Tag Archives: toile

Pattern Cutting and a Little Arrogance

DCL Pattern Cutting

I have just bought my first book on pattern cutting. It’s a bit late. I know.

I’ve been sewing for 30 years (I started young) and have figured out a few things (I’ve examined very expensive jackets in fitting rooms, raising sales assistants’ hopes of a sale, watching their eyes glaze over when I hand it back with a convincing reason for it not being good enough – I’m quite good at fakery), taken things apart, fitted and fitted and re-fitted. Some things still give me trouble: the correct angle for the back seam of a pair of trousers; the proper gradient of the front seam of a sleeve.

The comforting thing is though, that I seem to have been doing many things correctly: I make blocks and paper patterns and toiles. I can fit a placket pocket, make a decent shoulder and pleat to perfection. I do like a puzzle: it’s gratifying when you crack it for yourself but I’ve been arrogant enough to think that I didn’t need instruction. Wrong. 

The point is that mustering the courage to experiment is so much easier when you have the crutch of knowledge and I wish I’d bought this book sooner: sound knowledge underpins creativity.

Hats off to Mr Lo…

(And perhaps there’ll be more ‘How To…’ on here rather than faits accomplis….)






Filed under dressmaking, fashion, sewing

Toile for a Wedding Dress

Agonised over. Pinned and fitted and made perfect and worn once. We know where they are, stored in tissue and kept safe but never looked at. There’s something comforting about their presence: a symbol of something good? Something durable? It’s a long process, making a wedding dress.


It started in calico,

in stiff unbending cloth

to get the shape right and the fit.

But you could see the beauty that it could be.

Let it fit, let it fit……

A mouth full of glass-headed pins

pink gold green,

new so as not to snag,

trying not to stab unexpecting skin.

Blue-mottled February skin.

Muttering, ‘turn this way a little,’

‘lift that arm.’

‘Can you sit?’

‘Can you breathe?’

Laugh with relief

at its cheap cotton perfection.

I tear its seams apart:

A rupturing rip of stitches.

Left alone with lace the colour of jersey milk

I unfold it from its tissue,

let it fall across my hands and

hold it up to my face.

Then throw it out


and wrap it round and round,


before I smooth it onto the cutting table and

slice into it.

Raw blades sounding like hammer blows across its deep ridges.


Filed under dressmaking, oddbods, poems, poetry, sewing