The Sewing Place

What is a toile?


What is a toile?
« on: June 02, 2017, 09:05:26 AM »
Firstly, this isn't a tutorial, but more like a gathering of ideas.  I wasn't sure which category it fitted in, so Mods, feel free to move it.

I must point out that I am self-taught, and as such, my teacher is often mis-informed.  This post is simply my ideas of the uses of a Toile/Muslin.

A Toile

This is something I came across late in my sewing life, and thought unnecessary and time consuming for a long, long time.

However, when I started to want better fitted and finished garments, the need for a toile became apparent.  I didn't call it that, wouldn't even recognise it as a toile, but that's what it was.  Essentially, for me, it is a practice garment, either full or partial, to test techniques, fit, and style.

When I sew directly from the packet, I have no real idea of how the garment will look on me.  There is usually only a stick insect model, or line drawings to inform me, maybe a few notes, hidden away in the tissue.

So, sometimes a Toile is used as a fitting tool.  This is great, because you then make your alterations on it, and use it as your pattern. For complex garments I believe several Toiles are sometimes made.

Then, the partial Toile.  I use this when there is a tricky bit to master eg shirt cuff, collar, placket.  In this case, I wouldn't do a full Toile, just the relevant bit.  It also gives me chance to try the techniques recommended on the pattern, against techniques I have tried before, and I think may work better.

Finally, the Wearable Toile.  I may do one of these if I'm relatively confident that the pattern is OK, but I don't yet want to commit the final fabric to.  Many Wearable Toiles have turned out to be equally as nice as the intended garment.  Some have been consigned to Toile heaven.....

I would love to hear your ideas of a toile to add to my knowledge, and hopefully those of the forum.  If I have erred, please feel free to correct me, and give your own understanding.

Look forward to hearing from you.  :)


Jessie, who is very happy to be here!!  :),  but who has far too many sewing machines to be healthy, and a fabric stash which is becoming embarrassing.


Re: What is a toile?
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2017, 09:17:03 AM »
I seem to remember that a "toile" was usually made of a muslin or something heavier depending on the final garment with alterations done to it so that it could be taken apart and used to make the required alterations to the pattern pieces.  Then the garment would be cut from the fabric and should make up without problems.  Although I was taught about them at school in the '60's and later doing City and Guilds, I don't remember actually putting it into practice on any course.

In those days I could make a 12 pattern without needing any alterations whereas now I don't fit a regular size and this has put me off making for myself so I'm mainly on the dark side now.  Having said that if we get a good summer I may make myself some tops with fabric I have and do have a couple of pieces that I can use to "toile" the top before making a Liberty one.  I have some Liberty fabrics, some Indian cotton brought back by DD2 for me and some Chinese fabric I bought when I visited her studying over there.

I like today's practice of making a toile as a wearable garment rather than an unwearable one.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2017, 09:20:01 AM by twopence »


Re: What is a toile?
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2017, 09:23:55 AM »
Half the things I sew are toiles in some manner, haha. I simply don't have the luxury of making garments straight from the packet, no matter the size. Nor can I make a standard set of adjustments. There are always so many factors.

I tend to make successful things at least three times. So I'll make a toile (or two), then usually a wearable toile, then two more garments usually concluding with a precious fabric.


Re: What is a toile?
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2017, 09:35:06 AM »
I have made a toile for the first time this week using a single bed sheet no longer needed.  Glad i did, if I don't like the pattern construction i haven't wasted my lovely fabric.  <3
Love sewing with Sapphire, Janome, Silver and Babylock.
Best friend is the serger to give that superior edge to seams  😍


Re: What is a toile?
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2017, 10:17:44 AM »
I'd never made one in my life until I returned to sewing, found TSF, and got cracking on all those fancy, expensive wedding outfits for DD's wedding.

As twopence said, I used to be able to buy a pattern, pick my size, make it up, and be satisfied.  Now with a belly, boobs, broad shoulders and monkey arms, I need more work before being happy with the fit.  I still rarely do toiles for me though, being happy enough to wing it, or do a quick tissue fit.

I certainly don't do many, only for potentially problematic stuff.
C'est moi!


Re: What is a toile?
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2017, 10:40:56 AM »

 I'm mainly on the dark side now.

Good for you, I certainly would be too impatient to have "practice runs" I don't even make "practice blocks"

 Having said that if we get a good summer

A bit late for that less than 3 weeks the longest day will be here and then the nights will start drawing in... and it's downhill to X**s

Triumph of hope over experience :D


Re: What is a toile?
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2017, 10:42:04 AM »
Whoops, set that out wrongly, but haven't got time to change it....hope it can be deciphered  :|
Triumph of hope over experience :D


Re: What is a toile?
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2017, 10:58:18 AM »
Yes, Low, but I've only just taken my long sleeved thermals off.  Dare I wear short sleeves today?


Re: What is a toile?
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2017, 11:02:24 AM »
 :D :D
Triumph of hope over experience :D


Re: What is a toile?
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2017, 17:44:10 PM »
I,ve never had a wearable toile.  Any toiles I make or fit for others are usually ripped, have additional fabric pieces,  new design lines inked on, new dart positions marked.    When finished the seam lines are marked in pen and then taken apart to be used as a pattern.


Re: What is a toile?
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2017, 08:44:42 AM »
I rarely make clothes. My sewing background is alterations.

I've never been to college or been on any dressmaking/pattern cutting courses.

With about 12 years alteration experience behind me, in the mid 1990's, I was asked if I'd make a wedding dress. :o The bride to be's future M-I-L had known me since I was about 9 years old and had every confidence in my sewing ability.

Somehow, I seemed to instinctively know that I had to make a mock-up of the bodice for her to try before I cut into her proper fabric.
A good job I did. We found the dress front was cut lower than she liked.

I had made a toile!  8)



Re: What is a toile?
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2017, 09:32:58 AM »
I have always been fortunate to be able to use patterns straight from the packet (apart from taking several inches off length).  However I do make a toile for trousers / jeans and also for jackets that will take a lot of time and effort to make.
Life's too short for ironing.