I am not the patient type of sewer, the one who measures twice and cuts once, who lovingly presses each seam open, and who clips threads after every line of stitches. That said, ever since I learned how to properly finish my seams, I am learning that a carefully made garment is much more gratifying and lasts longer than a hack job.

Making a muslin--sewing a mock garment in a cheap fabric to adjust the fit and details before putting the time and effort into my actual project--is the second level of my new-found sewing patience. Here is what I learned while making up one for a pair of pants.

Check out more techniques at: "MadeByMeg":

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  • Missing

    Jul 20, 2011, 09.35 PMby starprincess

    Have you ever made something out of muslin to wear? I don’t mean made a muslin than made the garment itself, I mean just making the muslin garment to wear itself.

    1 Reply
    • Meg_large

      Jul 20, 2011, 11.17 PMby madebymeg

      I have, actually. My Creamsicle Dress ( has a bodice and lining out of muslin fabric. This was when I was pretty new to sewing and fabric selection—the muslin gets really wrinkled in the wash so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. Cheap though!

  • Scarf_class_2006_large

    Dec 20, 2010, 02.29 PMby SewSunshine

    Hate cutting into fabric for a muslin, then try picking up really, really cheap fabric from a thrift store. SInce you don’t really care about the quality of the “muslin” and you won’t care that the material is so outdated, this is a great cheap place to shop. I didn’t take my own advice and made a wonderful vogue shirt complete with stragically placed embroideries on silk. You guessed it, my haste is now waste. The shirt is a masterpiece, but it doesn’t fit! Can I save it, maybe soomeday. In the meantime I’ll loan it to the woman that digitized the designs and she can use it as a show piece. So, it will have life and I learned a lesson. Make that muslin!

  • Missing

    Dec 20, 2010, 02.40 AMby queenofbling

    I’m a strong proponent of the muslin. Of course, if it’s a fairly simple garment I can do it by checking measurements of the flat pieces against the measurements of my body, but I think something more complex needs a muslin. I’m currently making Vogue 7828 and there’s no way I could have figured the thing out without whipping up the muslin (no facings, hems or pockets). I find that I need less fitting with Burda patterns as they’re closer to the measurements they proclaim.

  • Dscn0826_large

    Dec 19, 2010, 07.51 PMby ruthw

    Oh sorry, i meant to address a lot of that to handquilter, not freakusbuzz. Although, if you are really a handquilter, perhaps you are not as bothered about speedy work as I am and as SewHappyClothes mentions that she normally is! Perhaps that’s the difference of opinion here.

  • Dscn0826_large

    Dec 19, 2010, 07.47 PMby ruthw

    Freakusbuzz, you would save a lot of time if you learn to measure not only your own body, but also the flat pattern before you sew, and learn about wearing ease and design ease. If you find things “a good size too big”, it means you don’t like the amount of ease in the pattern, but you don’t need to sew a muslin to find that out. Work out how much ease you like and measure the flat pattern, compare with your own measurements and see what the difference is. Then make the adjustments on the pattern. It takes minutes, instead of hours. It would be worth it for you to get a good book about fitting. It is perfectly possible to grade up the bottom half of a pattern, also in minutes, instead of hours.

    And SewHappy Clothes, what you are talking about there is a trial garment, not a muslin.

    A proper muslin does not include all the pockets and other features – only the main pieces to check for fit.

    Like you, I also make trial garments. I may make a blouse in a cotton voile before cutting it in silk if it has a new technique for me. But we are only sewing for ourselves, not test garments before a factory run, so we can make test garments that we may actually wear (unlike muslins which are unfinished and therefore unwearable).

    I looked at your blog. You don’t muslin everything, it’s true. But even when one is going to cut expensive fabric, you don’t need to do a whole test garment. Do a qucik muslin of the main pieces for fit and practice new techniques (eg bound buttonholes etc) on scraps. But if a planned garment has too many new techniques, maybe you should slow down your trajectory a little. Learn the new things one at a time on easier fabrics, such as linen, and don’t do new things on expensive fabric. Again, why demoralize or bankrupt yourself? All learning processes have to be paced to be successful. You can manage your learning.

