What’s in a Muslin?

Since every minute of my free time and some of my not so free time is spent worrying, doodleing, and actually working on my senior thesis, I have no time for crafting. So, I thought maybe you would like to see exactly what goes into designing a small collection.  I say small because we are required to design and build between 4 and 8 complete looks.  Of course I have a lot to say so I’m doing 8.  That’s 8 fully dressed models and I am hoping to make hords of accessories like hats, shoes, bags and jewelry.

The first step is to develop a concept which can really be anything that inspires you.  In my studio we have designers who are inspired by the senses, under water creatures, Michael Jackson, synaesthesia, medieval music, and garments as musical instruments, just to name a few.

My concept is based on a Terry Gilliam movie called Tideland about a little girl who is utterly inocent to the point of makeing viewers uncomfortable.  She is left all alone with her friends the bodyless doll heads that she talks to, the firefly ‘fairies’, and the squirles in the attic.

tideland for web

I love her fearlessness, imagination, ability to make me uncomfortable, and her ability to defy death by ignoring it.

Once you have established your concept, you just start sketching, and sketching, and sketching… I find myself doodling constantly.  At some point you are supposed to have an ah-ha moment when you stop sketching, you pick your final designs and move on.  I never seem to reach this point.  Oh, I move on but the thinking and sketching just never stops and this can become confusing because now I have to start to making things…

Next, the patterns.  Lots of paper, lots of tape, pencil smudges all over my face; this is my favorite part.  Without a good pattern you will not have a good garment.

pattern making better

This is my wall of patterns so far:

pattern wal

Probably only 1/4 of the patterns I will end up making.  These are priceless.  Well, to me anyway.

Once you have a pattern that you think is going to do what you want it to, you make a muslin.  A muslin is a garment that is made from very simple fabric, usually unbleached cotton or something that resembles what your final fabric will be.

tux dress better

You fit this muslin on your model and make corrections by pinning or drawing right on it.  Then you transfer those changes to the pattern and yup, make ANOTHER muslin.  It isn’t unusual to make 3-5 muslins of one garment.  How many garments am I making again?

The things that don’t fit into this time line that you just have to squeeze in there between sketching, muslins and awful sociology classes, are the fabric research and shopping, fittings with models, critiques, eating, sleeping…

So, this is where I’m at so far and what has been occupying my time for the past 7 weeks.  I’m making some patterns and some muslins, and soon I will make the jump to final fabric.  Wish me luck, I’m gonna need it.

2 thoughts on “What’s in a Muslin?

  1. hey boo
    i love that you did this, explained the ways and means of designing and trying to get to a final piece. the lay person needs to see the time, trama, details, pain and joy put into designing a piece of art. you truely do have a gift that needs to be shared with the world and someday i hope you get that chance.
    k

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