Why I started making a muslin every single time

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

Before we start, if you don’t know what a “muslin” is in garment sewing, it’s basically a mock up of the pattern in an inexpensive fabric called muslin. I didn’t used to bother with muslins at all. When I got really into garment sewing about 10 years ago, I lived in a place where nice fabric was readily available to me at a good cost. That is no longer the case. The industry has changed quite a bit, I no longer live somewhere conveniently located to good fabric stores other than JoAnn (don’t get me started), and sewing definitely isn’t a cheap hobby these days!

Several months ago, I got really tired of making things that didn’t turn out and having to toss out my nice fabrics and decided to muslin my next project. I had such good results that I have made a muslin of every single garment since then and have only had one wadder due to poor fabric choice (rookie mistake.)

Whether you’re just starting out with garment sewing or are an old pro, I thought I’d give you some tips for making muslins here today.

How to make a muslin for sewing patterns

1.Your muslin doesn’t have to be muslin

You can of course buy muslin fabric by the yard or by the bolt for just this purpose, and if you’re the kind who really needs your practice clothes to be uniform in color, this may be the way to go. However, you can use anything to make a muslin. When your well-meaning neighbor gives you a box of ugly fabric, keep the biggest pieces to use as muslins rather than throwing them out. I’ve taken to buying sheets at the thrift store to use as muslins and it’s been working awesome for me! Be strategic, though. Sheets come in all kinds of fabrics these days. I use the microfiber kind to sub for my drapier fabrics, 100% cotton sheets to use as heavier fabrics and jersey sheets to mock up patterns for knits. Sheets at my thrift store are around $4 each and I can get three or more garments out of one.

2. Cut only the necessary pattern pieces for your muslin

You don’t need to construct the entire garment. You’re making a muslin to check and perfect the fit, so only cut the pieces you need to do so. Omit collars, facings, pockets, and often even sleeves or skirt portions of dresses. No need to insert the zipper either.

3. Use a basting stitch

Use a long stitch length and go ahead and sew your pieces together. I so still back stitch at the beginning and ends of seams so that when I try them on they don’t just come apart. Assume you’ll need to take some of those stitches out as you adjust. A basting stitch will make this much easier.

4. Nip and Tuck

Try on your muslin, pin up any openings or what have you, then see what adjustments needs made. You can get a lot of information about fit by pinching out excess or slicing open spots that pull. Is your top too small in the bust? Do you need a full bust adjustment? Do the edges not quite meet where the zipper will go? Try taking smaller side seams. I the back of the neckline gaping? Take some darts out of it. While I can’t go into a whole fitting series here, you’ll have no trouble finding tutorials for every issue only and below are some fitting books that could be very helpful for you.

5. Transfer your changes

Many people prefer to trace their pattern pieces and make their changes there, but I usually just make my changes on my pattern pieces with good ol’ scotch tape. If you changes were extensive, you may need to cut a new muslin of one or several pieces. I promise it’s worth it! When I posted a wrap dress I made recently, I made the comment that the pattern would not have worked out if I hadn’t taken the time to make a muslin. The front would have gaped wide open and I would have been so sad if I’d had to throw that project away! You can see below how I taped up that front bodice pattern piece and added printer paper to heighten the neckline! I posted Natalie’s Easter dress here, where you can see the taped up pattern piece.

How to make a muslin

Proceed with confidence!

Now that you have your pattern perfected, you can cut into your nice fabric with confidence! Just make sure your print isn’t upside down. A muslin can’t help you there ;)

Comment

Easter Parade Part II: Natalie's Dress

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

I was thrilled that both my girls wanted me to make their Easter dress this year! I was even more thrilled that they were both wanting vintage 60’s style dresses. We’ve been very into old movies this year and they are so inspired by all the amazing dresses (and simultaneously thankful that we no longer wear corsets). I have long wanted to sew a vintage inspired dress, but not necessarily for myself, so this was the perfect opportunity.

We hopped onto Butterick’s website during a sale and ordered some patterns from the retro collection.

