I used to never make a muslin before sewing a pattern. It seemed like way too much hassle. What, you mean I have to make this dress on crap fabric before I make the actual dress?! AHHHH! That's too much to do! And then after sewing a few garments that were either totally unwearable due to fitting errors or having to make multiple trips to the fabric store because I ruined what I had...and then having to seam rip and re-cut pieces (!!) I began to re-think this whole muslin issue.
Ideally, you should only have to make a muslin once for each pattern. Then, with your "master pattern" you can make as many versions of that pattern as you want without having to worry about fit. It's ready to go and made for your body. Awesome!
I thought I would share my process for muslin-making for those who are starting out and intimidated by the whole thing.
First of all, I'm a tracer. I like to keep my original pattern intact in case I mess up or need to refer back to it, so I trace my size onto Swedish tracing paper. You can use any kind of tracing paper (I've even used the packing paper that came with my Ikea bookcase) but I love this stuff because it's durable, you can sew straight onto it to test the fit, it's transparent, and it comes in big rolls so you can get your money's worth. For the fabric I use plain cheap muslin that I buy in bolts.
Just lay out your pattern with the tracing paper on top and trace out your size. Make sure to include the pattern markings. I like to also note seam allowance and anything else I think might confuse me later.
I also like to use pattern weights rather than pins for the muslin. Small, heavy items like metal washers are ideal but I can never think to buy any. Tuna cans are a pretty decent substitute. It made me laugh at least.
You can actually sew right onto the Swedish tracing paper instead of cutting out a muslin. I intended to do this but forgot that I would need to duplicate the other side of the bodice where the fold line is. Ah well.
Cut out your pieces and sew just enough to see how it will fit. For the Sorbetto I only needed to sew the darts, the pleat, and the shoulder and side seams. I tried it on and decided it was a lot bigger in the waist than I liked. So I pinned the sides to fit and marked where each pin was. If you're doing the same, make sure you still leave enough room to take your blouse on and off! You can see the results below.
I measured the distance between the edge of the fabric and my marking, then marked where that would be on my pattern. Do this to both the front and back. I also needed to lengthen it at the bottom since it would be too short if I hemmed it at that length. I noted this on my pattern and made sure to add an extra inch when cutting out my actual fabric.
I used my french curve to join the three markings I made into a new side seam. You could freehand this if you're careful, or use a well-fitting t-shirt as a guide.
I was honestly surprised that that the top fit along the bustline. After reading reviews from other petite ladies I fully expected to need a small bust adjustment. If you do need to make other fit alterations, I'd highly recommend the new Colette Sewing Handbook! It doesn't cover everything, but if you're just getting started it gives great instructions without getting too overwhelming. Sarai is great at de-mystifying things that look complicated.
I just ordered fabric for my Ava top. I hope it gets here in time!
Labels: sewing, technique, tips