Sunday, 9 June 2013

How to quickly assemble your muslin

Not only I am the slowest seamstress in the world, I am also the slowest blogger.

For the last three weeks I've been so engrossed in pattern-making that I do not have enough time to breath!  I am constantly learning new things, one of which is the subject of today's post.  But first, here is a little back story. If you are not interested in it, feel free to skip and read the tutorial.

Guess who is the teacher ;)
When I moved to Tokyo three years ago, adapting to a new culture and learning a new language turned out not challenging enough, so I decided to sign up for the evening patternmaking certification at ESMOD Tokyo.  With some very basic knowledge of Japanese language and lots of enthousiasm to learn about dart manipulation and sleeves construction, I started to attend lessons taught by Ayumi-sensei.

She was perfect, patient with our group and me in particular, trying to understand my gibberish Japanese and giving to the class all that she new! I loved every single lesson and, after a while, did not feel guilty about my basic Japanese proficiency  At the end of the day, patternmaking is all about geometry and logic, and the language barrier was not an issue.

Then the first year at ESMOD came to its end and I had to say goodbye to Ayumi-sensei. Of course, we met from time to time for a cup of coffee or lunch, and all our conversations ended up being patternmaking and sewing.

When my move to London became decided, I realized that I would be missing out if I didn't use the opportunity to learn more from Ayumi-sensei. So I asked her to give me private lessons, and she kindly agreed!

The initial plan includes the creation of my slopers for bodice, skirt, trousers with variations of sleeves and collars.

For my first lesson,  I drafted and assembled the bodice and skirt using the thread-tracing method I learnt from Susan Khalje. The method is good and pretty logical. But on the day of my first lesson I had to re-draft and re-sew three muslins each for bodice and skirt: six in total. You can imagine that thread-tracing all of them would take forever. However Ayumi-sensei showed me a really cool and quick method of assembling a muslin, used in the industrial sewing, which I wanted to share with you.

How to quickly assemble your muslin

In order to quickly sew darts, you need to create creases with an iron and then topstitch them together.

1. Crease a dart from the centre towards the side seam.  

2. Ensure that your iron is nice and hot to create neat creases. Use steam.

3. Topstitch your dart using rather long stitch length to make the ripping part easier. I use 3mm.

4. And voilĂ ! Your dart is sewn together and your garment is ready for the first fitting! (There will be more than one!)

This is how my bodice looked after the first fitting. Black lines are the areas for improvement ;)

5. If your garment does not require many changes, rip the seams, make adjustments to the garments and re-sew together. If, on the contrary, there are a lot of adjustments to make, it’s better to re-draft a new pattern and start sewing from scratch

When you deal with a diamond-shaped dart like the one pictured above, make a cut in the middle. The fabric will become more flexible and easy to manipulate.

Side seam, waist

Sew the front and back of the .bodice (or different parts of your garment) using exactly the same method: crease one side and top-stitch it to the other side. Don't forget to make cuts along curved lines.

Since learning this method, I have probably put together 10 or 12 more muslins with incredible speed! Now, depending on the situation, I will either use this method or the thread-tracing one.

I hope that this post was useful and you will try this approach to muslin assembly. If, for whatever reason, the tutorial was not clear enough, I can try to shoot a video.

How do you assemble your muslin?


  1. This looks really interesting. I'm bookmarking this page for future reference. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Interesting and very new info! I'll give that a try.

  3. Thanks Inna. Having just spent yesterday working through a muslin I wish I'd known about that dart method. But now I do. Yay. Btw, love that photo, which one is the teacher?

  4. Thanks for this. I have used the tracing wheel on both sides and then sewn together as you would a garment. Using your method you would only need to trace on one side. Will give it a go next time.

  5. Thanks Inna!!!!! The iron trick is sooo usefull :-) You are learning many things. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Try this with another muslin! This method does miracles!

    Haha :) Japanese ladies looks from the age of 15 to 50 look the same!!! it's bottom right.

  7. Great! :) Before I knew this method I found it very frustrating to pin a dart together. It took me forever to match dart edges grrrr

  8. Glad to hear you find it useful!

  9. Interesting! Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. Very cool! I'm definitely going to try this next time around! I also really want to try the carbon-paper and tracing wheel technique (I've yet to source carbon paper :( ) Sounds like such a fabulous opportunity, doing your patternmaking class! You're so right though - Asian ladies age so well. So awesome to see guys in the class as well!

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  14. Sewing Princess16 June 2013 at 22:48

    Whoa! excellent trick. I didn't realize you were moving to London. Exciting though I can imagine you will miss Tokyo too. It will be great to have you in Europe :)

  15. I got wax tracing paper from this site and ordered it directly to the hotel where I stayed in the US because the international shipping is crazy expensive.

  16. I am still trying to resolve my visa situation, but yes, will be in Europe soon. So looking forward to be a part of the "EU sewing community"!