Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Making of a Coat, continued

More videos to follow my previous post. Thanks to Andrew Yamato and Rory Duffy

The Making of a Coat #7 - Constructing the Chest from Andrew Yamato on Vimeo.

The Making of a Coat #8 - Padding the Chest from Andrew Yamato on Vimeo.

The Making of a Coat #9 - Making the Collar from Andrew Yamato on Vimeo.

The Making of a Coat #10 - Darting the Canvas from Andrew Yamato on Vimeo.

The Making of a Coat #11 - Shaping the Back & Foreparts from Andrew Yamato on Vimeo.

The Making of a Coat #12- Canvassing the Foreparts from Andrew Yamato on Vimeo.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Making of a Coat- Rory Duffy

Reposting some tailoring porn that I enjoyed, in case readers missed it elsewhere. They're well-filmed and fun to watch.

Andrew Yamato has been producing a series of videos highlighting the work of Rory Duffy, a Henry-Poole trained cutter and winner of the Golden Shears award. I'll post only the videos here, but if you would like some insight into the filmmaker's point of view, you can find it at A Suitable Wardbrobe. Sadly, one of sure to be one of the most anticipated episodes is missing- namely, the one on measuring and making the pattern- but I am sure it will be released soon.

The Making of a Coat #1 - Introduction from Andrew Yamato on Vimeo.

The Making of a Coat #3 - Striking the Pattern from Andrew Yamato on Vimeo.

The Making of a Coat #4 - Cutting the Canvas and Lining from Andrew Yamato on Vimeo.

The Making of a Coat #5 - Crookening & Markstitching from Andrew Yamato on Vimeo.

The Making of a Coat #6 - Making Patch Pockets from Andrew Yamato on Vimeo.

Then when you're done, go and check out Rory's blog. I've been slow lately and I'm glad to see someone picking up the slack.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Couture Sewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket

Claire Shaeffer is one of the most recognized authors on couture sewing so when she contacted me about her latest book, I was excited to see it. Entitled Couture Sewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket, for legal reasons she probably can't refer to it as a Chanel jacket, but I can. It arrived this week and while I am not finished reading it, a comment left on another post prompted me to get this out there right away.

Marysia, if you have not yet started your project, and if you do not yet have this book, stop. Buy it. It is a treasure.

Claire has a likely unparalleled collection of Chanel couture garments and has studied many more in museums and private collections and this book shares some of the secrets of construction that made the iconic Chanel jacket unique. Some of the tips I have never seen anywhere else in print, and having studied haute couture in college myself, there were things in there that were new even to me. What I like most about Claire's books is that they are never just instructional manuals on sewing , but that she covers the history and backstory of the techniques and the couturiers behind the spectacular garments which serve as her inspiration. Anybody interested in Chanel's designs, legacy, and in some cases revolutionary sewing techniques will love this book.

As a bonus, at the end of the book is a DVD which I have yet to watch but I am sure it will be fantastic, knowing what her previous projects have been like. There are techniques discussed in the book which really need to be seen in action to be fully understood, and they are covered in the DVD. I will update this post once I have had a chance to watch it.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fit challenge

Three weeks ago I was contacted by a retailer. They had a photoshoot planned for this week with one of their vendors, but that vendor had abruptly and unexpectedly pulled out of their stores leaving them with nobody to dress the model. Three weeks is tough when we haven't yet fit the person, but is doable. Then they dropped a bomb on me. Two, actually.

Retailer-He's a basketball player- he's 6"11".

Me-Yikes. So how soon can I see him to measure him up?

Retailer- Actually, you can't. He's in Senegal until the day before the shoot. But our vendor already made a suit for him, maybe they can get you the specs.

In a highly unusual move, the vendor, who is our competitor, helped me out with specs.

"But wait", retailer said. "We made tons of alterations to that suit so you had better speak with the stylist to see if he remembers what we did". Which he did, sort of. He told me what he thought they had done, but wasn't entirely sure. What they wanted was very close-fitting, and as you get closer to the body, you have that much less room for error- it's easier to fit a mitten than a glove.

