Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The weekly table

I thought a weekly table photo would be interesting, and dutifully took a photo last Tuesday. I have made a bunch of patterns, in fact almost all the patterns I need for one show, and I have cut straight into fabric for three suits.
I have to wait on the military frock and the tail suit as I do not have the trim for the trousers yet. It will be good to get these things on the actor and know how they fit so I can go ahead. That should happen in a week and a half.
In the meantime I have quite a bit of eighteenth century costumes again, and some nice 1840's early Victorian pieces to make.

Here is this week's table picture- I started on some research for the Victorian waistcoats, and drafted one up, making allowances for the actor's shape.
I drafted it up and then cut one half out of some scrap muslin to see if It felt right.  I think I should reduce the height of the shawl collar stand. I think this is going to be made in a brocade, of which I fear there is not enough.....I think I should raise the crossover point too, as the drawing shows the waistcoat showing when the DB frock coat is worn buttoned up.
I do have the cloth for the frock coat and it is very, very nice- maybe even a bit heavy- I can't believe I am saying that - but after getting paper thin fabrics, the real deal feels more than substantial!

So progress is being made, but what I would really like is a fitting, as it all feels so speculative until you put it on a body. That should start to happen in another week and a half or two, so I am trying to forge ahead in the meantime.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Beginning. What a weird word. Beginning. Maybe I have been translating too much recently. I start to look at words and wonder what the root meaning is.

Anyway, it is a new year, and I am soon to be back at my regular contract gig. It feels a bit like September used to feel as a student. The beginning of a new session.

Here is my table all fresh and newly covered, binders with show info and budgets organized, ready to begin.

Speaking of beginning and beginners, I have been thinking a lot about beginners and how people view or assume to begin to learn tailoring. Beginning, the words gets stranger on the page the more I write it!

One was a personal experience with a student who had graduated as a designer, and the other a random Internet guy who had decided that he had an interest in clothes and wanted to become a bespoke tailor as a profession. Neither had actually ever sewn anything, never even bought a commercial pattern and made themselves a basic shirt.

Now I am someone who learned both from skilled individuals in a hands on environment as well as through books and experimentation without guidance.

I like to see people with initiative and a drive to get to their goals but in some cases it makes me wonder  about the disconnect between an idea and achieving it.

I am reminded of a friend's child who seemed to be addicted to video games and not much else. He especially loved the hockey videos, so much so that he asked to play for real and his parents signed him up.
What a shock he had! It was not the same as sitting in front of the monitor making things happen with the push of a button. It was cold, he had to wear a whole lot of gear, he had to actually skate which meant moving around and being physically active. The puck hurts if you get hit with it and the ice is cold and hard when you fall down on it. He wanted to drop out but his parents made him stick it out for the season. I wonder now 15 years later what he thinks about that experience?

I tell you this because wanting to become a bespoke tailor with no real sewing experience is going to be a bit more of a process than you may imagine and requires a bit more than a burning interest in fashion.

I won't begin another rant, but my advice is  - get some hands on experience. Start now. Buy a commercial pattern to start, make a drawstring bag, a placemat, a Christmas stocking- anything really. Look for a beginners sewing class to take. Look for a basic machine, basic materials to start. you don't need a lot of tools nor anything fancy, but you do need to practice making things. Not thinking about making things, really making things. Make these things over and over and gradually you will get better at making these things. Then build up your experience by making more complicated things, and do it again and again. Enjoy it.

You have to start there. Not by trying to drafting your own jacket pattern before you can thread a sewing machine. Not by talking about it, or reading about Savile Row, but by actually doing it.
You have to get out on the ice!