Thursday, June 28, 2012

Muslin Musings and the West End

Front view
Recently one of my neighborhood groups had a hearty online discussion about the making of wearable muslins. Who would have known that there would be so many opinions on this subject?

Well, it made me wonder. There are opinions and then there are facts. As a former survey-wielding-academic, I decided to do an in-depth study. I ask all the sewers in my studio what they thought of wearable muslins.

And the results are in: it depends.

Back view
As one responder said, sometimes you just know you don't need a muslin, wearable or otherwise. For a Coco jacket, you need a muslin. For other pieces, maybe, maybe not.

Take two days ago, for example. TSW urban pants pattern is my favorite pants pattern for comfortable hot-weather wear. It would be fabulous as a skirt. And, heck, I've made it 4 or 5 times now. It's a TNT. So straight away, I cut into this fabulous striped linen - you know, the kind that starts out soft and wears beautifully.

I had to tweak it a little here. Whack. And there. Had to remove the crotch. Whack, whack. Now the stripes are off a little. Whack, whack, whack.

Humongous. Really.
Well, you get the picture. Soon, I had two rectangles plus two other more-narrow rectangles. Rectangles. Not on its way to becoming my go-to skirt. So I carefully rolled that fabric up and stuffed in the back of the closet.

I think the problem with making muslins is that we sewers are just a naturally optimistic lot. Why waste all that sewing mojo on ugly muslin when we have the perfect fabric in our stash? Or in the store. Or online.

Luckily my newest pattern from TSW was waiting out in the mailbox - the West End top and pants. No point in fretting over a little mistake with the striped linen. The West End pants are perfect for my upcoming vacation in Texas. The perfect combination of om and yeehaw.

This time, I was more cautious. I cut it out of light weight denim, Louise Cutting's suggested *muslin* fabric, especially since it's going to be wearable. Denim - perfect for Tejas.

And, in the case of TSW, I know my size, right? I've been successfully making patterns from this company for years - size M for tops; size L for bottoms with a few bust-to-hip transitions as needed.

removing 2-4 inches, easy.
The size L of the West End pants are large, as in too large. Sure, they are comfortable. Big clothes are always comfortable.

But I don't look like the model on the front and I don't look the way I visualized myself. Head cocked to the side in my cowboy hat, scuffed Lucchese's peeking out from under the carefully top-stitched hem. No, not at all.

You can see in a couple of these pictures how it would look if I pinched out about 1-2 inches over each hip. Much better.

Cute pocket though, right?
I just checked the pattern tissue. This puts me squarely into size Medium. The Sewing Workshop engaged in vanity sizing?

I'm thinking back to the last Sewing Workshop pattern I made - the Icon Shirt. It was way too large, and I made my usual size Medium for a top from the TSW. Well, I thought, maybe this is just the style - a big shirt style.

I am also working on the Lotus Skirt, an old Sewing Workshop pattern. It has a fitted yoke, so I did know to make a muslin of the yoke, at the least. And I learned that I need a size 18. Gulp.

So size 18 in the old pattern; size Medium in the new. You decide.
Top tucked in only to show you.

I don't wear tops tucked in. Ever.

TNT Urban pants, for comparison



  1. I had a suspicion this would be the case...don't know what's going on with their sizing. I'm thinking of doing the Lotus or Origami skirt, so I'm glad to hear I need to MEASURE!

  2. I don't knot TSW so can't comment - but amusing post.

  3. Yikes, what a difference in sizing over the years! When friends have asked me what size I buy in RTW, I generally reply--"depends on where I purchase, at Neiman's, a size 4 or 6; at Walmart, a size "L" or "XL" yep, vanity sizing and designer vs. mass production.

  4. I am really wondering though if this is more a style thing than a size thing. This new pattern really looks like it is designed with lits of ease and your other pants are not. There is a lot of difference between loose fitting and form fitting.

  5. I don't get it. It certainly makes sense that different pattern companies will have their own sizing, but when something is that extreme within a company - they're not doing their job, imho. TSW is better than that!

    Thanks for the giggles in your post, anyway ;-D And good luck with saving the pants!

  6. Martha, those pants are so big that two of you would fit inside. :-) I love wide legged, flowing pants, and a more fitted, shorter pant. I just make a lot of quick muslins (read-potential pj pants) with new patterns.

  7. Martha! Those pants look like you recently lost 50 pounds and haven't bought new clothes. Try a size small! I'm going to be in Texas soon, too. I'm sure we'll bump into each other since that state is so small...