Monday, 14 March 2016

A tailored jacket

I like to sew, there’s no doubt about it. I like the very moment I start planning a new project: from pattern, to fabric, to finished garment. In most cases, I like to think about the sewing order too, as well as different stitches and techniques I may apply, especially when dealing with more complex garments. If there are instructions, I read them., If not, I carefully check how others approached the similar project, what sewing books say about it, or I just follow my gut feeling. When it comes to a tailored jacket, you can go with gut feeling, but certain things have to be done a special way. For me it was an amazing, yet quite overwhelming project. Here’s why.  

You might remember that I signed up to a 30-week tailoring class in September 2014, which finished in May last year. It has taken me another 9 months to find the buttons, which would go with the fabric, and do some extra hand-sewing to completely finish the jacket.

Typically, I am not a big fan of jackets. I do not like formal wear in general and, since my dress code at work is very casual, I don’t own many formal garments. The tailoring course attracted me not because of the actual  jacket, but due to the learning process.

Despite it being very long, I loved the course at the Dublin Tailoring academy a lot! Our teacher, a master tailor, was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had: extremely knowledgeable and ready to share every single piece of information with us. I learnt tons during the course, but I’ve since forgotten a lot too! To start with, we were taught how to draft a pattern for a tailored garment, which differs slightly from a regular ready-to-wear one.  In all honesty, this part was my least favourite, and I am not sure I’d be able to re-draft a pattern myself.  During the actual process of sewing the jacket, we had to apply a lot of hand-stitching, and when I say a lot, I mean more than half the time, 60 hours or so. On top of that, the master tailor taught us a few machine techniques for professional-looking finishes.  

From all the jacket inspirations, pinned on my Pinterest board, I decided to copy the Isabel Marant model, because it looked quite roomy and would be perfect for cycling. Even though I added enough ease to provide more space for movement in the shoulder area while cycling, when I put the finished jacket on, I was swimming inside. My teacher and I could only assume that I had lost some weight because we had been fitting  the jacket every week. On the other hand, my regular clothes fit the same, so why the jacket turned out big is a total mystery. A few days ago, I was browsing Internet, trying to find more variations of the same jacket, and I came across this model on a retail site. It looks like “baggy” is a new trend. So I may look less stupid in my jacket :) I look trendy now, guys!

I apologize for not describing the entire tailoring process here or in further posts. Maybe, because this jacket took me so long and on certain days I even felt bored, or maybe because I don’t plan on making any more jackets in the future, I want to leave “the jacket story” where it belongs. Thirty weeks was such a long time to work on a garment, that at the very end of the course, I even skipped some hand-stitching. That’s how tired I was after hours and hours of working on it. Being a tailor requires so much passion and dedication! I can only express my deepest respect to people who do it!

The experience of working on a tailored jacket, where all the processes are so much slower and more pedantic, was another extreme to the fast-fashion sewing. I don’t think I will sew more tailored garments in the future. My personal takeaway from working on a tailored jacket was that, as with everything else in life, one should strive to hit the middleground. I will definitely sew more garments, reflecting my active lifestyle and a need to see a quick gratifying result of my labour. At the same time I’d like to own more pieces made with extra care and attention to detail. These don’t necessarily have to be sophisticated, but quality garments.

On this philosophical note, I’d like to hear which type of sewing do you prefer?