Monday, October 26, 2009

Rundschau trousers

On this latest suit, I decided to try a German draft that Schneidergott translated for me from the Rundschau. I made a few minor changes to the draft itself, had quite a bit of fitting in the seat to do, but otherwise a rather painless fitting process. The balance of the rear of the leg is different from my usual draft and I find it hangs straighter with less fuss and manipulation. Observe the stripes along the side seam between this trouser and the previous one- you will notice some of the difference in the cut. But this is draft definitely a keeper. Thanks SG!

A little clarification- by draft, I do not mean a pre-made pattern, but a set of instructions for drafting according to one's measurements. It is understood that the cutter will adjust the instructions according to the customer's posture and stylistic choices.

At Jordan's suggestion (IIRC) I did away with the rear pockets, but I'm not crazy about the look of it, even though it saves me time.

Tomorrow I'll try to find buttons, press the vest and coat, and get some more photos up.

har pant back

Rundschau side seam

Har pant side

"My" side seam

trouser side front

Now to answer a few questions-

Dukemati- Thank you! Actually, the draft dates to 1954. So recent More recent than some but less recent than others.....


And thank you, as well. The knee is a little fuller than my usual draft, in the back only (about 3/4") but that's it. It's the way the seat angle is pitched relative to the rest of the leg that is a little different, as evidenced by the stripes being more straight down the outside of the leg but continuing to taper to the hem. I cut this knee more tapered than the original Rundschau draft, which is quite straight- the draft provides an almost straight line from fork to hem; I prefer to taper from the fork to the knee and then almost straight from the knee to the hem but that requires more ironwork than the original draft would.

In response to Jem's questions, I am pleased that you enjoy the blog and you can find a tutorial on making the flannel flower here. Unfortunately my schedule does not permit me to take on new clients right now, however the occasional flower is not out of the question :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A tale of two cloth merchants

Fun thing about blogging- I get to rant every once in a while. Well, rant and praise.

I have been flirting with English cloth for a little while, with some interesting results. Since I don't buy significant quantities of it (I buy Italian usually) I am going through an agent who represents a number of English mills. I bought a piece of flannel from his own stock- a charcoal flannel from J & J Minnis; Minnis is one of the stable of mills, including John Hardy, which come under the umbrella of Huddersfield Fine Worsteds, and has a very good reputation, as well as a few royal warrants. The suit made up nicely and I should really get around to posting some photos. Before cutting I asked Andrew (the agent) about sponging and he asked the mill; the mill had previously given a rather snarky answer to another person on the same subject but I let that one go. However the mill never did answer me.

Encouraged by the results of the suit (but not the service), I found another lovely swatch from John Hardy (HFW again) and placed an order. Temporarily out of stock. Well, these things happen. Since this is a winter-only swatch, I asked when they though the cloth might be back in stock- if it were only to come available in January or February, I would pick something else. A week went by with no response from the mill. I would have liked a simple- we are a little busy moving or getting our nails done or whatever and we will answer you shortly, but nothing.

So I picked another swatch from another English mill, Harrisons of Edinburgh. The navy suit with the pink stripe and the pagoda shoulder is Harrisons cloth. A Sunday afternoon I picked the swatch, with a few trouser lengths as well, and put an email in to Andrew. Monday I had a response that one of the numbers was out of stock so I gave them instructions on what to do. This would have been Monday afternoon in the UK. An hour later I had a tracking number but they could have just taken the number off a shipping label so I didn't think much of it. But no, Wednesday I got a parcel with my cloth (I remind readers that I am in Canada). Within an hour of receiving instructions my parcel was shipped, and HFW still hasn't answered any of my questions.

I have to say that the Minnis flannel makes up better than the Harrisons flannel. So next time I am in the market for some flannel will I buy Minnis or Hardy? NO WAY. It's Harrisons for me. I would even pay a premium for it, just for the service.

