Ginger Muslin

If this is your first time making a muslin, its a good practice to get into. After you’ve made the flat pattern adjustments, we need to test the pattern to make sure it fits. And that’s what muslins are, a test, a practice run. They don’t just test fit either. Muslins test out the pattern, making sure that the adjustments you made actually work and that the pattern itself isn’t flawed in some way before we cut into the final fabric. The flat pattern adjustments really go a long way in helping the fit to be better and sometimes that’s all we need to do, but many times there are alterations to be made. That said, I don’t think there will be a lot, if any alterations that need to be made to this pattern. It’s really easy, however, muslin making is always a good idea and habit to get into.

For a muslin you don’t need to mock up the entire pattern – just the skeleton will be fine. For our Ginger skirts you’ll need to cut everything except the additional waistband pieces for the facing. Go ahead, cut out your muslin and stitch it up according to the pattern directions. Helpful tip: use a long basting stitch on your machine to mock up your muslin and a contrasting thread color. Disregard the waistband facing and instead thread mark the top of the waistband and press it over. Like this:

We are going to add in the zipper. It’s good practice and it will give you a better idea of how the skirt fits. To add in the zipper, follow the directions, but use a long basting stitch on your machine so we can take it out easier. Helpful tip: do not press the zipper coil – it will melt and you will experience a zipper blowout – just press the zipper tape if needed.

For the hem, thread mark and press just like the top of the waistband. And now its ready for trying on. When you try it on, make sure you are wearing the underclothes you would wear with your skirt and a shirt similar to one that you have in mind to wear with your skirt. These skirts look so fine with a tucked in shirt that you want to be sure that you can indeed tuck in a shirt and zip up your skirt.

Some things to look for:

  • make sure you can tuck in a shirt if you plan to wear yours with a shirt tucked in.
  • the waist to the hip should be smooth, if not pin it out or let out the seam and then mark how much you let in or out on your pattern
  • make sure the hem is even all the way around, if not have someone help you by using a yard stick and having your helper measure from the floor and pin mark the same measurement all the way around your skirt, then take off your muslin and trim just below the pin marks all the way around the skirt.

Let me know if you have questions and by all means, definitely snap a photo and put it in the flickr pool – especially if you have questions about the fit. And if you do have questions about the fit, please make sure that you have photos of you wearing your muslin. In the past I’ve had people ask for fitting help, but are too shy to wear their muslin and take a photo. Don’t be shy, wear a slip if needed and if you really don’t want others seeing you in your muslin, send it to me via email and I’ll help you out. I’ve put my muslin photos there and talked about my own personal alterations there too. Hop on over anyway and take a look at the fabric submissions. They are fantastic! Some really great Gingers are definitely going to be made up here!

Hopefully this skirt is an easy fit for you. Happy fitting!




25 thoughts on “Ginger Muslin

  1. hmm, I really should have done this, as my waistband pieces are too short, must have slipped when cutting! Luckily the thing still fits, but it still made me feel like an idiot! And it took me two goes to get the zip in, and it is in no way invisible! At least the second time however the zip is straight and evenly not invisible so I think I shall just leave it (I have no idea what I did the first time! -that will me to cut out and sew in front of the tv).

    Still its good to know I can mess up a beginners pattern as easily as anything else!

  2. i’m making view “c” with the bias cut fabric, and i have torn out and inserted my zipper 3 times and can’t get it to lay flat! i know it’s because the fabric stretches on the bias. i even went so far as to take the zipper out, trim out the seam allowances to have fresh un-stretched fabric to work with, then sewed in a strip of lightweight no-stretch tape that i found at the fabric store. then i re-inserted the zipper, being super careful not to stretch the fabric. it was still all lumpy-and-bumpy when i tried it on!!!! i’m ready to give up, but my striped fabric is so cute and i love the chevrons it makes, so i’m seeing if you have any advice before i chuck the whole thing and start over. i’m really surprised that colette doesn’t have any words of advice for this in their otherwise excellent instructions.

    1. I know exactly what you are talking about! Bias has some tricky issues to work with. I haven’t gotten to inserting the zipper yet into my bias version (and contemplated putting it in the side for this very reason). OK, here’s a suggestion. Take out the no-stretch tape and use a couple of strips of bias cut muslin or organza instead, and as you are sewing in the zipper, stretch the fabric slightly as you go. The problem with bias is that it wants/needs to stretch. Trying to keep it from stretching will only make it bubble. I’ll be doing a tutorial on the zipper insertion for both the straight cut and bias versions on wednesday, but hopefully in the meantime this will help. Let me know if I can help more! I don’t want you to chuck the skirt! We’ll get through it together!

      1. thanks!! i’ll set it aside until wednesday and give it another go then. i also thought about a side zipper, and wondered if maybe a regular (non-invisible) zipper would give me better control over the stretching. i like bias cut pieces because they fit so well, so i’m determined to master this!

  3. I’m not participating in your sew-along (just admiring your gorgeous blog every time you post something ;-)), but I should learn from this. I am always way too lazy (or hasty) to make a muslin and that has bitten me in the bu** a couple of times now. I admire your skill… and patience šŸ˜‰

    1. Thank you for your kind words! And I definitely know exactly what you mean about muslin making. I’m always upset with myself if I don’t go to the trouble of making a muslin first. It does make the sewing process longer, but in the end saves so much heartache. I’ve destroyed acres of fabric because I wouldn’t make a muslin. Literally, acres.

