In this unit I have been looking much more concisely into men’s tailoring to produce a three-piece suit to a set of measurements supplied by ArtsEd in London. This has given me the experience of working with an outside client as opposed to working alongside the acting department within the university; working in a very small group as they asked for three suits, and learning more of the skills and techniques involved in professional tailoring.
I have really enjoyed working in such a small group, finding that the tutorial sessions are much more focused and befitting to our needs that that we would get in a larger group. Working with two people I have not worked closely with before has also given me the chance to get to know them. We have worked well together, able to approach each other for help and advice when Graham has been unavailable and in being a support network for each other, especially when going to the fitting in London, which was a new experience for all of us, none of us having done a tailoring fitting before. In particular with the skills and techniques of tailoring, doing this unit has presented both much enjoyment and a considerable amount of frustration. However, my over-riding feeling at the end of it is that I definitely want to do more, and that this is still the career path I would like to explore. Tailoring, even costume tailoring, is so different from normal costuming, combining the elements I like without the elements I am not so enamoured with. Even if I do not end up in tailoring, the skills I have learned over the past few weeks are very useful – not least, how to draft and fit a sleeve so that it sits well and falls in sympathy with the garment.
There have been many challenges along the way with this unit, not least the fact that I was working with checked material. The fabric was pure wool and was therefore very malleable, ironed well, sat well when placed and had movement, and was lovely to work with for those reasons. But, with that movement also came a difficulty when matching the checks as any pressure on the fabric in the wrong place at the wrong time could push it out of alignment. I found the pockets in particular a great challenge to get looking really crisp with the longer straight seams also presenting a considerable difficulty. However, this has only improved my patience and my appreciation of careful preparation, and the power of tacking. The other construction area I have found hard is the sleeves. The way a jacket sleeve sits in the armhole is one of the most noticeable areas on a suit and they have never been my forte. This time, I not only had to position them properly, but I had to do ‘easing’, and I still had to match the checks. At the time of writing this I have not put the top fabric sleeves in the jacket, but have had a day of working with Graham to improve my sleeve pattern, making changes to my calico toile and preparing the top fabric and lining for the real sleeves. I have found keeping a blog a test of discipline; I found it hard to keep track of what I had done when and how I had reacted to each step with a view to reviewing and evaluating it later in a professional, academic manner. This is, however, good practice for third year and I will try to keep up some record of what is happening with each of the projects I undertake, especially as I am aware we will need to do an evaluation of our whole time at the university at the end.
There are many areas that I know about where I can improve in the future. My finishing skills, though much improved, can still be taken further. My cutting skills are not as good as I would like and accuracy overall is something I feel can always been bettered. This unit has incorporated a very large amount of learning huge amounts in a very short space of time, trying to absorb long lists of quite detailed instructions and so all the new skills and techniques I have learned over the last few weeks need improvement, not least my note-taking to understand and remember demonstrations at a later date when I come to complete a step without Graham being in attendance.
In third year I fully intend to do more tailoring, for at least one or two of the project areas. I would like to advance my knowledge and practise of the skills and techniques I have learned in this unit, looking at a suit from a different era and some culturally specific tailoring. I would also consider looking into women’s tailoring. Tailoring is definitely still an area I would seriously consider undertaking as a career and therefore I would like to keep studying it, but also looking at how it can influence my making methods in all areas.