The fashion industry and top custom designers make muslins (test garments), often substituting the woven or knit fabric that will be cut in mass-production instead of dressmakers’ muslin. Dressmaker’s muslin is an inexpensive, heavily sized cotton fabric traditionally used during the drafting process to test a pattern’s fit and style.


Cathy tested her blouse pattern in inexpensive fashion fabric, substituting the fashion fabric for muslin.  This is a good idea when testing a blouse pattern. When sewing at home it is usually better to test jacket patterns in muslin because of the extensive construction involved and because fabrics used to make jackets are often quite expensive. Muslin comes in various weights. It’s best to use muslin with a weight as close to the weight of the intended fashion fabric as possible.

In this video link Janet models her jacket muslin. The bodice shell patterns have been cut and corrected several times and now fit correctly.  The next step is to test the sleeve patterns. They need corrections drafted in so they will sew into the armholes.


In the industry muslin tests are essential as they prevent problems that, when multiplied by the sheer volume of garments mass-produced from one pattern, could easily add up to thousands and thousands of dollars of lost profit.  Because so much is at stake each pattern that is to go on a factory line needs to be thoroughly tested. Even patterns from styles that have been previously mass-produced should be tested again before they are manufactured in a new fabric.

Muslin tests help you prevent the same problems in the garments you design and make.  Testing a pattern in muslin allows you to check your pattern’s style and fit, decide if corrections are needed, and determine the best way to make the corrections.

Shira’s first muslin on the right shows why testing Shira’s Bat Mitzvah dress several times in muslin enabled success with the finished garment, shown on the left. All problems should be corrected BEFORE the fashion fabric is cut. The rule is, The pattern must fit before the fashion fabric is cut.

A designing department is a lab where the patterns’ style and fit are corrected. The work done in the designing department makes mass-production possible.  

A muslin is quick and easy to make and fit because a muslin is cut from just the shell patterns (all supporting patterns are drafted from the shell patterns). The muslin is sewn with the longest stitch on the machine.  Hand or machine finishing is eliminated or replaced with pinning. A muslin can be written on, ripped, pieced, and pinned. Shira shows how she marked the darts on the muslin for her Bat Mitzvah dress.



In the above picture a front bodice, layered between tracing paper, is being cut from muslin. Care must be taken when cutting muslin, or any fabric, as this, with careful pattern drafting, and precise gauge sewing ensures that the fit is maintained throughout the construction of the garment.
Here are some of the reasons muslin tests are worth your effort:

1.       The only way to know if ta garment fits is to try it on. A muslin allows you to do this before you cut the fashion fabric.

2.       Testing in muslin helps you to finish your projects sooner. Using a muslin to correct your pattern eliminates the possibility of spending hours of misery, ripping and altering the finished garment.

3.       Fit and style corrections that would be impossible to make in the finished garment can be easily made in the muslin and then quickly transferred to the pattern.

4.       Making a muslin gives you an overall view of the problems involved in the designing of the garment. It allows you time to think through your solutions before beginning work on the garment.

5.       Running up a muslin makes you familiar with the garment’s construction, making the garment easier to sew.

6.       After you have completed your muslin test and pattern corrections you can cut and sew your garment without any fittings whatsoever, confident your finished garment will fit and look the way you designed it.

7.       Taking the time to test and correct your patterns enables you to produce clothing that is more professional because finished clothing looks more professional when it is cut and sewn with as few corrections as possible.


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