This demo relies heavily on a previous demo called Basic
Pattern Drafting. If you've not read through it, you may
want to do so before moving on. If you're comfortable moving
on, then let's go!
This demonstration will show you what to do with the basic
pattern you developed during the Basic
Pattern Drafting demo. Essentially, during that demo,
we drafted out a pattern based on the measurements of our
subject (ourselves, our friend, our cat, etc.). Because the
measurements are pretty simplistic, the chances that we will
have a perfect pattern from them are small. This is not to
say that we won't get real close - but I highly advocate moving
on to this step in the process before finalizing the pattern.
I NEVER skip this step. It is absolutely essential for a perfectly
In period, what we are about to develop is most often known
as "The Toile". It is not a "Mock-Up",
which is more usually a completed garment out of fabric similar
to the actual garment. The Toile is meant to be made out of
cheap fabric, tacked together, fitted to the subject (ourselves,
our friend, our cat, etc.) and then any fitting issues addressed
upon it. Once the toile fits, it is taken apart and a finished
pattern taken from it. From there, that pattern is used to
create the final garment.
A Quick Bit About Pattern Shapes
If you are new to recreating costumes from this era, it may
be helpful to take a look at various pattern shapes from extant
Tailor's Pattern manuscripts. Examples can be found in the
Research section of this web
What Garments Require a Toile?
Anything that needs to be fitted or is unfamiliar in construction.
Bodices, doublets, and sleeves all need to fit. Slops, surcoats
and mourning gowns are all somewhat unfamiliar to the modern
sewer and have their own period issues of fit that need to
be addressed. I don't make toiles for undergarments such as
farthingales, underwear, shirts or smocks. These are all loosely
fitted (relatively speaking). I will make a toile for a corset
because it is essential that that fit correctly. A correctly
fitted corset is really comfortable. An incorrectly fitted
corset is torture.
Creating a Toile -
Once we've charted out all the measurements into a definable
pattern, we then add seam allowances. For general purposes
, I use one half inch (1.27 cm) seams. This allows for both
taking in areas AND letting them out - at least a little bit.
Once I get a toile where I want it, I again measure all seams
to make sure that they are still the right width. Some schools
of thought suggest that using one inch (2.54 cm) seams on
toiles is better as this gives more room for letting out if
necessary. Realistically, as you begin to adapt this process
to your own sewing needs, pick which ever method works best
After adding seam allowance, we can then cut our toile out
from cheap muslin (or other cheap fabric - sometimes I use
old sheets). Make sure to note the seam allowances on the
muslin. This is important when we start to adjust the fit
on the subject (ourselves, our friend, our cat, etc.).
Tack the pattern together using a long basting stitch - not
too long as we want it to hold the seam closed but long enough
that when we take the toile apart, we won't need a magnifying
glass to pick out the stitches.
|The front of the tacked together toile, seams out, armseye
and neck openings clipped for fitting.
||The back of the tacked together toile. The back piece
is pieced up from scraps to make use of the fabric available.
A Small Bit About Fabric -
Muslin is pretty limp. One of the reasons why it is traditionally
used in toiles is that it is cheap and easy to manipulate.
But, if the garment that you are intending to make from your
pattern is going to be made from a heavy material, and you
don't want to do a full Mock-Up, you may want to use a fabric
for your toile that more closely resembles the 'hand' and
'drape' (thickness and stiffness) of the material you are
going to be working with. Most un dyed twill will work but
beware of twill's natural diagonal bias. I usually use a heavy
jean or tabby woven canvas if I need to have a heavier toile.
Historically, the canvas that may have been used for a toile
would've been the foundation of the finished garment and all
the marks from the tailor would've been on it. It very often
was the interlining of the finished garment. Making a garment
this way is a good way to not waste canvas (if you use it)
and to ensure a perfect fit since the actual canvas used to
fit becomes part of the finished garment. I personally don't
mind wasting muslin and there are accounts from period of
making garments by either using muslin and then moving on
to canvas or using canvas and moving on. The focus here is
to have a garment that fits. Choose whichever way that works
best for you, for the particular project, and for your pocket
|On the subject, the issues of fit become immediately
clear. Tell-tale wrinkles at the arm and chest show that
the armseye needs to be opened up more. The shoulder seam
is smooth and the rest of the front fit looks good.
||In back, it is apparent that there is a huge amount
of gap at the back when the toile is pinned together in
front. This is from excess fabric in this area. These
seams will need to be taken in a bit more for the fit
to be smooth.
Issues of Fit and How to Address
At this point, we then try the toile onto the subject,
first making sure that the subject has on ALL the clothes
they are going to wear under the finished garment. If there
are no clothes under the finished garment (as in a corset),
then it is not an issue. I can't stress enough, however, that
any fitting of an over garment MUST be done with all the other
under garments on. It really does make a huge bit of difference.
Put the toile on with the edges on the outside. This facilitates
any pinning up or clipping out that you may need to do to
adjust the fit. Once the toile is on the subject, take a look
at how it fits the subject. Look for creases or wrinkles.
These are telltale signs that the fit is not correct. Very
likely, because of the way we measured our pattern, the neck
hole and arms eye will need to be cut down to fit better.
In order to cut down but still leave seam allowance, I mark
out where the seam line needs to go, mark my seam allowance
from there and then cut the arms eye down to the seam allowance.
This does take a bit of practice to be able to eye where the
seam needs to go. If you find that you are having trouble,
cut down to where the arms eye fits and then be sure to add
seam allowance to that area when you mark out your finished
pattern from the toile.
Get ready to go through this process a number of times. It's
really a back-and-forth process to get the toile to fit just
right. Don't get discouraged if it takes you a couple of times
to get the fit correct. Also don't be discouraged if you have
to re-cut a fresh toile. It's better to waste cheap fabric
on a couple of toiles than to have an ill fitted final product
out of expensive fabric.
|After all fitting issues are addressed, the toile should
lay smooth and flat on the subject. (yes, I got impatient
and moved on to making a doublet so this is the actual
garment fabric laid over the toile fabric foundation).
||There is still a little room in the back but that's
ok because the subject is NOT wearing his beautiful
new shirt that he WILL wear under the finished garment.
Notice, however, that the fit is smooth across the shoulders
and under the arms.
The Final Product -
When you are satisfied with the fit of the toile, take it
apart, steam iron the pieces flat, and lay them out on paper
to mark up your paper pattern. You can also simply keep the
toile as a pattern but remember that fabric is a woven structure.
Repeated pulling from use may distort it and that will cause
problems with any garment that is cut from it. If you do keep
the toile as a pattern, make sure to mark it with the person's
name, the name of the pattern piece, and a date.
|After the toile fitting is finished, it is picked apart,
ironed flat and used as a template for a permanent paper
||The pattern can then be used for future garments. Be
sure to note all pertinent info on the pattern.
Viola! Perfectly fitted, individualized patterns. Happy