Friday, May 18, 2012

Making a Muslin is Essential Trust Me!

When you get a new sewing pattern it is always very tempting to jump straight in and cut it out of your expensive fabric - WAIT!! I know at first it may seem like a waste of time, but trust me I have found making a muslin actually saves time and a massive headache! Its a fabulous way of ironing out any fitting issues and also practicing any sewing techniques you not that familiar with. All in all a great thing to do and who doesn't want a perfectly fitting garment!


- Use a similar cheap fabric to your chosen fabric which has the same drape and cling
- Always iron the muslin or cheap fabric first before cutting
- Only cut the main pattern pieces i.e not the facings or collar  
- Make the seams slightly larger than the pattern in case you need to make it bigger
- When sewing use a long stitch so you can unpick seams easily if needed


Muslin or similar cheap fabric
Sewing machine
Measuring tape
Dress form is optional 

With my dress I only cut the top section pattern pieces because the skirt is flared so I will not have any fitting issues below the waist. I also decided to add the sleeves. Here is my first version. 

I finished the neckline with a quick narrow hem and I used an old zip to make sure it fitted correctly. As you can see it is a little high - well it is for me anyway! Everything else is fitting correctly so only the neckline to change. Phew! 

Lowering a neckline

STEP 1: Try the dress on yourself (or the person who will be wearing it) stand in front of the mirror and mark with chalk roughly where you want the neckline to be. 

STEP 2: Unpick the finished seam. To make sure the new neckline is symmetrical fold the the top in half along the center front ensuring the shoulder seams line up. Then get a different colored chalk and mark a curve the size of your seam allowance above the original chalk mark. For example my seam allowance was 5/8 inch. 

STEP 3: Cut along line and keep the cut off somewhere safe. Now re-do the narrow hem or whatever seam finish your neckline requires. Try it on! I noticed straight away that I now had a lovely gaping neckline! 

Right time to fix it....

STEP 4: Pin the excess fabric together so the neck fits how you want it. Put the pin close the center front. 

STEP 5: Take the garment off the mannequin or you! Then measure from the pin to the edge of the fold and multiply that amount by 2. For example mine was 5/16" which multiplied by two is 5/8". 

Now to back to the pattern....

STEP 6: Pin the cut off you saved in a safe place to the corresponding area on the pattern for both the front and back. Make sure the top of the fabric piece and pattern are aligned. Cut the pattern in the same shape as the fabric. 

STEP 7: Mark with a pencil roughly 3/8 away from the center front at the neckline. Measure the amount you want to lose from the neck from this point and mark. In my case this was 5/8. Then draw a line to the bottom of the center front from each mark. 

STEP 8: Cut along the line closest to the center front stopping just before you get to the bottom. Then close the gap by taping the lines together. This will make it uneven at the top but that can be smoothed out easily by adding a little bit of paper and continuing the curve. 

Now to test our new pattern piece.....

STEP 9: Cut out a new front piece from the muslin or cheap fabric (you won't need to cut a new back piece because you already trimmed it to the new shape). Unpick the old one from the front and replace with the new one (I told you those long stitches would come in handy!). Finish the neckline seam in the normal way. 

STEP 10: Try it on and voila a lovely new lowered neckline! 

Muslin made and fitted properly! On my next post I will go through a few sewing techniques that you might find useful that I use to create this dress. For example, gathering and how to do a narrow rolled hem. If you have any techniques you want me to include or questions about this post please add a comment. Thanks for reading and happy blogging! 


  1. I never make muslin, i dont have patience for that ! so I really admire you :) it will be perfect dress!

  2. Thanks! It does take extra time to make the muslin, but it does pay off to get the perfect fit. I do have a tendency to be a bit of a perfectionist though!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Anna! Just checked out your blog post and I love love love your neon dress! Wouldn't mind owning a pair of those Prada heels either :-)

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you very much! I hope you find it useful. Just seen your shoe blog - oh dear! I already find it hard not to buy a new pair of shoes everyday! At least someone else is as shoe crazy as me :-) I think I could literally look at different shoes all day long and not get bored - I think I have a problem!!!!


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