Sadly, Andrew is stopping his business soon so if you are interested in some nice, sturdy English cloth, I STRONGLY recommend you look through his stuff. And buy Harrisons, not HFW.

Rant over.

Soon the next suit will be finished and I will get some photos of both of them up. Doing a last fitting on the Harrisons flannel and I don't have good mirrors at home so I resort to taking photos from different angles- I wasn't able to spot the pulling at the waist until I took a photo. I'll fix that before finishing completely.

Har flannel back

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Modern suit factory

One of the members of the Cutter & Tailor forum posted a link to his company's website, a modern suit factory in Turkey, which had this video as well as some photos of their factory. It might be interesting for those who have never seen a modular engineered suit factory at work (and this is a well-equipped one), but since most operation may look unfamiliar, I'll give a play-by-play below.

Cruzzo Fabrika 2 from hubego on Vimeo.

1.Pick stitch machine
2. Lining pockets. The operator places the lining front on the machine, an arm comes forward on which she places a flat piece of lining and a stay, which the machine folds into jets, stitches and cuts the pocket all in one shot. Homesewers will scream when they see this.
3.Flap jig. Specially-shaped jig molds clamp two pieces of cloth together in order to give fullness to the outer piece, then they are sewn and cut in one shot.
4. Flap press. The flaps are turned and stretched over a form which is then inserted into the press.
5. Welt tacking. The breast welt is zig-zagged in place.
6. Side seam. This is the side seam with a side vent being closed.
7. Shoulder seam. A top-feed machine is programmed to feed the fullness onto the shoulder automatically.
8. Sleeve setting. Again, home sewers will scream. A computerized fullness-feeding machine to set sleeves with the sleeve head already attached. The machine can be fully automated for the amount of fullness in the various parts of the sleeve cap or the operator can control the fullness with a foot pedal and knee lever.
9. Sleeve buttons. Self explanatory.
10. Joining sleeve head. The elbow seam has been joined and the sleeve head is attached before closing the inseam. Most machines of this sort will also shirr (full or ease) the sleeve cap at the same time, making setting the sleeve easier.
11. Buttonholes. Sew and cut buttonholes.
12. Shoulder press
13. Sleeve outseam (elbow seam) press
14. Front panel press. This machine has a shape for the chest and shoulder which is not visible from this angle. The suit designer usually designs the shape of the buck with the press manufacturer.
15. Lapel press
16. Touch up. Don't try this at home, kids.
17. Final examination.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tommy Nutter's Edward Sexton

Once upon a time, Savile Row had a bit of street cred. Edward Sexton was the technical half of Tommy Nutter, the envelope-pushing, rock and roll side of the row, and in this video he brings Tom Stubbs (of Finch's Quarterly Review) back to the sixties.....

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pagoda shoulders- putting the pieces together

We’ve seen the shaping that goes into the canvas. We’ve seen the shaping that goes into the pad. Everything that was done to these bits has to be done to the cloth too, but we don’t have the luxury of cuts or darts to impart the shape. This is the part that freaks out some novices, and the thing that makes this kind of shoulder really bad news for factories.

To get the kind of forward pitch and concavity, the neck area has to be stretched (think about the little wedge inserted in the perk) and the scye has to be stretched. How much? Well, that’s a tough one to answer. Enough. Not too much. Start by stretching the neck area, about ¼ to 3/8”, then do the same at the scye area. This should give two distinct ripples of length and a hollow area near the center. Look familiar? It should. Once they have been stretched with the iron, work the fullness toward the shoulder and give the neck another press to set it; the shape must match that of the canvas.

The thing is, when you are stretching all this, you are lengthening the front a bit and thus throwing the balance slightly which will be adjusted during a fitting; you are also changing the scye measurement so the sleeve has to be adjusted accordingly, and refitted by basting, checking, adjusting, rebasting…… just the sort of thing that is anathema to a factory. That’s why you almost never see this type of shoulder except on the highest-end RTW.

