A primer on muslins

Although muslin is usually associated with (and in fact traditionally referring to) unbleached cotton, it often makes sense to use other fabrics when making test garments, especially when working with stretchy or drapey designs. I like to source my test fabrics in the bargain bins in fabric stores and Ikea is another favorite, since they often have offers on regular cotton and on some other fabrics too. You don’t need a ton of different fabrics, but I think every muslin stash should include some cheap knits (both with and without lycra), a drapey fabric (like slinky polyester), and some regular woven cotton.
Here are some examples on what sort of fabrics I’ve used for test garments.

The fabric I wanted to use for these pants was a lycra/linen mix, so I  picked a cheap lycra/cotton shirting fabric for the muslin. By using a lycra fabric I was more able to assert the proper fit and ease, since a non stretch fabric would have been too tight.

For my wedding dress I went to Ikea for my muslin fabrics. I knew that they had some cheap chiffon type of fabric, which I needed in order to asses construction issues and drape. The Ikea fabric was a bit stiffer than the silk chiffon I used for the proper dress, but it still worked well.
 Regular muslin fabric (ie unbleached cotton) is great for tailored styles, like the rain coat I made a few years back.

When making test garments for knits, I always use knit fabric of similar quality. For this project I just used some odd t-shirt fabric, that I also scribbled on to mark seam lines and details.


  • Ripple Dandelion
    March 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Good tips! Thanks for the ideas.

  • Julie Culshaw
    March 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Do you make muslins for all your garments?

    • Johanna
      March 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      No, far from, but I sometimes wish I did!

  • Aline
    March 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Thank you!! Another thing I must remember to do is note the fabric composition when I buy…I get home and have no clue what is in the fabric. I see that it is really important even for muslin making.

  • poppykettle
    March 6, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I love the feeling I get just before sewing together a muslin – you know you don't have to worry about anything but sewing it together because it's not the final thing, but at the same time you're creating something new so it's a bit exciting! At least, that's what I try and convince myself when I'm frustrated at the extra time required to make and fit. But it's always worthwhile in the end. I couldn't agree more on using similar fabrics to your final outcome though. Makes visualising it all the easier 🙂

  • meli88a
    March 7, 2012 at 12:10 am

    I thought I was the only one who kept cheap and ugly fabric around for a muslin stash! Great minds think alike. 🙂


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