Muslins (often a reference to the fabric in which it's made from-muslin) are worth their weight in gold.
Q: Isn't muslin a fabric?
A: Yes. It's 100% cotton-generally in three weights: light (1), medium (2) and heavy (3), which is generally canvas.
Q: So what do you mean when you say, "make a muslin"? Or what does it mean to make a muslin?
A: "Muslin" is also the word used to describe a mock up of your garment made in the fabric, muslin, hence it is called a "muslin".
Muslins are a test run before the final garment.
Making a muslin may seem time-consuming, but it's the starting point to a perfect garment. In the end, it (the muslin) becomes your pattern and after that it's a lasting resource and reference tool.
1) Locate and mark the stitching liness on your pattern.
2) Transfer the markings to the muslin fabric.
3) Thread-trace (by hand or machine) the stitching lines. Essentially you are "marking" the pattern. The thread-tracing serves as a visual and design reference during the construction process. Thread-tracing helps align and fine tune seam and dart placement.
4) Stitch or hand BASTE the thread-traced muslin together.
5) Fit the muslin and experiment with style and design. It's yours--make it so. After making any needed changes-you may have to re-sew the muslin. This is necessary while you're perfecting the fit and design.
6) After the muslin is perfected (assembled, fitted, adjusted) the muslin may be used as the actual pattern.
Fashion Draping Classes
You may or may not know I offer fashion draping classes and workshops from my private studio. If you're interested in taking a class in a group or privately please inquire by sending me an email and/or review the fashion draping page.
Why a muslin?
In couture sewing and construction making a muslin is absolutely critical. It must be done.
Think of a muslin as a drawing board. It's a working laboratory before getting to the real thing. BUT, that doesn't mean muslins aren't important. They're, in fact, the most important element of the entire process. All of the important work takes place during the construction of the muslin.
1. Take time to mark your muslin accurately.
2. Use a contrasting thread when thread-tracing. It makes "reading" the muslin easier; especially when notating changes.
3. Make sure your fabric is on grain.
4. Make sure you lay out the pattern pieces on grain.
Designs begins with an idea and a sketch followed by the muslin.
A "muslin" of the dress-mapped and includes important design details associated with making the dress. Muslins are your "working practice boards". A maker should include any information on the muslin that will be helpful in perfecting the final pieces that will be used as the pattern to make the final garment.--Source House of Dior
Dos and dont's
Don't worry about your muslin looking "pretty". While it's important to perfect the muslin--don't get caught up in worrying about the muslin looking pretty. It won't.
However, that doesn't mean do a sloppy job.
Do take your time and put care into making your muslin. It's worth the effort. Don't take short cuts and don't waste time and energy in complaining about whether or not they're needed--because the answer is YES!
A muslin I constructed from a vintage Oleg Cassini sewing pattern.