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Feb 8, 2016

Something New -- Ladies Tailoring Class at FIT!



After taking a basic Patternmaking class at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) last semester, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do this semester.

Originally I'd planned to continue with patternmaking, but I had a change of heart.  For one thing, as much as I enjoyed my class and liked my professor, I didn't feel like I was learning skills I could apply easily to a person, as opposed to a standard dressform.  It also seemed like a lot of the drafting we were doing -- creating a variety of collars, sleeves, yokes, etc. -- were things I could learn on my own with a standard patternmaking text like the Helen Joseph Armstrong book, Patternmaking for Fashion Design, I already own.

The other reason -- and it's related -- is that I've begun experimenting with Kenneth King's moulage method of pattern drafting (a CD book) and I find it both practical and, once you get the hang of it (as with anything, there's a learning curve) accurate.  (You can find Kenneth King's pattern drafting CD books for sale here.)  You use real people's measurements to create a moulage (or sloper) and use the sloper to create patterns for garments.  I'd rather invest my time in this method, which I think will serve me better in the long run.

So I decided to take Ladies Tailoring instead.  Now why ladies and not men's tailoring?  For the last two semesters, there haven't been enough people interested (aka, registered) for FIT to offer the men's tailoring class, which is sad.  A lot of tailoring techniques are applicable to both men's and women's garments though, and I do make women's tailored garments from time to time.

I attended my first class last Wednesday evening and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  This beginning-level class is focused on skirts, and we'll be creating them with a variety of pockets, waistbands, linings, etc.  Last week, the professor, a professional tailor who hails from the Dominican Republic (and who's a real sweetheart), demonstrated, among other other things, tailor tacks, something I have no experience in whatsoever.  They're used to transfer information accurately from one layer of fabric to another.  It seemed awfully painstaking to me, but hey, we're learning old-school tailoring methods.  We'll also be doing a lot of hand basting (something I largely avoid), shaping wool with steam, stitching by hand, and more. 







After marking them with tailor tacks, we're to hand baste the darts.

Below is the type of skirt we'll be working on initially, a simple straight skirt with front pleats, two side pockets, back darts, waistband with hook-and-eye closure, half lining, and hand-picked back zipper.









I'm excited about the class and hope you are too as I plan to share what I've learned.   I do make tailored garments so I think improving my tailoring skills is a good investment, don't you?

Now I just need to master those tailor tacks....

Have a great day, everybody!

35 comments:

  1. Tailor's tacks are an extremely useful technique to know! I use them mostly when I have a fabric that is difficult to mark on (such as lace) or might show any other method (such as chiffon). You can do the tacks through the pattern paper, leave long loops to be clipped first and ease the paper off. Then clip and separate as normal.

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  2. I learned using tailoring tacks when I started to sew at age 6. We didn't have pencils to mark with. Tailoring chalks didn't work well for many things.

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  3. I have never used tailor's tacks, but would be very interested if you would do a post about them. The first winner of the Great British Sewing Bee used them a lot.

    Are you using a particular type of thread for the tailor's tacks?

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    Replies
    1. Generally, cotton (at least with wool garments).

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    2. Thanks, Peter! I have seen a cotton basting thread on the Wawak site and wondered if that might work.

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  4. I just learned about tailors tacks too. They were so helpful when I made my coat last year.

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  5. I can't get with the tailor's tacks though I can see their value when working with seriously precious fabric. Thing is, I don't work with seriously precious fabric. So chalk's alright for me. Having said that, I love learning old school methods. I'd make a great apprentice!

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  6. Hey, that’s my skirt! No wonder I couldn’t find it in my closet. My mother used tailor's tacks. She didn’t like to mark up the fabric – especially if it wasn’t washable. I haven’t had much opportunity for them, because I use washable fabrics. And I’m lazy. And not very skilled.

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  7. You'll master the tailor's tacks alright - you're a natural.

    I feel a photo shoot involving Cathy coming on. Or, better yet, your mum?

    Spud.

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  8. I'm astonished--you've gotten this far and not made tailors' tacks! I will avidly follow your tailored skirt progress and hope you continue to jackets.

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  9. I have taken pattern making courses at FIT and feel like you do about them. The courses teach pattern making techniques for the ready to wear factories which does not apply to custom work. I don't regret taking the classes though because I feel it provided a certain amount of finesse and understanding for me when I work with patterns. I took the Tailoring courses and remember that skirt! I liked Tailoring III and IV the best. Tailoring III you make a tailored blazer and Tailoring IV you make a tailored coat. I look forward to seeing your creations!

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    1. Tomasa, who was your professor for TL III and IV? Tommaso Proscia?
      I was a student in two of his classes and I was in awe of his old world skills.

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    2. Hi Rhode!!! My professor for both Tailoring III and IV was Prof. Benedetto Alibrandi. He too had impressive old world skills. Tailoring was in his blood. He interned many years as a boy and into his teens in tailor shops in Italy before branching out on his own. When he came to the U.S., he worked in the high end tailor shops on Park Avenue making very expensive high quality suits. I have heard good things of Prof. Tommasi Proscia as well!

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  10. I took Ladies' Tailoring I and II and they really helped me develop good working habits. I had your professor for II. :) I'm interested to hear your thoughts at the end of the semester!

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  11. Ahhh! Do you get grades on your hand stitches I used to. We handed in a A1 paper sice piece of cloth, with all the different tacks and stitches and button holes... and then they were examined very closely on bouth right and left side. It may seem idiotic but it helped a lot. The feedback helped to improve those crucial skills.

    Have fun! Ladies tailoring was so boring to me, I skipped it and started making suits as soon as possible. I have come to regret that decision many times over the years, but as you said, a lot of it is the same.

