Natural muslin is not often considered as a primary choice when making fashions, but it should be. Throughout history, it’s been a key component in many summer dresses. One of its best functions is as a lining. Whether you’re making curtains or clothing, consider the benefits of using natural cotton muslin.
What Is Muslin?
Muslin is a woven breathable cotton fabric that has been available for centuries. Thin cotton, silk, or viscose threads are carefully woven together to form the strong weave muslin is known for.
The first muslin cloth was woven in Mosul, Mesopotamia (Iraq), where the fine fabric was often printed with silver or gold leaf. It was such a popular import in the 1700s that factories in Britain opened to make it more readily available.
Historically, there were different types of muslin. One of the leading regions for muslin exports was Mughal Dhaka. In this area, a specialized kind of cotton grew along the river and created Dhakai muslin, a delicate material that was softer and stronger than other muslins.
Today, there are several types of muslin:
- Book – Thin muslin used to help make book covers and women’s dresses.
- Gauze – A lightweight muslin that’s often used in wound care and as cheesecloth for cooking, cheesemaking, and homebrewing.
- Jamdani – A hand-woven muslin with intricate patterns and often gold or silver threading. If you’ve ever seen a sari, you have an idea of what Jamdani muslin looks like.
- Mull – A lightweight muslin made from cotton, silk, or viscose used most often to line clothing or create test patterns.
- Sheeting – A thicker, heavier form of muslin used to make cleaning clothes, clothing, and backing on quilts. It’s also used in theaters for backdrops and scrims.
- Swiss Muslin – A lightweight muslin with dots or a similar pattern used in fashion design.
Tips For Using Muslin as a Lining
One of the most common forms of muslin is natural cotton. It’s not bleached or dyed. It’s a cotton material that comes in an off-white (natural) color that’s useful around the home. It holds dye well if needed.
Have you ever seen the picture of Marilyn Monroe’s wedding dress when she married Arthur Miller? That knee-length off-white dress is the perfect example of a dress made with natural muslin.
Because you can dye it if needed, it’s popular for fashion design. Cotton is a breathable fabric, making it an excellent choice for summer dresses. It doesn’t rip easily, and it can be machine washed for easy cleaning.
If you’re looking for a material for lining clothing, it’s ideal. It lines without making a person too hot while wearing it. It buffers the skin from scratchier materials. It’s also an affordable material.
Muslin is a good lining with most clothing items, but you need to follow a few guidelines. The most important is to use muslin when you need fabrics to flow and glide smoothly.
Wash it before using it as a lining. You want to wash and dry it once to pre-shrink it. That prevents issues down the road with the lining shrinking while the outer material stays the same size.
Muslin doesn’t stretch, so it will not work under stretchy fabrics like knitted cashmere or t-shirt cotton. A heavy, stiff material may not suit muslin. If you’re designing a wool coat, you want a slippery material for the jacket lining to make it easier to put it on and take it off.
Other Uses for Cotton Muslin
Embrace muslin for your fashion designs and linings, and then expand into many of the other ways to use muslin around the home and at work. As it is so versatile, you’ll want to make this the fabric you buy in bulk.
- Baby Care
A baby’s delicate skin needs a gentle touch, and cotton muslin is ideal for that. Use muslin clothes as a washcloth or to wipe the face and hands after a messy meal.
- Cleaning Cloths
Cut the fabric into rags and use the material for sanitizing counters and hard surfaces, dusting furnishings, or as a soft face towel. Muslin cloths are ideal for washing windows, too.
Many dressmakers use muslin to test new patterns. They can see how the design they’re working on will drape and fit. That muslin test pattern can be instrumental in helping a designer alter the designs to get them perfect.
- Home Décor
Use muslin to line DIY sun-blocking curtains or enhance your décor with lightweight muslin curtains that allow natural light while having the organic look you desire.
Muslin is a fantastic material for making throw pillows. It’s easy to get a needle through the fabric, making it easy to hand sew them. Add cedar shavings or dried lavender to create a potpourri pillow that scents the room while also eye-catching.
Do you live in an area where mosquitoes are prevalent in warmer weather? There’s nothing worse than hearing their whine as you start to drift off to sleep. Muslin is an excellent material for forming a mosquito curtain around your bed.
- Kitchen Use
You’ve seen cheesecloth in home goods stores. It’s often thin, and the looser weave may allow smaller granules and leaves to get through. Switch to 6-ounce muslin, and you have a sturdy cheesecloth you can use over and over. Put it in the wash, dry it, and reuse it the next time you need to contain grains from a mash, herbs in a bouquet garni, etc.
Muslin is the perfect backing for your quilt, whether you’re making a quilted wall hanging or a bed quilt. It’s durable and easy to work with.
Theaters use muslin for everything from backdrops to scrims. Scrims are used for effects and to hide actors or props that will soon appear on the stage. You can dye muslin to fit the stage décor. It’s strong without being heavy, making it easy to hang from the curtain tracks.
Tips for Care
When you use muslin as a lining on curtains or clothing, it’s easy to keep it clean. Wash it in cold water using a gentle detergent. It may wrinkle in the dryer, so lay it flat and air dry. If you need to dry it in a clothes dryer, remove it while it’s still slightly damp.
Chicago Canvas & Supply sells 6-ounce 100% cotton muslin in 10 to 39 feet widths. We also sell fire retardant muslin in black, bleached white, natural, photo gray, and royal blue/light blue. Flame retardant poly muslin and muslin backdrops are also available.
But, you want to stock up on 100% cotton muslin for linings. There’s a minimum purchase of 5 yards, and you’re welcome to purchase it in 100-yard rolls if a large quantity is needed. Buy now and enjoy discounted pricing on Chicago Canvas’ heavy natural 100% cotton muslin.