Thurlow Sew-Along: Muslin Party!

4 Oct

It’s time to get crackin’ on some muslins! Whoooohooo… who’s excited!? Anyone? Anyone?

I will admit – making a muslin isn’t exactly the most exciting way to spend your precious sewing time. However, it is pretty necessary to ensure that you get a good fit, especially with something like trousers or shorts where you can’t just sew a wider seam allowance to get rid of the problem. Lots of pattern alterations involve the flat pattern before the fabric is cut, and it is crucial that you figure this out before you cut into your real fabric & then despair that the crotch is too long. Long crotches are pretty tragic, imo. So let’s get muslinin’, y’all.

First, figure out what size you are going to be sewing up. Here is the back of the Thurlow envelope. These pants don’t have too much ease in them, but it IS there. If you like that, that’s totally fine – just cut the size recommended. If you want something a little more form-fitting, I recommend checking out the finished measurements & basing your size off of those. PROTIP: the finished waist measurement doesn’t actually hit your high waist, as in the smallest part of your torso. These actually hit right at the belly button, so that would be where you need to measure if you are going by the finished dimensions. My measurements put me between a 4 and a 6, but I cut a 0 (since right at my belly button is 29″) and added some room at the butt and I got a great fit. Trace your pattern if you are unsure what size to cut, you can always make another muslin!

Thurlow Muslin - necessary pattern pieces
The Thurlow has a lot of pattern pieces, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves – we only need a few for a proper muslin! I have circled the ones you’ll need to cut out. The pocket lining pieces ARE necessary (since they fill the void where the pocket slash is on the front pieces), but don’t worry about the facings. If you are making trousers, you can go all out & muslin the full lengths, or you can be lazy like me & just make shorts 😉

It is a good idea to mark on your muslin where the welt pockets will sit – you don’t have to sew the actual pockets, unless you are just REALLY feeling it – in case you determine you need to move them. Don’t worry about the zipper, you can just pin the front closed.

I was going to compile a list of pants-fitting resources, but it looks like Tasia beat me to it. So, just to reiterate (and mostly because I don’t feel like I’m doing anything if I just direct you to her blog), here are some of my personal faves:
Pants fitting basics, via the Coletterie
Pants fitting cheat-sheet, via the Coletterie
Common pants alterations, via Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch
Crotch depth via Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch
Crotch length via Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch
Knee & hem adjustments via Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch
Fullness & waistlines via Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch
Special alterations for pants via Texas A&Ms Extension program
The Anatomy of a camel toe via the Fashion Incubator
Colette Clover pants via meeee. Haha! The comments in this post are actually quite great, lots of helpful info & resources.

The Perfect Fit (actually, I think all of y’all should buy this book – regardless of whether or not you are making pants)
Pants for Real People

WHEW that’s a lot of links! Don’t tell me you don’t suddenly feel armed & prepared!

So here’s the fun part… I’m going to show you *my* Thurlow muslin! This is actually the muslin I made in the ‘way beginning, and no, I have no idea why I still had it stashed (I even moved across town during this time!). But, whatever, I guess it came in handy :B Also, fair warning: these are pretty unflattering.

Thurlow Muslin
Here you can see I’ve got some weird excess fabric in the front of my shorts. This is the crotch depth, and it clearly needs to be shortened (I’m petite, so it makes sense that I have a short crotch, I guess haha).

Thurlow Muslin
Side view is ok, apart from that itty bitty FUPA the shorts give me.

Thurlow Muslin
Oh god, what is going ON in the back!?

Thurlow Muslin
As my ass appears to be eating directly into my shorts, it would seem I need to add some room back there.

Thurlow Muslin
To fix the crotch depth, I simply pinned out the excess fabric & tapered it to the sides. Doesn’t it look much better?

Thurlow Muslin
Here’s a side view

To fix my butt issue, I extended the back crotch length on my pattern piece to a size 4, tapering down the leg.

Thurlow Jeans
And here’s the finished result of that. No more perma-wedgie, yay!

