What is a Muslin? The Complete Beginner’s Guide.

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Today we are going to learn What is a Muslin? More precisely speaking, what is a muslin in sewing.

I will teach you the difference between a muslin dress and what a muslin cloth is used for.

In addition, I’ll tell you the same term can be used in so many ways, not only in sewing, and what kind of muslin is used in each one of those ways.

In short, you’ll be in for very fun reading, so I hope you are ready to learn.

what is a muslin

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Broadly speaking we know a muslin is either a fabric or a mock-up of a pattern. 

But there is actually so much more information that we don’t know about it.

For designers making muslins to test a new garment before sewing it with real fabric is a must.

I have to say that I do not bother a lot with this. However, that’s a very bad call sometimes and I end up messing up my fabrics. 

That leads to a waste of time and money. 

And who wants that? Am I right?

So let’s read about why muslins are so important, how and why to make them, and even how to take care of this particular fabric. 

I also want to talk to you a little bit about where it comes from and its history. 

Just for the fun of it (geek alert over here). 

Are you ready? Let’s dive in.


Muslin is a fabric made from plain-weave cotton or cotton blends in many varieties of weights from sheer to very heavy ones. These fabrics can be used in very different situations, for instance, in sewing to cooking or as a backdrop for art. On the other hand, a Muslin Pattern is a complete garment made from inexpensive fabric. 

It does not necessarily have to be made of muslin fabric, in fact, you can make a muslin from any fabric that resembles the most to the one you intend to use on the final garment.

Muslin’s garments are usually draped on a body form and then taken apart to make the actual pattern. The process of making a muslin pattern is also called a Toile.


According to britannica, this material was made first in the city of Mosul (Irak) and that is where its name comes from.

After that, India began to produce very fine and lightweight varieties of this type of fabric and began to European countries. But Europe didn’t begin to make it until 1700.


Muslin is made from cotton or cotton blends. And it can have a very wide variety of weights depending on the need of the fabric.

For example, a very lightweight and open wave muslin can be used as a cheesecloth. 

But coarser qualities that have carded yarn, can be used for sheets, pillow making, or to test and experiment on patterns as mentioned above. This kind of coarser muslin is also called Muslinet.


  • Gauze. Gauze is a sheer open-weave fabric that can be made from silk, cotton, or rayon. It can be used for clothes such as blouses, to dress wounds, or for cooking purposes. It is very lightweight made with loosely cotton yarns. 
  • Muslinet. A muslinet is a heavy-weight form of a muslin that is mainly used to test or draping garments on a mannequin before making the final pattern.
  • Muslin Bed-sheeting. This is the type of fabric used to make bedclothes such as sheets and pillows. It has a plain wave and it’s very soft to the touch. It is also used commonly for baby bed sheets and muslin blankets.


In sewing, muslin is used to save time and money by testing a design or pattern first in a cheaper fabric with or without the help of a dress form.

As we know our bodies have different body shapes and sizes. 

Even though most patterns have measuring charts and the option to grade them between sizes, there can always be a margin of error.

And if you want to use an expensive or a very special fabric, the best thing to do before even cutting it is to make a muslin first.

This will help to avoid the most common sewing mistakes on your final garment.

what is a muslin

That way you can test the fit and make changes as needed.

Another cool thing is that if you make a muslin first, you can experiment with design elements of your own without the fear of messing up the final garment.

Also, it is a great way to practice some new sewing techniques or skills you haven’t sewn before.

It can also be used to drape a design directly on a dress form and experiment with it until the result pleases you.

After that, the muslin is marked and taken off the dress form to make the final sewing pattern.


Depending on the project or your needs there is a few muslins fabric you can choose from.


If you are going to make a muslin garment to check the fitting and make modifications on it before sewing the real thing try to choose a fabric that resembles the most on content, weave, and general weight.

If you are making a knit sewing garment use a cheaper version of the same stretch percentage fabric.

On the other hand, if you are making a woven garment you can use a lightweight natural muslin fabric.

what is a muslin


To practice your techniques the best type of muslin to choose from is a range between a medium weight and heavyweight natural muslin.

This will allow you to manipulate and work with the fabric very easily.

But, let me give you a very wise recommendation first. Pre-wash the fabric first!

This type of fabric is mostly or entirely made of natural fibers, which means that it will almost surely shrink after washing, pressing, or even getting slightly wet.

So in order to avoid major sewing dramas. Do this first and always.


Here is some great news for you. 

You know that fabric buried in your gigantic fabric stash that’s been there for years and you just don’t want to use or even like it very much?

This is the perfect time to use it! 

Make a mockup-try-out your pattern with that fabric and you have absolutely nothing to lose.

In the worst-case scenario, you used a fabric that you didn’t want to use anyways and now you can use the pieces to make a smaller project.

Best case scenario, the mock-up results awesome and now you have a new brand outfit you can wear!


You can wash this fabric on your washing machine. But use only cold water and a gentle cycle.

Avoid using the dryer for muslins as it can damage and shrink the fabric.

It is better to dry outside in the shade laying flat.


  • QUILTING. If you quilt, the type of muslin that is often used as quilting backing thanks to its texture and fiber content.
  • COOKING. Muslins are very common for cheese making or to be used as filters to other homemade recipes. Thanks to its open weave it helps to separate liquids from solids, or be a cover on bowls.
  • THEATER. Thanks to its sturdiness and transparency properties against light, muslin is the to-go fabric to make theater props, curtains, and theatheroverhangs. 
  • PHOTOGRAPHY. Heavyweight bleached muslin is perfect to use as a backdrop in a photography studio. It doesn’t reflect against the flash and it makes a very easy to edit the picture finish.

What are other uses you have given to muslin fabrics? Write to me in the comments below! I hope you liked this tutorial, remember to click on the heart at the bottom corner to give us your love.

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