Sunday, October 14, 2012

Somebody bring me some haaaaaam! Fabric shopping in New York City's Garment District...

custom dress shop
You a fan of the TV show "30 Rock"? You know that scene where Liz Lemon gets her own talk show, and when she shows up to see the set for the first time she starts belting out a gleeful song: "I'm a star, I'm on top, somebody bring me some haaaaaam." Cause, you know, she really really likes coldcuts. Clip here. Well that was pretty much me last week, traipsing with inspiration through New York City's Garment District. My home here in Ottawa, Canada, is a pretty small place by comparison, and our fabric options locally are limited to a few small speciality shops and one large chain of fabric retail stores, will remain unnamed but starts with "F". Service is pleasant but there's never enough staff on hand, selection is ok but often limited, fabric quality varies and I find the price high for what you actually get. So, NYC was a real eye-opening experience as to what's possible...

I stayed largely between 2 blocks, and 4 streets (36th to 39th), and shopped for about 5 hours. Heading into the Garment District, you'll stumble across a info kiosk for visitors - I got giddy when I spotted the huge button with needle going through it at the top of the booth, hurry, someone get me some threeeeeead (sung in my head a la Liz), I'm in the mood to seeeeeew!

I did lots of research before going, and used this website to narrow down the list of stores to visit (note: they also offer tours). I also made a list of my needs and shopping rules using my sewing storyboard for guidance, so that I wouldn't get all starry-eyed and start buying everything in sight. You can buy from all of these places online, keep in mind the selection in-store is much larger than what's on the website, but all the same you're bound to find lots of goodies. Most store are 'jobbers' servicing the industry, so if customer service is at a minimum it's because they are busy filling orders for the day. 

It's a busy spot with lots of foot traffic, go early, take your time, plan to stop for a little coffee break so that you can sit back and watch the District come to life. Here's a run-down of the best places I went to, and would visit again if given the opportunity to return. Trust me, you'll leave with some kind of song about ham, or thread, or whatever tickles your fancy in your head too...

Steinlauf & Stoller  

239 West 39th Street
Scissors and sewing tools, bra cups, boning, shoulder pads, zippers, hooks, slides, rings, rivets, etc.

My first stop was this great little shop, which opened at 8am before the other stores on my list. The service was good, and while the gentleman prepped my supplies, I took a look around. High on the wall above the cutting table was a great sample board of various mens and womens shoulder pads. On the side wall opposite the table were bins of bra cups stacked up high..."D" push-up cups ladies, found at last. Behind the cutting table, box upon box of slides, rings, hooks in all styles and sizes. People bustling to prepare work orders. I felt a little like Alice in someone else's wonderland, here I am a meager little hobby sewer standing in this amazing shop. This store stocks stuff I have not been able to find locally in Ottawa, decent bra cups and underwire in my size for example, it will be my go-to store for supplies going forward, even though that means paying for shipping. If you're planning on dropping in, I suggest you visit their online catalogue and make a list first, the staff mostly gather the supplies for you and a list makes things a little quicker for them. With my first purchases in hand, I sailed out on to 39th street eager for more adventure...
- push-up bra cups $6.50/set
- bra underwire 12 sets $17.50
- Rigilene boning $1.50/yard
- bra extenders $2-3/each
- bra hoops & slides 12 sets $13.00
- ez glide stick for zippers $1.99
- bodkin for turning stuff $1.89
- covered button forms $4-6.00

Paron Fabrics 
257 West 39th Street
Small selection of common fashion fabrics, with the exception of a wider selection of beautiful silks.

By the time I was done at Steinlauf & Stoller, Paron Fabrics nearby had opened its doors so I headed on in. It's a relatively small store, with bolts of fabric stacked up against the wall, too bad I didn't think to get pics inside. A very helpful sales lady offered to give me the lay of the land, and she walked me through the types of fabrics they carry and where to find what. Frankly, I could barely focus on what she was saying, I nodded and smiled but couldn't take my eyes off the beautiful silks I'd spotted at the front of the store. I reached out to check the price on an intriguing pale pink teardrop print, and my heart sank at the price - $48/yard. Yikes, too rich for my blood. But there, nestled amongst the prints and solids, a beautiful rose-mauve 100% silk stretch charmeuse caught my eye. At $18/yard, it was still more than I was used to spending but I knew it would perfectly suit a LeChateau blouse knockoff I've been wanting to make, so I bought it. The sales lady told me if I was taking 2 yards she'd bring the price down to $15. Sold! I got excellent service, enjoyed chatting with the staff, and walked away with quality fabric and a huge grin. I will continue shopping there online, see link to Manhattan Fabrics on their site, I don't see the teardrop print but there's still a good selection and in my opinion their silks are worth the hassle of shipping to Canada. Silks run from approx $18-$50.