Well, that turned into a super heavy post! Do let me know if you have any questions & I’ll do my best to answer. Feel free to post your muslins in the Flickr Group and let’s help each other!

Next week, we are gonna talk fabric. FUCK YES.

51 Responses to “Thurlow Sew-Along: Muslin Party!”

  1. Johanna October 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    Thanks for all your tips! I’m not in the sew-along, but I’ve never sewn pants (it’s kind of scary) and I want to, so I’m collecting all hints and tips I can. BTW, you are one of my role models in the sewing community – fun-to-read blog and an awesome seamstress! 🙂

  2. symondezyn October 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    Awesome! I’m gonna be sewing these at some point but I’m mid-pants on another pattern right now 🙂 These muslin fitting pics are so helpful, thanks! I haven’t got to that stage yet but I still really appreciate seeing your process ^_^

  3. Lucinda - sew wrong October 4, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    The Perfect Fit is one of my fave sewing books when it comes to fitting – I don’t know what I’d do without it. I wish I could join in on your sewalong but I’ll definitely be following all of the posts so when I’m ready to make my Thurlow pants, I’ll have all of your tips ready.

  4. Scruffybadger October 4, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Oh I love you ( in a purely platonic way of course) how could I not get muslin ing after reading this and giggling about wedgies?!?

  5. Angela October 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    Oo oo oo wait for me!

    I’m waiting for my pattern to arrive so I can sew-along!

    I love your blog Lauren (it’s my favourite and I subscribe to A LOT) and this post made me laugh out loud 🙂

  6. theknittingarchaeologist October 5, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    I’m currently making my first pants muslin using Clover. It has fewer pieces, so I figured if I can sort out my full thigh, full/high butt, swayback(?), small waist issues on that one, Thurlow should be a dream.

    I have HUGE thighs that consist of muscular quads and “soft” inner thighs. I also have an “African” butt. So, my thigh circumference is about 32.5″ and my hips are at 50″ now o_O. Let’s just say that I couldn’t even pull up the largest size, which is still too big for my waist. Sigh. But then, I found this resource for full thighs (! Hopefully it’ll be useful for others. The picture for skirts and pants is pretty much how all my RTW clothes fit me 😦

    First question: You talked about lengthening your crotch length. I assume it was only an inch or two. I will need to lengthen my back crotch length by 9.75″ (see African butt above). Is there some other alteration you would suggest over just sticking an extra 10″ on the existing line? And will adding the extra inches mess up something else? I’m going to make another muslin, but I thought I’d pick your brain as well.

    Looking forward to getting to my Thurlow’s as the Sewaholic shape seems to fit my body better than Colette’s. Oh, and sorry for the book!

    • LLADYBIRD October 5, 2012 at 9:04 am #

      Oooh, based on your body description, you may really want to scrap the Clovers & try the Thurlow first. I love the Clover pattern, but as someone with the large thighs/butt and small waist conundrum (which I think is totally beautiful but a total PAIN to fit pants to!), there is a lot of fitting involved to get the rear big enough. I think the Thurlow will fit better off the bat, especially since they are drafted to fit around full hips. You definitely won’t have to add as much butt room, and the thighs are pretty roomy. Once you get the Thurlows down, I think it’ll be a lot easier to transfer those adjustments to your Clover pattern… or better yet, just merge the two (this is something I am planning on trying; so I can have the nice trouser-style waistband/pockets but cropped straight legs! I’ll let you know how it turns out hahaha).

      However, I totally understand if you want to conquer the Clovers first since you already have the pattern in hand. I would recommend trying a full butt adjustment in conjunction with extending the back crotch, splitting the inches between the two. That’s what I had to do with my Clovers to get everything smooth without the wedgie (Thurlows didn’t need the FBA at all – see? Perfect pants, I tell ya!). I think if you just pull the back crotch out 10″, you’re going to have to do a lot of tweaking to get everything to hang right.

