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kotmj

The suiting thread

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I have been working at such a pace these few months. Wow. Every time I think the kitchen couldn't possibly get any hotter, it gets hotter.

 

I want to tell you guys about a new acquaintance of mine, Ah Kim. He came into my sphere a few weeks ago when the proprietor of a tailoring workshop told me he is bringing on a partner to turn around the workshop. See, he is losing money every month since he set it up half a year ago. I think he's just too impatient. You don't "turn around" a startup. A startup will lose money. Eventually, it breaks even. It might take two years to break even. But the proprietor hates losing money and decided he needed an injection of new talent to reach profitability quicker. Ah, capitalists.

 

The new talent is Ah Kim. I was struck by his cheerfulness, his sensitivity and his perceptiveness. Almost completely without any sense of self importance, he talks to each person as equals, i.e. he talks the same way to a customer like myself and to a subordinate, and to his business partner (the capitalist). He cuts everything: jackets, shirts, trousers, etc.

 

Ah Kim changed nearly every policy by previous management. Saturdays are full workdays now, as opposed to half-days under previous management. When I arrived at the workshop at 6:15pm today, I realised everybody was still working including the two Malay administrative ladies. I then asked Ah Kim what time he goes home. "Around 10pm," he replied. The previous manager called it a day at 8pm.

 

Yesterday when I was there, two guys were carting in a new sewing machine. "Can you believe it," he said to me, "a manual sewing machine." One of his employees told him he didn't like sewing on computerised sewing machines and preferred a manual one. So Ah Kim bought him a manual machine. "I don't want people to leave because of a sewing machine," he told me. The previous manager would never have empathised with such a request.

 

Ah Kim is also skinny and nimble footed despite his age (late fourties?). Not the slightest trace of central obesity. He moves quick and light and is a bit "twitchy" like myself. When he drafts a pattern, he is ferociously fast. Today, I saw him switch his phone to speaker mode so he could continue drafting while having a phone conversation. That's how industry veterans do it.

 

This guy is quite impressive and I have already learnt a few things from him.

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It must have been three or more years ago that I last sewn a buttonhole. I find myself in the curious position of having to coach coatmakers on how to improve their buttonholes. To do that, I need to understand the key success factor. So, I took a scrap piece of cloth and practiced the buttonhole stitch.

 

The key success factor to good buttonholes is just this: You must be precise in where you poke the needle through. It's that simple. The exact position where the point of the needle comes out through the cloth determines the success of the buttonhole.

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Just came off a phone call where I said no to someone who wants a tux by early Nov. Normally I would have said yes, but I have to limit the volume of orders now.

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Commissions are probably based on two primary seasons.

 

Wedding season and Annual Dinner season

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A Liverano doesn't just not have front darts, it also has no side body. Which is why fat people look even bulkier, and skinny people look like they're swimming in it.

 

Joking. I made two in this style so far:

 

0bfdaeb5-3079-4b70-9c15-572710c04090.jpg

 

6cac2093-885e-4e24-ae07-18c6b0c1c160.jpg

 

I charge RM1k extra to omit one dart, and another RM1k to omit one side body. So rm4k extra for a Grade A homage. Still only a fraction of the price of the original.

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After I am done with my Caffe Bene coffee, I'm going over to Coatmaker E's apartment to pick up the first jacket he's making for me. I saw it last night, but it needed some subtle changes, which I communicated to him. This is the first time I'm mentioning Coatmaker E on this forum. I've known him for 6 months, but only now do we get to cooperate personally.

 

One of the "subtle" change is the inclusion of a boutonniere Milanese. We made one last night on scrap cloth. I hope the one on the jacket turns out ok.

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A Liverano doesn't just not have front darts, it also has no side body. Which is why fat people look even bulkier, and skinny people look like they're swimming in it.

 

Joking. I made two in this style so far:

 

0bfdaeb5-3079-4b70-9c15-572710c04090.jpg

 

6cac2093-885e-4e24-ae07-18c6b0c1c160.jpg

 

I charge RM1k extra to omit one dart, and another RM1k to omit one side body. So rm4k extra for a Grade A homage. Still only a fraction of the price of the original.

 

Nice. Did you just reverse engineer an existing garment, or is there another learning process to go through to get this done?

 

BTW, there is a brand premium with Liverano. Not sure it is worth that much to me given the alternatives available in Florence. Plus plane tickets and accommodation are not overly prohibitive these days. The only constraining factor is time. ATM, I cannot afford to burn 6 weeks in Florence. I bet I would be utterly sicked of bistecca and lampredotto at the end of the stint.

 

Nice to see you and your business progressing well. Best wishes.

 

ps pardon the ignorance, what exactly is a side body?

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IMG_20170915_120606.jpg?raw=1

 

Diagram A is how 99.9% of jackets are cut today. Diagram B is how almost all Savile Row jackets were cut in the (glorious) past, but which today is receding. Notice the side body is not separate from the front. Diagram C is how Liverano does it.

 

No reverse engineering. I saw pictures and figured it out.

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^^^ Thank you. I get to learn something new again today.

 

Last stupid question, so it is technically possible to just cut one whole piece without a backseam? Advisable or dumb idea? Assume no pattern matching required, just plain cloth.

 

Also, I just checked some of my Borrelli's and they are cut as in B. Now you have got me curious, I am gonna check all my other suits too.

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IMG_9318.jpg?raw=1

 

Coatmaker B has weak buttonholes, but those on this tux were simply unacceptable. I think it's due to black thread on black cloth and 70+ year old eyes. So, I sewed mine over his. Top of the lapel hole is a monstrosity by Coatmaker B; bottom is mine.

 

IMG_9335.jpg?raw=1

 

Here it is all done.

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^^^ Thank you. I get to learn something new again today.

 

Last stupid question, so it is technically possible to just cut one whole piece without a backseam? Advisable or dumb idea? Assume no pattern matching required, just plain cloth.

 

Also, I just checked some of my Borrelli's and they are cut as in B. Now you have got me curious, I am gonna check all my other suits too.

The center back seam does some work--- work which isn't done when the seam is omitted. However, I think the cb seam is the least important when compared to not having a separate side body or front darts.

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Just fired a potential customer. He's part of a group of customers having a large volume of garments made for a wedding. There is only 1.5 months to go before I need to deliver, but this guy did not show up for an appointment this morning. I told him to use a different tailor.

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DSC04953.jpg?raw=1

 

Kilgour MTM dinner suit brought in for alterations. About 10 oz. 60% mohair. It's very impressive. Very wasp waisted, though it's accentuated here because I pinned up the back.

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DSC05002.jpg?raw=1

 

Sultan in H&S Crispaire. I was told that the customer is originally from Jinjang. He has done very well for someone from Jinjang, being quite senior at Google now. The shirt is also his; Soktas cotton-linen.

 

Sony A6300 + Carl Zeiss Distagon 2/35.

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IMG_9378.jpg?raw=1

 

Maybe there is a difference between Jinjang Utara and Jinjang Selatan. This birdseye jacket, too, belongs to him.

 

Canon EOS M + Canon EF-S 2.8/60 Macro

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