I know that I should do it.
I had to do it a lot at uni.
Sewing toiles would definitely save tears and tantrums when I have to hack up clothes that are nearly finished.
Toiles would also mean that I get to make mistakes on boring fabric, and save the goodies for garments that will definitely fit.
One of the reasons why I've come so late to sewing stretch fabrics is because I've often found it hard to find it in colours and patterns that I like. I look for pretty much the same thing in whatever cloth I'm working with: as high a percentage of natural fibre as possible; a good handle and weight; great colours and patterns. I'm a total pattern junkie, and traditionally have always bypassed the stack of dull-looking solid jerseys for exciting, fun cotton prints in my favourite fabric shops.
In the spirit of sewing toiles, I therefore bought 1m of this really lovely, drapey black viscose jersey the last time that I was on Goldhawk Road. I had to force myself to examine the aforementioned pile of jerseys in an unassuming-looking place in the entrance of Classic Textiles. (Normally I march straight through to the striped linens and floral cottons.) The black stood out because it had a lustrous sheen, and a really soft handle. It was only £3.50 for a metre so I brought it home, intent on finally sinking my teeth into sewing jersey.
As this was meant to be trial fabric I decided to make a toile version of Grainline Studio's (free!) Hemlock T-shirt pattern. The pattern comes in only one size and incorporates a lot of positive ease. My printer for some reason printed the test square 1/8" smaller; but I decided to just go with it as I don't tend to wear such oversized garments. I like drapey clothes, but tunic-length tops are not really my thing; I much prefer a cropped length if the garment is going to be boxy. So I left a whole page off the length, holding the pattern up to my body in the mirror to check the proportions.
The result is so-so. I had to cut the top with a centre front seam (due to impulsively cutting some knickers from the fabric the day before I decided I should also make a T-shirt!). I'm not overly keen on the line that this creates, though with some more careful pressing I might be able to make it more discreet.
I love the effect of the neckline band.The sleeves came out a bit of a funny length, so I added 1" bands onto them. The bands also allow me to roll up the sleeves more easily, which I like doing. I'm definitely going to be using bands on hems a lot in jersey projects!
As you can see, the fabric is incredibly drapey. It really moves all over the place! It glides all over my body, and is really comfortable and cool to wear. This makes a great lightweight layering piece that I can fold up small, stuff into my handbag, and pull out to cycle home in during cooler evenings.
The main problem with this T-shirt is actually the length. It's too short to properly tuck into waistbands, and even with trousers that sit on my natural waist, it's so drapey that it just wriggles straight out. I'd hoped that a cropped, slightly boxy/drapey silhouette would look good with leggings, but I'm not sure that it really works. Vis:
I can also see from these pictures that this top is doing something very strange at the centre front hem! I think that the lack of weight to anchor the fabric (i.e. length pulling it downwards) is allowing the front to rise up over my bust and fall more over the back of my shoulders. I think that drafting a slight curve on the hems would help counter this problem - either curving down to compensate for the upwards drift, or else a more pronounced curve up to make it more of a decisive design feature.
Overall, this is a perfectly wearable toile, though I don't love it. But if I don't end up wearing the T-shirt much this coming autumn, at least I'll be able to cut it up and make knickers from it!
Plain black Hemlock (toile)
Modifications: the printer made it 3% smaller; I shortened it by about 7" by taking a page out of the length and smoothing out the side seam curves.
Fabric: viscose jersey from Classic Textiles, Goldhawk Road