Monday, December 13, 2010

In Praise of the Muslin

I admit it, I'm a muslin groupie, one of the 7 people in the world who publicly takes a stand in praise of the muslin. I am a true muslin believer.

We all  know people who don't sew garments because of the fitting issue. These same people will spend a million or so hours making up a quilt with a zillion or so pieces, each requiring perfectly matched points, yet they won't sew clothes because it takes too long to sew up a muslin.

I recently spent time with one of those, a friend who didn't believe in wasting time on a muslin. She visited me with a perfectly constructed, embroidered and crystalled blouse that she can't wear because no amount of changes will make the neckline not gap and the fronts meet correctly. Ah... the case for the muslin.

Anyway, I am a believer. I've drunk the muslin Kool Aide.

So it doesn't make sense that I would make up a top without making a muslin first, but I did. In my own defense, Friday I was at a wonderful little fabric store in Diamond Springs California where there were samples of many of their patterns made up in a variety of sizes. As I watched my friends shop, my hand clasped over the top of my purse (did I mention I'm very poor) I decided to try on a few of the samples to pass the time.

And therein lies my mistake. One of the samples was magnificent. Well, the sample was OK, but the pattern it was made from was magnificent. So I bought the pattern. Never mind that I sell patterns for a living (but not the Christine Jonson patterns). Never mind that my queue of proposed projects is longer than Richie Rich's Christmas list. I noted the size of the sample (X small) bought the pattern, took it home and traced it out.

The pattern is Christine Jonson's Princess Wrap top. It's a simple T- top with a wrap front. I had a compelling reason to move this pattern to the front of my sewing list; I could use it to make up the last two presents on my 'nice' list. As both of the people requiring gifts conveniently wear the exact same size as me, I was ready to sew. I had lots of knit fabric in the house and  I knew this would fit both me and my friends because I had tried on the sample.

The pattern is delightful. It takes NO time to make and it looks wonderful on. Well, let me re-phrase that, it looks wonderful on when you make the right size, which unfortunately I had not.

My initial try was with a delightful heavy black knit covered with little white nubs. Too bad I had cut out an extra small and I (and my two friends) wear a small. After construction I tried on the top. I should say I tried to try on the top. I pushed and pulled and squeezed and finally got it on. The word sausage comes to mind.

Yikes! I had thought that I had my last two presents complete. Thought that that stress and pressure of the holiday gift race was over, yet now I had two more presents to make. And there was a time crunch. The clock read 3 pm Saturday afternoon and the next gift giving occasion was Sunday at 4.
The end of the story was that I did make up both tops with plenty of time to spare. I didn't have enough of the black and white to make third and fourth tops so I had to find something else. Luckily, the hall closet has taken on a new name, the knits stash closet. Hiding at the bottom of the pile under puddles of slinky and poufs of polar fleece lurked a silvery, shimmery gray knit. Voila! Enough for the two tops.  I was ready to sew.

I went to my first choice of sewing techniques, I waved my wand and called the sewing mice from Cinderella. Unfortunately they didn't show. Guess it's a pretty busy time of year for sewing mice. No way around it, I was going to have to do it myself. I traced the pattern again, this time in size small (I guess that X on the label at the store was really a schmear or scribble or something. That top in the store couldn't have been an extra small, must have been a small.)

Luckily the top sews up very quickly (as I've already said).  I finished it with time to spare. Even got in a bicycle ride after I finished. Here's the top on me. Look fast - it's already out the door and in another home.

So now to make one for myself which means adding embroidery. I haven't been working with embroidery on knits much. Time for that to change.


Catherine Goetz said...

I've always wondered why many people who quilt don't make their own garments. With all those piecing, binding and precise sewing skills a garment would put them to good use! I've not been a muslin maker myself and I've paid the price. The only time I've made a muslin was for my wedding dress. When you cut into $100/m lace, you'd better be right! I enjoyed your post and I'm inspired to do muslins more often.

Lyn said...

That's a lovely top, Bobbi! Very flattering. I rarely sew garments, but when I find a pattern that works well for me, I will make several iterations. I have two shirt patterns like that. I think I've made each of them at least 4 or 5 times. I agree with you on the muslin though, it's impossible to fit yourself without doing that and always well worth it in the end.