A visit to the Yves Saint Laurent Exhibition at the VA Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA was both inspiring and educational. This museum label explains perfectly how fashion is crafted.
"The toile, made of white cotton, was the first translation of the artist's sketch into a garment. Later, taken apart and transformed into flat shapes, it became the pattern that would be used to cut the garment out of the chosen fabric.
For orders from haute couture clients at least three fittings were required with the première d'atelier, the workshop head, or the premiere main qualifièe, the "first qualified hand." The pattern was adjusted to the client while remaining as faithful as possible to the original design. The first fitting provided an opportunity to check the measurements of the "Stockman" dress form that is like the imprint of a client's body in wood and canvas. The measurements were recorded in the fitting book. The workshops could work on the garment between each fitting using the Stockman form."