Make a complete muslin

One of the things we enjoy less of the process of sewing is making a muslin (I also hate cutting the fabric, but that’s because my place is quite small). Skipping this step is very tempting, since it implies making at lest two garments: the muslin(s) and the finished project. Another temptation we find in our way is making a partial muslin. It happens often, we think that we need to focus on the trickiest part of the garment and make a muslin of that part (e.g. a dress bodice), skipping the rest of the garment thinking that it will fit just right. Big mistake! I also know the theory, and had a partial fail because of me being lazy.

You see this partially finished Lonsdale dress? I know this dress is like the Neverending Story. It doesn’t look very good because I haven’t installed the zipper yet nor sewed the back of the skirt. I’ve just pinned the bodice to see how it would look like when finished.

Apart from the lack of zipper (and the bagginess that it implies), there’s something else that bothers me. It doesn’t look like the ones I’ve admired on the internet (some of them at least), and it won’t look like that if I don’t fix it. Yes, the bodice needs to be shortened. The Lonsdale dresses that I like most are the ones where the bodice looks short. It’s also possible that just have a short body. My hawthorn looks also a little bit weird there, but not sure if it’s due to this or because I didn’t do a correct FBA. Here another picture with the dress pinned to make the bodice between three and four centimetres shorter. Yes, this is what I want!

When I made the muslin of this dress I ended up making two muslins of the bodice, one for size 6 and another one for size 4. Size 4 was the winner with no doubt. And that was it. I then cut my final fabric and started sewing (2 weeks later, but that’s another story). What I missed from my test was the dress as a whole. The bodice looked right, but I didn’t check how the skirt was gonna look like regarding the bodice. I could have tested with a partial skirt, but not without skirt at all. We need to know how the trickiest part of our garment will look like, but also the intersecting lines of it with the rest of the complete project.

Making a complete muslin will also allow you to know your pattern instructions and tricky points beforehand, so that you will make less mistakes during the final sewing. This last argument may not convince you but I’m sure the rest of the article will.

I’m going to get a tattoo on my forehead which says: “Make a complete muslin, make a complete muslin, …”.

We’re leaving tomorrow for Belgium, so this dress will have to wait another week for this major change. Is it me or this dress seems doomed?


  1. I too have learned the hard way about making a muslin! I can’t tell you how disappointed I was in a finished project just because I was a little to lazy to try the muslin first. But a lesson learned is one that you will remember and I have never forgotten it. Love the dress. Don’t say it is doomed, that leaves me not hopes for those few projects that lay waiting for me to finish that just wasn’t turning out the way I had hoped!

    1. I hope not! It’s just that I feel that anytime I make a mistake I have to wait for a whole week to fix it. It’s the downside of holidays I suppose 🙂

      It’s something good that at least we learn at the end, don’t you think?

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