My sewalong co-host Lauren and I are as different as night and day, but on this we completely agree: You need to make a V1419 muslin before you cut into your fashion fabric. Here are three main reasons why:
- This coat style has a slim fit through the bust, waist and shoulders. You need to ensure the fit in these areas before you proceed to working with your actual fabric.
- This coat, while not very hard to make, does require time, especially with the interior finishings. You want to make sure you are 100% happy with the way this style looks on you. Sewing a muslin gives you a chance to try before you buy.
- This coat has a slightly tricky area to sew, and making a muslin gives you a chance to practice first. Then you’ll put less stress on your fashion fabric by not having to rip seams and re-stitch it excessively, because you’ll get it right on the first try.
Bottom line about sewing muslins in general: You’ll never regret making a muslin, but you’ll always regret not making a muslin.
Ok, enough preaching, let’s talk about sewing this muslin (“toile” in other parts of the world). Here are 10 tips:
- Use a muslin fabric that mimics your fashion fabric. I made my two muslins out of cotton duck, which is stiff and substantial. Use solid fabric if you can: At the McCall Pattern Company we sew all our muslins out of solid fabric so we can easily make notes on them.
- Transfer all the pattern markings to each muslin piece. This is really important. Indicate every single grain line and every single dot that’s there to help you line up pattern pieces when you stitch. You will not regret this. Also, on the side piece (#3), write on your muslin that the seam with the point that juts out is the back seam. On the gusset (#4), write on your muslin that the seam with the two dots (bottom of triangle) is the part that gets stitched to the top of the side piece (#3).
- Choose your size first by bust size on the pattern envelope, then by looking at the bust and waist measurements on the tissue pieces. The tissue measurements are the actual circumferences of the finished garment as though it were buttoned up ready for wear. I confess I made my first muslin of this pattern by using solely the tissue measurements, and I had a hunch it was going to be too small but I went ahead anyway. Yup, too small. I cut the size up for my next muslin and it’s 95% there, just needs one small tweak near the front shoulder, and I’m going to make the sleeves straight instead of belled.
- Stitch your muslin by machine basting, and use an easily visible contrasting thread.
- Stitch following the instructions but omit the parts about any interior finishing. You’re just sewing to ensure you like the fit and the style on you. Add the belt and welt pockets but don’t worry about stitching these pieces. I just baste them on more or less to make sure I like the way they look and that the placement works for my body.
- As I said above, this coat has a slightly tricky area to sew. That would be around step #18, where you attach the side piece with gusset to the front and back pieces of the coat. This is where you will be so happy you marked the pattern dots on the muslin piece. Match the dots and then ease the pieces to fit, pinning where necessary to ease-in fullness. If you have ever sewn a sleeve where you had to ease in fullness on the sleeve cap, then this is the same principle and you’ll be fine with this step. Take your time.
- Press open seams and clip every place we tell you to. Don’t feel you can skip these two steps just because you’re sewing a muslin. You won’t be able to truly assess the fit unless you press and clip. Trust us on this.
- When you’re finished, hopefully you’ve gotten lucky as Lauren did and your muslin fits just like you want it to. If not and you’re not quite sure what kind of adjustments you should make, then please feel free to post a photo of you wearing your muslin to the V1419 Sewalong group we just created on Flickr and ask for opinions. (Please join and follow this Flickr group so we can share, support and encourage each another!)
- If you do have to make another muslin, save the side piece and gusset stitched together, plus the lower sleeve piece. These do not change per size and you can save time by reusing them. Just cut a new front, back and upper sleeve as needed. You also don’t need to cut new belts, pockets or welts.
- Once you are happy with the size of your muslin, rip it apart, press it flat, and use these pieces to cut your fashion fabric. Remember to transfer all the markings on your muslin, like the dots, to your fashion fabric.
You’re gonna be surprised at how quickly this muslin stitches up. It’s actually not that hard a pattern to sew, and when you’re just machine-basting it will make up fast.
Next week on her blog Lauren will talk about prep work, cutting your fabric, underlining and more. Don’t worry if you are behind us or ahead: This is a go-at-your-own-pace sewalong. No pressure, people! Just relax and enjoy sewing a couture coat with your friends. Leave me a comment here and let us know how you’re doing, sewalong-wise.