One of the advantages of sewing up toiles in calico or another plain fabric, is that it allows you to mix and match different garments together and see how they interact with each other. If you know that you want garments to be worn together, then it also allows you to tweak the proportions or details as needed.
Fashion Design Range Planning
If you are a fashion designer, or fashion student, and are designing a full collection then this will allow you to see how a whole range of garments fit together to create different outfits. This process may also give you an idea for different styling approaches later on. From a range planning perspective, this also gives you a chance to see if there are any holes missing in the collection – an extra garment that could be thrown into the mix to help tie everything together.
Having an archive of plain toiles also allows you to bring back previous shapes into new collections. You can of course do this with old samples made in real fabric, but having a toile in a basic fabric allows you to view the garment as a complete blank canvas.
Wardrobe Planning and Capsule Collections
If you sew your own clothes then this approach is particularly relevant if you intend to develop a versatile capsule wardrobe. If you have a range of favourite patterns made up in plain fabrics, then you can consider how these can be created in different final fabrics or consider how garments can be mixed and matched across seasons.
These toiles can also be used to help you to get more wear out of previous makes. For example, if you have a skirt that you never really wear, then you could try it on with toiles of different tops, coats and jackets to consider what would work well with it.
Toiles for Mood Board No. 1
Below you can see photos of how the different toiles from Mood Boards No. 1 all work together. You can see how this also encourages you to think about the life of a garment beyond a single season. For example, by trying on the different versions of the tops, in both long and short sleeve options you can consider different fabrics for winter and summer options. It then also confirms that the trousers would work well in a denim and then could be worn with the tops across both seasons.
If you are making clothes for yourself, it can help to look at the garments objectively on a mannequin and consider the fit and proportion of the different garments. This also gives you a chances to think about how details work or clash with each other. For example, in this case, the cropped height of the LB pullover sits at a nice length just above the opening of the pockets on the V8499 trousers. On other garments, you might have the length of one fighting with the detail on another. Or seeing all the garments together may make you want to alter hem heights for a better overall sense of proportion.
Patterns Used for the Toiles
The patterns used to create these toiles were:
Pattern: The Unlined Raw-edged Coat
Supplier: The Maker’s Atelier
Pattern: Marcy Tilton Trousers
Pattern Code: V8499
Supplier: Vogue Patterns
Pattern: LB Pullover
Version: Neckband A or B
Supplier: Paper Theory
Final Tweaks and Changes
Seeing all the toiles together also means that you can consider the toiles back with your original idea or mood board and make any final changes. For the LB pullover, for example, we have white, grey and red cotton jersey rib that could be used as trim on a linen tee version. If you enjoy using Adobe Illustrator, you can even add colours over the top of photos to see which version you prefer.
Bringing It All Together
At this point, you’ve finalised your patterns (LB Pullover, V8499 Trousers and Maker’s Atelier Coat) and prepped your fabric and trims. If you had any details to test, you would also have sewn up some test samples. This gives you a much better idea of how the final garments will come together and reduces the chances that you will have issues with the first garment.
If you have used our book How To Start Sewing, this is an idea that we talked about in Chapter 48: Cutting and Sewing the Final Garment. But now on the blog, you can see how visually this starts to make more sense once you can see the shapes of the toiles and can more easily picture how they will come together when sewn up in the real fabrics.