Thursday, January 16, 2014

Men of the Cloth

Vicki Vasilopoulos' long-awaited film has arrived!

The Custom Tailors and Designers Association is hosting a men's wear industry cocktail reception and exclusive preview screening of MEN OF THE CLOTH for retailers and buyers on Sunday January 26th at the beautiful Auditorium on Broadway, just north of Columbus Circle, NYC. Vicki will participate in a Q & A following the screening; contact for more details or you can buy tickets here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Shaping the underarm

I was discussing techniques with a tailor by email and was having trouble describing something so I thought "blog post".

We typically find two types of tailored sleeve in men's suiting- English tailors often cut what is known as a 50-50 sleeve, whose under sleeve is roughly the same width as the top sleeve. More common today is a sleeve with what is known as a "false forearm" because the forearm seam is offset from the from of the sleeve by around an inch in order to conceal it. The offsetting of this seam can cause a kink near the elbow if the sleeve is not shaped properly. The under sleeve is cut roughly 1/4" longer than the top sleeve along the forearm seam; some tailors work this fullness in and shrink it out when pressing the forearm seam. I have a different take on this.

Notice the concave shape of the forearm seam when the sleeve is flat.

Now when I turn the seam back to replicate the offset of the seam in the finished sleeve, notice that the front of the sleeve is straight and the seam is now convex, rather than concave- this is what can cause the break in the sleeve.

To counter this, instead of shrinking out the fullness on the under sleeve, I stretch the top sleeve using a steam iron or by moistening the cloth to within 1 1/2" of the cut edge, pulling on the cloth as I hold the sleeve as shown (this can also be done after the seam is sewn, when opening the seam).

Notice how the edge of the sleeve ripples because of the stretching. The top sleeve seam is now 1/4" longer than it was, and even with the under sleeve seam.

And now when I fold back the front of the sleeve, the fold is now nicely curved and the seam is now the proper, concave shape.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Anatomy of a Suit, Plus Gimp

The Anatomy of a Suit is an exhibit now showing at the London Museum and apparently dissects suits, some historical, to show the innards.  While they sadly did not appear to proof their material, it would still be an interesting thing to see.  Running until June 2014

Also, a reader points out a new source for Agreman gimp, my gimp of choice for hand made buttonholes. This can be bought at WAWAK sewing supplies.

Thanks to David and Nula for pointing these out.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Henry Poole- an update

A few years ago I dissected a pair of Henry Poole coats and was somewhat surprised to find that the lapels and collars had been padded by machine.

Rory Duffy, who trained in coat making at Poole's, recently visited with his former master and had some news. Owner and President Angus Cundey has since insisted that all of their garments be hand-padded in order to maintain the traditions of Savile Row tailoring.

While I have sometimes questioned the intrinsic value of doing certain operations by hand versus by machine (though not the lapels), I am completely in agreement with the idea that there is history, tradition and craftsmanship that is worth preserving, particularly at the Row's oldest, and perhaps most famous, house.