It is all in the Haute couture books: designer-samples are always made of Muslin before a garment is ready to be made from the real fabric. The fabrics used for a test model is 'Muslin'. But what is 'muslin' fabric and why is it so important to make a test model?
Haute couture Claire Shaeffer's sewing patterns (for example V9099, V8991 and V8804) always have instructions: "Make a muslin toile to fine tune the fit before cutting the fashion fabric. This also helps to preserve teh pristine quality of the fabric and design; and it reduces the temptation to try on the jacket frequently during its construction."
In the couture world, using muslin fabric is a normal routine because the final fabric is often very expensive. Muslin is an inexpensive fabric, feels soft, and cuting and sewing is very easy. When the test-model is really perfect, then the muslin sample is used as the basic pattern.
In the hobby sewing world, this extra work is often skipped. That's a shame, because once you are used to make a sample with muslin fabric first, you know it is really necessary. It may avoid a lot of frustrations because, for example, the model is incorrect or does not fit properly. You have your garment completely 'finished' and it is disappointing. You are disappointed that you have messed up the beautiful fabricbecause you will probably jnever wear the garment. If you made a sample of muslin first, you could have save yourself a lot of time and money. Just make it a routine and you won't regret it.
Muslin or canvas
Muslin is a light and soft, transparent fabric, woven in a plain weave, from lightly twisted yarn, creating a recognizable crinkled structure. Often this fabric is also called 'hydrophilic'. This is because the fabric is soft and absorbs water. As a result, the fabric is often used for burp patches, diapers and baby clothes.
But the fabric is mainly used to make test-samples of garments by seamstresses from Haute couture to the hobby sewing world. The fabric is usually plain, but there may also be a print (one-colored) on it. It is also a great advantage the fabric is always in the cheaper price range.
If the design requires a firmer fabric, the sample will be made of canvas. This is an easy fabric, 100% cotton, inexpensive and a pleasure to work with. The fabric is only firmer and does not drape smoothly, like muslin does.
Muslin is therefore ideal as 'exercise' material. To make a sample of a Chanel-style jacket, but also, for example, to practice if you have to perform a sewing technique that you have never done before. Think of tied buttonholes, pleats, welt pockets or folding techniques. Or maybe you just want to try out buttonholes before you make them in real life on the garment piece you are working on.
As 'practice' material we bought a black muslin with a white print. We made a shirt and practiced with the collar and buttonholes. We doubted the fit of the shirt but it turned out to be good. Of course, you don't have to take a sample of muslin from a garment off and use it again as a basic pattern. Especially not if the pattern turns out to be correct and fits perfectly. It is a nice soft fabric and ideal to wear at home as 'home wear'.
Are you going to make a Chanel-style jacket? We advise you to first buy a few yards of muslin fabric and make a test-sample of the jacket. Instead of sewing, you can also thread roughly by hand. Sometimes a sewing machine have a 'baste' stitch, or you choose the longest regular stitch.
Don't tink of working with muslin fabric as a waste of materials and time: but above all it is very wise and educational. Now it turns out that the sample fits well with a few adjustments, you can put your scissors in the (expensive) Bouclé fabric and the (silk) lining. And the result will be perfect because you already know the pitfalls of the sewing pattern and you have adapted the shape.
It is very wise to buy a few yards of muslin fabric. You can use it as test pieces to practice sewing techniques or to make a test sample of a sewing pattern. Muslin is a nice soft fabric and never expensive. It is well worth the investment in time and money!
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