I'm a sewing enthusiast in Beacon, New York, with a love of all things retro. This site is all about tutorials, tips, inspiration, and lots of spirited discussion about sewing as it relates to fashion history, pop culture, body image, and gender. My first book, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, is now out from STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books! Also look for my line "Patterns by Gertie" from Butterick.
Let's try this again, shall we? I completely lost the text to yesterday's post (it must be a sign), so I'm starting from scratch here. From your feedback, it seems like what you all want is a good, rollicking discussion of the pros and cons of muslin-making, so that's what we'll do here!
What prompted me to write about muslins was this post on the BurdaStyle blog, which I thought was a good, balanced look into muslins and why/when to make them. What surprised me was the amount of nay-saying in the comments, since it seemed to me like the home sewing world had really come around to making muslins. In particular, I was interested in one commenter who felt that muslin-making had gotten completely out of hand in the DIY crowd, and in fact went so far as to say that she felt the muslin-making phenomenon was prompting pattern companies to be more lax with their sizing.
I suppose the kernel of what is interesting in all this is the way the use of muslins has evolved for home sewists. My vintage sewing books never talk about muslin-making, and instead use a combination of tissue-fitting and a basted-fitting. Now, home seamstresses have gotten hip to the whole muslin thing and use them as a way to perfect their patterns. But has it gotten out of hand? Are we making too many muslins? Do you feel a pang of guilt when you don't make a muslin?
For what it's worth, some of the backlash seems to be against couture sewing in general. Not every home seamstress wants to sew couture, and that's totally fine! But I will say that the use of muslins doesn't just originate in couture--it's also a time-tested RTW technique. I was grilling my sample-maker friend about this the other day, and he says clothing manufacturers use a lot of muslins to make sure their designs are perfect before they go into production.
Personally, it's gotten so ingrained in me to make a muslin for every project that it's now a guilty pleasure not to! There's something freeing about the process of just picking a pattern, checking the measurements, diving in, and hoping for the best. Obviously, you wouldn't want to do this with expensive fabric or, ahem, a garment that was going to be in a book. (Yeah, lesson learned on that one.)
At the end of the day, I've never regretted making a muslin. And I try to remember that. Making a muslin doesn't have to be a laborious thing. It can be a quick sewing of just a bodice to check things out. In my Bombshell Dress class, I talk about making a bodice muslin because the fit is so crucial on a bustier dress. Also, there's some tricky sewing in inserting the bra cups, and I think it's good to practice on a cheap fabric like muslin (or toile or calico or whatever you call it! Old bed sheets also work well). But I suppose there's a time and place for muslin-making, and pros and cons against it.