- 100 silk stretch charmeuse $18/yard

Spandex World

228 West 38th Street
Stretch: spandex, hologram, velvet, vinyl, lace, denim, slinky, etc.

Small shop, lots of crazy bright fabrics, so I had to search a little harder for jems. Head up to the second floor, you'll find the lace, mesh and ponte knits.

But man oh man, if you're looking to make spandex tights in neon green goth skull print, goooooo wild. Shudder.

- cream stretch lace $8/yard
- lavender & purple stretch lace $8/yard

Mood Fabrics

225 West 37th Street
Everything under the freakin`s their floor plan: click.

Sigh, I wish I lived closer to NYC, even if just so I could lose myself in the wonder that is Mood. As I explained above, in Canada we're pretty much limited to a particular chain of fabric stores. Mood has only 2 locations (NYC and LA), but I can't help compare its market offering to the "F" stores back least for New York, it seems to fill the same needs but with a few differences; it`s much larger (3 floors), filled to the ceilings with roll upon roll of fabric, and bustling with fashion students, industry folks and hobbyists alike. At first, it felt like a sea of chaos, and yet it was possibly the best fabric shopping experience I've ever had. I was approached by a great clerk who took care of everything. He dropped by every few minutes to see if I`d found more fabrics to be cut, carried them back to the cutting table for me, and offered suggestions and guidance. It gave me a chance to just wander, gawk, and dream about all the wonderful projects I could sew. The atmosphere was friendly, and other staff were approachable and attentive as well. I even spotted the resident doggie snoozing on a sofa, I`m told he has a real home but hangs out at the store so I`m guessing he belongs to a staff member. Having said all that, I did leave the store a little overwhelmed, just look at how much fabric is in each aisle! See floor plan.
                                 wool suiting                                                              silk charmeuse

My head was spinning. I went back again a couple of days later, I just couldn`t leave New York without feeling that I`d really explored this store. And, I`d found a few things on their website later that night that I`d missed, for example, a stack of faux leather and faux suede (pic at left). As a vegetarian who doesn`t wear leather, this was very, very exciting indeed. I now see purse-making in my future. Another store I plan to continue shopping from online, rewards card program is free...

- sweater knits $12-$14/yard
- ponte knit $8-$14/yard     - bamboo knit $14/yard
- jersey knit $12/yard         - wool suiting $25/yard
- linen $18/yard                  - vinyl $18/yard
- linen knit $14/yard 
  (I didn't know linen knit even existed!)

Fabric World USA

252 West 38th Street
Mostly stretch and spandex, fantastic beaded costume fabrics. Powernet in limited colours but a great price.

I hadn't planned to stop in, but when Mood told me they had no powernet left, I looked for other options online once I got back to the hotel. I found Fabric World USA, another small shop featuring mostly stretch or specialty fabrics like sequined spandex or beaded lace (featured in pics). Definitely a good spot for costume fabrics, some plain and printed mesh, and powernet for making the bands of bras, thank goodness for powernet, why is this stuff so hard to find? Service was ok, again it's a jobber shop so they were busy working away on orders when I walked in. There were several shades of beige powernet, and some lavender and pale pink. I got lavender to match the lace purchased at Spandex World, and lots of nude for future bra and bustier projects. Nude powernet practically screams Sears boxed bra, not to worry hubby, when I finally get around to making the bras it will be covered with sexy fashion fabrics. At this price, shut up whatever, it's worth it.

- powernet $6.00/yard

A couple of trimmings shops:

Pacific Trimming
                    ribbon, stretch lace                                                                 zippers
Top Trimming            beading & appliques

And one unfortunate incident...

