How to design and make your own clothes - Toiles- Part 3/4

Updated: Feb 1

You've pattern cut your design and now it's time to cut out your pattern pieces and create your top... but wait...something tells you you should be making a toile*. You hesitate for a second and then think, what a waste of time, it'll be fine. Only to find you've finished the whole top, put it on and low and behold it doesn't quite fit!

*Toile - an early version of a finished garment made up in cheap material so that the design can be tested and perfected.

Why are toiles so important?

I know I've had times where I've thought 'forget the toile, I just want a finished garment now'... but we all know that they are a vital part of the process.

What does a toile really tell us?

✂️  If the fit is right

✂️  If the design is how you imagined it to be 

✂️  How to put the garment together. Remember that your pattern, annotations and notes are your instructions and once we've made the mistakes once we're less likely to make them again.

Toiles can come across as a time and money waster. That is exactly the opposite of what they are! You should even make toiles for shop-bought patterns too. Then you can test the pattern for a fraction of the cost and time needed to make the final garment!

Top toile making tips:

Time saver tip: You don't need to finish the hems or even cut out the extra fabric required for them. Save fabric and save time. If you think you may forget to add these on later, then you can just fold them under when making a toile.

Money and ethical tip: Before spending money on calico, use unwanted/damaged fabrics, clothes or bedsheets. Calico should be your final option and we recommend using organic calico. Click here to get your calico fabric made from 100% GOTS Organic Cotton. BUT REMEMBER - if you're creating a stretch agreement make sure to create your toile out of a stretch fabric that has a similar amount of stretch too.

The true test tip: The fabric you make your toile in should be as similar as possible to your final fabric(s). This is so you can test the fit and movement of the garment properly.

Quality tip: Toiles aren't about the finish. That doesn't mean to say you can bodge seam allowances and measurements. These still have to be accurate otherwise it's not a true test of the fit but the thread doesn't need to match and you don't need to sew on all the buttons.

What are you really looking for?

So you've made up this great toile but what are you really looking for?

Trying it on a mannequin doesn't count as testing the fit and look! It's for you, and you're right there so put it on!

TOP TIP: Put it on inside out and you'll find it easier to undo any seams to make them bigger or pin them in to make them smaller. It will also make it easier to copy these alterations over to your sewing patterns.