The tale of two “muslins”

Are you a muslin (toile) maker? Or do you get straight into the pattern with your fabric and fit as you go (or, like me, hope for the best)?

Felicity’s Big Winter Coat, 2011

I have made muslins in the past, but not very many (like, all of two or three in the last six years…)

This last month, however, I’ve made two muslins, or “wearable muslins”. And not completely intentionally.

Muslin #1.

What is she talking about, you think, looking at this image. Looks like a nice dress, and those diagonal drag lines are probably just from her hand in the pocket. Perhaps a bit tight through the bust? Still, on balance, it looks okay, and the style lines are lovely. Nice fabric too. Looks like a lace overlay.

Yes, yes, yes.

But, wait. You haven’t seen the back.

We have a classic case of bad fabric pooling at the backwaist. This is after trying to fix it too by retrofitting a(nother) sway back (I’d already made that adjustment whilst tracing the pattern off).

This dress pattern is from an Easy Burda Autumn/Winter 2014 BurdaStyle Special: Dress 4e, minus the neck band and faux pocket flaps

The “lace” overlay is a rayon, polyester linen blend, bought from Gay Naffine’s sales some years back.

I underlined it with a self striped stretch cotton and used this same fabric for the plain central sections. I underlined the central section too, with a lighter weight stretch cotton.

The inside view

I know. I should’ve made a muslin first. Now all I’ve got is a nicely sewn wearable muslin using lovely fabrics.


Muslin #2

I didn’t want to make that mistake again, so, for my next dress, I trialed the pattern first in a polyester twill from deep in the stash.

And this one turned out almost completely wearable!

This is Burdastyle 09/2012 #134

No puddling at the back waist on this one, although there is some extra fabric under the arms.

You can see it at the front too: a bit saggy above the waist under my bust, and side on as well.

Apart from this, I’m pleased with the fit.

I might even wear it like it is, with its blue exposed zip (it was close at hand and the right size, and this was just a muslin), obvious machine hem (I needed to check hem length with heels, and this is a muslin after all), and slightly stretched out neckline (no staystitching, see previous comment).

This pattern was muslined for this fabric:

I am very happy with the pattern and still think it would work, but I can’t get Ruth of corecouture‘s, suggestion of Vogue 9021 out of my mind.

Then Gabrielle of UpSewLate recently made a beautiful version.

I might not have enough fabric for those big sleeves though… so still thinking about it. If Spotlight have a $5 Vogue sale anytime soon, you know what I’ll be buying!

Meanwhile, I have another muslin to make.


Formal Dress for Felicity

Felicity’s school has a formal in May for the Year 11 students as well as the Year 12’s. Actually, there is one formal but both years go, so that means a formal for two years. She has relatively low frock expectations for Formal Number One. Phew.

BurdaStyle 12/2013 #130 is her current plan. It’s a German designer pattern, Talbot Runhof, that doesn’t appear to be available as a pdf download.

We don’t have any fabric yet. It seems there is nothing suitable in my very large stash!

I will need to add a FBA to the bodice and the bodice overlay. I guess I will rotate the horizontal side dart I add into the neck tucks and the vertical dart into the side seam for the overlay. Any advice will be gratefully received!

It will also be interesting to see how this style works when it’s on a body that needs a FBA. Yay for muslining!

Yes, I have learnt my lesson.


29 thoughts on “The tale of two “muslins”

  1. I think the Vogue would be the best match for your lovely print, but you should make a ‘real’ version of the Burda dress as well because the shape really suits you. Also looking forward to seeing Felicity’s dress.

    I’m a fit as you go person normally but have just ordered some calico for toiles as I am about to make a fitted jacket.

  2. I really liked that Easy Fashion dress, but never made it because I couldn’t figure out how to do a sway back adjustment and still keep all the nice straight lines! My usual adjustment would have left the seams curved where they all meet at the center back waist. I spent months noodling around with a muslin for that Matthew Williamson (your green) dress – and when I finally got it right I abruptly moved and lost both the muslin and the adjusted pattern. It’s a fab dress, maybe I’ll get the energy to do all the work again. I would keep playing around with that excess fabric at the side underarm – probably a simple adjustment but one that would make a big difference. The Talbot Runhof pattern is fabulous, can’t wait to see your version.

    • That’s the problem isn’t it: getting the swayback adjustment in there with the diagonal lines. My retrofitting did skew the lines a bit, and it’s easy to see when the dress is flat, but not anywhere near as obvious when it’s on.

  3. At least the green dress can be altered easily using the side panels and not going nuts anywhere else. I’m all for simple, fast and cheap for my clients. Love your landscape fabric! Cute pattern for Felicity…very young and modern!

  4. I only make muslins when the task is a big one with expensive fabrics – generally jackets, formal dresses and most recently I muslined a rashie for my DH as I wasn’t sure how it would fit him (not such a big sew but relatively expensive fabrics). I don’t think your first dress is so bad. A lot of people wear RTW clothes with much worse fit issues. It seems too pretty not to wear.

    • Thank you. I feel like I can wear it now I’ve told the (sewing) world that I know the fit is poor. I’m sure that means I am a bit strange… but I do love the fabric.

  5. I’m starting to come around to making more muslins for finicky projects, but I’ll mostly do what you did for your muslins to begin with: cut with the standard alterations I already know are required. I love your green muslin, but I can see the charm of the Vogue pattern. Hard choices! Whichever you do will make gorgeous use of that fabulous fabric.

  6. Really like your green dress! Sometimes I get put off by muslins, particularly if in white calico…but using a not-so-precious fabric can sometimes turn out to be a winner!

    • You are right. It certainly is easier to test the pattern when a “real” fabric is used. But, I’m worried it will put me off actually making it up again, before the next new shiny pattern catches my attention.
      There is just not enough time to sew. This working business is not helping!

  7. I’m loving the green dress and that wonderful design detail: the exposed blue zipper! I realized that muslins were the way to get over my fear of ruining a favorite fabric. So that’s when i make a muslin. If the fabric is only a mild favorite, then i try to fit as I go. One could say it’s laziness, i call it efficient 🙂

  8. Both those muslins are great! The white dress is beautiful on you. I never make muslins, but I know I should. Although I do sew with kind of crappy fabrics while lovely fabrics sit in storage boxes, so you could say my closet is filled with muslins.

  9. I don’t make too many “muslins” but I’m making more than I used to; sometimes it seems easier to run something up quickly than to do a whole lot of self measuring! Like you though I’m finding it more enjoyable to muslin from regular (but cheap) fabric rather than boring old calico.

    Thank you for pointing out the fitting issues on your lovely muslins – most people walk around in badly fitted clothes these days, and I think it makes it harder for us to train our eyes to see correct fit! I love the shape of the green dress shoulders on you, and muslin #1 looks very wearable indeed!

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