  • Old_fashion_large

    Dec 19, 2010, 05.29 AMby sewlikeabee6

    Thanks for your techniques I will go over to to web site ,and check it out every little bit helps. thank you for your time that was very nice of you to take time out to list your techniques.

  • Me_av_large

    Dec 18, 2010, 11.49 PMby freakusbzzz

    Lovely tutorial, but it appears a little unfinished?
    1 Reply
    • Meg_large

      Dec 19, 2010, 12.30 AMby madebymeg

      i’m sure there are some good techniques for fitting, but i just don’t know them yet :)

  • Img_0802_large

    Dec 18, 2010, 11.36 PMby hand-quilter

    I have to disagree with you ruthw.

    I am ‘just a sewer’ and I have found making a muslin very handy with all the garments I make. I am a different size top and bottom so even though I ‘measure myself properly’ there are no dress patterns that are sold as size 2 top half and size 4 bottom half. Making a muslin means I can sew, tweak, sew, tweak, without having to do it on the expensive fabric I purchased. And the best part? The muslin can be unpicked and kept as a properly fitted version of the pattern for next time. I have done this with three patterns so far and it has been really useful.

    You do not need to buy expensive fabric to make muslins from, calico is dirt cheap in Australia and we can buy it by the roll (under $3 per meter). Making muslins has actually saved me money because I am not ruining good fabrics by sewing patterns that, even though my measurements are spot on matching the pattern details, still do not fit perfectly and need adjusting.

    * * * *

    Sew Happy Clothes – love your work! Thanks for a fantastic tutorial! I might actually have a go at making a pair of pants after reading this! Thanks! xxx

    1 Reply
    • Meg_large

      Dec 19, 2010, 12.07 AMby madebymeg

      thanks :)

  • Dscn0826_large

    Dec 18, 2010, 10.32 PMby ruthw

    Sorry, I know it’s recommended by a lot of bloggers these days (especially bloggers who also own fabric stores, LOL) but until “the pudding got over-egged” rather recently, making a muslin was only considered necessary for a garment which has actually been DRAFTED from scratch by the seamster/tailor for a specific individual, not for every pair of pants, skirt or blouse we make, so it’s really not worth it for new sewists doing basic stuff (not tailoring) and who use patterns, and not particularly necessary for very experienced ones either (who have learned to fit themselves).

    Better to learn how to measure yourself properly, check your size properly before buying a pattern. Then measure, tissue fit and adapt flat patterns, leave wider seam allowances, baste and resew. Once you’ve built up your store of adapted patterns, you can often just lay one that fits you over the new one to see what you need to alter. I certainly wouldn’t go out and buy knit fabric twice over. Knits hardly need to be fitted for goodness sake! That’s the whole point of them.

    Muslin-making is too slow and therefore demoralizing for most people. And unecessary, unless they are a very (and I mean VERY) unusual shape (e.g. they have scoliosis, or some other unpredictable shape, not just sloping shoulders or a short waist, etc.). Oh, and I do actually work for a major global manufacturer of designer (and tailored) clothing, so I am surrounded by tailors, but I am not one. I know the difference between what I do most of the time (garment sewing) and what they do – tailoring (much more complex, let’s not fool ourselves). Really, sewing is not that hard.

    2 Replies
    • Me_av_large

      Dec 18, 2010, 11.48 PMby freakusbzzz

      I’ve just started making muslins for clothes that will be made of expensive material.

      I would definitely say it’s worth it. Not everyone is standard size for a pattern and I’ve noticed that if you follow the size charts on a pattern it will always be a good size too big.

    • Meg_large

      Dec 19, 2010, 12.06 AMby madebymeg

      I agree with ruthw in that I definitely woulndn’t make a muslin for everything, and I love to combine patterns once I’m comfortable with them to get the exact fit. Making a muslin was helpful for this project though because I needed to practice the pockets and intricate Vogue construction, and clarify some of their vague instructions—which for me were hard.

  • 2_dsc_1140_large

    Dec 18, 2010, 04.21 AMby magdamagda

    good points and a nice presentation, I enjoyed the reading!:)

    • This is a question
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