Although they may not be the most glamorous things in the world, there are quite a few reasons for making a muslin mock-up of your pattern.
I should preface this post by saying that I do not do this for every project. Sometimes I just can’t be bothered because I want to start sewing with pretty fabric. Also, if I made a muslin of every single garment, the price would get out of hand. There are standard alterations that I always make, and by and large, those are generally the only ones necessary. But sometimes I want to be extra careful.
Some silhouettes work better on particular body types than others. Most people have a good idea of what works for them. However, if you want to step outside your comfort zone, mocking up a quick version of a new style can give you the confidence to try something new.
If your fabric is expensive or irreplaceable, and you are terrified to cut into it, making a muslin can take some of the scary factor away.
And obviously, getting a proper fit is the most common reason for testing a pattern with boring old muslin.
Try as I may, visualizing how pieces of a pattern are put together is sometimes next to impossible, but get those shapes in my hands and things suddenly become crystal clear (most of the time, anyway!). Sometimes I have an idea of how something is going to go together, but a test run changes all of that. Not to mention the mistakes that can be found in instruction sheets or pattern pieces that I can catch before it is too late.
I made the mistake of reading the directions for my gala gown pattern for the first time when I was extremely tired. Because it is a reproduction, the instructions are copied onto 8.5x11 paper. Some of the diagrams refer to text that is on a previous page. I kept re-reading the words, looking at the diagrams, and thought I was going crazy. A good night's sleep fixed all that!
If there are techniques that are unfamiliar or you want to practice, a muslin is the perfect opportunity.
A muslin can actually save fabric (which seems counterintuitive, I know). But if a skirt or arm length is too long, you can cut away the excess on your muslin and save expensive fabric yardage.
The arm length on this suit is ridiculous as drafted. Yes, I often shorten long sleeves by ½” or so, but the three-quarter length was past my wrist on this one! Knowing this, I will be able to cut the back bodice as one piece instead of two – one less seam to match!
Because I cut 3” off the skirt length, I took that same amount out of the drape piece (which is cut on the bias so even more yardage was saved).
Sometimes I cannot be bothered to baste a zipper into a muslin, but they really can make all the difference when testing fit. And it helps to avoid being stabbed by pins holding opening edges in place.
If you are in a rush, consider that edges do not need to be finished, facings are usually unnecessary, and in the long run, a practice garment can save a whole bunch of time, and even tears. Avoiding the aggravation of seam ripping to achieve a good fit on an untested garment, alone, is worth the extra effort!
Do you test run your patterns, or do you absolutely abhor the idea of making a muslin? How about a wearable muslin?
[Britex has generously provided the fabric and sewing supplies for a dress I will be wearing to a formal event in October. I will be sharing some of the steps and construction techniques with you as I work on this project over the next couple of months.]