Thursday, January 29, 2009

The one-piece back

We’ve been talking a lot about shaping and about the back, and recently voxsartoria posted some photos of some garments he’s having made with a one piece back; there have been a few questions about it so let’s look at the mechanics of the back of the jacket. Sorry about the crappy Iphone photos.

EDIT- dumb me is assuming everyone has seen vox's suits since he's posted them on every imaginable forum except the russian styleforum :) So you can see these suits here

Traditional patternmaking rules dictate that a seam or a dart must pass over, or point to, the point of greatest fullness. On a lady’s front, this is the bust point. On the back, this is the shoulder blade. Tailors, however, do not like to follow rules; instead, we make up new ones.

The first new rule is that some of the shaping of the back will occur at center back, not at the level of the blades. Thus, the center back seam is not straight but shaped (usually). The red line shows that my first line in the draft is straight, but then the center back seam is shaped from the hem up to the blade area.


This gives some room for the blades and some shape to the waist.

shaping back cb seam

But placed on a dummy, we can see that it is not quite sufficient to fit cleanly. Of course, I could just call this drape and have done with it. But some people prefer a cleaner looking garment so a little additional work is required.


If we were to follow the rules of regular patternmaking, we would need to place a dart in the armhole to give length to the blade, and another dart at the waist to give the waist some shape. You will perhaps recognize the “princess” seam which was typical in tight-fitting dress coats taking form.

shaping back seams

If I place this fitted panel on the table you can see the large amount of shape given to the blades, and the ripple of length at the side seam which is a result of the dart.

shaping back table

We do not want this shoulder dart and would like to shift the waist dart off to the side, where it now exists in modern coats. It is not possible to do this using regular drafting and construction methods, which is where some of the tailor’s art comes to play. I will adjust my drafting to take into consideration the elimination of the shoulder dart and the displacement of the waist dart. I can also eliminate the center back seam. The back, when cut, now looks like this. Flat. Not so good. Yet.

shaping back flat

So I will start by stretching the blades, shrinking the armhole and center back, which will give this result.

shaping back blades

Then I stretch the side seam and shrink center back, which gives a ripple of length at the side. The result looks like the one pictured above, but minus all the seams.

shaping back waist

Placed on the tailor’s dummy, I have a back which is clean and shaped and well fitted. Two potential drawbacks are that injudicious use of steam can wreck what I have done, and that there is no inlay at center back to allow for future alterations, should they become necessary.

shaping back finished

This is a garment made by Edwin DeBoise of Steed Bespoke Tailors for one of his Boston clients who requested a one-piece back- note the amount of shape he was able to achieve (note also the drape near the armholes- this was intentional) and the spectacular sleeves. Edwin travels to various spots in the US and perhaps elsewhere- check his website or his blog for itinerary. The world needs more clothing like this.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sleeve matching

So I managed to draft a sleeve that matches all the way down the back as well as the front (here it is, just basted in to the armhole)

sleeve back

The under sleeve is pretty hollow and I'm not thrilled with the fit so I am going to keep trying other things so long as I have some cloth left.

But at least I know it's possible.