Saturday, August 27, 2011


Over the past decade, I have been involved in teaching individuals and groups about tailoring and cutting (patternmaking).
I've been aware for some time that training is limited to non-existent in the theatrical field and to some degree in the fashion world of menswear.

There are sites such as the Cutter and Tailor where drafts and drafting instruction, and to some degree construction techniques have been posted online, but for the inexperienced, following the instructions can feel like learning a foreign language, interesting, but more often than not, frustrating.

Many people attempt to draft patterns because they want to make patterns for their own particular body, and that can produce more frustration because the patterns are for the proportionate person, and if you do not have that figure, you end up struggling even more to understand how to make it all work. Not to mention, many of the same people have never sewn in their life so they are trying to master two rather difficult subjects at the same time.

The construction methods available are often dated and limited. Tailoring is also something that is difficult to learn well or professionally, without someone by your side to demonstrate, to physically show you what to do: how to hold the fabric, use a thimble, make a welt pocket, etc...
Additionally, many people want to learn but are not interested in becoming professional tailors. Many people also cannot afford to go back to school full time even if there were course being offered. So we have a dilemma.

I am working on developing some of what I teach as a series of online courses, and I'd like to pick your brain about whether that would be something you would be interested in paying for.

Have you taken any online courses? What do you think worked or didn't in terms of that learning experience? Was there time alloted to chat with the instructor? Did the course use Skype or Facetime? Was the subject something that required a hands on approach like painting rather than a cerebral only approach like analysing the popular novel?

In the spirit of it all, I thought I'd walk through drafting a basic trouser pattern. This won't be set up as a course but just a testing of the water for me and maybe fun and informative for you.
What do you say?

I'll be absent here for a week or so for personal reasons, but I'll be back after Labour Day to hear what you think of this.

Enjoy the last week of official "summer", lets enjoy it while it is here. Good luck if you are heading to school or sending someone off to school, and if you are in the path of hurricane Irene, be safe!


  1. Yes! I have struggled to find resources for drafting menswear (and especially knowing how and when to adapt a draft for a particular figure), so I'd be very interested. I've recently drafted my first trousers from a draft found on cutter and tailor. For background, I'm a home sewist, with no ambition to go pro, but lots of ambition to make more professional, better fitting clothes. My construction skills are intermediate, I'd say--I haven't tackled any tailored jackets yet, but that will be my big winter project.

    I haven't taken online courses, but have used tons of tutorials, and the best are divided, not necessarily into the smallest steps, but into logical steps, and have plentiful pictures and diagrams, for what that's worth.

    I've followed your lovely jackets recently with envy. I must come up with some excuse, I mean reason, to make something similar!

  2. I have no experience with an online course, so I can´t say anything about that, but I would love to read carefuly illustrated books on how to make, for example, period trousers and how to fit them for musicians or actors. Or the gorgeous jackets you showed us.
    I have some experience with sewing. I am currently teatching draping and researching and learning a lot about tailoring and couture techniques. I´ve even made my first tailored jacket. What I miss from the books is the feedback from someone more experienced.

  3. I love your blog! It was the only place I could find any hint of how to construct a pair of fall-front breeches.
    I'd be very interested in your intention of tailoring tutorials. I've been on courses at the London College of Fashion and make period stuff for local amateur theatre and I'm always looking for ways to increase my knowledge and skills.
    I was banned from Cutter and Tailor for saying I was making a Victorian frock coat for the theatre!!!

  4. I would like to join. It would be a big opportunity to learn other methods

  5. I had tried commenting earlier on my phone but it got deleted when I went to check on a link! Here's the gist of what I said.

    I'm definitely game to be a test subject. I have wanted to learn how to draft patterns, especially men's garments and most of what I do is period work rather than modern. I feel there is a gap between the little about mens tailoring taught in schools and the lack of apprenticeships for tailoring. Also, most tailoring programs are for modern tailoring, which from what little I know, drastically differs from period tailoring in the cut and construction. Most tailors would argue that one needs to master the modern tailoring techniques before tackling any period tailoring. I think there's a middle ground to find to be able to create tailored, period costumes while honoring the tailoring methods of drafting, fit, and construction. Cutter and Tailor, while a great site, restricts and even bans their "students" for diverging from their learned ways.

    As far as an online course goes, I have only taken one and it was a basic course that entailed reading a book and taking online tests about the material. Thus not practical for a hands on, learning course like you're thinking. In this aspect, I think Cutter and Tailor have the right idea in having the students submitting detailed photos of their work so it can be evaulated and critiqued by the expert tailors. I think it's fully possible to create lessons, describing what to do, perhaps including some photos of sampes or illustrations. Then, those taking the course can do the work, and submit the photos for your approval.

    I might even suggest taking this slightly further. Because you already blog about construction details of your work, it might be simpler to create the lessons and post them for all. However, create a membership based forum where the students would have to enroll/sign-up for and through that forum, they would submit their work for your evaluation. Through the forum, you can give advice, chat with the students, provide additional photos or illustrations, etc. This is actually roughly how Kathleen Fasanella treats her tutorials on

    Lastly, about my background! I'm a fall '09 graduate with a BA in Theater, with a focus in costuming. However, I had little experience at school, and while I costumed for the local theater company for a couple of their shows, we have parted ways due to contractual issues. Since I am currently stuck here in an area of little theater, I am left to learning on my own via books, forums, and blogs. Tailoring is something I truly would love to learn because it would greatly increase my skills and provide greater opportunities. But until I can learn under a tailor or attend further classes, I make do the best I can. Ergo, your course would be wonderful!