      • theknittingarchaeologist October 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

        Thanks so much for responding! I finished muslin #2, and you are probably right that I should have just started with Thurlow. I even have the pattern and everything. That said, the Clovers look pretty good from the front. I wanted to wait for your ideas, before I screwed anything up too terribly, so I didn’t do anything but lengthen the crotch depth for the back. It definitely needs the full butt adjustment and crotch lengthening, and maybe something else. Sigh. I’m so close on the front, but so very far on the back. I’m going try your suggestions and make one more muslin. Then I’ll just put them aside and start the Thurlow muslin. Looking forward to your fabric post next week!

        • Alexandra October 18, 2012 at 7:38 am #

          Thank you so much for posting that link for fitting full thighs! I find it REALLY difficult to fit trousers and some skirts because of my muscly kickboxers thighs, and this looks very very useful!

        • Carola October 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

          I had also started with the Clover muslin about 2 months ago and gave up in frustration. Have just whipped up the Thurlow patter and I hardly have to do any adjustments at all. Will tackle the Clover again after the Thurlow Sewalong! Good luck with yours!

          • theknittingarchaeologist October 21, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

            Okay, you are seriously making me want to go cut out my Thurlow muslin and ditch the Clover. LOL! I think part of me doesn’t want to admit that a “beginner” pattern is giving me so much trouble. But, I think it’s mislabelled. It should be an advanced pattern as only the luckiest of women will be able to cut it out and get it to fit without A LOT of alterations. So, I’m going to try the Thurlows as soon as I get some sewing time 🙂

  7. Melanie October 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    I haven’t got my Thurlow pattern yet, so I shopped my stash and am doing the Decades of Style Empire Waist Trousers. I can’t wait to get my muslin started.

  8. Sonia October 8, 2012 at 3:27 am #

    Me gusta mucho como coses y lo bien que lo explicas todo!!.

  9. Melanie October 12, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Woah boy. I am ever so thankful for the fitting links! I got my muslin done, and it is scary. The first non pj pants I’ve ever made. I’m not gonna lie, the fitting process scares the shit out of me.

  10. Melanie October 17, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    Is there a cheat sheet for cuffs some where? I didn’t see it in any of the links.

    • LLADYBIRD October 26, 2012 at 10:44 am #

      I’m still trying to figure out how to sew cuffs without them looking like… well, gross. I may include that in the sew-along if I can get it squared away in time!

  11. Alexandra October 18, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    Argh…. I should have read this post more carefully! I paid attention to where you said that the Thurlows hit you (the belly button) and measured that but then checked that against the sizing, and NOT the finished measurements…. so I traced a size 10, but then RE-read this post and am now thinking I might have been better tracing the 6 or even a 4! Having said that, I have some pretty sizable hips and thighs, and I guess it’s better for things to be too big rather than too small.

    Basically, I just don’t want to have to trace out the pattern again because I’m lazy and I detest doing it! I really need to crack on with the muslin now!

    • Alexandra October 28, 2012 at 9:28 am #

      *sigh* Yep, just as I thought, my muslin is ENORMOUS. 😦 I can pull them on and off when the fly is pinned closed. I’m going to have to retrace all my pattern pieces down to a 6 and try again with the muslin. Booo. I’m already getting behind on this sewalong!

  12. Carola October 18, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    You were right! The Thurlow pattern has a great fit and after whipping up the muslin last night and making a few minor adjustments (mainly taking the waist in a bit more via the dart and the centre back), I’m ready to go! BRING IT ON!! 🙂

    PS: The clover pants I struggled with (in my blog) have been turfed into a corner and may come out again after the Thurlow Sewalong.

    • LLADYBIRD October 19, 2012 at 9:20 am #

      Oh yay! This comment made me so happy. THURLOW IS SO MAGIC!

  13. Ann October 21, 2012 at 7:52 am #

    Thank god you are doing this sew-along because I’m confused even about how to put the muslin together! That back extension line has me thrown. So I don’t sew a 5/8 seam allowance there? I follow the line? Man, I need your help on these pants!

