An early version of a finished garment made up in cheap material so that the design can be tested and perfected.
I read a lot of sewing blogs and I am amazed at how much toile-ing goes on out there. Am I alone in being someone who doesn’t toile?
Of course, I understand the principle of making a toile so that you can hopefully get a pattern which ensures a perfect fit before committing scissors to your best fabric. And I can totally see that if you were developing a pattern from scratch you would need to make a muslin to see how the design is progressing and will work in practice. In fact I went to the Yves St Laurent exhibition ‘Style is Eternal’ several years ago and a whole room was devoted to calico toiles of his designs. I could appreciate that these were used to try out design features such as pocket and button placement (it was very cute seeing buttons made of calico).
For commercial patterns however I much prefer to take my measurements and compare these to the paper pattern, making adjustments to that before I cut out. Then I like to do the fitting and alterations on the garment as I go along. I think the thing is that fabrics behave so differently. How many times have I cut main pieces and lining from the same pattern only to sometimes find they are slightly out usually due to the weave of the material be it loose or tight or possibly due to the texture of a particular fabric. So I guess what I’m saying is that you may make a toile in one fabric and find that it fits perfectly but when using a different fabric for the proper garment find some differences occur. I do remember a Vogue skirt I made years ago. I used a lightweight woollen fabric for the first skirt I created with the pattern. It made a fabulous skirt that fit and felt perfect. As I loved that skirt I decided to make another but this time in a cotton weight fabric. However, the fit was completely different. I didn’t love it as much as my first one.
I think I have made precisely two toiles in my life. One was for the first pattern I drafted for a Victorian jacket using an original Victorian pattern. Although I drafted by bust size I was wary of Victorian sizing even then so did sew a mock up. It actually came out true to size but the instructions for the drafting of the patterns include a lot of measuring of the flat pattern and removing or adding any extra to back length, darts, etc, so they work out surprisingly well. My other toile was a jacket I was making for a friend and wanted her to see the style I was contemplating.
I can’t see me changing my mind this late in my sewing career and so far I can’t say I have had any major disasters from not toile-ing. Maybe I think life is too short to toile. How about you?