Natalie chose B5708. She wanted an Audrey Hepburn vibe, especially after seeing this photo of her pink dress.

Retro Butterick

We are in love with how this dress turned out!!

Retro Butterick 5708
Retro Butterick 5708

Now for the details! I altered the pattern quite a bit, mostly because Natalie is very slender. I made a muslin of the bodice and used that to fit it to her body. By pinning darts into the muslin, I could transfer my changes to the pattern piece itself. I ended up taking a lot of width out of the neckline (several inches, in fact), and raising the waistline up about in inch. I also raised the neckline one inch to a place she felt comfortable with.

You can see that my front bodice pattern piece took quite a beating by the time I was done altering it, haha, but maybe this will also help you see my fitting process. I made similar changes to the back piece, but didn’t change the skirt at all, since it’s just a rectangle.

Altering patterns

This beautiful rayon fabric is from fabric.com and you can get some by clicking below. It’s a great price for super nice rayon challis!

This pattern has some great little details. I love how the waistband pieces allowed me to showcase the stripes in the fabric. And I’m mighty proud of how perfectly my invisible zipper went in. Everyone should find a good invisible zipper so satisfying.

Retro Butterick 5708
Retro Butterick 5708

I still have Layla’s dress to show you! I’ll have that up next week sometime. Spoiler, there’s a petticoat involved! Just for fun, here’s a recent photo I took of Natalie looking an awful lot like Audrey during a vintage inspired photo shoot we threw together just for fun. Did you know Audrey Hepburn was a ballerina before she was an actress? Now ya know :)

Vintage photo shoot
Comment

Easter Parade {Dress #1}

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

For the first time in several years, I made all three Easter dresses for myself and my girls! We are planning a photo shoot with theirs on Saturday, but since I had mine on, having just finished the last touches, Natalie took some pictures for me.

I actually had not intended to make a new dress, I was going to wear another one I made several months ago, but when this fabric and pattern turned up at just the right time, I finished the girls’ on time and decided to start and see how far I could get!

I used New Look 6600 I am in LOVE with this wrap dress!

New Look Pattern 6600

This is the first time I have successfully made a wrapped garment. I only recently started making muslins of everything and it has been soooo good for me to slow down and make alterations to the pattern so that I don’t waste good fabric on things that don’t turn out!

Here is what the bodice front pattern piece looked like after I’d made my alterations.

DSC_0120.jpg

This dress would NOT have worked out if I had just cut into my fabric without making a practice dress first and I would have been so sad because I love the fabric so much and wouldn’t have been able to obtain more.

A few changes I made: I took a wedge out of that front line to fix some gaping that was happening. A wrap dress should fit close against the body in that front V area, so that it doesn’t gape open. Then for modesty, I changed the line of the front to be higher and give me more coverage. This is a church dress, after all.

Then, since I had altered the shape, I didn’t want to draft a new facing. I also took a chunk out of the top of the armhole to cut in more on my shoulders, and the pattern includes sleeve facings also. Instead of recreating all those facings, I just lined the bodice, which turned out beautifully. With my French seams on the skirt, all my raw edges are hidden and it just feels luxurious.

Lastly, I included a hand sewn snap in the front where the V comes together. It will never show and it will just hold the bodice where it needs to be so I don’t have to worry about it.

New Look 6600 Wrap Dress

What I did NOT change is the length! I love the length of this dress and that we’re moving past the floor length in fashion these days.

It’s only supposed to be 58 degrees and rainy on Easter, so I’ll wear my recently made linen jacket over it. I’ll be talking about this jacket in an upcoming post, so stay tuned! I expect to get a lot of wear out of this piece.

New Look 6600 dress and New Look jacket

A few more notes. I got this beautiful rayon fabric at Colorado Fabrics. If you’re even in the Denver area, this is a must-go. I got many beautiful rayons that day because I just cannot find them where I live.

Here are some similar floral rayons on Amazon that would be beautiful for this pattern:

Also! If you haven’t seen Easter Parade and you’re into old movies, you should for sure put it on your to-watch list :) It’s one of Natalie’s favorites!

Comment