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The Importance Of A Calico Toile

Main Blog, Alterations and Upcycling, Sewing for Beginners
2015
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TOILE Satchel

If you’re making products in fabrics (be it a dress, a makeup bag, or a simple pouch) – if the product is designed to fit a certain object or serve a certain purpose, it’s important to get into the habit of creating a mock up, more traditionally known as a Toile.

toile dictionary
Toiles are created from a cheap material which holds the characteristics of your final fabric choice; I use Calico because it’s a woven fabric, and its super cheap (so I don’t feel too bad when I mess up and have to start again!). If your project’s final fabric is heavier, use a calico canvas.
Mock ups aren’t just great for fittings – they let you have a practice run too. This is great if you are new to inserting invisible zips, say, or adding a lining. They’re also great because you have no beautiful fabric patterns to distract you – you can concentrate on the structure and form of your creation!
Calico Toile Trio
How do I use toiles?
I am more of a product designer than a garment maker, so I make a technical drawing of my pattern with my guessed dimensions which I think will suit the product. Then I make the product. At this point perhaps its slightly too wide, not tall enough, so I create a new technical drawing and a new product. By the end of my design and mock up process, I have a paper pattern which has been sliced into, covered in tape, chunks added and taken away, and about five calico toiles to show my development. You can see why this process is particularly helpful in an educational environment, your markers and tutors like to see your progress and problem solving skills.
What about trimmings and components?
It is down to personal preference, but I prefer not to use any trimmings in my toiles. I do, however, use components such as zips and poppers, to see where they are best placed. Often, the addition of a zip changes the sizes slightly as these use up seam allowances, so you get a finished mock up which is more representational of your final product idea!
Here are some images of mock ups. Not all of my calico toiles have been made into final products. Toiles are also great for realising, actually, this design isn’t working for me!
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Satchel style bags. I tried three different sizes before i was super happy with the style.
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A slow development, from sketchbook drawings, to technical drawings, to testing in calico. You can see here i even made cardboard rectangle rings!
lptop mockup
Laptop Mockup – Strap placement to be moved along but, pretty happy with the size!
NOTHS - Laptop Sleeve
The final form of a Laptop Sleeve. This was made in calico about three times before i was happy to cut my own fabrics!
bag
The main product of my degree collection – the weekender bag. This took weeks of testing. But it had to be done! Below you can see the final form in all its fabrics.
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Hopefully this blog post has inspired you to whip out the Calico!
You can buy Calico at a great price through the William Gee online store. Just click here for calico buying options.
Happy Stitching!

feeling inspired by William GeeFeeling inspired? Head to our online shop and start planning your next project today, or be sure to follow William Gee on Instagram for more creative inspiration from your favourite haberdashery!
Designer Maker
Louise is a Textile Surface & Product Designer. After Graduating in 2015, she has developed her own handmade Gifts, Homewares & Accessories brand. Inspired by quirky architectural features and the little details missed by the hustle bustle of city living, Louise creates a range of illustrative surface designs. Her first collection is based on the historic city of Edinburgh.

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