How a first fitting of a bespoke jacket is done...

Scherensammler

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Alright, as promised, a glimpse at what goes into a first fitting of a bespoke jacket. In this case it is a single breasted button 2 jacket.
The cloth is a lovely solid one from Bateman-Ogden:
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Since it's a stripe (actually it are three very small stripes, making it look like one), it needs a bit extra attention. Once it has been steam pressed off (not really necessary with modern cloths, so it is more a safety measure) and cooled off, the pattern is layed out in the most economic way but still allowing sufficient inlays for side seams and vents. The parts are cut out each as a single layer first. Then the layers are put on top of each other to make the stripes (or checks) match perfectly!

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Once all the parts have been cut out all important lines and features are marked in using a white basting thread. The fronts are then placed on the body canvas (we use a light weight Italian canvas. It is pre-shrunk, so there are no nasty surprises later on. The canvas has the same size as the fronts at the top, but is a bit narrower below the chest line. Waist line and bridle are transferred. Same with the dart, which is cut slightly bigger than the one in the cloth. This creates extra fullness in the chest.

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The next bit to cut is the chest canvas. We use a very lightweight Italian horsehair canvas, that goes from the shoulder to slightly above the waist line.

At the top of the shoulder both canvasses get short cuts that are kept open by sewing in a triangular piece of the same material.

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Next step is to baste the parts for the "floating" canvas fronts together. We use an extra piece of bias canvas to support the shoulder. To cover the edges of the horsehair and prevent from hairs coming out and cause bother it is covered with a fine felt:

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What follows next is connecting all layers through so called pad stitches. This can be done in several ways and each tailor has its own. My/ our version is to have smaller stitches in the shoulder area and bigger ones in the chest area. It will eventually look like this. However you do this, it is important that there is extra room for the shoulder bone.

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Next is to cut out the front dart according to the chalk marks. These are only on one of the canvas fronts, so they are placed on top of each other. The darts are then closed again using a straight strip of lining.

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This is what the finished canvas front looks like. As you may have noticed, it is one solid piece. Quite a few tailors have a cut at the bottom of the dart towards the side. The downside of that is that this type of canvas is rather unstable in the sense that it no longer supports the lower part of the cloth front.

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As you can see we use a separate front panel and what is called a Donlon wedge to create a shortness in the front part without using ironwork. It is the triangular bit at the bottom of the dart that is cut out before the dart is sewn.

Whenever possible, depending on the size of the pattern (in this case the distance between the stripes) I cut and sew the dart and get the original distance back. To get a flat top area of the dart a small strip of the same cloth (cut on the bias) is sewn in along with the dart and then pressed over.
Please note the exceptional precision that Germans are known for...

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Once the fronts are ready the side panel is attached. Instead of a seam it could have just as well been a dart only. However, a separate side panel allows for more options depending on the figure of a customer. YMMV!
Before:

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After:

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After this the cloth and the "floating" canvas are married together. Again, this can be done in various ways. When working with a patterned cloth it is important to keep the lines running straight, down and across. To give extra fullness and keep the lapel sit flat on the chest a straight strip of fine cotton pocketing is basted onto the inside of the fronts. It is basted on with a slight shortness. It is pressed over and then covers the edge of the horsehair canvas.

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The inlay at the front edge is turned in, stitched down and pressed flat.

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Details:

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Shoulders and armhole are then marked in again (using the original pattern) and marked in using basting thread. To secure the edges of the armhole we put in a backstitch.

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The back neck is secured with a piece of cotton pocketing to prevent stretching later on. The cotton is stitched in place (you'll see that later on).

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Then the back is basted on to the sides, making sure that the mark stitches align. This is the final sight with the vents and the hem basted in place.

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Next job is to baste the shoulders together, put the shoulder pads in and baste on the collar.
Finally the sleeves are prepared.
The front of the top sleeve is a bit shorter compared to the under sleeve and needs to be stretched:

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Both sleeve parts are sewn together at the fronts and the seams opened. The front of the top sleeve is further shrunk like this:

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Once the hind arm seams are basted the sleeve length gets measured and marked, first with chalk and then a bit more permanent with a thread.

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The finished hem of the sleeve:

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Last thing left to do know is basting in the sleeves (important to make the mark stitches match in certain places to get the correct pitch) and secure the armholes.
 

Scherensammler

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Ok, since there is a 30 images limit, here are the final ones.
First the hand padded under collar. Again, we use a very light weight linen canvas, that already comes on the bias, and a fine collar felt.

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In the end the first fitting looks like this. The customer has a down right shoulder all the way across, so the jacket doesn't sit as nice on that side.
Also in the picture is our beloved dog Dave, who spends his days either sleeping or looking for food.
Note how I managed to get the stripes back to match below the waist.

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fxh

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Scherensammler,
Fantastic. Thank you. Can I ask at this stage roughly what % of time are you using the dummy V’s flat table vs knee?

