Fabric 101: What is Muslin? How to Care for Muslin

What is Muslin?

Muslin is loosely woven cotton fabric. The plain weave technique is used to make it. This means that one weft thread alternates with another warp thread. Muslin is a material that was used to create fashion prototypes and test the patterns before cutting the final product.

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What is the History of Muslins?

Muslin was created in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The first mentions of muslin date back to the prehistoric period. Muslin was once a valuable commodity that could be traded for the same price as gold. European traders discovered muslin in Mosul (Iraq), and gave it the name muslin.

Muslin weavers in India and Bangladesh were subject to brutal treatment and forced to use other materials during British colonial rule. While muslin from Europe was imported, it was still used by the workers. Gandhi, who was the leader of the Indian independence movement started spinning yarn to make khadi (a type of muslin), to encourage self-reliance and peacefully resist British rule.

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What are the Different Types Of Muslin?

Muslin is available in many different weights and forms. The best muslins have a soft and smooth weave. They are made from uniformly-spun yarns that ensure the thread is the same width all through. Lower quality, coarser muslins can be woven from uneven yarns which can be bleached or left unbleached.

There are four major grades of muslin.

  1. Gauze is a sheer, ultra-lightweight form of muslin that can be used to make clothes and dressing wounds.
  2. Mull is a light, plain muslin made mostly from silk and cotton, but can also be made from viscose. For pattern testing and dress underlining, Mull is often used.
  3. Swiss muslin. Swiss muslin, a lightweight and sheer form of muslin that has raised patterns or dots, is often used for warm-weather clothing.
  4. Sheeting is the thickest, coarsest type of muslin. It is used for clothing and homewares.

What is Muslin used for?

Muslin can be used in everything, from fashion to science to theatre. These are just a few of the functions that this fabric can perform.

Dressmaking. Muslin is used most often by designers in sewing and pattern-making, to create new patterns. It doesn’t matter if the prototype is made from a different fabric, it will still be called a “muslin”.

Quilting. A quilt’s backing is often made of muslin fabric.

Home decor. Muslin can be used to decorate your home with a light, sheer fabric that creates a spacious space. It is also used for curtains, bed sheets, and towels.

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Arts: Muslin is dye-resistant and a great choice for theatre scrims backdrops and sets. Muslin is lightweight and a great portable seamless for photographers.

Cheesemaking:  Home cheesemakers can strain curdled milk through a bag to separate the liquid from the curd.

Surgery: Aneurysms are wrapped in muslin gauze by doctors. This makes the artery stronger and helps prevent it from rupturing.

Fabric Care Guide: How To Care For Muslin

Muslin should always be washed gently. These are the steps you should follow to care for a muslin piece.

Use cold water to machine wash or hand wash muslin

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Use gentle laundry detergent.

To dry the item, hang it or lay muslin flat. Tumble dry the item on low heat, but do not dry it completely.