March 9, 2015
A muslin (or toile) is a test garment or rough draft of your final sewing project. I often use the pattern pieces to do a paper fitting on either my mannequin or myself (using the pattern pieces pinned together to test the fit). Nevertheless, the fact is that paper does not stretch so a paper fit test will not work when treating the fit for knits! In comparison to woven fabrics, knits are much easier to fit and normally I would not recommend this step. However, I am going to explain a few reasons that I would recommend making a muslin for your wrap dress.
One more thing, keep reading and there is a nice treat for you at the end!
Reasons for making a muslin:
1) Whether you are new to sewing, getting acquainted with sewing again, or an experienced sewer, making a muslin is a great idea to test a new pattern (I am using Vogue V8379 HERE). Any adjustments that you need to make you should test them on the muslin before you cut the fabric for your final project. Apply those alterations and changes to your pattern pieces (to mitigate the risk of ruining your fashion fabric). Use an inexpensive fabric of similar drape and weight to your fashion fabric. My muslin fabric was $2.00 per yard and I had 6 yards. I purchased 5 yards of the floral silk/rayon jersey fabric and 2 yards of the poly crepe jersey knit fabric for my final dress (shown below). (I covered possible fabric options and my fabric choices HERE.).
2) Possible fit adjustments you may need:
A) Full Bust Adjustment (or FBA) The full bust adjustment is the adjustment that needs to be made to full size bust. If you have interest in finding out information about FBA, please check out the following link HERE. You will find some very helpful information in this link.
B) Lengthening or shortening the bodice torso.
C) Lengthening or shortening the length of the skirt portion of the dress.
D) Making adjustments to the arm and armseye.
E) Ease adjustment. I briefly mentioned ease in the post last week. Your fabric choice and the level of wearing comfort play a critical role in how much ease you should allot or take away. (Design Ease = is the amount of ease built into the design to execute the intent of the garment design… for example is the dress loose fitting or close fitting. Wearing Ease = is the amount of comfort for wearing built into the pattern. Wearing is subjective and can only be determined by the individual.) There are two sizes guides that you can reference to determine the sizing that you should reference. The first size guide is on the back of the envelope. The size on the pattern envelope is the best starting point to determine 1) what size pattern you should buy and 2) amount of fabric you need. I use this guide to determine if I have enough fabric.
I am showing below how I tested exactly how much ease I wanted in my bodice. I used a 1″ seam allowance (patterns have a built in 5/8″ seam allowance). After trying my dress on, I was able to determine that going forward, for my fashion fabric, I will use 1″ on my side seams (for my bodice and skirt). I will maintain 5/8″ seam allowance for my shoulder seams.
The second way to determine find sizing for the completed garment is directly on the pattern pieces. I use the guide located on the pattern pieces to determine what size to actually cut. Look for the following indicators to determine what size you should use to cut your pattern.
3) I am using my muslin dress to determine if I will line the bodice of my dress. The reason that I may decide to line the bodice is to add some smoothing support to the top half of my dress. I wanted to test the overall comfort and ease of the additional lining (vs using the facing pieces included with the pattern). I cut two pieces of pattern front and back bodice pattern pieces (both from the self fabric). I stitched the front pleats and each of the panels together as per the pattern separately. Then I attached both.
4) I tried on a Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress in a retail store. One of the details that I noticed in the wrap dress was that they had a very narrow facing on the skirt front of the dress. I wanted to test this detail on my muslin. I folded 1 3/4″ of the facing section on piece #7 and pinned it back. I cut my fabric using this adjusted pattern. I also adjusted the length of the front and back panels by 16 1/2″.
5) One more thing that I wanted to test (although…this could be tested on a scrap fabric). Since I was already making the muslin, I tested the stabiblizer for the shoulder area of the sewn pattern.
How to use your muslin:
1) Cut and transfer all of your markings on your muslin just as you would on your fashion fabric.
5) Unlike making a muslin from woven fabric, I don’t suggest ripping the pieces apart and using them as your new pattern. Make note of any adjustments directly to your paper pattern pieces. For example, if I need to add to my seam allowance, I will note that amount and make the changes on my final fabric.
6) Transfer the adjustments to your pattern pieces to save for future reference.
5) If you are not satisfied with fit…try again. Only make the muslin for the part that needs attention.
6) Make your muslin fun! Why waste a good fabric? Use an inexpensive, fabric in a color or print that you like for your muslin. If you mess up on the muslin, you won’t be too heartbroken by the lose. Nevertheless, if the muslin executes well, you have a wearable muslin and can use this as a guide for future dresses. I finished my muslin with stretch stitches and my serger.
Now for the treat…GorgeousFabrics.com is offering 10% off regular priced knits for all sewalongers (…this is where I purchased the fabric for my final project!!!) Go to gorgeousfabrics.com and enter MCWrap at checkout and the discount will apply to full-priced knits. Effective through the end March. (I am going shopping now…!)
You still have time to join in…there is no sign up needed…and you can go at your own pace! Don’t forget to post your progress on the Flickr page HERE. For Instagram and Twitter use #wrapdresssewalong.
I would love to hear your comments and see if you have any questions regarding making a muslin.
Tune in next week to discuss next week’s topic on sewing and working with knits!