What are muslins for?

If, like me, you were a stranger to the joys of muslin prior to getting pregnant 
or having a baby, you’ve probably at some point on your parenting journey made a bemused face at the general wisdom that tells us “you can never have too many muslin squares”.

I mean, what even is a muslin square and why all the fuss about them, right?

The answer to that question hit me hard when I found myself, a couple of weeks into motherhood, incapable of being more than a metre from a muslin cloth without feeling twitchy!

Yep, as you’ve probably heard (or even discovered for yourself if your baby has already arrived), those little fabric squares are one thing on the list of baby ‘must-haves’ that genuinely are indispensable.

What exactly is muslin?

The term ‘muslin’ simply refers to a lightweight cotton cloth with a plain weave that’s crafted layer by layer, creating a distinctive criss-cross pattern. It’s one of the oldest fabrics in the world, thought to have originated in Bangladesh, and evidence of its use goes back as far as the 13th century.

Muslin has a delicate appearance but is deceptively strong and durable, and for that reason it has been used for all kinds of things since its invention. From dressmaking to dressing film sets, beekeeping to cheesemaking, medical applications and even aviation (it was used by the Wright brothers to cover the wings of the Wright Flyer, which made its historic first flight in 1903).

In today’s world, while muslin still has a multitude of uses, it has most definitely become synonymous with baby care, as evidenced by the official dictionary definition:

Muslin
[mass noun]

1. Lightweight cotton cloth in a plain weave.
1.1 [British count noun]

A hemmed square of lightweight cotton cloth used to wipe up regurgitated milk when feeding or winding a baby.

 

How do muslins make parents’ lives easier?

The dictionary definition is spot on in terms of the most celebrated baby-related use for muslin squares or cloths. They are indeed lifesavers when it comes to protecting shoulders, knees, sofas and all manner of other things (pets, anyone?) from the inevitable result of feeding and winding a particularly pukey baby.

But I don’t think that really does them justice. When my son was little, we found all kinds of other uses for them, including the following:

Changing bag with rainbow coloured muslins draped over it
  • Strategically positioning them during a nappy change to stop him peeing on me!
  • Drying his bottom after using wet wipes.
  • Hanging them at the car window to shield him from the sun.
  • Dipping them in cool water as an on-the-go teether.
  • Hanging a damp muslin in front of a fan to cool down a room.
  • Fashioning a makeshift sun hat.

I also bought some extra-large muslin cloths, which over the years have doubled up as picnic blankets, beach towels and even fancy dress accessories!

Then of course there are the babies who get emotionally attached to their muslins and use them as comforters, elevating their status from humble muzzy to a treasured possession with the ability to send parents into panic mode if it’s misplaced! (I speak from experience there.)

Muslin really is the ultimate multitasker!

Not all muslin is created equal

You can probably sense by now that I’m pretty passionate about muslin! Within weeks of having my baby I’d developed a serious dependency on the stuff, but I quickly learned that there’s a huge spectrum out there when it comes to quality.

I lost count of the number of muslins I bought at the cheaper end of the scale that felt beautifully soft initially, but suddenly turned into scourers or shrank so much they became useless after a couple of washes.

And then there were the prints. I love colour and pattern and I always chose bright and colourful muslin cloths. But I usually found they faded very quickly and the prints became rough and scratchy to the touch.

It was this experience that drove me to set up Pattie & Co. I was amazed at the versatility of muslin yet frustrated with the poor-quality cloth that was generally being sold to parents, only to end up being disposed of because it’s not up to the job. My aim was (and still is) to bring the joy of adaptable muslin and vibrant prints to parents, but with a focus on enduring quality and skin friendliness.

It’s not all about the little squares!

Moses basket draped in rainbow coloured muslin squares

Our three-packs of muslin squares are a must-have for any new parent and are always flying off the shelves, but there’s a lot more to discover at Pattie & Co. Our range of muslin baby products currently includes blankets, extra-large swaddles and cuddly comforters, and we have plans in the pipeline for bibs, babygrows and more!

We create everything with super-soft muslin woven from GOTS-certified organic cotton, because it’s kinder to babies’ skin, the planet and the people who farm it. Across the collection you’ll find a variety of exclusively designed patterns in our signature rainbow palette, all applied with a digital-reactive print process to guarantee softness and colour fastness through wash and wear.

After all, these things are likely to become your accessories of choice for the next few years, so we think they should look good, feel great and stay that way!

Need some muslin magic in your life? Sign up to our newsletter and as a thank you we’ll send you a code for 15% off your next order.

Sources:
https://www.contrado.co.uk/blog/what-is-muslin/
https://www.sewdaily.com/sewing/muslin-monday-what-to-make-with-one-of-the-oldest-cottons/
https://www.lexico.com/definition/muslin

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