Toile: “An early version of a finished garment made up in a cheap material so that the design can be tested and perfected”.
If you have ever sewn a garment from a pattern then you know that it is almost impossible to have a good fit without any alterations. This doesn’t mean that the pattern lacks in quality; although not all sewing patterns are created equally. It is not your body’s fault; it is beautiful as is. And it’s not your sewing skills; even if they are in dire need of honing.
All sewing patterns are created based on a size table. This table is created to best fit the target group of the pattern. An ideal body, if you wish, based on statistics. Most of us don’t have these dimensions nor the proportions. Each body is unique so when you sew you need to take that into consideration.
Blending sizes can significantly change the way the final garment will fit your body. Other fitting pattern alterations such as FBA (Full Bust Adjustment), SBA (Small Bust Adjustment), Broad Back Adjustment, Lengthening and Shortening the crotch line and more can also improve the fit.
The question though remains: Are you going to sew your fashion fabric and spend your time on complicated sewing techniques when you are not sure that the end result will suit you?
This is where the toile helps. First, you usually sew it using calico; which is a cheap unbleached cotton fabric. Second, because the fabric is plain it is easy to identify fitting issues. Sometimes I use fabric that has almost the same drape to make my toile to see how my fashion fabric would drape on my body. Third, you can practice your sewing techniques before you apply them to your final garment.
Some argue that making a toile just adds one more step and prefer to skip it. Although I have certainly done this too, I highly recommend making one. This extra step has saved me time unpicking seams and spared me from frustration when I could not understand some steps of the instructions.
Do you make toiles or prefer to skip this step?