Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


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To toile or not to toile

I have a confession to make…..I’ve never bothered making a toile before. I suppose there are a number of reasons.

  • The patterns may have a loose fit like Butterick B5357
  • The pattern is very simple and just takes a couple of easy measurements, such as the Collette Sorbetto top
  • I think the measurements are enough and I’m too lazy to bother with any test garment. Definitely used this technique for my classic trousers

So why make a toile for this shirt? In a nutshell it scared me, there were 22 pieces of fabric to stitch together and I wasn’t taking any chances!

Lucinda blouse diagram

First of all, I did some extensive measuring. The pattern is available as a PDF only, but I must confess that in some ways I prefer PDF patterns. Generally, after I’ve printed them out, I trace my size onto tracing paper including all my adjustments and, in this case, the seam allowance (which isn’t included on any Be My Goth patterns). This way I don’t forget to add my adjustments and I have a customised pattern that I can go back to.

I made the expected adjustments for my odd shape – a slightly broader back and a little extra at the side seams to gracefully accommodate a little belly roundness!

I then made a toile just including the bodice. You may recognise the fabric – I used it to make a wrap dress last year and I had quite a bit left over. It fit pretty well. The photo isn’t great as I’m holding it on. I didn’t feel like trying to pin myself into it again just for the sake of the photo! I was actually quite taken with my toile and I may get round to finishing it off some time. I do like the idea of making a “wearable toile”, that way I’m not wasting fabric. I may not have enough fabric to do the sleeves, but perhaps I could make a sleeveless version with a white collar. Would look quite chic, I reckon?

Lucinda blouse toile


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I’m sewing a skirt – Part 1

For my next project I have decided to sew a simple skirt. I’m keen to make a skirt that fits well and found that Deby at So Sew Easy has written a wonderful tutorial on this very subject.

I started out by drafting my custom fit pattern. This was relatively easy to do, but I did find I have so little in the way of waist that I had to adapt even these custom-fit instructions. I ended up making my front darts 1 cm smaller to accommodate my large tum. Next, I created my toile. I had bought, very cheaply, in a local fabric shop, some brown sheeting. I decided that not only would I use it to create my test piece, but if all was well it could double-up as the lining for my skirt. It seems usually that skirt linings seem to be made of horrible synthetic polyester or acetate, but why not make a cotton lining? After all, there aren’t any rules about this surely?

The toile worked out fine, I was so surprised that it actually fitted! I am so used to skirts, either being too tight in the waist, or fitting at the waist and having bagginess around the hips.

I decided that just to make life a little more interesting I would make my skirt from silk; I just can’t help giving myself a challenge! I found this lovely silk dupion in brown . It has a lovely shimmer to it…..actually I’m going to call it bronze, makes it sound so much nicer!

SIlk Dupion