Monday, March 26, 2012

Fitting commercial patterns

As part of my effort to continually improve my sewing skills, I attended a Modification of Commercial Patterns course here with the delightful Megan.
The course involved us (a small group) making and bringing a toile (or muslin) made from the pattern of our choice.  The the selection was varied and ranged from tops, blouse, princess seamed dress and my vintage pattern dress without the overskirt (I was ambitious to say the least). I selected this pattern for these reasons:-
  • Basically I liked it and thought it would make a great basic shift dress. It also has a very cute V neckline at the back
  • My shape suits this style but I've never been brave enough to make it because of fit concerns
  • Vintage pattern sizing is very different to commercial sizing so custom fitting is very useful
  • I liked the boat neck but wasn't sure it would suit me
  • I wanted to tackle something challenging (typical)
1950s Simplicity pattern dress 
We then each had a fitting and Megan talked us through the adjustments for each toile. Once the adjustments are made to the toile, they are transferred back to the pattern for future reference. I really enjoyed the process and here's what I learned:-
  • custom fitting and adjustments can make the difference between frumpy (thinking of myself here) and fabulous, seriously. Small adjustments make a huge difference in the look of the garment, even in the toile.
  • Every commercial pattern will need some adjustment - no two bodies are the same and some patterns aren't well designed either.
  • You can't do this yourself. You do need help.
  • If you make the effort on a "basic" pattern eg. pants, dress, jacket etc., you should be able to use this pattern again and again, knowing it fits well. 
  • Making the toile gives you a sense of freedom because you can experiment on cheap fabric and then have confidence cutting into your expensive fabric. 
Some of the adjustments made to my toile were:-
  • The dart was lowered. I did a FBA prior to making the toile and made a hash of the dart...
  • Some of the fullness from the FBA was taken in the bodice
  • The neckline was lowered a little (it was too high)
  • The armhole was enlarged (too tight)
  • The allowance was eased across the hips
So, my toile is now in pieces. The next step is to transfer the adjustments back to the pattern, make the changes on the toile, refit to double check, then cut my fashion fabric. I'll keep you updated on the progress.

If you want to read more on making toile and fitting, go here. In the meantime, what are you thoughts on fitting and making a toile? Do you always make one? Only for expensive fabric? How do you check fit and make adjustments? Who helps you?


  1. Anything fitted, yeah, I would make a toile/muslin. Which makes the whole process much slower but is of course worth it in the end. But it does put me off making more for myself, I guess. I'm not terribly patient and have limited sewing time. Maybe that's why I'm into making lots of t-shirts for my kids at the moment. No fitting issues, fast results!
    I hope you will share some photos of your work-in-progress.

  2. Oh Suellen... You lucky lady!! I sooo would love to go to that Tessuti Class! I am soo looking forward to seeing your dress.. Gorgeous pattern! I am making a toile at the moment too... I am doing Susan K's online Couture Dress course.... It is really good too.... I struggle with fit as well... Here with no one to help... Only Manny....:) my dummy...:) but yes think it is not a bad idea, so far, for all my woven fabric projects.. To make a toile.. Already I can see how much more accurate the process is.... And although I am not up to fit yet... I think it will be a lot better... Look forward to your next installment.... :)
    Hope you are having a lovely day,
    Love Lou xx


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...