So once you are ready to baste the front to the canvas, the first line of basting starts with a little pinch of fullness at the top- it is crucial that there be enough length for the cloth to be worked over the shoulder- if it is tight, the shoulder will kick backwards a bit.


Once the front is basted to the canvas, place the pad in position, flat on a table, lining up the shoulder seams. Baste in a semi-circle along the outer edge of the pad.

first baste

Now reach under and give the pad a yank- this will open up the cut we made in the chest piece, and give the concavity we want. Holding this shape, pad stitch through all layers from the outer edge of the pad toward the top of the shoulder. Keep this shape carefully because by pad stitching we are permanently setting the shape, the same was the lapel is rolled using the pad stitch.

pad stitch

When it’s finished, you will have the concavity of the pagoda shape and the natural forward pitch of the shoulder.

finished inserted

Still with us, Karen?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pagoda shoulders- making the pad

In this step we will make the shoulder pad for our pagoda shoulder, and this is where we start to see the beauty of the contours of this shoulder come to life.


Shoulder pads are another controversial subject mainly due to the excesses of the eighties but they can play an important role. The high, square-shouldered figure should avoid them, while the sloping-shouldered figure will benefit from a bit of enhancement (the wonder-bra for the male shoulder). Whether you choose to wad the pad or not is up to you, but a cover at least should always be inserted; if nothing else, it protects the back of the shoulder from stretching while it is on a hanger.

My choice, for my body, is to pad the back of the shoulder, since the slope is considerable, and there is a hollow produced as the shoulder curves forward, away from the blade. A lot of manipulation goes into creating a pocket for the blade and to shortening the back scye, but the area could usually benefit from a little wadding to clean it up; most customers are unaware of the appearance of the back of the scye, not being in the habit of checking 3-way mirrors regularly, but most people could use at least a little bit. Keep in mind that the space we are creating in the front of the shoulder is for comfort and should not be stuffed full of cotton either.

The easiest way to make a good pad is to take apart a commercial one, which is usually pretty straight. There are often holes or notches on the pad to help you locate the approximate shoulder seam location, but you can also tell from the shape- the front being smaller than the back. Take the pad apart completely, then along the center of the pad, draw an arc from one end to the other, approximating the forward curve of the shoulder; one third from the neck on this line, draw up a line ¼” long- this can be longer or shorter, depending on the amount of shape you want. ¼” is usually plenty. Cut the top of the pad part along these lines (if there is a canvas piece under the cover and about the wadding, cut this piece as well).


Using a feather stitch (some call it a baseball stitch), join the two cover pieces (if there was a canvas piece, baste it to the underside of the cover and stitch all layers together).


Cut a bias strip of pocketing and pad stitch it through all layers to cover the seam, cross stitch the edges flat.


Separate all the wadding that was in the pad.


Build up the wadding with thin layers, according to the amount that you want; do not feel the need to use all the wadding- a little goes a long way. Note that the wadding for my pad is concentrated at the back.


Place the cover over the wadding and baste down the center with a long, loose running stitch


Now the shaping.

Keep the shape of the shoulder in mind as you pad stitch with fairly loose stitches to prevent lumpiness. There should be an upward curve when looked at from head on, but there should also be a concave curve in the front (curving toward the front) and a convex curve in the back, following the shape of the shoulder. You may need to give a little tug to the front edge, stretching the curve a bit, to get the right amount of concavity. If you do not hold the shape in like this as you are pad stitching the result will not be satisfactory; as you take each stitch make sure you are molding the pad into the desired shape. If at the end the shape does not look right, take it apart and do it again. It will be worth the effort.



Jordan makes a good point which I should have mentioned. If you are dealing with a low shoulder (and we usually are) and are making pads, it is far better to pad the low shoulder more than the higher one; it will make matching checks a little easier but, more importantly, will even out the appearance of the customer. Perkins devices were common for measuring shoulder inclination, but they are all but impossible to find now. Instead, grab one of the clinometer apps for the Iphone and turn your phone into a Perkins device.