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muslin

  • My Dress-in-Progress Report

    I'm making McCall's 6460, a simple sheath dress with raglan short sleeves, out of the silk-blend matelassé I blogged about May 22. Here's a quick recap of my sewing process so far:
    1. Since this pattern was new to me, I made a muslin
    2. Made minor adjustments to the muslin to accommodate my shape (rectangle)
    3. Cut out pattern pieces in silk organza (I'm using silk organza for interlining) and transferred all markings (darts and seams) to it
    4. Pinned organza pieces to the matelassé and cut, using organza pieces as guides
    5. Hand-basted organza to matelassé at seams and thread-traced all darts (two layers of fabric now neatly held together as one)
    6. Hand-basted dress's darts and seams and tried dress on for fit (just because your muslin fits doesn't mean your fashion fabric will behave the same way)
    7. Hooray! I got lucky and the fit is spot on
    8. Machine-stitched everything, which went super-fast because so many seams and darts were already held together by basting (skipped pinning)
    You probably read steps 1 through 6 and thought aaugh! that's a lot of work to do before even sitting down to a sewing machine. Truth be told, the prep work goes quickly, and you avoid ripping out stitches in your fashion fabric (and potentially damaging it). Work out your fit issues before you machine stitch and you'll always save loads of time in the long run. Now I just need to construct my dress's lining, attach it and that's it. How do you feel about hand-basting? Hate it with a passion, or think of it as peaceful communing with your fabric? Let me know!    
  • The Most Valuable Fabric at Mood

    An example of a test garment, or "muslin." Threads Magazine has an excellent article on sewing muslins. Photo: Scott Phillips.
    Here's a question for you: What is the most valuable fabric Mood Fabrics sells? The $350 per yard embroidered lace in our NYC store? Not even close. It's the $3 a yard muslin. For fashion students, designers and home sewers alike, plain old cheap muslin is priceless in terms of saving time and money and getting the best end results. Definition of a muslin for sewing (I'm borrowing this one from Webster's online dictionary because it's pretty good):
    "When sewing clothing, a test or fitting garment may be made of inexpensive muslin fabric before cutting the intended expensive fabric, thereby avoiding a costly mistake. The muslin garment is often called a muslin and the process is called making a muslin. With the availability of inexpensive synthetic fabrics, which closely resemble the hand (drape and feel) of expensive natural fabrics, a test or fitting garment made of synthetics may still be referred to as a muslin, because the word has become the generic term for a test or fitting garment."
    While muslin cotton is the preferred fabric choice for creating test garments, as you can clearly see stitching lines and it's easy to write on, you can substitute any inexpensive fabric as long as it mimics the properties of your fashion fabric. I like to pick up fabric at rummage sales to use for many of my muslins.

    Do you sew muslins regularly? Fashion students are taught to make muslins, and designers always use them, but most beginning home sewers aren't initially aware of this important step. Personally, once I started sewing muslins as a routine part of my process, the quality of my finished garments really improved and my sewing success rate went up.

    When should you sew a muslin?

    • Any time you're trying a new design or pattern that is not similar to previous designs or patterns you've sewn
    • Any time you're making a garment and the fit needs to be spot-on
    • Any time you're sewing with fabric that you'd cry over if you cut, sewed and then discovered you hated your pattern or cut it too small, etc.
    Here's a jacket muslin I made and subsequently discovered that my pattern was too big. Making size adjustments to a muslin is way easier than fussing with good fashion fabric.
    Sewing muslins: For home sewers who don't need to worry about production issues, fast and quick is fine. Machine-stitch with long stitches. Mark anything with a pen or tailor's chalk that you may need to see to make alterations to your muslin, like seamlines and darts. Sometimes I'll leave off details like a collar or pocket and sew a muslin just to the point where I can tell if it will work or not. Sew and alter a muslin to the point where you're confident it's ready to be used as a pattern with your fashion fabric.

    Hopefully you're convinced muslins are the way to go. Now here are some muslin-worthy fabrics ready for you to sew!

    Stunning Marc Jacobs brocade, $50/yd
    Lovely French chenille lace in pumpkin, $30/yd.
    Scrumptious 4-ply silk in lavender, $40/yd

    You know we have lots more where those came from. Visit Mood Fabrics online.

    Are you a muslin maker? Or do you prefer to take your chances and forge ahead with your fashion fabric? There's always healthy online discussion among sewers about this very topic.

    Thanks for stopping by. Check back here again on Favorite Fabric Friday, featuring the effervescent Sueann of the cotton department in the NYC store. She'll share her favorite fabrics of the moment, and she has great taste.

  • Halloween Contest Entry #40

    Macey M.'s 3 Fates from Greek Mythology

    Macey M.'s 3 Fates from Greek Mythology

    Macey M.'s made the 3 Fates from Greek Mythology using Muslin for the dress, ribbon for trim and hair, home decor trim for rope belting, satin brocade for belt, liner for pockets, gold rat tail for hair and to hold props.
    For more information on how to enter the Mood Fabrics 2011 Halloween Costume Contest and complete contest rules for a chance to win a $100 Gift Card to MoodFabrics.com please visit www.moodfabrics.com/halloween2011/ Rate your favorite costume below!
  • Halloween Contest Entry #34

    Mariam E. Native American Costume

    Mariam E. Native American Costume

    Mariam E. used cotton twill, muslin, spandex, rabbit fur and leather strips. 30 or so hand dipped turkey feather, 40-ish duck feathers, bone, wooden and stone beads for her Native American Costume
    For more information on how to enter the Mood Fabrics 2011 Halloween Costume Contest and complete contest rules for a chance to win a $100 Gift Card to MoodFabrics.com please visit www.moodfabrics.com/halloween2011/ Rate your favorite costume below!
  • Halloween Contest Entry #33

    Gianni M.'s Native American Costume

    Gianni M.'s Native American Costume

    Gianni M. Native American costume was crafted using duck cotton, muslin, and hemp for fabric used in the costume (dyed black grey and red). Breastplate of ox horn, wooden and cherry pit beads. 100 (give or take a few) dye turkey feathers to simulate crow feathers. Hand sculpted extra large crow skull and custom painted to simulate bone, and hand dyed horse hair.
    For more information on how to enter the Mood Fabrics 2011 Halloween Costume Contest and complete contest rules for a chance to win a $100 Gift Card to MoodFabrics.com please visit www.moodfabrics.com/halloween2011/ Rate your favorite costume below!
  • Halloween Contest Entry #10

    Patti G.'s Ursala Costume

    Patti G.'s Ursala Costume

    Dress made of black crepe and hand-dyed cotton muslin. Polyester batting, 16-gauge wire, painted suction cups, a hula hoop, black cording, real seashells, and a whole lot of PAX body paint also figured into it.
    For more information on how to enter the Mood Fabrics 2011 Halloween Costume Contest and complete contest rules for a chance to win a $100 Gift Card to MoodFabrics.com please visit www.moodfabrics.com/halloween2011/ Rate your favorite costume below!
  • Halloween Contest Entry #8

    Jude D.'s the Raven Costume

    Jude D.'s the Raven Costume

    Jude D. made this Raven costume using silk, fabric paint, muslin, and feathers for mask.
    For more information on how to enter the Mood Fabrics 2011 Halloween Costume Contest and complete contest rules for a chance to win a $100 Gift Card to MoodFabrics.com please visit www.moodfabrics.com/halloween2011/ Rate your favorite costume below!