What held me back from making a muslin?
- I wanted to make the garment right now
- I felt I could measure and make changes on the garment fabric without too much trouble
- making a muslin seemed long and tedius
I find these days, I always make a muslin. (What a change from even a year ago!)
According to Wikipedia
Muslin (// or //) is a loosely-woven cotton fabric which originated in then India (and now Bangladesh), which was introduced to Europe from the Middle East in the 17th century. It became very popular at the end of the 18th century in France. Muslin is most typically an unbleached or white cloth, produced from carded cotton yarn. It is often used to make sewing patterns, such as for clothing, curtains, or upholstery. Because air moves easily through muslin, muslin clothing is suitable for hot, dry climates.
While I keep mine for future use of the same pattern, Tasia at Sewaholic doesn't. She suggests reusing the muslin either by re-cutting it for other muslin pattern pieces or by using it for sew-in interfacing. (What a great idea!). And one blog I visited touts the merits of using muslin as a face cloth (albeit, she is pushing a brand.) I bet you could cut off some of your bolt of cotton muslin to use as a face cloth or even a rag (depending on how tight the weave is).
A muslin is made out of a cloth of similar weight and drape as you plan to use on your finished garment
A proper muslin does not include all the pockets and other features – only the main pieces to check for fit
I find a quick muslin of main pieces works for fit and sometimes I use the muslin to practise buttonholes or other new-to-me techniques
Again, the muslin can be unpicked and kept as a properly fitted version of the pattern for next time. I have done this with three patterns so far and it has been really useful.
It's an extra step but it can be a time-saver.
But Is a Muslin Always Necessary?:
My belief is no. I took sewing classes in high school where not a step was overlooked. We never made muslins. So I am sure that this is a newer tradition (at least for every garment).
Proper measurement, familiarity with the the pattern-maker's cuts and generous cutting (leaving an inch to play with) or tissue fitting all work too.
But be sensible: if you need to make a lot of alterations, a muslin is the way to go
Step-by-Step Instructions on the Web
Sewaholic has a great turtorial here
Oliver + S has great step-by-step instructions too.
Shona Stitches is another blogger with a post on muslins (and really, I agree with her on almost everything although I haven't started tracing my patterns yet. I know, I know. I'll regret it)