Monday, March 31, 2014

The Row meets the Ready-to-Wear

I've posted a number of videos made by Andrew Yamato showing the work of Rory Duffy, which I enjoyed.

Last weekend I was working a show in Brooklyn, where both Rory and Andrew are located, so I had the great opportunity to meet them both.

Rory is Savile-Row trained and I have spent most of my career in the RTW industry so we were sharing notes, which proved to be very interesting. Rory provided some fascinating insight into the behind-the-scenes workings of Savile Row which I really enjoyed, and I gave him some pointers on production-ready sleeve patterns. I loved one observation he made that "Rock of Eye [a very loose pattern making technique] is only good for those who don't actually have to sew up their own cutting. I pity the tailors who do have to sew that up." I quite agree.

Talking about drafting is one thing, however, and doing is quite another, so Rory pulled out a roll of pattern paper and started drafting. Then it was my turn to draft. I think we both learned a few things, and if nothing else, we had some fun.

This sort of thing should happen more often, and if it does, hopefully Andrew will be able to get it on film.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I Colori Di Antonio

April is a month full of film screenings, it seems.

The first up is a documentary called I Colori di Antonio, about the Italian tailor Antonio Liverano.

The screening is being hosted by our friends at The Armoury New York and will take place in Chelsea on April 3 at 7 pm; it will be followed by a Q&A with Antonio Liverano and Gianluca Migilarotti, moderated by Bruce Boyer. Details and tickets can be found here.

I really wish I could attend but I just got back from 5 days in New York and have much catching up on work to do...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My sewing machines

Kim has asked several times about it, so here goes...

The sewing machine I use at home is an industrial Brother high speed single needle straight lock stitch machine. What a mouthful. I used to have an industrial overlock as well, but those suckers take up a lot of room so I got rid of it in favor of a domestic Husqvarna overlock/coverstitch machine.

Industrial machines are typically cheaper than the fancy domestic ones that do a million stitches, especially if you get it used. The garment industry having been decimated, used equipment is plentiful and cheap, and since those machines are built to last forever, getting one from a reputable dealer who will have tuned it up is generally a safe bet. Some people need the zig-zag function on domestic machines, if for nothing other than buttonholes, but you do get a better stitch out of a machine that is only made to do straight-stitches for a number of reasons. Since I never use pins when sewing, I also HATE the presser foot lever on the back of the sewing head of a domestic machine (I need both hands when loading); basic industrial ones will have a knee lever and fancier ones have an automatic lift built into the pedal. Being used to the speed of an industrial machine (up to 5,000 stitches a minute) I find domestic ones impossibly poky. It's also nice that special presser feet, folders and attachments are nearly universal so it's actually much easier to get them for an industrial machine than a domestic one. And once you've got yourself a couple of scroll hemmer feet and a binding folder, you wonder how you ever lived without them. Compensating feet make top stitching and edge stitching easier and neater, and I like to use a hinged quilting guide as a seam allowance gauge because they are easy to adjust and can be flipped up and out of the way when not needed.

Fancier straight stitch machines will also have automatic back tackers and thread trimmers, and a few other functions that are really overkill for the home sewer.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Inspired to start sewing again

I had an accident over a year ago which affected my ability to sew, among other things. But my visit to the company's archives last week made me want to try to start again.

We have a lot of old frock coats that are very fitted through the back, most with a type of princess seam and a waist seam, both details which I chose to incorporate. Also, the seams are being raised with a 1/4" machine stitch, but sewn with vintage silk buttonhole twist.

Also, the pockets are flapped but without visible jets.

The buttonholes will be particularly challenging, but I figure that if it comes to that, I could maybe do them by machine.

Oh god, who am I kidding? Machine-made buttonholes? Me?