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Oct 20, 2016

Tailoring Progress, Slow and Steady

I haven't discussed my Ladies Tailoring class much lately because we had a three week break and my focus shifted.

Class resumed last Tuesday, however, and I'm trying to catch up as I fell a little behind.  We've already learned how to create our two front pockets (double welt with flap) and single breast pocket and this week attached our hair canvas and applied twill tape to the canvas edges and lapel roll line.

You may recall that I already made sample pockets using my fashion fabric, a beautiful Italian Loro Piana wool houndstooth originally purchased for Michael at Metro Textiles in 2010.  He no longer likes the color, which is why I'm using the fabric for class.

Yesterday I finally cut my pattern pieces.  I went to FIT to do this.  I am extremely fortunate to have access to their huge classroom tables, as well as their professional irons and industrial sewing machines.  This is a huge perk students enjoy.

As we were instructed to do by our professor, I laid my pattern pieces atop the fabric (on grain of course), outlined them in chalk, and cut through the double layer with shears.   This is not my usual method, which is to cut at home on my living room floor with a rotary cutter and a self-healing mat.  But this new method is not as onerous as I'd feared and I got the job done in less than two hours.  I didn't have pattern weights with me so I just used whatever I had (including plain old pins).

After cutting, I snipped my (chalked) notches roughly 1/4" into the seam allowance (our seam allowances are 1/2" with a few exceptions).

Next, I sewed my tailor's tacks where needed (primarily the hem and cuffs and dart points) and then began basting.  Tailor's tacks allow you to transfer markings accurately onto both sides of your garment (i.e., front left and front right).  All seams are basted before stitching and, with wool like mine, it makes stitching by machine much easier.

Below is my professor's sample.  You can see where he marked the edges of the front pockets with tailor's tacks and connected the two points with white chalk.

Speaking of chalk, all seam lines are marked in chalk before basting -- or should be.

Below, my professor prepares to press open the jacket front dart atop a tailoring ham.

Before next Tuesday I will complete my pockets and start preparing my hair canvas.  Lots of pad stitching to tackle in the next few days!

Meanwhile, there's more bad news on the NYC sewing store front: Fashion Design Books, an art supply and sewing supply store serving the FIT community (it's located right on 27th St.) is shutting their doors after decades.  Apparently they lost their lease to -- get this -- FIT, who will be converting the space into a Student Welcome Center or some such thing.

I'd often head over to Fashion Design Books (an independently owned store) when I needed something pronto like a zipper, buttons, or pattern paper.  I'm very sorry to see them go.  The only bookstore/sewing supply store serving FIT students will be the depressing basement-level Barnes & Noble directly across the street.

Everything at Fashion Design Books is currently 50% off.  Not sure exactly how many more days they'll stay open but inventory already looks low as the students are cleaning them out.

And that's it.  I'll keep you posted on my tailoring progress.  As you know, I also hope to make a men's jacket alongside my women's jacket, but I haven't decided on a pattern yet, though I will soon.
Have a great day, everybody!

Coming soon: Peter's Mustache -- YEA or NAY?


  1. I'm attending a tailoring course at the moment, also focusing on a ladies jacket from a standard block. Midterm next week but then we'll be making a jacket for ourselves - the standard does fit one student beautifully but the rest of us need modifications. I enjoy reading these posts.

  2. Too bad Fashion Design Books is closing. While I never much appreciated their inventory, I will say that they have fantastic ART SUPPLIES! 50% off is a good reason to go!

  3. Oh No! That is so sad to hear that Fashion Design Books is closing! I work on 25th street and regularly run in to pick up thread or interfacing. I thought I looked sparse over the summer, but I asked and they said they just hadn't stocked for the school year yet.

    I also saw your Instagram that Parsons finally closed. That was my favorite shop. I had been worried when every time I walked in they seemed to be having a sale, but nothing was said when I was there in September. I have some shopping to do today, so I will be heading to Mood. Mood is great, but many times I just want a smaller shop experience.

  4. A very inspiration link:

    Jake (who knits, but does not sew...)

  5. I can see why FIT would want to eat the supply store IF they were going into the same business, but it strikes me as very self-defeating. Do the newer students not sew? Is it all 'digital fashion design' now?
    (yes, I had the same feelings when the library school at the University of Washington turned into the "Information School", for the same reasons. Books are dead. It's all in the cloud now.).

    I feel very very old now. Move over, Grandpa. I want room on the crying stump.

  6. I assume that all of the basting that you refer to is done by hand and not by machine?


  7. Tailoring porn - love it.

    A question: are you instructed to pretreat your fabric for shrinkage? I have bad memories of labouring over a wool dress only to have it shrink to dolly size after the first dry-cleaning. Another lesson learned the hard way ...


  8. So sad that Fashion Design Books is shuting down. Where are NYers going to get their fix for fashion industry books - not the coffee table variety but the professional type. Is East Coast going to lose to the West Coast I this realm (assuming LA's The Fashion Bookstore isn't suffering the same fate)?

  9. Is there any plan or movement among sewing and fabric related stores to move to a more affordable neighborhood? Surely some of them, if they are selling enough and paying reasonable rent, could continue in business. How awful to think of any city having nothing but J****!

    1. Not that I know of. The Garment District is like a delicate ecosystem. It evolved over a long period for specific reasons and cannot simply be transferred to another site and expected to thrive. If too many challenges come from too many different directions -- loss of manufacturing, decline of home sewing, rising rents and real estate development pressures -- the whole thing begins to collapse. There will be something left for sure, but it's hard to predict what this area will look like in a few decades (or less).

  10. Loving watching your tailoring progress , lovely wool , is such a shame to lose sewing shops where ever they maybe

  11. Great tips there, nice choice of fabrics. Thanks for sharing!


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