At another spandex store, which will remain unnamed, I was asked to show ID to prove I was the owner of my credit card, and I produced my Canadian government-issued health care card. The individual handling my purchase took the card and wrote down my full name and card number on the 2-part receipt. I very quickly objected. The owner of the store came over to explain that Visa required him to write down not only my full name but also the full details of 1 piece of official identification. Sorry buddy, not true, I know this for a fact. He replied that Visa gave him no choice to collect the information to avoid fraud. Nahn-na, nope, not true. I quickly took possession of the 2-part form sales slip, stuck it in my purse and explained that I was trying to avoid fraud too, identity fraud. I'm not saying this shop owner himself would have done anything wrong, but to have personal government-issued info like that floating around on a piece of, I don't think so. I have never experienced this request travelling in Canada, the US, or Europe. In Canada, the privacy act prevents the collection of personal information without my express consent, I'm sure the US has similar laws. In any case, Visa does not require it. I left without my purchase, and he didn't object, even though the fabric had been cut. It just made me terribly uncomfortable, and I don't like taking chances. With the exception of larger retail-heavy locations, I would suggest paying by cash.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Making a Sewing Storyboard

You know life has gotten super-incredibly busy when you check your blog post list only to find the following title in draft mode: "Spring is Upon Us..." That's right, I started to write a post back in the spring and never even finished it. Actually, I started 7 posts, and they are all still in draft mode. Yikes.

To make matters worse, as we head into fall/winter, I feel like I have nothing to wear. Or nothing I still like or fits me, or whatever. And then I tripped over a pile of yet-to-be-cut patterns in my sewing room, landing face-first on fabric stacked up on the floor. And then I started thinking about what I'd like to sew, started doing some pattern research, built an excel spreadsheet listing patterns and fabrics get the idea. So many ideas, so much I want to try. And, what's worse, we're planning a trip to New York soon and I fully intend to ravage fabric stores in the garment district. There are so many fabrics I can't find here in Ontario - decent knits, for example, ones that won't start to fade or fuzz after the first wash. You know what I'm sayin'. I'm thinking of crossing the border with empty suitcases, just so I'll have enough room for fabric. I wonder if my husband would be willing to carry an extra suitcase on my behalf...sigh, doubt it.

Amidst all the chaos, confusion, and lustful glances at my new sewing machine (there, there, we'll be together soon, let me caress you lovingly while I add this month's BurdaStyle to the sewing magazine pile to your right) I stumbled across the following idea while cruising other sewing blogs - creating a storyboard of what you'd like to work on, kind of like a collage of ideas, patterns, techniques of your imagination's most-wanted list. 

Here's a few on And Pattern Review is holding a Mini-wardrobe Contest, people are using storyboards to build their wardrobes. Click on the yardage, it will take you to the contest participant's page. Check out j Renee's project photo, nice! Not sure what program they are using, I just copied images into Microsoft Word and used text boxes to write it, the colour scheme at the top is just a table, I added colour to the cells. 

And here's mine, feast your eyes...

It's a little blurry, but you get the idea. I plan to print it, carry it in my purse, look it over while on my daily commute to work, sleep with it under my pillow. The idea is the storyboard will keep me on track, hopefully help me organize myself, and be a reminder that there are lots of things I want to try this year. And that I have nothing to wear this winter.

Yeah, I know, how do I plan to get that all done? Well, you have to first conceive of it to achieve it, right? This is quite literally every sewing daydream going on in my head. On paper. At last. I feel much better now...

Actually, I'll feel even better by itemizing the list for you:
- a suit, conquer the art of a decent suit jacket
- skirts, love skirts, can never have too many skirts but pantyhose are my nemesis
- jeans, never tried denim, want to make a decent pair that fits my bum well
- drapey knit turtleneck(s)
- drapey knit cowlneck shirt(s)
- simple knit top(s)
- knit wrap sweater(s)
- tie-front tops...tie bows are the bomb
- something beaded
- blouses, try: flounces, offset placket, pintucks
- paint fabric, then sew something with it
- drapey sweater
- camisoles/tanks for under sweaters and suits
- office dresses, dresses, dresses, love dresses, want one with a peplum
- nice lounging pyjamas, cause my husband says I look like a hobo in trackpants. how many times must we have this discussion, they're yoga pants not "trackpants"
- lingerie, I want to try something girly. or naughty. not sure yet. after the hobo comment maybe my husband doesn't deserve lingerie. except that I want him to bring an extra empty suitcase to New York on my behalf so I can stuff it with fabric and notions and patterns. lingerie it is.
- bra and would be so cool to be able to make my own
- little slippers
- a beaded coin purse

And, I'm making a black cocktail dress to wear as a bridesmaid at my little sister's wedding this August...

