By the time we’ve finished developing each collection of sewing patterns, we always have a large stack of toiles (or muslins) to show for our efforts in addition to the nice finished samples we photograph and display.
Toiles are the rough drafts of a pattern. After a paper pattern is drafted, we make a toile to adjust the fit, revise design details, and work out the construction of the garment. It’s not uncommon to make three or four toiles before we’re really pleased with the results and are ready to start writing instructions and making finished samples.
We also test the fit of the full size range to be sure we’re happy with the grading. Most styles need to be tweaked a bit before they’re ready, and the simplest way to check the fit is to make a muslin.
I like to use muslin for toiles because we can draw or write directly onto the fabric, the fabric is inexpensive, and the print or appearance of the fabric doesn’t interfere with the design itself (although sometimes the muslin can make a garment look a bit stark–designs always look better when made in actual fabric).
Now that the spring collection is finished and shipped, I thought you might enjoy seeing a few of the toiles in all their wrinkled, messy glory.
Here are a large size and a small size Sketchbook Short, side by side:
Other times when we test the fit of a size, we merely indicate details so we can check placement during a fitting without taking the time to actually construct the details (again). For this size 10 Ice Cream Dress we marked the placement and size of the pockets and seams so we didn’t need to take the time to sew them:
My favorite toiles are for patterns that have multiple views. We often save time and materials by including several options in one muslin when we make up fit samples. The models always get a kick out of wearing one short sleeve and one long sleeve: