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.
I've finally refined my method for this, and while I have a feeling it may be a totally obvious method, I thought I'd share it anyway! This is a non-fussy way to make a muslin from a vintage pattern without tracing it first--and it doesn't harm the pattern at all. This only works for perforated patterns, not the printed kind. Here's what I do.
First, I lay my muslin out, on the fold. Next, lay your first pattern piece on top of the muslin, check the grainline, and hold it down with weights. (Note: you can use a dry iron on vintage patterns, but the folds are very hard to get out completely. I just smooth it out as much as possible by hand, unless there's a really egregious wrinkle.)
Transfer the pattern perforations by filling them in with a pencil. Also fill in notches.
If you're not sure what any of the markings are, refer back to your pattern instructions, where they'll be labeled.
Make any pattern alterations you know you'll need right off the bat. Here, I've added width below the armhole.
Next, cut out the piece with a rotary cutter, being very careful not to nick the pattern.
Remove the pattern and weights and hold the cut pieces together with a few pins. Label the pieces, making a note of any alterations you made.
Transfer the markings to the other piece by putting tracing paper face-up underneath your muslin pieces. I use a blunt knitting needle to transfer the marks.
Now both pieces are marked!
If your pieces have a grainline marking (which is denoted by two large circles), I connect the circles and transfer the grainline to the other piece so I can use it as my pattern later.
Now your pieces are all marked and ready to assemble as a muslin! You can later rip apart the muslin and use the pieces as your pattern, which saves you having to make a tracing of the vintage pattern. I only make a muslin with the crucial pieces (no facings or anything), so I will later carefully cut out those pieces on the fashion fabric with weights and a rotary cutter or make tracings of them if needed.
Like I said, this may be completely obvious, but I'm pleased with it anyway. It kills two birds with one stone (the pattern copying and muslin making) and is very gentle on brittle patterns. Any tips of your own to share, readers?