I once visited an internationally known Australian firm of “tailors” when they were only in a small room only in melbourne before they were well known. Fully intending to “commission” a suit. They had a dog in the room who continually farted the most foul smelling farts I have ever experienced. Everything else was fine. I never went back.
 

Scherensammler

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Scherensammler,
Fantastic. Thank you. Can I ask at this stage roughly what % of time are you using the dummy V’s flat table vs knee?

I once visited an internationally known Australian firm of “tailors” when they were only in a small room only in melbourne before they were well known. Fully intending to “commission” a suit. They had a dog in the room who continually farted the most foul smelling farts I have ever experienced. Everything else was fine. I never went back.

The dummy is actually used the least. In my case I use it to check how the fronts (once canvassed) hang and if the cloth/ pattern is straight and to let the fronts cool down after pressing and, of course, to check the finished fitting.
Most bench tailors don't have a dummy available due to space restrictions.
Table/ flat surface vs. knee is probably 60/30 over all, with 10% using a buck or tailor's ham.
Obviously there is the cutting and mark stitching that is done on a flat surface along with basting the pieces together.
I pad stitch the canvasses sitting down, but when the fronts are really big it is easier do do it on a flat surface when you come to the large chest section, as it's difficult to hold and stitch them at the same time.
The finer Italian canvas materials make the stitching a bit more pleasant. When I started at G. Livingston & Son everything was a bit heavier and harder to get the needle through. Especially the collar linen was very stiff and because it gets shaped with the iron it got a bit denser in certain areas. Fortunately I was able to convince my boss to use the finer Italian stuff.
Luckily Richard James Weldon is now stocking these finer materials and they are now used all over SR. I actually think that it spread from us to the London tailors. And now it is spreading over to Asia.
Really useful when you want an overall softer garment.

Dave is not too bad when it comes to farts. It's only bad when my colleagues feed him bits of their food
 

formby

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Good thread.

I've had quite a few work suits made up out of cloth from that book over the years. Good solid cloth.
 

Scherensammler

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Brilliant post. Thank you


A question on the canvas I assume that the canvas supplied by Richard James Weldon would be the same/similar than the one supplied by The Lining Company? https://www.theliningcompany.co.uk/trimmings/canvas/ Does the width/colour/material matter or is the weight the main factor?
I can't really tell, since there is no further description. What I can say is that our Italian canvas is not in the list so the ones on the TLC website will be from a different producer.
There is a thread on the C&T forum about this:

http://www.cutterandtailor.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=999
We use the 0016 for heavier cloths and the 3016 for the lighter ones and the lightest chest canvas San Remo.
They all give good results and that is what matters. Match the canvas to the weight of the cloth and you should be fine.
The main advantage of the pre-shrunk, balanced woven canvasses is that they don't shrink when you press them.

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Scherensammler

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Does he go down the street and get ham rolls like Kommissar Rex
No. And if he did the rolls would not make it far. He'll eat them straight away...
Kommissar Rex is from the 90's (I think). Was/ is that popular downunder? Do you know of Derrick as well?
 

fxh

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I think Rex arrived here around 2003. It was a minor cult favourite. We used to rush home to warch Rex. The first bloke who played Moser was the best.There was some great episodes. My favourite was when Rex is on the couch watching the monkey cartoon on tv and using the remote. And any episode where Moser bought home a woman and Rex would sabotage.
 

ballmouse

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Excellent post!

Out of curiosity, how many hours would you estimate it takes to perform all the above steps?

And assuming you learned under someone, which steps do you estimate you perform differently from your teacher(s) and why? Just curious how much each tailor modifies the process from their teacher.
 

Scherensammler

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I think Rex arrived here around 2003. It was a minor cult favourite. We used to rush home to warch Rex. The first bloke who played Moser was the best.There was some great episodes. My favourite was when Rex is on the couch watching the monkey cartoon on tv and using the remote. And any episode where Moser bought home a woman and Rex would sabotage.
You can watch some episodes on Youtube...

Tobias Moretti

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Scherensammler

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Excellent post!

Out of curiosity, how many hours would you estimate it takes to perform all the above steps?

And assuming you learned under someone, which steps do you estimate you perform differently from your teacher(s) and why? Just curious how much each tailor modifies the process from their teacher.
It really depends on the cloth (stripes, checks, delicate/ flimsy) and the size of the customer (more stitches in a larger canvas).
Average with cutting, mark stitching and putting the pieces together is around 15 to 16 hours if I do it our way. Less for an even softer construction (less stitches in the canvas), but not much.
The methods of canvassing don't differ that much between Germany and the UK.
However, when my boss is not around I can do things a little bit different, but the end result is pretty much the same. I just like to match the construction lines first when I baste the cloth to the canvas.
 

The Ernesto

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No. And if he did the rolls would not make it far. He'll eat them straight away...
Kommissar Rex is from the 90's (I think). Was/ is that popular downunder? Do you know of Derrick as well?
We did get Derrick here.

We also got the Italian Inspector Rex, Il commissario Rex.
 

fxh

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I thought the Italian Rex was hopeless. Didn’t watch it. Tobias was the best Moser.
 
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