I best get crackin'  :-)

What's on your plate this fall?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Look 6123 - dress with side drape

Oooooh I love girlie-girl dresses! Husband and I were invited to his cousin Stephanie's wedding last weekend. The sweltering Ontario heat screamed for a cool summer dress, and besides, everything I own is black, black or black...not inappropriate for a summer wedding, but can be a bit drab in my opinion. Here, I used a piece of fabric from my stash, a challis I believe, in a black background with vivid pink and purple flowers. Like? 

I bought this pattern on sale for $1.99, and was drawn to the versatility of the various options (see pattern pic below). I decided to go with the side gathers and side drape, as well as short sleeves. I was a little concerned that the side drape would make my hips look wider, but I'm surprised at how flattering it is. I think this pattern would actually be suitable on many body shape types; the cross-over top is shapely, the waistline and runching gathers are slimming and add definition, and the drape is elegant and feminine. 

Husband and I got dressed up, and headed off to the Green Door restaurant for lunch before going to the church for the wedding ceremony. A lady walking by near the restaurant told us we looked "just gorgeous"...this pattern, with the side drape, really did make me feel glamorous. It's not often we get all dolled up, such fun!

I was so pleased with how this dress came together that I promptly chose 3 other fabrics and cut out different variations of this pattern, assembly is ongoing but I'll post pics as I finish them. I added some length to the skirt, because I prefer skirts that skim or come just below the knee. I usually have to modify my tops to ensure my cleavage is adequately covered, but here the sizing was right-on and the muslin fit beautifully across the chest. I did, however, add 1.5 inches to the the waistline on the top. I have a long torso, and find dresses with a seamline across the waist is usually placed too high, usually it winds up halfway between my chest and waist. so I added length to the front and back top pieces. Worked like a charm!

This one is a keeper, give it a try!

Here are the pattern and technical drawings:

Here are the comments I posted on
Pattern Description: 
Misses' dress with sleeve and bodice variations including flattering drape and ruffle detail. 
Pattern Sizing:
A (8-18)
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, no problems.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love the styling, I felt very fancy-schmancy with the side drape - it's not something I ever envisioned myself wearing, and it looked great!
Fabric Used:
Rayon challis (I believe, it's been in my stash so long I don't know for sure)
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I added to the length of the skirt by 2" but otherwise it was great. The sizing was well done, I usually have to raise the neckline on tops to ensure my cleavage is reasonably covered, but when I made the muslin it was already for evening, but still appropriate for work.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
After making the first one, I promptly cut up 3 more versions in different fabrics, will post shortly :-)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Simplicity 1916 - knit wrap top

After 3 months of no time for sewing, thanks to a long daily commute that has now come to an end, I finally got around to finishing this little number - a simple knit top. It's a great wardrobe-builder, simple but elegant styling and would look great with either casual jeans or a more business-like black skirt. I can't wait to try the other variations.

Here are the technical drawings. I made version "A' but cut out the sleeves short. I figured it would work better for both summer and under a little sweater or suit jacket for winter that way. I didn't bother making a muslin this time as a test run, I find patterns for knit tops usually work out just fine.

The fabric is a lovely purple knit, just the right medium weight and super-soft, something I picked up while on a trip to Germany.

I didn't make any structural modifications to the version I've posted here, but I did have to fix up the neckline by sewing the front pieces that crossover together. Otherwise, it was rather low-cut and the "ladies" were fully exposed. I almost ALWAYS have this problem with cross-over tops, stuffing DD-size boobs into this style without looking like a snarky tart can be tricky.

