|My First Double Breasted Blazer in Progress|
Any one who is a regular reader of my blog, will have witnessed by dalliance into the fine art of tailoring has quickly turned into an obsession. Hand sewn blazers are becoming a regular feature in my me made wardrobe and to be honest, I think it has changed the way that I sew.
The more I learn about tailoring (and boy do I have a lot to learn) the more I appreciate how it combines both art and engineering so perfectly. Everything is precise and measured and on purpose, and it celebrates the age old tradition of hand sewing which still is the application of choice by professional tailors despite the progression in technology today.
I'm a pretty passionate person, and when i get into something, I absorb myself in it. I have spent countless hours reading, researching and watching anything tailoring related that I could get my hands on.
Knowing how much I love tailoring and how overwhelming it can seem at the start, I thought I would share the resources that I found for those who want to take their sewing up a notch and try tailoring for themselves.
Even if you don't go full bespoke, there are many techniques that can be adapted from tailoring that will instantly improve the quality and longevity of your hand made creations.
It should be noted that I have not received any training or attended any courses in tailoring and everything I have learned has been through reading and researching.
I have however had ten years experience in sewing and that has definitely helped me to able to absorb the learnings and adapt them to how I feel works best for me. In any case, if you are a home sewist, you should take comfort in knowing that tailoring, like maths is not a guessing game, but an achievable task that once you break it down into steps is actually straightforward. And tailoring also, like art, allows you to be creative and explore with endless possibilities.
There are two books that I own for tailoring that I have read cover to cover, over and over.
The first book I have used for every bespoke blazer I have made so far, and my newest book (the second one) I have been using for my current double breasted blazer that I am working on.
Both of these books offer tailored, hand sewn methods and share a lot of commonalities, but also there are a lot of big differences too.
Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing The Perfect Jacket
This book also comes with a different picture on the front for some countries, so don't be alarmed if it's not the same cover picture.
If you are wanted to get into tailoring, this is an excellent place to start.
- This book is picture heavy and well explained and is dedicated to sewing jackets for women.
- Gives good instructions on how to pad-stitch
- Shows pad-stitching techniques for both under collar and lapels
- Explains how to draft a backstay, sew-in canvas interfacing, and a shoulder reinforcement using your sewing pattern.
- Colour photos with great instructions on sewing double welt, single welt and flap pockets
- Gives two sets of instructions through out the book on how to sew the jacket a) with sew-in canvas interfacing or b) with iron on interfacing
- Gives great detail on how to pre-treat your fabrics, and how to iron correctly.
- Only shows how to attache the under-collar, lapel and upper collar by machine and not by hand. Sewing these sections by hand is the traditional tailored way of sewing a jacket and is how I put together my tailored blazers. I really feel this makes a massive difference in the quality of the finished project.
- The photos are a little dated, but still very informative.
- Doesn't give details on how to draft an under collar with a roll line and an upper collar. A lot of patterns these days don't include a roll line on the collar and it can be hard for a beginner to work out where it should go.
Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear
This is the second edition of this book, and from reviews it appears to be much of an upgrade on the original, with more up to date photos.
If you are a beginner sewer with minimal hand sewing or tailoring experience, you may want to start with the other book as there is a fair bit of assumed knowledge here, but for those learning about tailoring this book is an absolute wealth of information.
- Lots of pictures
- Gives great instruction on how to fit and make fit adjustments to an established pattern
- Gives instruction on ironworking your pieces, which is important in tailoring (where to shrink and where to stretch)
- Gives instructions on how to draft an inside breast pocket in the lining
- Includes instructions on pad stitching
- Shows how to cut fabric for plaid and striped pieces
- Traditional tailoring techniques
- Gives details on how to attach the facings, under collar and collar by hand
- An excellent section on how to draft an under collar and upper collar and the positioning of the roll line
- Also gives instruction on constructing a waistcoat and pants.
- Much more hand sewing focused.
