Why Should I Sew a Muslin?

This post is part of the Sew It Slow Sew Along, you can view all posts here.

If you’re unclear of what a muslin is, it’s a test garment made from inexpensive fabric, typically muslin, but you can use any fabric with the same drape and structure as your final fabric. The muslin isn’t meant to be pretty or even completely finished.

What are the requirements?

  • Use an inexpensive fabric with the same properties to your final fabric. This is a way to save money, yet still get the same fit as your final garment.
  • Cut only the required pieces. There’s no need to cut facings, linings, pockets, or full skirts. Personally, I don’t cut any sleeves at the beginning, I wait until I know my bodice fit has been perfected, then I sleeves last and then only sometimes one.
  • Make all marks on the pattern so they are visible. Use pen or fine tip marker so you can easily see them.
  • Use basting stitches. It’s just fine to use basting stitches on a muslin, this way if you need to let a seam out, it’s so much easier to do so.
  • Don’t bother with front closures. Any closures in the front that you can easily pin skip them. If you have a back zipper, baste it in place, so it’s easy to remove and use again.
  • Don’t finish your seams. Although you aren’t finishing your seams, it’s still a good idea to press them.
  • Try it on! Use pins, colored pens, whatever you need to mark any changes that need to be made to make the fit better. Wear the same undergarments you plan on wearing under the final garment when trying on the muslin.
  • Transfer the alterations to your pattern pieces. Any changes you need to make, don’t forget to transfer them over. If you need a lot of changes, then sewing another quick muslin isn’t a bad idea. I once sewed 3 muslins of a bodice till I had the perfect fit, and while it was tiring, it was the best choice I could have made because there was no way I would have been able to get all the changes in the first muslin all on my own.

What are the benefits?

  • Get a Perfect Fit: You are able to perfect the fit before cutting into your final fabric. Isn’t this why we started sewing our own clothes?
  • Confidence: Since you’ve already read through the pattern and worked through some of it, you can now confidently work on it knowing exactly what you’re doing. If there’s a part in the pattern you feel you need to practice, sew this on the muslin, to practice it first to help boost your confidence more.
  • You’ll Save Money: Have you ever sewn anything that didn’t fit properly and then it just sat there? I know I have, and it’s because I just wanted to get it done. I didn’t take the time to fit the pattern like I should have, and the 4 yards of fabric I bought was basically a waste.

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