Next time I'll modify the front pieces like this to provide a little more cover:

Here are the comments I posted on

Pattern Description: Misses' knit wrap top with sleeve variations.
Pattern Sizing:
6-14, and 16-24 (also available as printable online)
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It was so simple to make, I plan to try all the variations in order to build up my wardrobe! 
Fabric Used:
Some kind of knit, probably poly.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
Too low cut. I will have to make adjustments to the neckline next time, I found the finished top was too revealing for the "ladies" - I ended up having to stitch the overlapping pieces together a little higher up, so that I can wear the top to work. 
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Link to post on burdastyle.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Simplicity 1877 - simple fitted dress

The warmer weather here in Ottawa has me thinking of spring, and dresses, dresses, dresses! I love cute summer frocks, but last year I didn't start sewing for summer until it was almost half over...and ended up spending what was left tucked away in my little sewing room instead of enjoying the warm weather. So this year, I'm starting early. 

And nothing says summer like a little black dress. Yeah, I know, it really doesn't, but I'm desperate for a few easy foundation pieces as well as needing to use up some of my why not...

I bought this pattern for 2 reasons. First, I was drawn to the shape, a cute sort-of-empire waistline that would flatter my shapely figure (small ribcage/waist, big bum). Second, it was on sale for $2.20, so I thought why not give it a shot? Here's the technical drawing...cute, right?

I love the uniqueness of the flounces, but frankly, not for me. And, maybe just a little too unusual for my somewhat conservative office. So I made a variety of modifications...
- raised the neckline
- lengthened the skirt
- added U-shaped piece to underarm
- omitted flounces
Recommendation: finish arm & neck facings by hand, instead of rushing and doing it by machine, the pieces will lay flat instead of curling up a little (see sleeves in top pic, the edge of the sleeve curls out a bit).
View the company's pattern details and instructional videos here.
Here are the comments I posted on
Pattern Description: 
Misses' dress in two lengths with skirt variations.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
More or less, I modified the skirt section significantly - see comments below, and made the overall look a little more fitted, but otherwise it looked like the pattern photo.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, the dress has very straight-forward construction and the instructions were clear.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The look of version A is a wonderful shape but would be a little too "unusual" for my work office, which is somewhat conservative. But I love the drape of the dress - it's sort of empire, but the skirt attaches a bit lower than a typical empire dress, and the overall fit is lovely.
Fabric Used:
Some kind of black polyester suiting, with a little stretch to it. 
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I wanted to be able to wear this dress to work, so I made significant changes to version A; I omitted the flounces altogether, and I lengthened the skirt pattern pieces to come just below the knee. I fitted the dress to lightly skim my hips - I find a form-fitting dress more flattering to my figure (narrow ribcage/waist, big bum). Also, I modified and raised the v-neck line at the front...if I'd followed the pattern my very exposed cleavage would have been talk of the office! And finally, I added in a U-shaped piece of fabric under the arm because the sleeve hole was gaping...leaving about an inch of bra exposed.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, I will definitely be making dresses from this pattern again but will continue to make the alterations above so that it's suitable office wear.
My goal for 2012 is to sew a project a week (52 projects total) so that I can start working through the frightening fabric stash that is taking over my sewing room. This is project #1.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Making a muslin

For years, I avoided making muslins. "What?!? I have to make a rough draft first? That's like, waaaay too much work." And then, after the disappointment of a few ill-fitting projects that now lie in a crumpled heap at the back of my closet, I realized that achieving perfect fit in sewing takes not only skill and experience, but also patience and dedication. I marched on down to my fabric store and bought myself fabric to use in making muslins... 

What's a "muslin"? Muslin is technically a type of thin cotton fabric (at right), but it is often used to create pattern pieces - so "making a muslin" has come to mean cutting, fitting and sewing a rough draft of your garment to ensure you've got the proper fit before you cut into your good (and likely much more expensive) fabric.

I make muslins using whatever inexpensive fabric 
I can get my hands on, usually a thin cotton with no stretch to it - basically, any fabric that is similar in nature to paper flat pattern pieces. That trip to the fabric store I mentioned, I bought a bolt of beige cotton fabric that was marked down because it had grey discolouration running through it. The entire bolt cost me about $6, and will make about 8-10 rough drafts of projects I want to make. 

Give it a try! 
Here, I'm making a pencil skirt muslin...

