Updated: Feb 17
A toile is a 3D mock up (clothing prototype) of your 2D patterns. It is usually made in a similar fabric to your your final fabric. We make a toile so that you to see what your design will look like in the final fabric which you will be presenting to your customer.
The toiling process should not be viewed as a lesser important part of the sampling process and should be viewed as a key step in the development of a garment.
Can we skip the toiling process?
Too many times we have spoke with designers/brands who have asked whether we can skip the toiling process to cut down the costs, to which we rely with an emphatic "unfortunately no we cannot."
So why is toiling so important you ask. Referring to our post "How Much Does A Sample Cost?" A toiles function is to see what the pattern looks like and how the garment fits on the body. Some of the big fashion houses will re-toile the same garments multiple times just so that they can get the right shape and fit.
What fabric should we be toiling in?
The most typical fabric that we toile in the fashion industry is with calico which can come in many different weights, but it should be noted that calico has no stretch and works best for non-stretchy fabrics. If your garment contains a lot of stretch then an appropriate similar fabric should be used.
The reason why we use calico for non-stretchy garments is because calico is a good representative and is relatively inexpensive. Fabrics are usually the most expensive part of the production process, costs can escalate quite quickly and therefore we tend to choose fabrics that can represent your garment at a cheaper price.
We have found that if a brand can, it is better to toile in the final fabric that you will be selling to your customer, this is because the garment will be much more representative and you get a very realistic view. We do understand that you may not be able to toile in your final fabric because of the upfront cost, however, it may save money and time in the long run. Your sample studio/factory should be able to advise you on this.
A toile may not have the final finishings or details on it...
A toile because it is used to see the shape and fit, may not come with the final finishings. For example if you are making a silk shirt that will have french seams, it is more than likely that your toile will not be made with them. The toile will be made without the finishings because it will save time and as well as money, but mostly because finishings are not yet required.
Your toile most like will not have buttons, button holes, pockets, and sometimes zips. Again, this is to save time and money. Your 1st sample however, should have all of the finishings and trims that you will be using on your garment.
How much does a toile cost?
A toile although it may not be fully finished and with all of the trims, still takes time to create. You have to consider the cutting of the fabric, the preparing of the fabric with regards to fusing, the time it takes to sew and press.
Again as mentioned in our blog post "How Much Does A Sample Cost?" your fashion studio/manufacturer may charge a flat fee or an hourly rate and the costs depend on the style.
How many times do you have to toile?
There is no straight forward answer to the number of times you toile a garment, this can depend on many factors.
It should be noted that if you want a great garment, and you feel as though you need to re-toile, you should. It will be worth it in the log run.
What if my toile does not look like my design?
If you get your toile back and it does not look like your design, there may be a few reasons for this. It could be that your design was not clear enough? Did you have a technical drawing? It could be that the proportions of your design once translated could not mirror your design exactly.
Or it could be that your pattern cutter was not able to interpret your requirements fully. You can read our blog post "What Is Pattern Cutting?" for how we think the best way to find a good pattern cutter is.
If you would like us to make you a toile, please send us an email here: Cfspatterncutters@gmail.com
Please let us know your thoughts and comment below.