So I took the initial specs, spoke with the stylist, then looked at a bunch of photos of the basketball player online, and made a guess. A very risky guess. What happens if I get there for the shoot and what we made doesn't fit? I was sweating bullets.

The day of the shoot, we had our first fitting, which was being filmed by the retailer (no pressure!) There were, as expected, issues to be fixed. And since their tailors were all very busy, I ended up on a sewing machine doing the alterations (not my favorite thing in the world to do). I didn't have time to fix everything I wanted to, but I think we saved the shoot.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Live from New York....

The job sometimes comes with fun little perks.

I spent the weekend in New York, fitting the commentators for NBC's football coverage. They now share studio space with Saturday Night Live so when we were done we got to tour the set, which was really cool. Next week I will be going back, to fit the guys from the EPL and NHL, and also to outfit the Olympics commentators.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Luxury Hangers by Butler Luxury

I once wrote a rant about the importance of hangers to fine tailored clothing (you can read it here)

Like any investment piece, it worth spending a little extra to take care of it, whether it's a cover for your iPad or a case for your phone or a cover for your boat or classic car. Clothing is no different. Most hangers do not provide adequate support to the shoulder and collar and cause actually distort the garment while it is hanging. Good quality hangers will prevent this distortion.

Butler Luxury contacted me to see if I would be interested in seeing their line of luxury hangers. Naturally, I was; they sent me a set of four pieces.

The shirt hanger


The sport coat hanger


The trouser hanger


And, most importantly, the suit hanger


The suit and sportcoat hangers are made extra-wide at the ends, which provide the necessary support for the shoulder of the garment.


An important feature is also the wide, flocked trouser bar. The flocked finish prevents the trouser from slipping off, and the extra-wide bar prevents impressions being left on the trouser where they fold over the bar; other hangers which have a locking bar or a strap to prevent slipping will all leave marks on the trouser. I definitely like these features. I also love that the hangers come in four different sizes- it's just as bad to have a large hanger poking out of the sleeves of a coat as it is to have then shoulders of a coat hang off the end of a hanger that is too narrow. The hanger sizes are suggested for approximate coat size, which is a help for people who wouldn't know what size is most appropriate to order.

From a technical standpoint, these hangers have it all. But they are also very handsome, and the finish is really very nice. Available in two colors, it occurred to me that the Walnut Espresso finish matches the wood in my walk-in and that matching hangers for everything including my shirts, while perhaps not strictly necessary, would look very nice.

In any case, if you are the type who invests in quality clothing, I highly recommend investing in proper garment storage, which includes these lovely luxury suit hangers.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

True Fit- Working Toward a Better Way of Shopping Online


The statistics regarding return rates of online clothing purchases are pretty staggering but the reality of the importance of online shopping is such that they need to be addressed. The biggest obstacle is fit; when shopping in a store, you can try a garment on, even in several different sizes, and judge the fit before you buy. Shopping online is a crap-shoot; even if you know your usual size in garments, the garment you are looking at is not guaranteed to fit the way you like it. We had several presentations on the advances in scanning technology which can accurately scan a person's body and provide enough information to suggest what could be, technically speaking, a correct fit, but this does not account for one important variable, which is personal preference. What may be way too tight to one person could be too loose to the next, and scanning technology alone can not take these considerations into account.

True Fit
is an attempt to address this issue. In alliance with a given retailer, they will partner with all the retailer's vendors; I am currently working on this project with them at Hart Schaffner Marx. I provide all the measurement data of the models which the retailer will be carrying and True Fit inputs this information into their database, which will be cross-referenced to every other garment in that category. When shopping on the retailer's web site, the shopper will be asked to input some basic body measurements, but also is asked to provide information about their favorite garment already hanging in their closet, and this is where the element of personal preference can be, to some degree, addressed.

