So, you’ve got your patterns ready to go, fabrics gathered and you’ve measured your kid to see which size to make. One more step in your process could be: to make a muslin or not?
A muslin is a test garment made from inexpensive fabric. Often it’s made only for the critical pieces of the pattern, like the bodice. Seams are sewn with basting stitches to allow for quick revisions. A muslin doesn’t necessarily need to be from plain unbleached cotton. The term “wearable muslin” means using fabric that isn’t as dear to your heart but will still result in an outfit that can be worn for everyday if the fit is good and the seams are re-sewn with regular stitch length.
A purist might say you should always make a muslin, but I’m a realist — who has time (or frankly, the desire?) to make a muslin for every new project? I thought I’d share some deciding factors for whether or not to make a muslin:
Is this the first time you’re making the pattern? Pretty straightforward, right? If you’ve already made the pattern once (recently) then there’s no need to take a trial run.
Is your fabric precious? If you’re using something you can pick up at your local fabric store or you’ve got yardage in your stash, then go ahead and cut into it. If you’re talking about something like Liberty of London, vintage fabric, or you’re refashioning your Mom’s wedding dress then you probably don’t need me to tell you that a muslin might be in order!
Is the pattern fitted or flowing? Loose-fitting garments are more forgiving for fit, so you can probably skip the muslin for a peasant dress or swing top. Something like a structured jacket or a button-down shirt you might want to do a quick muslin for at least the major pieces.
Is your child between measurements? If your child is in between one of the critical measurements, it’s probably worthwhile to make a test version to see if you want to make the smaller or larger size, or if you want to blend the two sizes. Even if you’re not comfortable modifying patterns, using the width from one size and the length from another isn’t too difficult if you make sure you’re consistent about applying the different dimension.
Are you sewing a pattern from a new-to-you designer? When you’ve sewn a couple patterns from a given designer, you begin to understand how the resulting garments will fit your child. They’re most likely using the same pattern block, or base dimensions, to build their pattern so a 3T in one of their patterns will fit relatively similar to the next 3T. A new designer is probably not using the same block so you might need to check the fit on your child.
Did you draft the pattern yourself or are you heavily modifying another designer’s? Freshly-drafted patterns probably require a muslin (or two or three) and the same goes for making major adjustments to a purchased pattern.
So, will making a muslin be part of your preparations for this Kid’s Clothes Week… or Not?