is FBA? Sorry to be so unlearned. This blog post is VERY helpful

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