Y’all seemed pretty keen on the idea of watching the progress of two tailored jackets – one traditionally hand tailored and the other fusibly tailored. I thought I would start this series with my thoughts on tailoring. Tailoring is a very ambiguous term these days and it seems to refer to a lot more than the art of making jackets. So let’s take down a few definitions shall we?
From the Wikipedia we get this:
“A tailor is a person who makes, repairs, or alters clothing professionally, especially suits and men’s clothing. Although the term dates to the thirteenth century, tailor took on its modern sense in the late eighteenth century, and now refers to makers of men’s and women’s suits, coats, trousers, and similar garments, usually of wool, linen, or silk. The term refers to a set of specific hand and machine sewing and pressing techniques that are unique to the construction of traditional jackets. Retailers of tailored suits often take their services internationally, traveling to various cities, allowing the client to be measured locally. Traditional tailoring is called bespoke tailoring in the United Kingdom, where the heart of the trade is London’s Savile Row tailoring, and custom tailoring in the United States and Hong Kong. This is unlike made to measure which uses pre-existing patterns. A bespoke garment or suit is completely original and unique to each customer.”
This is very much in line with how I view tailoring. Especially the part about “a set of specific hand and machine sewing and pressing techniques that are unique to the construction of traditional jackets.” I think its important to set this distinction as I see the term tailoring thrown around a lot with regards to fit. Now this may be true of some garments – garments that are tailored to your lifestyle or tailored to your specific figure, but I’m referring to the construction techniques of a jacket. More importantly, I’m referring to the specific techniques used to shape certain areas of a jacket like the lapel, collar, shoulder, hem, sleeve cap, etc.
From what I know about tailoring, there are 3 methods: hand, machine and fusible. Many times, I intermix all three methods into one jacket. There are certain things that I just really love about hand tailoring, but other things I don’t. There are great advantages to machine and fusible tailoring too and like hand tailoring there are some things that I don’t think work as well as others but these are personal preferences and I believe will vary with your experience. Also, I truly believe that the fabric that is picked for a jacket project, will give you more direction on what tailoring method you use. For example, pad stitching on my Obsession Jacket – a cotton sateen – would have been disastrous! I am not an expert tailor and perfecting pad stitching on a smooth faced fabric is not high on my to master list. So going with a fusible method made a lot more sense to me.
In this series, I’ll be showing two of the three methods, hand and fusible. You can definitely mix and match elements from each jacket to use in one jacket of your own, but I’ll try to stick to the ideas for each with each separate jacket.
All that said, what is it specifically that scares you about tailoring a jacket? If you’ve never tried one, what is the most intimidating part about making a jacket? Any tips or tricks from you more experienced sewers?