Making a Muslin with Craftsy {Win a free class!}

I’ve mentioned before that I occasionally sew for myself, but not often. Part of the problem is that most simple, modern patterns for women’s wear involve straight lines, wide arm holes, and loose fitting styles. This is fine, except that I have these frustrating things called curves that follow me around everywhere and get in the way. Sewing something for myself requires a muslin, or worse yet (gasp!) more than one fitting.

The Summer of No Pants! on Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky!
Thankfully, my friend Marigold of Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky! had a little faith in me and asked me to participate in The Summer of No Pants as a guest blogger. I was just going to sew a skirt, but Craftsy upped the ante by betting I could make myself A REAL DRESS with the help of a good instructor and a sewing class called The Couture Dress. I wasn’t going to bet against those odds, so I’m here to show you what’s become of me and my work-in-progress.

THE COUTURE DRESS: A sewing class by Craftsy

The Couture Dress is an online class taught by the famed heroine of couture sewing, Susan Khalje. Susan’s teaching style is very detailed and clear, and I found her voice very soothing. The class is made up of 15 lessons, ranging anywhere from 20 minutes to 50 minutes and covering a range of topics including (but not limited to) these:

  • Muslin assembly
  • Muslin fitting
  • Underlining
  • Construction
  • Sleeves
  • Zippers
  • Hems
  • Lining
Included with the class is Vogue pattern V8648, but a number of other patterns can be used as well. Susan provides a list of recommended Vogue patterns, but I chose to use an indie pattern I’ve had on hand for awhile: The Ashland Dress by Sew Liberated. The pattern pieces and construction are very similar to the Vogue pattern, and yet I like that The Ashland Dress is constructed for cup sizes B-D, eliminating the need for bust adjustments on the muslin. Less work for a better fit? Yes, please!
To be honest, it’s been kind of fun blending an indie pattern (with the excellent instructions I’ve come to expect from Sew Liberated) with the techniques of couture sewing. I’ve had to make some adjustments, of course, but the education has been a fun one. 

Obviously, I can’t give away any couture secrets in this post (you’ll have to watch the class yourself), but I can tell you that the technique relies heavily on making a muslin as “the laboratory for your dress.” Since a couture dress is tailored to the curves of your body, the muslin is a crucial step in the process. Actually, it IS the process.
The class relies on a method of tracing out your stitching lines on the pattern pieces and then leaving a significant seam allowance (1″ to 1.5″) to allow for alterations as you fit the muslin to your own body. 
If you ever plan on making formal dresses for proms, weddings, or even professional wear for the office, I can highly recommend this class. I’m largely a self-taught sewist (with the help of the blogosphere) and just what I’ve learned about muslins will take my work up to a new level.
The dress is obviously not finished yet, but below you can see my progress so far. This is my first muslin for The Ashland Dress, and by some miracle it only needs a few minor changes. I’m sewing the version with sleeves, but I left those off for this fitting.

The back is gaping in the picture above because there’s no there and I was the only one around to clumsily pin the back pieces together.

Abby told me to look happier in the next picture, so here you go:

I got the darts right the first time!

There is only a little gaping at the arm pits, which will likely be fine once the sleeves are sewn on.

 Abby wanted in on the fun, too, and since she’s the expert around here, I let her be my guide.

There you have it, folks. I’ll be back next sometime next week with (hopefully) a finished product! I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. In the mean time, I have two important announcements:

First: I finally learned how to use the remote with my camera! And put the camera on a tripod! My husband is so happy! Take that, camera.

Second: IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! Whoohoo, I’m 32 years old today! So you should definitely leave me lots of comments saying happy birthday and how much my dress is going to rock. *wink*

For my birthday I’m giving one of YOU a present. Enter the giveaway HERE to win The Couture Dress class from Craftsy, a value of $50.00! Good luck everyone! 

The Summer of No Pants! on Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky!

This post is brought to you by The Summer of No Pants, a summer sewing-and-wearing challenge. Sew and wear dresses and skirts for the whole summer! Read all about it at Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky!
Follow on Bloglovin


  1. says

    You are SUCH a doll!! I’ve been thinking of ways to improve my garment sewing so this review really helped. Thanks and happy birthday! 🙂

  2. says

    You’re so cute, Caila, and Happy, Happy Birthday. (I’m really going to have to get one of those camera remotes!!! 🙂 )

  3. says

    Happy Birthday you look lovely in your dress. Taking that class would be great because I also have curves although I would say I am not as cute as you. Thanks for sharing.

  4. says

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Your muslin looks great, &I am crossing my fingers to win the class so mine can be less… time consuming/frustrating/etc. Diving into the world of adult sewing is daunting after working with children’s clothing!


  5. says

    Happy birthday!! Muslin-ing is a big pain, but so so satisfying once it’s done. I’m in the process right now too so I wish you good luck! It looks great so far.

  6. says

    Happy Birthday and great post! I know a lot of ladies avoid the muslin because of the time issue, but it is so important. I use thrift store cotton to sew mine up for just a few cents and if I’m lucky, I end up with an extra little sundress to wear around the house.

  7. says

    HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU CAILA.. But truly your muslin is super super cute and if you can learn from a Craftsy class so can I.. Actually I have taken a couple of their classes already and I have more on my list I need to take the time to just do them, but it’s hard to sit still for that long for me anyway!!!! Wishing you a very BLESSED & HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! Linda Lee

  8. says

    Happy Birthday!!! Hope it was a great one!
    Your description of the muslin process helps me understand it more. In the past, it just seemed like an extra step that took too much time…LOL! I guess I really should take the class to really learn more.
    Your muslin is already super cute! Cannot wait to see the final product 🙂
    Way to rock the camera remote……super fun pics!

  9. says

    Happy birthday! ( in Dutch: van harte gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag! ) The dress is superb ( wink ;-))
    No really, it is so sophisticated already in muslin! I have the same trouble with dresses, always to big under the arm. It is so smart to just sew your own!!!
    esthersipatchandquilt at yahoo dot com
    ipatchandquilt dot wordpress dot com