When you’re experimenting with a new sewing pattern , you do not want even one extra thing to do. But trust us when we say that making a muslin is so worth the added time.
Sometimes called a toile, a muslin is a test garment made from inexpensive fabric. It lets you adjust the fit for your "real" item of clothing, but there's a whole lot more to it than that. Here are the top 10 reasons to sew one.
1. You’ll Get a Perfect Fit
Maybe you prefer to make your own clothes because the ready-to-wear stuff in the store is always too tight, too loose, too short, too long, too wrong. You're not alone. People aren’t one-size-fits-all, so patterns shouldn't be either.
Which is where a muslin comes in. When you make one you’ll be able to see — before you cut into the expensive fabric — whether the garment closes properly, if there’s enough room at the bust, waist and hips, and if the darts are in the right place. If something's off, you can adjust the size, correct drag lines, change curves and shorten or lengthen until you get things right.
2. You Can Check the Style and Shape
Nothing's a bigger buzzkill than thinking something is going to look awesome, making it, and realizing that it just doesn’t work. Maybe you’re experimenting with a collar size, playing with a fun shape or trying out a neckline. When you see it on the muslin, you no longer have to visualize — you’ll know right away whether it looks good. If it doesn’t, you can fix it. And if it does, congrats: You nailed it on the first try.
3. You Can Take It Ease-y
Ease is necessary for movement and comfort, but sometimes it’s tough to know just how much is built into the listed measurements. Maybe there's too much ease or not enough. Or maybe you want to add or subtract some because the style really needs more drape or shaping. Having a muslin lets you check the amount of ease and adjust as needed.
4. You Can Experiment with Fabrics
Pro tip: When choosing a muslin fabric, grab one that’s very similar to the one you’ll use for your actual garment. That way you can get an idea of how well it moves, and what potential problems you may need to keep an eye out for when sewing.
Remember that just because a pattern may suggest a fabric, that doesn’t mean you can’t try something else. In the jacket above, for example, the pattern suggested rayon and linen. But the goal was to make the coat in an embroidered silk organza, so going with a scrap of silk for the muslin was the better choice.
5. You Can Double Check the Details
Have you ever made a dress, skirt or coat and wished the pockets or buttons were a little higher, lower, bigger, smaller? Yeah, us too. These may seem like small things but they make the difference between amazing and meh. Having a muslin means you can follow the pattern but if you want to go your own way, you can.
6. You Can Practice Tricky Techniques
Some patterns call for precise sewing technique — jackets with lapels , designs with a lot of angles or insets — so making a muslin is a great way to practice the tough parts. Be sure to place all the pattern markings on your muslin just as you would on your normal design, so you can go through the steps and be ready to go on the real thing.
7. You’ll Save Time
Have you ever bought a shirt, fallen in love with it, then run back to the store to get that same exact shirt in six different colors? The same thinking applies to muslins. Sure, sewing a muslin requires extra time up front, but once you master the pattern you can quickly sew it over and over.
8. You'll Save Money
Quality fabrics can be an investment, especially if you’re making something that requires more yardage (like, say, a coat over a skirt). That’s why you don’t want to cut into them until you have all of the kinks in your pattern worked out. Muslin material is supposed to be inexpensive, so you’re free to make mistakes without burning through cash.
9. You Can Be More Creative
The whole point of sewing your own clothes is to let your personality shine! Making a muslin allows your creativity to really come through. Use the pattern as your starting point, then experiment as much as you want until you’ve settled on the perfect look for you.
10. You Might Decide Your Muslin is a Keeper
Muslins are supposed to be practice rounds, but that doesn’t mean they have to be destined for the scrap pile. Sometimes the muslin turns out so well that it becomes the first and final version. And that, my friends, is the best muslin of all.