Why You Should Make A Toile Or Muslin

Unbleached cotton fabric and muslin mock-up

Creating a muslin is an extra step in the sewing process that comes with many benefits; but, how do you decide if a muslin is needed for your project? Let us say you are working with a pattern for the first time, and you want to know if the finished garment will fit you as expected; this is where a muslin can be especially helpful.

What is a muslin?

A muslin is essentially a mock-up or test of your garment, often made by using muslin fabric. It is an opportunity to test out your pattern and work through the details prior to using your main project fabrics. A muslin is also referred to as a “toile.” Muslin fabric is an unbleached or bleached 100% cotton woven fabric. It is used in several different sewing applications and is available in a range of fabric weights and qualities.

You can also use an inexpensive fabric that is similar to your desired project fabric to sew your mock-up. You can make the entire project without the lining and facing or you can choose to focus on a specific portion or aspect of your project. Another option is to make a wearable mock-up of your project; one that is fully put together but may have some fitting issues.

What are the benefits of doing a muslin?

  • Check for any fitting issues
  • Make changes to the pattern for a better fit
  • Make alterations to the design to make it your own
  • Save your primary fabric by identifying issues prior to cutting
  • Test the placement of darts and other sewing details
  • Review or practice sewing techniques
  • Identify any issues with the pattern instructions

When should you make a muslin?

  • If you have specific fitting concerns that you will like to address or if you will like to make adjustments to the pattern.
  • When there are any concerns about fit or wearing ease.
  • If you are trying a new sewing technique and will like to work through the steps prior to working on your project.
  • When working with a type of material for the first time and will like to get some practice working with a similar fabric.
  • If you are limited on fabric and you want to make effective use of your materials.
  • If your main project fabric is very expensive or difficult to find.

Tip! Match the weight and type of fabric you are using to the type of fabric you plan on using for your finished project. If you are using a knit fabric, use a knit with a similar stretch to your desired project fabric.


  1. Trace and cut out your pattern
  2. Cut your pattern pieces from your muslin, label and transfer any markings from the original pattern
  3. Mark center front with a hand basting stitch in a contrasting coloured thread
  4. Make any darts or other details
  5. Sew your mock-up together following sewing instructions; less any closures, lining or facing
  6. Use a long stitch length to make it easier to remove stitches if needed
  7. Staystitch raw edges on stitch lines and baste hems in place
  8. Try on the muslin and make any adjustments as needed
  9. Transfer changes onto your traced pattern
  10. Test changes if needed with another muslin

Happy Stitching!

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