Back to School

Throw in some clouds, angels and an immaculately dressed bearded chap in bespoke vicuna robes and I’d be in tailoring heaven.

Why? Because Michelsberg Tailoring is through to the final of the Golden Shears tailoring competition – come on!!

As mentioned in my blog in December, it’s run by the Merchant Taylors Company and is basically the Oscars of the Tailoring trade.

All the young guns of Savile Row and students at fashion colleges throughout the world submit garments in the hope of making it through to a professional catwalk show which takes place on March 16 in London.

The fact that we are in the final is truly incredible and testament to the hard work of Sara and the tailors and seamstresses who have supported her.

A huge thank-you in particular must go to June Waterhouse who has mentored her as well as playing a huge part in my development as a tailor.

Over the past 4 years my tailors and cutters have been trying to teach me as much as possible regarding their craft but sadly there are no short-cuts. On Savile Row, an apprenticeship involves at least 4 years training as a tailor and then, if you have a flair for it, a further three to become a cutter.

I’d got to the stage whereby once I had done the first fitting and chalked and pinned the garment to reflect any adjustments that needed to be made, it would then be ripped down (taken to bits) and I would do the re-cuts myself (under supervision) to reflect these changes – such as reducing the width of the shoulders, shaping the coat more into the chest, allowing for a drop right shoulder etc

But like Charles Dickins’ Oliver, I wanted more. But not gruel. That’s not my style. I wanted the full-on degustation menu. With wine. And a cigar for afters.

So I enrolled on the Tailoring and Manufacturing module of a four year Fashion BA at Batley School of Art & Fashion with the express purpose of learning to make a garment from scratch…by myself.

It was a big commitment in terms of time, and despite the fact that I was miles behind all the other students who had used industrial flat-bed sewing machines before, I passed the course and loved every minute.

Here I am cutting out the pattern I drafted for a ‘button two, show three’, double breasted jacket with slanted pockets.

And despite many hours spent unpicking seams that resembled a dog’s hind leg, I am delighted to say that the coat is now finished and ready for button-holing.

Doing the course has made me realise just how much work is involved in making a jacket – drafting and cutting out all the patterns for the back, front, facings, side-panels, collar, sleeves, linings and interlinings. Then the incredible number of processes and hand-sewing involved in putting it all together.

Mind boggling stuff and I can now appreciate why people who have been doing it all their life still say they are learning. I am definitely going to continue improving my tailoring skills but the thing I love most is time spent with my customers, choosing cloth, talking about the style of the garment, doing the fittings and running the business.

So yes folks, the year has got off to a rocking start – plenty of orders, new customers, the final of the shears to look forward to and even better…it’s started snowing!

One thought on “Back to School

  1. Hi James,

    Cracking blog. Good luck with the Golden Shears. Any relative of Harry Potter’s Golden Snitch…? I think we should be told.

    Anyway, I would like to elaborate on your previous Bond blog.

    If you haven’t yet made it to the Imperial War Museum exhibition of Ian Fleming (hurry up! You have only 60 seconds to comply!) here are my highlights:

    Ian’s outift:

    Fleming’s tux

    Oh no! Bond wears a sleeveless shirt!

    Fleming’s typewritten description of Bond for Esquire magazine

    And finally, the worst you can do to a Turnbull & Asser shirt…

    Bloody shirt…

    The whole album

    Goodnight, and good luck.

    Martin.

    x

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