Muslin-ing a Man’s Shirt

Armed with the mens shirt pattern, the gingham muslin, and a bit of spare sewing time, I’m ready to start this thing! No, I haven’t been working on it in secret this whole time. I wish that were true! Now there’s less than a month till Christmas and I have an entire shirt to sew.

Time to get started!

I swear, sewing for men is a completely different beast. I know how to make a muslin for a woman’s dress, no problem! But I’m not even sure where to start on this man’s muslin. Do I cut out all the pieces? Skip the facings? What about the collar?

I’ll show you what I did, in case you’re facing your first men’s project with the same amount of hesitation.

First off, cut out the pattern pieces for the view you’re making. I’m making View B, the conventional dress shirt. This pattern has a ton of pieces! The left and right front pieces are different, plus there’s separate pieces for cutting the interfacing.

Then, separate the pieces that you don’t need to muslin. I skipped the interfacing pieces, and the sleeve placket. I figure I can fit the sleeve and cuff without sewing the placket. (I can always go back and recut it, if I’m wrong!)

Press all the pieces you’re about to cut with a cool dry iron. (I set the iron on the highest setting before the steam kicks in for maximum pressing speed.) You want to make sure your pattern pieces are flat. If we’re going to spend the time making a muslin, it’s important to be accurate!

Now we’re ready to cut the muslin! Before we cut, let’s make sure the edges are on grain.

Cut along the gingham lines, making a 1″ snip into the fabric.

Pull both sides of the fabric to tear it along the gingham line. The poly-cotton gingham I’m using is really easy to work with, so far. It’s fairly wrinkle-resistant and the edges line up nicely.

Time to cut out the pieces! The great part about using gingham as a muslin is that the grainlines are obvious. It’s so easy to see where to line up the grainline markings.

I lay out the largest pieces first – the shirt back, the shirt fronts, and sleeve. Check for tricky pieces marked ‘Cut 4’ and remember to cut them twice. (Though, it’s only a muslin, if you’re short on fabric you could just cut one sleeve and cuff to check the fit.)What’s wrong with the photo above? I accidentally cut two Left Fronts and two Right Fronts when I cut out my muslin. Oops. Check your markings carefully!

Cut out the pattern pieces and mark all notches and markings on the muslin. Bonus: you can use pen, because it’s only a muslin!

Now, I’m going to machine-stitch around my seamlines. This will be really helpful when we fit the muslin, so we know how much to add or reduce from the original seamline. I’m going to use contrasting thread so it’s easy to see.

I’m also going to label each piece with its name – in this case, Right Front.

Repeat with the Left Front, Back – all of the fabric pieces! When you’re done, the muslin pieces will be super easy to work with! If we mark everything correctly, it will be as easy as sewing up the printed pattern tissue itself.

Next up: sewing the muslin! I’ll work through stitching the seamlines and sewing up the muslin, and share an update tomorrow.

Oh, and Mr Sewaholic has agreed to model, for instructional purposes! Yay!

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13 Responses to Muslin-ing a Man’s Shirt

  1. Elizabeth December 1, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    Looking good so far! I love working with gingham. Good luck!

  2. Suzie December 1, 2010 at 7:27 am #

    Oh yes of course! The blue gingham is for your mans shirt muslin! Wowie there ARE a lot of pattern pieces. But I actually like the fact that there are separate pieces for the interfacing…I always wish I had traced copies of interfacing peices whenever I’m cutting out so that I can pin everything first and then cut, rather than pin, cut, unpin, pin, cut…etc!
    Looking forward to the progress reports! Good luck. Oh and looking forward to your new model!

  3. Amanda December 1, 2010 at 7:47 am #

    Thanks for the photo tutorial! Do you use a tracing wheel or pins or something else to help you transfer the seam markings to your muslin before sewing?

  4. Liz December 1, 2010 at 7:52 am #

    I’ve never thought to use gingham for a muslin to see the grain lines. What a wonderful idea!

  5. Anita Johnston December 1, 2010 at 7:53 am #

    Yikes. That’s an awful lot of pattern pieces. I look forward to seeing the final result… I’m sure it will look great what with doing a muslin and all … and having a collarband. I’ve only used the simplified camp shirt patterns for my bf.

  6. S√∏lvi December 1, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    What a coincidence! The first thing I did when I got up this morning (besides brewing coffee) was cutting out the pattern pieces for the shirt I´m making for my darling. So this is perfect!

    Thanks for your thorough tutorial – and I will follow the progress with excitement! :-)

  7. Haylee December 1, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    You give the best tutorials. Seriously they are always so thorough and easy to follow.

  8. The Slapdash Sewist December 1, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

    I’ll be watching with interest–the boyfriend has occasionally mentioned a shirt, though he is so picky about what he wears I’m not sure he’d actually wear a “homemade” one.

  9. Renay December 1, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    Ohh I love making man shirts! can’t wait til Colette bring out their shirt pattern!!! Yours is looking lovely.

  10. lizajane December 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    I have been promising my husband for a year that I will sew him something. I hope this will inspire me to get to it! Your tutorials are very helpful.

  11. Angela December 1, 2010 at 7:09 pm #

    Looking good so far!! Thanks for sharing the tips and I’m glad he agreed to model. ^_^

  12. Tasia December 1, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

    @Amanda: I use pen, isn’t that so lazy? If it’s a straight line, I’ll make a little dot at each end, and then use a ruler to draw a line connecting the dots. If there are circles or squares, I’ll lift up the tissue where the dot is, and mark underneath the tissue. You could just as easily use a tracing wheel or pins though!

    @Liz: I know, gingham is brilliant as a muslin! I read it in David Page Coffin’s Shirtmaking book and thought it was an awesome idea.

    @Anita Johnston: I’m beginning to wish I’d started with a simpler shirt myself.. I hope it turns out!

    @S√∏lvi: Me too! Coffee is essential to mens-shirt-muslin making. Good luck with yours!
    @Haylee: Thanks Haylee! I explain things the way i’d like someone to explain them to me – slowly, with lots of pictures :)

    @The Slapdash Sewist: Ah but you always do such a nice job on your projects! I bet he would love it if you made him a shirt.

    I’m also thrilled he agreed to model! He might be shy and not show his face but I’m sure we can convince him to at least model the finished shirt!

    More men’s shirt muslin fun in tomorrow’s post!


  1. Britex Fabrics - Blog - May 20, 2013

    […] skills. Tasia from Vancouver, Canada, and proprietress of the blog, Sewaholic produced this timely tutorial on making a fitting muslin for a men’s shirt, and then goes on to explain the process in which she alters the collar stand for a huskier neck. […]