    • LLADYBIRD October 26, 2012 at 10:51 am #

      Yes, you sew along the back extension line – or adjust if it doesn’t fit you. If you sew along the line, there will be excess seam allowance. It’s there so you can adjust the fit later if your size changes 🙂

      • Carola October 26, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

        ooohhhh. the penny has just dropped . It’s there so you can “change it if your body changes!!” Brilliant concept. lol

  14. Rebecca October 21, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    Made up my muslin today out of old sheets. Followed your advice, measured below my belly button, compared to finished size and cut an 8 and they came out almost perfect which NEVER has happened before. Other than taking out a couple of inches of length in the legs (I’m short) and adding a bit of room for my butt by extending the back crotch length, they fit and look like my favorite slacks, the GAP perfect trouser in curvy fit.

    Can’t wait to get busy sewing these – it will be my first time sewing pants, which I thought I would never do.

    Now to decide on which fabric to use …

    Thanks Lauren!

  15. madeonthecouch October 23, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    can I just share a massive conundrum I’m having with my muslin?

    I thought I would need to do an adjustment at the waist of some kind- because my hips measurement is bang on the measurements listed, but then the waist measurement is like 4″ too small, but then when I traced and measured all my pattern pieces, the measurements around the top look like they’ll be too big??

    I have a full bum/thighs, but I have no waist to speak of- my rib cage actually nearly hits my iliac crest (like seriously, it’s a bit uncanny that i actually can fit all my internal organs in there)… So basically I’m like a pear shape… without the pear bit haha… I have mega issues with muscly thighs fitting pants, but then the main issue is buttoning the damn things up because i don’t taper in anywhere (not because I’m fat, but because of the aforementioned anatomical FAIL). So i’m having a crisis about what to do with my thurlow muslin because I don’t know if I should make adjustments now, or after i’ve spent all that time sewing them up only to discover that I couldn’t add up the measurements properly…

    I was kind of thinking I could just leave the back darts out? I’ve clearly never made pants before though, so I’m not sure whether that is going to make a massive difference to the way the pants fit…

    ugh. Anyway, now I’m just rambling. Sorry. Any ideas that might help?

    • Carola October 23, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

      My understanding of muslins (and I don’t have a lot of experience yet) is to trace out the pattern on calico fabric (muslin fabric), including the STITCHING lines and stitching it together using a large basting stitch on your machine… this is so you can unpick it easily and often if needed. The muslin is your proto-type and allows you to make as many adjustments as needed before using a permanent marker to make those changes permanent.

      Once I am happy with my muslin and i’ve drawn the “new” (or correct for your body) stitchlines onto it, I unpick the muslin and use that as my pattern. I learnt this technique by doing the Couture Dress course on I’ve found it an amazing process and don’t know why it took me so long to hear about muslins! They are a godsend! 🙂 Not sure if that helps but it’s a start for you, i hope. 🙂

      PS: you don’t have to add the waistband or cuffs… just keep it super simple so you’re not wasting too much time. You’re just trying to perfect the fit of the main parts… see Lauren’s photos above.

    • LLADYBIRD October 26, 2012 at 10:57 am #

      Yes! Sorry I didn’t reply to this sooner; Gmail pushed all my comment notifications to spam, those fuckers.

      If your measurements indicate that the waist will fit (and double check that you are excluding seam allowances from those measurements), then I would trace off your pattern with the stitching lines and give yourself an extra wide seam allowance for insurance. The back extension should also give you a bit of room to play with, if you need to add or remove some.

      • madeonthecouch October 29, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

        Excellent… 🙂 My last exam is tomorrow, so I’ll bite the bullet and start chopping into my muslin tomorrow… Hurrah for being like two weeks behind schedule! haha Thanks for the advice… I’ve never made pants before and I wasn’t sure if I could play with the back extension or if I’d end up with pants that look like a circus tent if I did…

  16. kristonlion November 13, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    Ok. So I got some super cheap stash wool at an estate sale and I’m ready to start! I’ve sew’d up quite a few basic things and I kick ass at zippers. (Sleeves not so much just yet. How do they always end up upside down?)
    Anyway, sorry to dumb this down and go watt back to basics, but how do you guys cut out your pattern pieces? I always end up with a few janky crooked wads of crap. Do you cut through both layers of fabric at once? Do you use scissors or a roller? Any tips for a sometimes careless sewist?

