I read a *lot* of sewing blogs. There are some really talented dressmakers out there. (Knitters and crafters, I read your blogs too.) All of us debate the value of making muslins. A muslin, as I understand it, is a test garment made before using your special fashion fabric so that you can fine tune, if you will, the pattern and make any necessary adjustments. I believe the term “muslin” comes from when the pattern was sewn up the first time using a true muslin fabric. (Mirriam-Webster: a plain-woven sheer to coarse cotton fabric.)
I never knew about making muslins until a few years ago when I started really reading sewing blogs and forums and reading sewing literature. I learned to sew by picking a pattern and fabric, cutting out the fashion fabric, and sewing it up. Granted that was when I probably had no fitting issues whatsoever being a slim teenager, so making a practice garment was unnecessary. Not so now. I have a ton of fitting issues and the older I get, the more fitting challenges I discover.
For me, making a muslin is not just about fit, it is also about deciding if I even like the pattern on my body. It’s one thing to imagine the outfit on a virtual computer model (not that I have any sort of software like that, but wouldn’t that be cool?); it’s another thing completely to wear the fabric made up, to see how it hangs on my body, and how it makes me feel.
Which leads me to my point of confusion regarding muslins. If the idea is to make up a sample garment before cutting your fashion fabric, how will you know what that fashion fabric looks like in your garment – how it drapes and flows and swings on your hips – if you use a fabric completely unlike the intended final result? A brocade will hang off your hips or shoulders completely differently than true muslin or a thin cotton. The different fabrics even sew up differently, ease is different, and more, so how do you know that the adjustments you make on your muslin will transfer properly when cutting and sewing up your fashion fabric?
It seems to me that the only way to truly test a garment is to make it twice. Once in a very similar fabric – if not the exact final fabric – to test for fitting and style, and then finally in the intended fashion fabric.
Gosh, if this is true, I should buy more fabric. 🙂