Friday, October 1, 2010

Tips for Using Your Muslin as a Pattern

This question popped up on the Facebook page, and I thought it was a good one:

I've never used a muslin as my pattern before - do I repeat the one inch seam allowances on my wool when cutting out 'for real'? Any other tips for using muslin pieces as a pattern?

You may have cut out your Lady Grey pattern already, so this may be a moot point for the purposes of this sew-along. But it's an interesting discussion in general, I think!

First off, let me say that a lot of this comes down to personal preference. Some people like to use their muslins as patterns, others prefer to transfer everything back to the paper pattern. It's up to you, and sewing experts I admire and have learned a lot from all have their own ways. But here are a few things to bear in mind if you decide to use your muslin as your pattern:

  1. You will most likely want to trim your 1-inch seam allowances down to avoid bulk. Also, if you've let you seams out at all, you will have "used up" some of your wide seam allowances. I've trimmed my Lady Grey seam allowances down to 5/8", which will match the seam allowances on the paper pieces that didn't get used in the muslin (facings, etc.).
  2. Secondly, be careful not to distort your muslin as you're working with it. Don't rip basted pieces apart roughly, and when pressing, don't push or pull with the iron, as this might distort the grain.
  3. If there are spots on your muslin that need reinforcing (like areas that have been clipped), you can iron on a backing of fusible interfacing as needed.
  4. You can either use all of your muslin pieces for a single-layer cutting layout, or you can use only half of the muslin for a regular double-layer layout. A single layer layout is really nice for difficult fabrics, but you might not need it for an easy-to-cut wool.
I think that's it for me! Have any tips of your own?

Hope your cutting is going well. I'm looking forward to putting some tutorials together for you this weekend!


  1. The best tip I think it to MAKE a muslin, something I've only done once in my 30+ years of sewing :-)

  2. I'm still tweaking my muslin and playing catch-up with everyone ... I need a 48-hour day!

  3. I think these are pretty good tips and cover most of the bases when it comes to using a muslin for a pattern, Gertie! I've done this for years, and find it a lot easier in many cases to use the muslin itself, rather than fiddle with transferring the adjustments/markings to pattern paper. Plus, the upside is that the muslin has a bit of "grip" so it doesn't want to slide around while you're pinning!

    ♥ Casey
    blog |

  4. Most of my projects get at least 2 muslins! Also, I am SO not looking forward to adjusting the facing and lining pieces :-(

  5. Gertie, my fabric is similar to yours I believe. So I'm curious, will you be cutting yours out as a single layer or will you be doubling up the fabric to cut it out.

    Additionally, I'm wondering if I should use stay tape on the seams for extra stability.

    I'm going to be serging my seam allowances, so I don't want to do overkill. I've just never worked with a tweed-ish fabric, let alone the thick wool.

    Thanks for your (continued) fabulous posts.

  6. I'll be using my muslin as my pattern and doing a single layout as my pieces are soo not symetrical. Gonna use the paper pattern to check I've transfered all the markings though as I know I missed some on my muslin.

  7. Just a quick note if you altered for fit and need to use both left and right muslin pieces when you cut: When you lay the fashion fabric face down or up on the cutting surface, be sure to do the same with your muslin.

  8. I have to admit that I am pretty lackadaisical about seam-allowances, but then the lady grey coat is the first patterns I've sewn that included seamallowances. Most of my sewing has been from patterns where you add the allowance to the pattern.
    As long as the sewing line is marked, the seam-allowance can be what you want it to be.

  9. I have not used my muslin as a pattern before, preferring to transfer to paper and work that way. However, Marji of FiberArts Afloat, whose work I respect enormously, suggests not removing seams on the muslin, which can distort it, but simply cutting it apart on the seamline, leaving a seam-allowance-free pattern to place on the fabric.


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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