Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Muslin: A Love/Hate Relationship

In January I took a class with Heather Ross and Anna Maria Horner in Palm Springs. With their help I made the Liverpool Tunic by Amy Butler. I started with a muslin. A muslin is a garment made of inexpensive fabric (muslin) to test the fit of the pattern and make adjustments on before you cut into the good fabric. You see I'm a very curvy girl and I wear a larger size. My bust and hips are the same measurement and I have a tiny waist. I'm very hour-glassy. The problem with this is that patterns are not generally made to fit people with my shape or people that are my size. Now, in a department store I generally wear a 12/14 or L/XL depending on the garment. In an AB pattern I was a modified XL (14/16). Parts of that pattern I made smaller to get a better fit. Anyway, I recently got the Sew Liberated Tunic pattern and according to my measurements I'm an 18/20. Sigh, how do I go from a 12/14 to an 18/20? Serious ego blow...but I've been sewing for myself since I was ten so I do know this happens. Its just a number right?

     Anyway, I was really excited to get started on this pattern but past knowledge had me wary of this one. It has an empire waist and box pleats....2 bad things for a person with large breasts....instant pregnant shirt! I'm not prego and I don't want to have a prego shirt!! LOL! So, to begin I made an 18/20 per the pattern directions in some cheap white stiff cotton I already owned. (I tried to buy muslin but the price is up to $4.88 a yd for muslin....when did that happen? I could buy designer fabric on sale for that!  Also, my Walmart no longer carries muslin at all.What??) Ok, so 1 am last night test muslin number one done. My first issue was the empire waist was almost at my bust line instead of below. When it is below, sitting closer to the narrower part of you, you get the illusion of a smaller figure. Too high and its an ill fitting prego shirt that makes you look larger. The next problem was the pleats....tooooo bulky and toooo close together. My solution for the bulkiness was to sew them down 3 inches on all the pleats. Gave the illusion of a flatter waistline. However , it still wasn't good I chose a floral print fabric that was headed to the Goodwill. So my disclaimer on the picture should say," No, I will NEVER wear this. I wouldn't even use it for a quilt. It was going to Goodwill. If muslin didn't cost so much I would've used muslin." I'm paranoid someone will think I intend to wear this shirt. Can you tell?

     So, Muslin two in purple floral....made the top longer by 1.5 inches,  accidentally mismarked the pleats and moved them waaay over, sewed the pleats down 3 inches, took the sides in 1/2 inch. Its getting better but is it there yet? Do I need another muslin? Is three too many to get the fit right?
In January Heather Ross said I'd be so happy I made a muslin. I'd do it from then on. The truth is I had made muslin's before for formalwear, clothing etc. I've been sewing for 28 years.I stopped sewing for myself because of the muslin. The bigger and curvier I got the harder I was to fit. The thing I hate about the muslin is the time and effort wasted getting the fit right. I've now spent an entire night making basically two tops I won't wear. I've ruined 4 plus yards of fabric and I'd still like to fiddle with the pattern. Sigh. So, I have a love hate rellationship with the muslin. They are a necessary evil. I need them in order to get a good fit....I hate them because they waste of time and fabric....Anyway, for this pattern I guess I'm back to the drawingboard for a third go. What do you think? Do like one better than the other? Do you have muslin issues too?

Ps. The pics are awful! LOL! It was early am, I just woke make-up and my 12 y.o. took them in a hurry before school :-)


  1. Honestly I dont know which one I like better, but this post reminds my why I do not make clothes! Good luck girlie! :)

  2. and she blogs! hi christine!

  3. Amy- I hear ya. I think I'm better making flat quilts...LOL!! I either need to lose weight or stop making clothes. Its too disappointing.

    Hi Virginia! Yup...I'm trying to get the hang of this whole bloggy thing. LOL!

  4. I like the first one better withe pleats in the middle... Bunt I like the sleeves on the flora and it's length... And I like the floral top half better ...
    Back to my quilting!