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Tips & Techniques > Baby Steps 4 - How to make a wearable muslin

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Posted by: Helen near Sydney
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About Helen near Sydney starstarstar
NSW Australia
Member since: 10/21/05
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Posted on: 9/11/06 4:33 PM
Last Updated: 1/25/07 5:32 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 4 people   Very Helpful by 15 people   
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This tip is by no means new. Several other sewists have mentioned wearable muslins in their reviews but this is such a good tip I wanted to share.

The first time you make up a pattern, make the no-frills version. Make it up in its simplest form without embellishment. This lets you test the style and fit without spending a stack of time on it. If it's a great pattern you can embellish to your hearts content next time and you know it will work. If it isn't great, well, you haven't wasted too much time and energy on it.

To make a wearable muslin:
  • make your usual paper pattern adjustments. Bust, CBL, sloping shoulders, whatever.

  • choose a fabric that is easy to handle and presses well, doesn’t require pattern matching and doesn’t ravel.

  • choose the view that lets you test the full range of the pattern.

  • don’t spend time adding special details like pockets, trim, topstitching.

  • analyse the results according to your own requirements.

  • Checklist:
    This is the checklist I use for tops. I don't have a 3-way mirror so I take lots of self-timer photos to do this checklist.

    1. Check the fit
    Upper bust - too loose/too tight?
    Full bust - enough room for the girls? need an FBA?
    Waist - need extra for a full tummy?
    Back width OK?
    CBL - no folds = too loose or pulling = too tight?
    Hemline - is it even?
    Darts - do they point to the bust? is the uptake enough? are the darts the right length?
    Sleeve – does the shoulder seam sit on your shoulder point? is there room to move? is the length good?
    Collar and collarstand - check the notch position, point spread, length and roll.

    2. Check the style:
    Side seams - shape ok? staight fall to the floor?
    Hem shape -what suits you best? Mine is a gentlecurve.
    Darts – should any be unsewn?,
    Sleeve – check for style and cuff.
    Collar – is it a good shape?
    Other style features – does it need side splits, pockets, embroidery.

    Generally, I then make all of the fit changes onto the paper pattern but not style changes since these decisions change with each garment.

    *updated to include checklist Dec '06*

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    aunt saidee said... (8/13/07 1:29 AM) Reply
    Now I have a better sense of what you all mean by a "wearable muslin." I still feel that if I were to answer many of your questions in the negative, I wouldn't want to wear my wearable muslin. :-( I guess I still prefer to make mine out of muslin, mark it w/ the changes, cut it and add fabric or overlap and pin, change the pattern, and run up another muslin. My shape presents me with many fitting challenges, so I may have to do this more times than I would like... I am looking forward to finally learning how to use my sloper to adjust commercial patterns: this should cut down on the muslin-making! :-) I really like your check lists; they work for all fit situations.
    sewserver7 said... (10/10/06 4:46 PM) Reply
    Thank you for that information on making wearable muslin examples before actual garments making
    HelenMay said... (9/21/06 9:18 AM) Reply
    Sounds like common sense to me. Knowing my basic pattern alterations will invariably make a calico fit well, therefore why not in an actual wearable garment. Thanks for the tip.
    jbrewer said... (9/12/06 9:43 AM) Reply
    This is a good reminder. Thanks!
    hongkongshopper said... (9/12/06 5:05 AM) Reply
    Good idea Helen !
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