    • LLADYBIRD November 14, 2012 at 8:46 am #

      Everyone has their own preferred method for cutting, it’s really a matter of what works best for you! I personally like to pin my pieces down and cut with shears (carefully, in nice long cuts), and I know others who like to use pattern weights and trace the pieces with chalk, then cut out with a rotary cutter. My biggest advice is to take your time and don’t rush it. Also make sure that your cutting tools are good quality, nice and sharp, and that you’re cutting from a hard surface at a comfortable height (i.e., not on the floor). It really makes a difference! Here’s a good post on cutting precisely, and some additional pointers if you are cutting on something that tends to be shifty and/or slinky.

      Hope this helps! 🙂

      • kristonlion November 16, 2012 at 3:31 am #

        O my gosh! Not on the floor! I need a bigger house! Thanks for the tips and the links! I’m cutting them out now!! Aaaaaah!

        • kristonlion November 18, 2012 at 12:07 am #

          Also, armed with a bottle

          • kristonlion November 18, 2012 at 12:09 am #

            Of wine. (Obvi a bit too mucho) AND these tips, I cut out 4 projects tonight. Lets hope they still look good in the morning! Ha!

  17. Amanda January 15, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    Hi! I’m late to the party, and I just made my muslin. I cut a 2, but they’re pretty huge on me. Like, don’t stay up huge. Should I alter the 2, or should I make another muslin of a 0 and then alter?

    Also, I think the directions on these suck. Granted, it’s my first pair of pants but still. Why does it say to cut on fold and then unfold to cut another pant leg? That confused the hell out of me! The fabric key doesn’t match the instructions either.
    Maybe I’m letting my beginner hang out?
    Is there a another pants pattern you’d recommend for a beginner?

    • LLADYBIRD January 16, 2015 at 8:38 am #

      Hi and welcome! While I can’t see your particular muslin to be sure, it sounds like you need to go down a size if they’re that big!

      The cutting directions are such because you are cutting each side of the front on a single layer – the sides don’t mirror each other (due to the fly), so they are cut separately.

      As far as any beginner patterns to recommend – I’m afraid I don’t really have one! I’m sorry! I do like this pattern as I feel like the instructions are good (and here’s a whole sewalong to hold your hand if you need it 🙂 ), but since I haven’t been a beginner in a solid 10+ years, it’s kind of hard for me to gauge things from that perspective, if that makes sense. I’d stick with this pattern and follow the sewalong, personally 🙂

      • Amanda January 21, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

        But you cut everything else double or on the fold, even when it says, “Cut 1”? I’ve already mocked up a pair, so I figured it out, (it was the front pockets that made me stop and say, “aw, fuck.” lol) but I just want to make sure I understand the whole cutting on the fold thing.

        I agree with you on sticking this one out. Once I hemmed them and put the waistband on, they hung a little differently, and better. Still a little too big, but not falling off. I was able to better see where exactly they were too big, instead of just feeling like a tent! I cut the pattern down to a zero, threw caution to the wind and cut out some bulk from the front and added a little room in the crotch depth… No one adjustment at a time here, I guess. 🙂 I’m learning a ton from this!

        I should have said it the first time, (instead of just bitching!) that I love your blog! The humor, and the clothes! Thanks for being so inspiring.

        • Amanda January 22, 2015 at 12:38 am #

          Rather I took out some depth and added some length. This pants fitting crap is tough to keep straight at first. :/

        • LLADYBIRD January 22, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

          You only need to cut on the fold for pieces that you need two of – for example, the back needs two pieces, the pocket pieces need two pieces, etc. For the fronts and waistband, you only need one of each (right and left), so you’d cut those on the single layer 🙂

          And thank you! So happy to hear you like my blog 🙂


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