- The pictures are in black and white and can sometimes be tricky to decipher
- The book is expensive, and geared towards more the intermediate to experienced sewist
- Is specifically written for mens tailoring. However I find the differences between men and womens tailoring to be very minimal. Once you have the fit right, the rules really are the same.
The canvas differences in the books:
While both of these books show how to draft the canvas interfacing to go with your pattern, it's worth noting that the first book only uses a half canvas interfacing (it starts from the side seam at the underarm, scoops above the bust point, and then goes down to them just 1 inch wider than the jacket front facing.
|partial canvas, above and to the right of the red line markings|
|full front canvas|
The second book gives instructions for a full front canvas, meaning it covers the whole jacket front pattern piece. The first is a softer, look and the second a more traditional structured look. Both have their pros and cons and I've made three blazers using the partial canvas front, and I'm currently making my first double breasted blazer using the full canvas (which so far I am absolutely loving).
|Double wool crepe - Click on the photo to see the blog post|
|Silk wool - click on the photo to see the blog post|
For my first two blazers, I only had the first book 'Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing The Perfect Jacket' and while I used a lot of techniques from the book, I also did a lot of things differently, such as attaching the under collar and upper collar to the jacket by hand.
I referenced the following blog Male Devon Sewing who has a wonderful series on constructing a Tailored Suit. This was really helpful in working out how to attach the collars by hand.
I cannot live without the following things:
- tailors clay chalk - for marking your fabric
- cotton basting thread - for tacking darts, notches, seemliness and basting your fabric together
- silk thread ( I use Guterman) - for hand sewing such as pad stitching and finishing
- silk buttonhole buttonhole twist thread - for sewing hand worked buttonholes and for sewing on buttons
- John James 'betweens' 3/9 - hand sewing needles
- Merchant and Mills tailors thimble - do NOT hand sew without a thimble. Just don't. Take the time to get a thimble that fits and works for you.
- Sleeve board - for pressing lapels, sleeves and small fiddly bits.
- Tailors pressing ham - for curved areas that need to be pressed
- My brand new gravity feed industrial iron which has changed my LIFE! It's the Silver Star ES-94A and it's specifically designed for tailoring.
Kenton Trimmings in the UK is an absolute dream for tailoring supplies and is where I've gotten most of my tools. Their website is a bit clunky, but they are really well priced and have an absolute dreamy amount of canvas, trims and tools to choose from.
In fact you can order a swatch book of their canvas' for £10, and they then give you a £10 gift voucher to use on your next purchase which is just fantastic.
They have absolutely everything, including melton wool for under collars and pocketing fabric, and their customer service is superb. I once ordered a whole bunch of stuff which they accidentally sent through the slow mail, so they resent the whole thing again and told me to keep both of the packages!
When you're learning about tailoring, I think it's really advantageous to learn about the history of suits, the function, and the difference between a tailored vs store bought suit.
There are heaps of videos on youtube, and I recommend also looking up 'Savile Row' as well and watching some of the tours of the world's most recognised street for tailoring. It's absolutely fascinating stuff and just gets you more inspired and excited to get stuck in to tailoring!
Tailoring Instagram Accounts To Follow
Here are a few instagram accounts that I love for helpful tailoring tips and tricks, or just for inspiration. I will probably add to this list as time goes on.
Jihae An - A english tailor working on Savile Row, she posts progress photos daily of her amazing work
Lee Marsh Bespoke - Another English tailor who posts amazing instructional videos, like how to set in a sleeve.
Ray The Master Tailor - With 40 years of experience, this man knows how to make a suit!
Julio D.F. Mompó - His sartorial work is just incredible
Johnny Nguyen - The man makes the most exquisite womens clothing that looks like architectural art pieces.
I'll be starting a tailoring series soon on my blog for those who are interested! If you have any questions, feel free to comment here, or send me a DM over on instgram.
Happy sewing everyone!
You can see all the posts so far in this series below:
- Tailoring Resources for a hand sewn bespoke blazer - how I learnt what I know so far through books and blogs.
- Part 1 - Muslin fit, collar and canvas prep