Sunday, 25 July 2021

Toiles and trouble

New Look 6594 feels like the dress that doesn't want to be made. It has been 'next on my list' twice, and was knocked back by this and this. And right now, I'm wishing that something else would come along to make it third time unlucky.

It all looks so simple . . .

Even though I use New Look patterns a lot, I knew that I had to make a toile for at least the bodice for this one - with the V neck and two-part bodice front there was just too much that could go wrong. I decided to go back to basics and make the toile direct from the pattern, without my usual short torso adjustments.

The bodice pieces

As expected, it was too long, and also as expected, the amount varied - 5cm/2" at the centre back and 2.5cm/1" at the centre front. The neckline was fine, though. I had intended to just shorten the back and midriff pieces (2 and 3), but there seemed to be some odd excess at side of bodice top, so I also shortened that a little by adjusting the curve.

The first toile, modelled by Nancy

Bodice adjustment

I made a second toile with these adjustments, plus a little extra width in gathered section of the bodice. It also seemed like a good idea to add a sleeve on one side, to check what if this had any effect on the bodice.

The second version mostly worked. There is still a slight pouffe in the bodice top, but it turns out that it's necessary if I want to be able to raise my arms!

The sleeve sticks out a lot, mostly because the fabric I used is quite stiff. However, this did make me wonder if the shoulder seam is too long, as the sleeve head seems to be off my shoulder. The usual solution will be sought - a trip to my mum's for a second opinion!

Sleeve and shoulder

I've decided that I also need to toile the skirt. After the (still unresolved) fit issues I had with my 1930s/1970s mashup skirt, this is necessary, but not appealing.

Once the skirt is added, there's one more thing to consider. 6594 has a 1940s feel and this extends beyond just the 'look'. Unusually for a modern pattern, it has a side zip, and no centre back seam. This makes it, like Vogue 9546 (a true 1940s pattern), a bit of a fight to get on and (especially) off. So, do I resign myself to the struggle, or do I tweak the pattern even more and add some sort of front opening to the bodice section?

Do I replace faux buttons with real ones?

All in all, this project is starting to feel like a lot of work. I've always had to alter patterns to fit me, but previously it was just a case of making the bodice 2" shorter all round, and I was good to go. I found I was really starting to begrudge the time it’s taking to fit this pattern, and that got me thinking about why I make clothes.

I have plenty already, so I don't really need more except to replace actual worn-out items. I make clothes because I enjoy sewing, and I take pleasure in creating things which fit properly. I've known for over a year that I need to devote some time to understanding how to fit to my changed shape, and have been putting it off as 'too hard' and just tinkering round the edges instead. So, rather than resenting the time it's taking to get this pattern right, I really ought to be looking at it as learning new skills - skills which I'll then use for everything I will make subsequently.

I'm still not looking forward to fitting the skirt, though!


  1. I'm always resentful when I have to fit a new pattern, no matter what the circumstances. I don't really know why that bugs me so much, but it does! It usually makes me procrastinate making a new pattern something awful, but I also know that I often find new faves this way. :) Good luck!

    1. Thanks Juliana, I'm glad it's not just me! I know that it's ridiculous, that just churning out clothes quickly and with little thought would simply be perpetuating the worst of fast fashion in my own home, and that therefore I should take pleasure in my making practice being very different, but - it still annoys me!