Let's say you have a suit by brand X, in style Y, size Z. You enter this information in the dialog box on the retailer's website; it doesn't have to be a garment carried by that retailer, as long as that garment's specs have been provided by its maker at some point. True Fit will cross-reference all the data it has on all the other garments carried by that retailer and then make a suggestion of cut and size that most resemble what you have indicated that you already have and like. In initial trials it has slashed return rates enormously, which is good for customers and retailers alike, and is a very interesting development for the industry. I'll be keeping you informed on how this progresses.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

IACDE Boston 2013 Continued

190 people from around the world attended the four day IACDE event at the Intercontinental Hotel in Boston. Simultaneous translation was a must.


We had factory tours of the Jospeh Abboud plant (shown) and the brand-new Southwick/ Brooks Brothers plant.


The president of the IACDE, Joachim Hensch of Hugo Boss opened a series of excellent presentations and discussions on e-retailing and digitizing fit.



Jessica Murphy, co-founder of True Fit Corporation, explained how their analysis tools could help online shoppers find correct sizing more easily.



Thierry Moncoutié of Lectra S.A. talked about 3D visualization in garment creation. We are duly chastised with the statistic that 62% of consumers are unhappy with the fit of their clothes.



Alvanon presented some of their ideas about e-retailing and mass customization of fit.


A panel discussion, moderated by Karen Alberg Grossman, Editor in Chief of MR magazine on the impact of e-retailing on brick-and-mortar retail stores. Contributing were Joseph Abboud himself, Roxy Starr, EVP of Design Development at Fast Fit 360, Jared Blank, e-commerce at Tommy Hilfiger and Raj Sareen, founder and CEO of Styku.




We started an outreach/internship program last year to sponsor and encourage young talent, with participation from U.S.A., Canada, Germany, Italy and Japan. This young "task force" made some interesting recommendations during their presentation to the group, so we challenged them to implement some of these changes and gave them a surprise budget of $10,000 to work with.




Networking is always an important aspect of these gatherings.

Benjamin Cohen of S. Cohen speaks with Kyle Vucko of Indochino


Anthony Sapienza with Joseph Abboud and Dragan Udovicic of Men's Wearhouse


Roxy Starr with Adriano di Quinzio of Brioni.



And our formal event is always fun. We cruised Boston harbor with dinner and a live band for dancing.

Anthony Sapienza, Me, Dr. Heino Freudenberg of Freudenberg Group, and Alan Abramowicz, co-president of Samuelsohn.


Members of the Japanese chapter in beautiful traditional dress.


The Indochino boys, Heikal Gani and Kykle Vucko with me, Enza Sturino, owner of Intermforme Interlinings and Roxy Starr.


I am thinking of putting an informal gathering together for people in Chicago who wight be interested in the group, which would include a possible way of gaining membership in the organization. If you are interested and in the Chicago are let me know. Of course, if you are located anywhere else in the world and are interested, I can certainly point you to a local chapter.

These photos were all shot by David Fox, photographer.


Monday, May 13, 2013


Just got back from my Boston trip. It was a really great time and I'll be posting in more detail soon but I thought I'd put up a few pics for now.

Lodovico Zandegu from Boglioli, Karen Alberg-Grossman from MR Magazine and me.
And before anyone yells at me for wearing a notch lapel tuxedo, my old one doesn't fit anymore so I had to take one out of stock and we didn't have any peaks in my size.


Karen moderating a panel discussion including my former Chief Creative Officer, Joseph Abboud.


McKinsey Associates discussing the effect the internet has been having on the clothing business.


The founders of Indochino, Kyle Vucko and Heikal Gani with Anthony Sapienza, CEO of Joseph Abboud Apparel, and Enza Sturino from Interforme Interlinings.



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Measuring Tailored Garments

The explosion of e-commerce sites has created a dilemma of how to address fit in a virtual environment. The focus of next week's convention of the International Association of Clothing Designers and Executives will be on this subject and I am sure I will have lots to report when I get back. One thing I will bring to readers now is that the methods of measuring garments used by sites like e-bay are driven by sportswear so the terminology used and the actual methods are different than those commonly used in the tailored clothing industry, so if you are only familiar with e-bay or Styleforum conventions, you may end up confused when talking to a tailor or a manufacturer.

