Friday, July 22, 2011

A Wearable Muslin (Simplicity 2365)

Since I've re-entered the world of sewing (a world transformed, like everything else, by the internet) I've been on a steep learning curve. One term I hear a lot is "wearable muslin," which means, essentially, a test version of a pattern that you can wear if it turns out decently. A muslin, or toile, is the term for a test garment made in cheap, unbleached woven fabric (muslin). Below is a picture of the muslin I made for Simplicity 2601. A wearable muslin, then, just uses whatever fabric you have around that you don't mind sacrificing to the inevitable mistakes and adjustments that happen to the first garment one makes from a pattern. With that in mind I used this small floral, with which I fell out of love after buying, to make Simplicity 2365. I learned pintucking (fun and pretty!), used contrasting scraps for facings at the collar and hem, and sewed on the two orange buttons I had left over from the blue dress I made a month ago. I ended up with an imperfect but pretty garment that I will certainly wear (it looks better on me than on my strong-shouldered dress form). But what I really learned is this: a wearable muslin is less an object than a state of mind. Anything you allow to be imperfect is a muslin, no matter how expensive the materials. It's a metaphor with limitless potential. Your first boyfriend? A wearable muslin for your eventual marriage! Your first book report? Muslin for the dissertation! Etc. etc. The power of the idea is in the freedom it grants one to play, to err, to falter, and still to enjoy the ride.

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