Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Made by Hand

There has been a lot of discussion about sartorial excellence, hand-made versus machine-made, and how to spot the difference. Very often the opinions I hear expressed are misguided at best, or meant to convince that one garment or technique is better than another to justify a sale or a high price. True, hand-tailored garments are generally of higher quality than their machine-made counterparts, but it is not a hard-and-fast rule. I have seen sloppily made garments which were made by hand and far inferior to other well-made machine garments. There are also many operations which are traditionally done by hand, but can now be done by very sophisticated (and expensive) equipment, and often better than the hand-made version. Beyond all this, there are many different schools of tailoring, each claiming to be better than the others- is the soft, Neapolitan Kiton shoulder really better than a more structured Brioni shoulder? It is all a matter of personal preference. I have, in my years in the business, so often heard tailors and cutters claiming that the rules of cutting and tailoring to which they adhere are the strict and definitive rules, from which one should never waver; I, myself, long believed this as well. Then one day, discussing the complexities of fitting a sleeve with a retired GFT technician, he told me this regarding the rules;

There are two rules of tailored clothing;

1. If your method (rule) works, use it.

2. If your rules aren't working, make new rules.

In a craft which prides itself upon tradition, this was heresy. But it really opened my eyes and my work has greatly improved from it.Why am I writing all this?I have just cut myself a jacket. Maybe I'll cut a vest too. I'm going to make it almost entirely by hand. I am inviting anyone who is interested to follow the process with me, and at the same time look at the difference between hand-made and machine-made, and open a discussion of the merits of each. I am not selling anything to anyone, nor am I promoting any particular product so we can be very frank about it. And remember; there are a million ways to cut and sew a suit- this is mine.

Oh, all photos are taken by me, and unless otherwise stated, are of my own work.


Anonymous said...

I'm in the process of reading through all your fascinating blog entries - you write very well and clearly, and I love the level of detail you go into concerning the many aspects of suit design and construction. This is certainly the best blog on the topic I have come across.

I was wondering, though, if you could say a little more about your experience and training in the field (without compromising your anonymity, of course): you mention that you design for a RTW company, but did you also train as a tailor and cutter in the traditional way (looking at the suits you've made yourself, I assume you must have)?

Btw, I think your suits look outstanding: do you make bespoke for other people too?

Thanks, and keep up the excellent blogging.

R. Jeffery Diduch said...

Hello, Ross

Thank you for your kind words.

I have been sewing my entire life and started cutting in my teens. I attended a school of haute couture but started working in RTW right out of school. You are correct in assuming that I still do a bit of bespoke and couture work (for men and, occasionally, ladies), but scheduling and geography limits the amount that I am able to accept.

be well!

Noel in Napa said...

I, too, have been pinging around in your amazing blog, and sending it to just about everyone I know who sews. Your attention to detail, not only in your work but in your writing, is amazing. I am home sewer, but I wanted you to know that even though you're working on an extremely elevated level, what you write has huge applicability to even a rank beginner. Thank you so much for your insightful work, both on the needle and off. Your blog is simple the best. I really appreciate it.

Noel in Napa said...

And, please, oh please, don't look at the picture in my profile, which has nothing to do with fine tailoring and everything to do with having some fun. I wish I could reset the picture but, although embarassing in your presence, it worked for a costume and was how I got myself back into sewing. Please don't laugh.....

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