What is referred to as making a "muslin," generally a fashion industry term, describes an initial mock-up, toile or test garment partially created to check fit and style placements. Commonly, unbleached inexpensive cotton muslin is the test fabric of choice to sew together a few main garment pieces on which to mark seamlines, darts, grainlines, and center front/back with waist, zipper or buttonhole placements. Sewing the partial garment out of muslin or even a patchwork of fabric scraps is actually easy, fast and an eventual time-saver.
What is fast and easy about making a muslin for a test is that there is no need to cut out a collar, cuffs, facings, or pockets, just the main garmentís front and back, any side pieces and possibly one sleeve or both. The eventual time saver occurs in getting to know how the paper pattern will perform, no apprehension in cutting into expensive or one of a kind fabric, and adjustment and fitting occurs on the muslin. This process prevents excessive handling of the fashion fabric and minimizes potential stitching errors that would have to be carefully removed and restitched. Of course childrenís play clothes or any casual clothing does not call for a muslin test be made first.
To begin creating a test of a ready-made paper pattern, press the main pattern pieces with a dry iron to remove any pattern wrinkles or folds that may distort the pattern.
Next, cut out the main pattern pieces from cotton muslin or left over fabric from prior projects. Left over fabric from many different projects can be used together as long as they are similar to each other in thickness and drape (how the fabric feels - such as stiffness, weight.) Mark the test fabric with a color marker to transfer important markings from the paper pattern.
Join the test fabric pieces together by hand sewing with long running stitches or machine baste using the longest stitch length possible along the main stitching lines such as shoulder and side seams. Attach one sleeve at first as it may not be necessary to have both sleeves for fitting. Press seams open. Press up desired hem length and loosely tack or pin to hold.
If possible have the person who will wear the finished garment try on the test or if for yourself perhaps a fitting buddy or place on a dress form then pin front or back closures and assess where any adjustments need to be made. Use pins to pinch in excess fabric where necessary or use a seam ripper to release any bastings to enlarge. Take off the test garment, lay flat and mark all changes using a different color marker directly onto the fabric. Trace any pinched in areas on both sides of pins to determine accurately how much may be in excess.
Finally, transfer any adjustments from the test garment to the paper pattern or cut out new pattern pieces using the adjusted muslin.
The process of test driving (to borrow a car analogy) a pattern by making a mock-up garment first, whether out of muslin fabric or fabric left overs, allows for a greater measure of confidence in using a ready-made paper pattern to acquire as close to a desired fit in the finished garment as possible.
Toile Information on making and fitting a muslin found on Pinterest.com
Sew happy, sew inspired.