Skip to main content
Why make a toile?
13th December 2016

Making a toile

We all know the disappointment when that fabulous top we ordered online, arrives and doesn’t quite fit the way we thought it would. We measured against the size chart, but still it’s not quite right. 

But that’s the beauty of dressmaking – we can make our clothes the way we want them. And the way to perfect this is by making a toile – a rough, trial garment.


During the development of a new pattern, I’ll make and remake toiles until I get to a point when I’m confident enough to make a ‘wearable’ toile. Obviously this development work is done so that the final pattern makes garments exactly like photographed samples. We photograph all styles on more than one model. But I’ve noticed everyone looks different in the samples, even when they have similar body measurements. So I think its still worth making a partial toile before cutting your first garment with a new pattern. In this way you can gauge whether to go up or down a size or half size. Also whether that is on the bust or hips or both.


For our initial toile, I’ll sometimes just make one half or the top section of a garment. I use the cheapest fabric I can find or off cuts left over from other projects. And I don’t worry about inserting zips or adding buttons at this stage. The idea is to get the concept right. Once I’m happy with the concept, I’ll make a wearable toile. This is a complete garment in inexpensive fabric. I wear this to see how it feels and make further adjustments as necessary before the final patterns and samples are made.

One keen maker I know always makes a wearable toile to just wear around the house. It’s her way of testing the pattern and then making those tweaks that make for great fitting clothes.

There is more about 'What is a toile?' here