  4. I am almost finished version 2 for my next Ginger skirt. Since I love 5 pounds since my first version (baby weight be gone! lol) and I have to say that the invisible zipper tutorial that Colette Patterns put on their website was a Godsend. I have struggled with hit or miss zippers since I started sewing 3 or 4 years ago. Now I’ve put in 2 in a row with ease using their tutorial.

    I’m holding off on version 3 for you Sunni, as I have only made 2 bias cut projects in my life and one was a knit project that didn’t need a zipper.

  5. Do you have experience cutting down zippers? For my yellow version I had to buy a 12-14 inch invisible. The back has instruction for stitching and cutting off, but was wondering if you had any advice or know of a tutorial out there so I get it right. Thank you.

    1. Yes! you can most definitely cut them down. The pattern calls for a 9″ zipper. Cut off your zipper to a 1.5″ – 2″ beyond that, or cut a 10.5″ – 11″ zipper from your longer zipper. Then with a needle and thread tack several stitches across the zipper at the 9″ mark. And there you go! Let me know if I need to clarify further.

  6. AAArgh! I’m falling behind! I only cut out my pattern last night (I feel like a proffessional, I used tracing paper for the first time), this is the moment where I would say blast and not make a muslin, but being a closer fit I will for deffinate as I’m using a vintage fabric. Only problem is I’m trekking to the other side of the country on Thurs for a wedding!! Never enough time!!!

    1. Hi Charlotte,
      I’m with you in being behind as my pattern hasn’t turned up yet. This is entirely my own fault as I only ordered it last Friday.

      Still …… I am really busy over every evening this week so even if it was here, I’d be frustrated ‘cos of not having time to do anything! Still …… Bank Holiday weekend this weekend, so I’m planning on doing lots then šŸ™‚

      Enjoy your wedding šŸ™‚

      1. thanks Elaine,
        I managed a sneaky hours sewing, and have done a very basic muslin, guess what it doesn’t fit, surely little problems to sort but oh to have an easy shape.

      2. I’m with you there!!

        I have a bottom/thighs that belong to a bigger size than my waist ….. so, yes ….. a pear shape. It is adapting the pattern that I most want to get my head round as shop bought clothes often drive me to distraction!

        Hence …. making a muslin is a ‘must’ as far as my shape is concerned.

      3. Don’t worry! It really really does whip up quickly. My posts are much slower than what you will actually experience because I’m trying to include so much content. Seriously, easy peasy!

    2. No worries! We won’t be having the Ginger Tea Party til next week. I wanted these posts to be up before you got to them so that they are here for reference, but I’ll be waiting for next week to show off my Gingers and show off what others have finished as well. Believe me, once you get your muslin finished, this puppy whips up way fast.

  7. What? Oh, you really DO need to press the coils of an invisible zipper flat, it’s really important! Otherwise the zipper is curled up on itself and you can’t sew close enough to it for it to be completely invisible in the garment. Honestly, as long as you’re not holding the iron on it for ages, your zipper isn’t going to melt – I’ve been doing these for years and never lost a single one!

    1. Oh man! I’ve always had problems with invisible zips if I iron the coils, even on the lowest iron setting. The last time, it blew out, and I was at work in the middle of the day. It was awful. When I went to inspect the faulty zipper I noticed that a few of the coils were warped and the only reason I can think of is because of the iron melting them. I’ve never had one blow out since I stopped doing that. I also noticed that if I get the stitching too close to the coils then I can’t zip it up or down, so for me, not ironing the coil part works. However, I do know that for many others they’ve had good luck with ironing out the coils and getting the stitching really close to the coil, so I think its one of those things that you come up with your own way of doing. I’m going to show the way I insert them tomorrow, but also post links to alternative insertion methods. I’ve noticed there is lots of controversy over this issue.

  8. I admit, I am too lazy and impatient to make muslins. My sewing time is so limited these days, I can’t imagine finding twice as much time for each project. I know I should do it, but I never do. *hanging head in shame*

    1. I used to not make time for muslins and there are some projects that I feel comfortable tackling without doing one up. But I’ve never regretted not making one, even if they do take more time. For me, the project takes much longer without making one because of all the fitting alterations I try to do after cutting my final fabric. For some though, they can whip out lovely garments without making one. I envy them, a bunch.

  9. As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t started yet as I’m waiting for the pattern to come in the post. However, if you find the muslin doesn’t fit perfectly, how do you best go about correcting it and recording what you change so as to alter the pattern for when you cut the main fabric?

    Or ….. I guess it might depend on what problems you come up with?

    1. It does depend on the problems. Some of the problems you might find will be intuitive – like the waistband is too tight, must widen. Or the hem is too short or long. I encourage you to put photos of your muslins in the flickr pool and if you have a problem you can’t figure out, post it and I’ll do my best to answer. I dare say though that you won’t experience too many problems with the pattern. Its a very easy fit. But I’ll be watching if you do.

  10. I’m just starting this pattern and found the link to your sewalong on the Colette Patterns forum. I think this might be my first pattern… the book says to trace the pattern “use your marking pen pencil, or chalk to trace the pattern pieces onto your fabric”. Could you describe how to do this for me? How do I get it exact? Do I have to lift up the pattern?

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