Cutting the pieces
- cut out the commercial paper pattern pieces in your size
   *if you're unsure at all of the pattern sizing/fit, cut 
     a larger size to be safe
- lay them out on your muslin fabric
- trace the outline using a pen, making any major 
    adjustments you already know you need to add in

With this skirt pattern, I knew the short was too short (pic left)and that I also wanted a little extra fabric along the back seam for the zipper (pic above).

- now transfer any markings as well (ie, darts)
- cut out your new muslin pattern pieces

Sewing the garment
- sew major seams together following 
    your pattern instructions
   *major seams = shoulders, sides, darts, etc
   *use wide stitches, you'll want to be able to 
     rip them out easily afterwards
   *if putting in sleeves, make sure to adjust 
     and sew at your 'true shoulder'
   *this is a rough draft of the finished item, 
      don't bother with hemming or 
      finishing the inside seam allowances!
- try your muslin on, and adjust the fit by taking seams in further as needed or ripping apart and re-sewing areas that need to be adjusted in order to achieve a better fit

Here, the skirt was still too wide at the hips, back darts a little pointy, and look at how the front waistline is higher that the back - I created a new side seam about 1/2" inside the original sewing line, adjusted the darts, and the cut 1/2" off the top front to make sure the waistline was even all the way around. I also decided the taper in the side seams (pic at right) so that the bottom of the skirt would taper in towards my calves rather than hang straight down from my hip.

Finishing the muslin
- lay your garment out on a flat surface
- using your marker, trace a dashed "sewing line" 
    along your stitches
- trim the fabric about 1/2" away from your 
    stitches, this creates your seam allowance
- now rip out your stitches and remove zipper
    (if used)
Using your marker, name each pattern piece so you know what's what and transfer over any other important markings (ie, hemline or changes to dart position).

Voila! You can toss the paper pattern pieces or give them to a sewing buddy, you now have perfectly-fitting muslin pieces of your own to use again and again. Fold them up and put them back in the commercial pattern envelope or use a medium-size plastic zip baggie to keep everything together.

What about making a muslin from an existing piece of clothing? It can be a bit tricky, especially if you don't want to cut up the item into it's individual parts just yet. Just lay the item out on your muslin fabric, and try your best to trace around lines where the item was sewn together. The biggest difference = add your seam allowance! It's already included in commercial patterns (most likely), but you'll need to use your imagination a little if you're trying to create a pattern to recreate beloved items from your closet. Remember - it's a muslin, it's ok to mess it up or have to redo it, the whole point is to play/adjust/fix now instead of after you've already cut into your good fabric! 

What about knits? Honestly, I made one cotton muslin for a perfectly-fitted simple jersey top (from my favourite t-shirt) and I use that to compare against any commercially-made pattern for knits that I intend to use. Is the pattern as wide/long as my perfect muslin piece? Yes? Then I just go for it. The stretch in knits is so forgiving, I usually don't make a muslin unless the pattern is very unique and might not look quite right on my body type without adjustments. But, if you are concerned and want to make a muslin, your best option is to buy an equal amount of cheaper "fashion" knit and test out the pattern first following the guidelines above, and then copy the pattern to a sturdy cotton for future projects. Why not make a muslin out of the cheaper "fashion" knit itself? Knits ravel at the sides, and unless you're interested in putting little weights all around the edges to keep the cut pieces flat, stick with a test run of the commercial pattern and then make your cotton muslin pieces.

Do you have to make a muslin every single time you try out a new pattern? No, not necessarily. If you already have a muslin that is similar in shape to the pattern you want to try, much like with my example of the perfect simple jersey top, you can simply use your muslin to judge if there will be any problems with the commercial pattern's sizing.

But apart from that, don't skip making or using an existing muslin when sewing! Not only do you end up with a properly-fitted garment, but you now have reliable pattern pieces for future garments of the same style. It's a lot faster to throw together a new dress if you know you can count on the sizing of the muslin when cutting out and sewing together your pieces. Having said that, making a muslin does NOT mean you shouldn't still check the fit when sewing your final garment...always try your garment on as you go along. Any changes that still need to be made = don't forget to make them on your muslin as well so the next time things are even more perfect!

Happy sewing!