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  12. we learned tailor tacks in school, and also handsewn seams..... which I loathed at the time, but do find them useful. i am rather jealous of your learning to steam and shape with an iron..... I would love to learn that, as I have heard those wonderful stories of saville row tailors being able to shape entire garments.....best of luck

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  13. It is great to see that Tailor Tacks have not gone out of fashion...learned those back in the 60's and then crappy poly double knits rolled into town and we forgot how to even make darts. Nothing like being a classroom with a good teacher to get the creative juices flowing...best of luck with the course!

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  14. I have actually grown to like tailor's tacks better than other marking methods. It is much more accurate. The only problem I have is that I tend to 'clean up' stray threads, and I sometimes remove my tailor tacks without thinking.

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  15. I took Kenneth's moulage class and he says that with practice you can draft a moulage pretty quickly. We took measurements in pairs with him checking our numbers. I know that I had very few alterations to make to my moulage when it was sewn up. That gives you an accurate base to draft whatever you need for your clients. I do however, not find his drafting instructions for collars, sleeves etc easy to follow.

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  16. That looks very like the straight skirt that my sewing teacher had me do as my first project with her! Not the fabric, but the shape, that is. And she had me do tailor tacks and baste the darts too. I think I've used the technique only once since and then I went back to my usual method. However, I have definitely integrated her method of organizing pattern pieces along the cloth to be cut, so at least something stuck!

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  17. OK well here's my ignorance I only know the tailor tack way of doing darts, how else do you mark them?

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  18. I never learned anything about "tailor tacks" and have been sewing for years, LOL! Now I have to pull out my books and find out what I've been missing! Good luck with your class Peter!

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  19. I learnt tailors tacks when I was a child (from my mother) and always used them for darts even when I was skipping most of the time-consuming aspects of dress-making. I never found a better alternative; French chalk was less accurate, and either rubbed off too easily or stayed showing on the finished garment.

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  20. I'm surprised you've never come across mark stitches before. It's practically impossible to mark out pockets and darts accurately on double-folded cloth without them.

    In traditional tailoring people have to get used to learning that the sewing machine is only a tool that performs a mere 20-25% of the work. High-class tailoring without hand sewing doesn't exist.

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  21. Please tell me this means Cathy & Simplicity will be modelling for you! :)

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  22. I've only used tailor tacks! Learned from my mother. Peter, if you've not used them before, how do you usually mark????

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  23. Those tacks look like they were sewn with kitchen string and are really loopy. And therefore much easier to see than the ones I was taught to make.
    My mom taught me to use them, and I still make them; I seem to work with a lot of black fabrics and nothing else will do the job (except for cheating them with pins).
    Sorry bout the mens tailoring class lack, but you will get most of the good stuff with the ladies wear. And as ever, truly appreciate the sharing.

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  24. I had to learn tailor tacking. I try to avoid it because its so labor intensive, but sometimes its the only thing that will do.

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  25. Please do share on those tailor tacks. I am familiar with the making of the tacks, but once the item is sewn, I find that the tacks are sometimes stubbornly sewn into the dart or other seam and are a mess to try to get out. Is there a method to avoid that?

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    1. The tacks are really easy to remove when Japanese basting thread is used (available in white, yellow, blue, and pink). That thread is so soft and lightly spun, it breaks apart easily when pulled. I've also had luck with vintage Corticelli Silk thread (which is sometimes available on ebay - no longer manufactured)for an entirely different reason. It's slippery, so on some fabrics it's great b/c it slides out with ease.

      If you slide the basting thread just as you reach it, it will slip out. My mother never made a loop of thread to tailor tack, so it's easily removed and key points are reached with darts.

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  26. There are videos on You Tube from the 40's showing this technique and she used it through the actual pattern.

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  27. Strange fact: Kenneth King presents his pattern drafting technique as the "Moulage" technique, when in french, "Moulage" actually means "Draping" (as in draping a garment directly onto a form), as opposed to flat constructions, or "constructions à plat", which is the actual method he uses. His terminology is incorrect, maybe he figured a more french-sounding word would make it sound more "sophisticated".
    What Mr. King calls a "Moulage" is actually simply called a "Block" ("Bloc" in french) or "Sloper".

    Now a fun fact: He uses the technique developed by Alexis Lavigne, founder of the eponymous school now called ESMOD Paris, which I attended. It is the oldest fashion school in the world! Alexis Lavigne also invented the measuring tape, and the couture form (also called "Stockman" here in Paris, after the name of the company that produces most of the dummies), which is hard to believe since sewing has been around for so long! When he was a tailor, his clients were forced to come for fittings and stand for hours on, and he realised all of this could be avoided if he made a replica of his client's figure to work on. The dummy was born!

    If you like this technique, you can learn about it all with the books from ESMOD Editions, for Menswear, Womenswear, Childrenswear, Lingerie... The books are in French and English, very complete, and used by all the students of the school. (Not trying to give them free publicity, I just thought you might be interested in those books since you seem to enjoy this technique!)

    I've been reading your blog for quite a while and really appreciate it, thanks for putting the time to document your sewing adventures, and good luck with your class!

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  28. Hello Peter

    I hope you are well. I recently came across your blogsite and am now an avid viewer and reader.

    I found it strange you writing that you have no experience of tailors tacks because that is the only method of marking fabric I do, even though I know about others (marking pens &c.). I too work from vintage patterns and that is the only method that is stated on the pattern instructions. So how do you mark your fabrics when using vintage patterns? Just out of curiosity. However, I'm clumsy with mine and for some reason I keep pulling them out, so I have to tie a knot in mine so that it stays in place, even if I use a long tail.

    Your blogsite is great and I love your vintage clothes.

    I hope all is well.

    With thanks.

    Cee Jay/Leigh on Sea, Essex, England, Britain.

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