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To Toile or Not To Toile

To Toile or Not To Toile

To Toile or Not To Toile.

To toile or not to toile seems to be the age old question for sewists. Or at least it is for me! There are a few reasons why I tend to be a bit of a serial toiler. Firstly: when working with a piece of beautiful and special fabric, I want to ensure it won’t go to waste. Secondly: when using a big 4 sewing pattern (or a new-to-me pattern), I need to practice going through the instructions, and thirdly: to figure out when and how I want to finish seams. Lastly (although it should probably be the main reason for toiling): to get a great fit! All these things contribute to creating a garment that stands the test of time because it fits well and is constructed well. And that is what sewing means to me: sustainable fashion.



Lately, I have loved making and wearing shirt dresses, and I chose Simplicity 9040 (view C) to make with this white linen. The fun sleeve ties, neckline, and pockets are design details that I felt would shine in this subtly checked fabric. The beautiful sheen of the lines in this fabric on the right side was something I wanted to be able to showcase in my pattern selection. This fabric is also a bit sheer, so I needed to decide whether I wanted to line it somehow.


I started by making a full toile with no adjustments. Here I learnt that I would rather have a bit less width across the bodice pieces, with the goal of trying to avoid doing the elastic waist (which I generally find unflattering on me and unnecessary in this pattern because of the waist tie). So in taking width out of the bodice (two inches both front and back), I did the same with the skirt front and back pieces. Perhaps I could’ve made a smaller size overall.. but I found I needed to adjust for more movement in the armscye, so I didn’t want to size down. I did this by grading to a smaller seam allowance from the shoulder to the underarm. I also wrote down in the paper pattern where I should finish seams, choosing to overlock them.




The other thing I wanted to figure out, by toiling, was what to do about the fabric being slightly sheer. I found the pattern construction a bit more complicated than I felt qualified for when fully lining a garment. So instead, I decided to underline the bodice only. I cut the bodice pieces out of my underlining fabric: a lightweight silk georgette I had lying around (which wasn’t the right choice in the end because it’s also a bit sheer!), and sewed them to the main fabric. I then sewed the dress as per the pattern’s instructions. I find this to be a simple way to add a lining if I want a bit of extra coverage (for opacity), but it means the insides of the dress are still visible (overlocked seams, for example). I probably should’ve done this for the skirt as well, instead of hoping the volume of the skirt would mean I could get away without lining it. But a nude slip has worked a treat!



This linen worked up so beautifully! Doing the narrow hems for the sleeve ties was a breeze!



All of the adjustments and extra processes I figured out while toiling paid off big time in the end, with a dress that fits exactly how I wanted it to (yay I was able to omit the elastic waistline!) I’m so happy with the pairing of this pattern and fabric, and although toiling makes the process at least twice as long.. in my opinion: it’s worth it for showcasing a special fabric in a garment that will last because it’s loved.


Guest Blog by
Nicole Stitchtree
Instagram: @nicole.stitchtree
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