Thursday, December 8, 2011

To Muslin or Not To Muslin - Fitting New Look 6067

To Muslin or Not to Muslin. That is the question...,

While working on a muslin fitting for a client who sewed, she said to me, "When I sewed for people I never made muslins. I just went by the measurements." My reply, "Oh no, I have to make a muslin to get the fitting right.  I'm afraid not to."

There are great benefits to making a muslin first especially when the garment is for someone other than yourself.  

better fitting of the garment
helps avoid re-dos of garment
Saves money and time on fitting mistakes made

Now as for myself and DD, I don't always make a muslin.   Our basic adjustments have been pretty much worked out using the big four patterns. I have a few patterns that I use as slopers that help make adjustment easier on new patterns.  As a safety precaution, I cut one inch  side seam allowances.  This adjustment gives me a little more room to make changes if needed.

My biggest challenge is fitting my torso due to my fuller bust and prominent should blades.  Both changes are made in the same reign of my upper body front and back respectively.  But when it comes to the upper chest, neck, length of shoulder (from neck to ball of my arm) and my waist, there are almost no change needed from the pattern size 14.

One of my current projects is New Look 6067. Cute dress with pleating at the center front just below the bust area.  This pattern has no bust or waist darts.  My initial reaction was cute but I'll take a pass.  My second thought, but I like it.  I'll give it a try anyway.

Challenge:  Full bust adjustment in the absence of a waist and bust dart (woven fabric).

So this project required me to make a muslin to test my solution for a FBA adjustment. 

First the pattern:  I slashed the pattern in the center of each pleat pivoting a few inches away from the armhole.  Each slashed is spread increasing with width of the pleats and the bust area.  Total amount of spread in the bust area is about 1 1/4 inch.

My typical prominent shoulder blade and swayback adjustments are shown below.

Second the muslin:  Sorry it's on Rochelle and not me.  But you'll get the idea of how it will fit.  It looks like there is too much fabric around the armhole and side area.  It's just that way on Rochelle.  It fits better on me.  When I tried on the muslin, I noticed the waist was a little high.  I will add about an inch to the length of the bodice to correct that.

I hope this information is helpful.  Now my question to you:  Do you make a muslin?  If not, what's your process for getting the right fit?

Happy Sewing!


  1. Hi Cennetta,

    I don't usually make a muslin, although I've found I wish I did of late.
    I am currently working on a few projects for other people, one of which is a New Look top for my mom. Sadly, I cut it out about 3 years ago, and finally got around to assembling it, and realize it's basically quilting cotton. (D'oh!) It's got a horrible hand and doesn't drape well, but maybe it could be a somewhat "wearable" muslin for her, and if she likes it I could make another?

    Do you believe in "wearable" muslins?

    My process for getting the fit right usually is assembling the garment to the point I can put it on and make adjustments from there. The most frustrating part of doing it this way, which happened to me most recently is that I already installed the waist facing on a skirt that has a hidden zipper, and further adjustments are needed, which means more time with my seam ripper. ANNOYING! Can't wait to see the dress!

  2. Hi Christina,
    Thanks for responding. I do believe in wearable muslins. I have a few myself. ;-)

    With every garment, I'm trying it on at different stages during the process of assembling it. Sometimes I need to nip it in the waist or at the hip area. My big challenges are those fitting issues mentioned in the post. And I may or may not need to make a muslin.

    My dress is cut and ready to sew. I want to wear it on Sunday. We'll see if I can meet that goal.

    Thanks again for commenting.

  3. I am the muslin queen and wear my crown proudly. Unless I've already worked out the fit, I will always make a test garment. I am short, curvy, and have a very full bust. As such, nothing ever fits right out of the envelope unless it's a knit pattern.

  4. I should make muslins.... But I don't. And I won't unless it's a super important garment like a wedding dress. I learned to sew because I needed to make alterations. My boobs grew a lot faster than my frame. So I have a brain full of tricks to make finished garments fit. Still in the back of my mind I KNOW I should.....

  5. Thanks for sharing the fba and looking forward to your version.
    I usually do not make a muslin. I baste stitch the garment together to a point where I can try it on and tweak it at that point.

  6. I like to tissue-fit the pattern. Like you I will have larger seam allowances on the side to give me some play room. I will make a muslin if the garment/fabric is 'special' or if the design is unusual. I don't get too many surprises these days.....I guess I am somewhat comfortable with this old body of mine! Who would have thought?

  7. I am very pro-muslin. If it's something that I plan to make in a beautiful fabric, involves new to me techniques or involves some of my problem fitting areas, then I muslin. I've never regretted making a muslin. BUT if it's a real easy fitting garment then I skip it. I also love 1 inch seams. It gives you so much wiggle room for fitting.

  8. I always create a muslin the first time I sew a pattern. It doesn't take that much time and I always make some modification to perfect the fit. I figure my time and the money spent on quality fabric make creating a wadder extremely distressing for me. The muslin isn't just about fit. I've also decided not to sew a pattern based on how the fitted muslin looks on me. Katie

  9. I make muslin for evrything. The only exceptions are skirts and home dec projects.

  10. Hi Cennetta. Can't wait to see the finished dress. I don't do muslins unless I'm sewing for a client and even then I may not make a muslin. I prefer to baste stitch the garment and make adjustments and tweaks from there.

  11. I make muslins for most of the projects I do excepts for tops, but I've also been know to make a top muslin or two.

  12. I very, very rarely make a muslin, but then my adjustments to patterns usually require taking in, rather than adding. When I used to sew for a living, I never made muslins, just measured like crazy. Had to crank out those items as quickly as possible for the price that people were willing to pay around here, and that left no time for fine-tuning a muslin. I often dreamed of clients who would be willing to pay for such quality of fitting and sewing, but such people never came my way. Now I am much happier sewing for finicky me - muslins only when absolutely necessary (i.e. too scared to cut into the fabric without a trial first).

  13. Years ago, I didn't sew muslins. I do now for any new pattern. Most of the time I do a quick and dirty for woven fabrics - use an old sheet or muslin on hand. For knits I may try a "wearable" muslin out of a "don't care if this doesn't work" knit fabric from the stash. Muslins are my friends! This is a really cute pattern. I'm going to have to look at the New Look patterns more!

  14. For me, a muslin is the first step in my sewing process. It where I work out fit issues, design ideas, and sewing techniques. It's also a radar for how the pattern will look on me. So if I going to scrap the project, it's at the muslin stage. I can save my fabric for something else. Plus its nice to a muslin to verify the fit of a pattern you may make more than once.

  15. Great post!
    I pick my battles when it comes to making muslins. Just like you, if its simple design pattern with generous ease like a knit dress. I do my basic adjustments and take it in if need be. If is a woven that is semi fitted with critical design features such as tucks or a fitted bodice, I always make a muslin. I spend a lot of time planning out my garments, I feel like its an injustice to chance the pattern with my beautiful fabrics with out the wiggle room to easily adjust it!
    Take care, toy

  16. I do make a muslin before trying new patterns. I had way to many garments with poor fit and I began to see that making a muslin actually cut down on my sewing time. I had the fit where I wanted and could proceed with the selected fashion fabric.
    Your blog has also been quite helpful with this as you detail steps you have taken.
    Thank you

  17. This is going to be gorgeous on you! Muslins, I find, are so helpful when having to make lots of pattern adjustments for fitting. Looking forward to seeing the final product on this one!

  18. I'm on team muslin. I almost always make a muslin. Hasn't failed me yet. Your new dress is GORGEOUS (just saw the finished one on a later post).



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