Below is a guide to the terms and methods typically used by tailored clothing manufacturers- some may vary slightly, like the exact level of the knee, but these are pretty much standards.




Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shoulder pads

Shoulder padding is a fairly controversial subject, but the consensus in the US seems to be "less is more". There is also a misconception that all RTW makes use way too much padding; this is occasionally true- this is a pad from a well-known and loved brand


I prefer something softer and lighter. This is the thickest of the pads that I use in my RTW clothing.


You don't have to go all the way to Naples to get a soft shoulder.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Buttonhole threads


One of the most frequent questions I get is "where can I find the threads you use for buttonholes?". My go-to gimp is Agreman and the silk twist I usually use is R753, both products by Gutermann. It has sometimes been challenging to find it at retail, especially in the U.S., but there is now a new source over here. I haven't used them- the National Sales Manager at Gutermann is a friend and she let me know about them.

Bay Tailor Supply is now stocking these items. If someone orders from them, do let me know how the service is.

Hand Made Buttonholes from Jeffery D on Vimeo.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

IACDE World Convention, Boston

The International Association of Clothing Designers and Executives will hold its annual world convention in Boston on May 9 to May 12 at the Intercontinental Hotel. We will be examining e-retailing and pattern design; there will be two factory tours- one of the JA Apparel factory which produces the Joseph Abboud tailored clothing, as well as the Southwick factory which produces for Brooks Brothers. Also featured will be presentations and workshops by representatives from Hugo Boss, McKinsey & Co., Nyopoly, TrueFit, Human Solutions, MR Magazine, Alvanon, Freudenberg, Lectra, and Chargeurs. More information, including registration forms, can be found here.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring 2013

I've been busy lately. You may have noticed.

I work for the company that makes Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner Marx, two venerable old clothing companies in the U.S. Hart Schaffner Marx was founded in 1887 and Hickey Freeman in 1899- there's an enormous amount of history in the two companies but like many old companies things needed to be freshened up a little. So over the last few years we have been hard at work updating the product, not least of which is the fit. The latest new things to go to market are in the Hart Schaffner Marx brand.

We have three core fits in the Hart Schaffner Marx line, two of which have been completely updated for Spring 2013, and a third one which has very limited distribution for this season and will see a wider rollout this fall. In all, with all the variations available for advance and custom orders I had about 140 new patterns to make. We will discuss the fits and elements of the suits on the company blog, but I thought readers might like a sneak preview of one of them.

Readers may be familiar with my own personal style of cutting, namely a clean chest, very little drape in the blade, a nicely suppressed waist, a higher armhole and a clean sleeve. The third core fit is all of these things, only cut a little shorter as this is part of our "fashion" offering as opposed to the more classic fits which are longer. I grabbed one of the fall samples which happen to be close to my size to shoot off a few pictures. It looks almost as good as something I might have spent hours and hours making myself by hand, which underscores the importance of fit. People tend to fetishize hand work in garments, but I always say fit should be priority number one.

Now, if these photos are any indication, I need to get some rest. I look tired!




Monday, March 11, 2013

Fitting Jeans

A follow-up to my last post, but this time aimed at the SW&D crowd.

I have trouble finding jeans that fit. If your seat-to-waist ratio is greater than the six or seven inches that is industry standard or you have muscular legs, then you probably have similar issues. When I find a pair that fits in the seat and thighs, the waist is usually two inches too big. The last post was about adding darts to dress trousers- I do this with jeans as well. Taking two darts in the back I can remove from 1 1/2" to 2" in the waist; this takes care of the added circumference but also makes for a more flattering fit in the seat.




Regarding the question about the back yoke for jeans;

Starting with a basic block with one or two darts, draw your yoke line and split the piece, adding seam allowances. Cut along one dart leg and close the dart, repeat for the second dart, then smooth out the waist and yoke seam lines.