Making a Fit Muslin

Test a pattern’s fit by first making the pattern in cheap muslin fabric.

Have you ever sewn your pattern first using muslin fabric in order test the fit? I had not until I started working on a Chanel-style jacket. Because there is so much money and time invested in a couture finished jacket, it seems wise to test for fit before cutting expensive fabric.

I am really glad I took the time to make the muslin first.  The first size I made was suppose to fit according to the measurements on the package.  The muslin was way too big when finished. I then made a muslin one size smaller. It fit through the bodice, but did not fit well in the shoulders – the seam between the shoulder and the sleeve feel an inch lower than it should.

The altered area can be seen on the shoulder on the left side.
The altered area can be seen on the shoulder on the left side.

The jacket had vertical seams mid bodice, so I made my alteration on that seam. After pinning the alteration, I marked it with a Sharpie pen and used a French curve ruler in order to taper in the new seam. I sewed over the marking, on only one shoulder. After trying it on, it was a perfect fit.

On the right side of the fabric, I made a line on either side of the new seam, by running the Sharpie down the seam. I made a duplicate of the original pattern using alphanumeric marking paper, Clover Chacopy paper, and a bone folder.

I then cut the fabric apart by cutting directly on the seam line. In my case, this new seam line affected four pattern pieces, so I needed to alter all four. I placed the muslin on the paper pattern piece, pinning it on the sides that had no alternations. Using a pencil, I drew the new sewing line on the pattern piece, then with a pen, added the seam allowance. I cut off the difference of paper pattern piece and the new cut line I had just drawn on the pattern piece. I followed this procedure for all four pieces.

When I cut the pattern pieces out of my fashion fabric and sew the pieces together, they will make a perfectly tailored jacket.

The sleeve can be altered in length using the same technique.
The sleeve can be altered in length using the same technique.

Now that I have gone through this procedure, I plan to start using it for any new pattern that I am making. Even if the pattern is an easy one to make, this process allows for alternations and makes you read all the way through the pattern.  This will alleviate any surprises in the future.

I like to experiment with patterns, adding a pocket or adding length to a skirt. Creating a fit muslin will help me to get out my ideas to see if they will work before I start cutting my good fabric.  This will save time, money and fabric in the end.

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