A Toile? Mon Dieu, que dit-elle?

Reflective Practice in Pink Polycotton

Dressmakers, do you use a toile?  I only learned the word the other day – it’s a kind of dry-run garment that you make to ensure the pattern fits, before you make the garment in fabric that you would be seen dead wearing.  This morning I made my toile out of old bed-linen.  Dilys (my new dressmaking dummy) looked very fetching in it, apart from the sleeves not being attached.  (They were too tight on me, so some re-engineering of the pattern was required!  Dilys has no arms – she didn’t need the sleeves anyway.)  My intention was simply to ensure that I’ve got Dilys’s measurements right, before launching into my Spring 2015 sewing spree.

Working with Dilys is a new experience for me, but so was my attempt to scale up a dressmaking pattern out of an A4 book. One square = 5 cm, it said.

  • Lesson 1: never try to draw your own graph paper then copy it.
  • Lesson 2: if you can avoid it, don’t try to scale up a dressmaking pattern
  • Lesson 3: As above … especially if there are nine differently coloured lines denoting different sizes!
  • Lesson 4: Although, theoretically, enlarging on a photocopier should have been the easy answer, it turned out to be much trickier than it seemed.  The first 200% enlargement wasn’t too bad, but working out which bits to enlarge for the second 200% enlargement was going to be complicated – on Friday, I gave up and went to Mandors for proper dressmaking graph paper at lunchtime instead.

Black and white dress fabricAnyway, here we are on a Sunday evening, and the toile-enveloped Dilys stands watching as I get to work on the nice black and white cotton fabric that will become my new dress.  There’s only one problem that I can see – it looks spookily like a repeat of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s logo! Now, why didn’t I notice that when I bought it?  I wonder if my colleagues will notice when I turn up in it?


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