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Adventures in Muslin Making


Let’s talk muslins, or as some refer to it, toiles. Do you hate making them or love it?

Do you make it out of an unbleached cotton or do you use fashion fabric? How do you mark your corrections? Do you transfer them to pattern paper, oak tag or something similar, or do you use the muslin as the pattern for the final garment? Do you use a pen, pencil, pins ot safety pins? Do you take pictures wearing the muslin for a more accurate analysis? Do you have anyone chime in on the fit and silhouette (i.e. children, significant other, pet)? Do you use a longer stitch length to sew? Do you make the whole garment or just a portion (i.e. one sleeve)?

I think that about covers all the questions that have been going through my mind as I truck through the muslin stage of the dress pictured above. Oh muslins!



  1. Reply


    I hate making muslins! Ha! But, obviously some times its necessary. I usually make them for bigger projects – things like coats or a complicated dress where I’m unsure of my size. And I definitely make them if I’m making a lot of changes to a pattern. I have a bolt of white muslin fabric that I’ll use in most cases – but I’ve also used fabric scraps for muslins. I use a long basting stitch. I’ll leave off facings and things like that, but I always install the zipper and if there are sleeves I do both sleeves because I feel like one doesn’t give you an accurate picture of fit. I mark fit changes directly on the fabric with a pen or something, or slash into it if I need more room, then unpick the area and transfer the changes to the paper pattern. It’s really my least favorite aspect of sewing – it just feels really tedious and sometimes wasteful of materials. But I also know it’s part of the process! It’s also a good way to use up leftover thread spools and bobbins in weird colors!

  2. Reply


    Ihate making muslins too. But, because I have to make sonny changes to patters it is always necessary. I have used scrap fashion fabric, old bed sheets and cotton canvas. Now I trace the pattern into swiss tracing paper and sew it up with big seam allowances and long stitch length. I use the Palmer and Pletch tissue fitting method to test the fit and make corrections. I usually see part of the garment (one sleeve missing etc.). I mark my changes with a sharpie or coloured pen. Then I unpick the muslin and use it’s a pattern.

  3. Reply

    Stina Pettersson

    Since I tend to draft most of my own patterns, and rarely or never fit into standard sizes, I always make toiles. I also have a soft spot for expensive fabrics, so there is no way I would sew directly in the right fabric before I A have a great fit and B knows I like the modell and the pattern. I chose the fabric for the toile depending on the drape – if I plan to sew in silk charmeuse I use cheap lining material for the toile and if I plan to use a more stable woven fabric I use something similar to that. I sew with a longer stitch and no seam allowances at hems, necklines etc. I’ve started to set in both sleeves, since it gives a much better view of the fit (especially of the bust, which is quite crucial for me). I tend to transfer my correction back to my paper pattern, and sometimes makes a second (or third or forth…) muslin to make sure I like it. It would perhaps be more accurate to use the toile as pattern, but I hate taking up stitches. Do I like making toiles? Well – if I break down every single part of sewing into its smallest units possible, I really don’t like sewing at all. But the process as a whole, from idea to handling the fabric to making it into a 3D-shape to having something unique for me – that I love!

  4. Reply

    Piper Springs

    Hate because I will get the toile just right, then the actual garment won’t fit the same. I do use similar materials, I think it may be because I am not as fussy and careful in marking and sewing as I sould be; even a quarter of an inch can make a big difference.

  5. Reply

    Kate Carvalho

    I hate making muslins! I’d way rather be making the actual garment. It wasn’t until I started reading blogs that I even knew what a muslin was – but I figured they made sense, so I’ve started making them on some of my bigger makes. In retrospect I wish that I had made muslins for a few of my other makes which ended up expensive failures. If I do make a muslin I do a rush job just to see the overall shape and size, examine it in the mirror, then get stuck into the real deal. Also a couple of times I’ve made muslins and the finished garment still ended up not right – annoying!

  6. Reply


    I have to say I hate making Muslims too, but have made too many mistakes without making them. I usually use muslin but sometimes if I get really cheap cloth….a print that is red tag sale, then I will use that. Since its a muslin, I write the notes right on the muslin. Then I don’t loose them! I have my other half take pictures front and back so I can see how it looks. Then adjust again. The problem is, I then sometimes get bored and or frustrated with the pattern after making the muslin that the real deal doesn’t get made. Bad, I know.

  7. Reply

    Kate hampshire

    It’s one of the necessary evils of sewing. My question is, what do you do with them afterwards? I sew because I like to avoid contributing to the mountains of waste we produce, but then I end up with a muslin that needs throwing away. I’m now focusing on making slopers that will fit different patterns to avoid this waste of fabric and time.

    • Reply


      I agree with Kate and I find it strange that nobody addresses this issue. As much as I can see the point of muslins and all the arguments for (including not wasting finished garments that don’t fit by never wearing them), I just can’t help but think about the consumer-happy wastefulness of sewing up a garment that you are ultimately going to trash. I’m working on modifying my patterns directly using Joi Mahone’s technique and will make wearable muslins during the tweaking process to get my TNT.

  8. Reply


    I sew it up using the same stitch length (except maybe for the darts or any sections I think I’ll definitely have to change). I always make them in plain ol’ unbleached cotton. Why waste nice fabric? Since I don’t have a proper floor length mirror, I usually grab the one from my bathroom and try to use that leaned against my ironing board. Then I double check my “issue” with the hubs for confirmation that I’m on the right track. Pen for marking all the way! And definitely only one sleeve. I’m too lazy to stress out over TWO muslin sleeves.

  9. Reply


    I’m sooo excited to see your finished patterns for sewing – and what a great selection of materials. Amazing work.

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