Jump to content
kotmj

The suiting thread

Recommended Posts

The traditional linseed oil finish is not actually oily. They boil the oil before it is used; some also put drying agents into it. After application, the oil oxidizes and hardens, becoming a solid rather than remaining a liquid. It's this fitness for purpose that makes it so well known and well spoken of. If your finish isn't very satisfying, it's not the right finish.

Nowadays, nobody uses boiled linseed oil anymore. Even if called oil finish or wax finish, most finishes are primarily synthetic, with various substances added to modify its behaviour and appearance to sort of mimic traditional finishes.

I was told the hard wax finish on my table is from Germany and used for wood floorings. Knowing German industry, these sort of German stuff is neither traditional nor natural. It's an industrial product for industrial applications. They have subjected the finish to burn tests to make sure it doesn't increase the flammability of wood, they have subjected it to abrasion tests and compared it to similar competing and alternative products, etc. It needs to be submitted for environmental and human safety tests to receive a rating, etc. It's a very technical product. It's not just carnauba+solvent. If fact, there may be zero wax content in it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/14/2019 at 3:13 PM, kotmj said:

DSC00786.jpg?raw=1

Suit in Huberross Nevada for a very skinny customer. It's all air inside the jacket. Also a very dropped right shoulder.

Wonderful drape in the jacket! His hands look pretty long too, the sleeves are almost at the same level as the front, but this is not a short jacket.

From this photo, the trousers look like they could be even fuller to give him more balance. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I've been dredging through jobstreet trying to familiarise myself with the hiring landscape. How does hiring actually work? Like with any field of human endeavour, there are many approaches possible. The idea is to have such a wide and deep view of the human resource situation that JT eventually finds the best hiring approach.

I see that generally, people who have "tailor" as their job title tend to be paid very poorly, very much in-line with salaries in retail, which always shock me with how low they are. The only industry that pays even less is the hospitality industry/hotels. I once sat with the pastry chef of the Mandarin Oriental KL, and he tells me that a fresh grad diploma holder in cooking makes RM1.5k at Mandarin Oriental. Of 10 hires, he tells me, they keep one. The other 9 are useless at any price.

But back to clothing retail. I see, for instance, that one of the suiting players The Old Fashion House in PJ (SS2?), has a front-of-shop guy---fashion advisors they are called---making RM3K. He was previously with TM Lewin. He left secondary school in 2010 and has been working since. And then I was told that a workshop supervisor with one of the chain OTR/MTM companies which has an outlet in nearly every mall makes under RM5k/month after including allowances and revenue-sharing. This is a guy who has decades of experience in hardcore tailoring (but who unfortunately is relatively limited as a person).

These levels of pay contrasts strongly against the income of the proprietors of these businesses. Many became millionaires through the business.

The question I have, then, is: Is the low income of their staff due to the low productivity of the employee, the low bargaining power they have, or is this just an arbitrary management policy?

Is it possible to run the business such that the employees are very high productivity, and on top of that management has the policy of creating primarily high paying positions. Such a clothing business does not exist because either those who tried failed in the marketplace, or because nobody bothered to try.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMG_20190803_184101.jpg?raw=1

The cabinetmaker, throughout the period of making this top, would send me many pictures of his past projects. He loves talking about his work. I found the pictures odd as they appeared to me gratuitously bad. 

I sent him these pictures I took today with my phone and they amazed him. He had never seen his work look so good in pictures. 

IMG_20190803_183829.jpg?raw=1

IMG_20190803_180942.jpg?raw=1

Both tables you see are white oak. Yet somehow the lacquer finish of the Muji table obscures the grain, while the German hard wax finish on the cabinetmaker's really brings it out. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If any of you need custom solid wood cabinetry done, you can try him: +60 18-322 9807. He is very enthusiastic with WhatsApp and communication in general, unlike me. He is based in Klang. 

He has a stock of imported woods like oak, ash, walnut and acacia. Local woods like balau and nyatoh too of course, but I get this feeling he prefers using the imported ones. He also makes big stuff like gazebos and front gates in solid wood. He also likes doing nail-free construction, which requires more sophisticated joinery. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I couldn't find a cheaper alternative to the Muji. It was the only table I liked. I could have gone custom, but the price would be even higher and I would have to wait months, like with anything custom. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The cabinetmaker, as he sat at the Muji table after delivering the oak top, said he could refinish the Muji for me if I wanted to. I dismissed that then, but now think it's great idea. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So the Muji has the most widespread sort of wood finish on it called a lacquer finish. I think 90% of wood furniture has this finish. It's sprayed on and is very foolproof to apply. It lasts a long time. 

But it forms a layer on top of the wood. Because it doesn't really penetrate the wood, it doesn't have the wetting effect which really brings out the grain of the wood. Second, it has a slightly sticky/tacky feel, i. e. like it has a high coefficient of friction. It's also warm to the touch, which means the lacquer doesn't conduct heat well. The hard wax finish is very smooth and cold to the touch. Think of a PTFE coated stainless steel surface.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Out on the balcony is currently my attempt at creating what Christopher Alexander calls filtered light. 

http://www.iwritewordsgood.com/apl/patterns/apl238.htm

The little pots of plants you see on the balcony are what I think is Japanese arrow bamboo. I needed something which would grow real tall quite quickly. The idea is to create approx. a 50% shade through the leaves of the plants. I had a choice of 3 types of bamboo plants while at the nursery. This particular variety grows vertically unlike the other two which fans out as it grows. I bought 10 pots. 

I need them to grow to 9 ft to function well as shade. Currently they are 4 ft. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMG_20190807_160623.jpg?raw=1

RM11. 2k worth of clothes in that box headed to a customer in New York. I wonder what happens if the box goes missing. Must I remake the clothes?

Dispatch boy down with food poisoning today so I had to do this myself. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think I can buy a suit from Mr Anderson. He is very high tact/clock rate. He's the sort who's accustomed to dealing with many things very quickly. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Today, at lunch, the phone rang. A competitor was at the other end---a tailor like myself. I've never talked to him before, but know of his existence. 

"Do you know Ah C.? I use him for my fully canvassed jackets, whenever I have any. He's wondering if you have work for him. Why don't you call him?" 

It was many hours later before I finally recall who Ah C. is. I heard from a young coatmaker that he's the most respected coatmaker in KL. I asked him how one goes about evaluating such a thing. He said lots of people in the industry regard him as such. I had my doubts.

"My boss used him for a couple jackets. He was amazed by the quality," said the young coatmaker. "But he's just too slow." He urged me to contact Ah C. I never did. 

Well, now, years later, Ah C. contacts me. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Minutes ago, I just DM'ed a 21-year old guy the following :

"If you ever thought of becoming a bespoke tailor..." 

Yep, that's it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It turns out he's 22. He's coming by soon for an interview. 

He's a class valedictorian who has a penchant for participating in competitions, probably because he sometimes wins. He won rm10k from an Air Asia competition. But even at 10 years of age, he won third place in a Toyota painting competition. 

He posted a picture of a serger on instastory, saying how that's his new toy. 

It's actually quite difficult to find someone whom I can imagine might be able to replace me. This is the closest I've come. He is English-speaking and appears quite literate. Most graduates are not really English speaking and only semi-literate, having the vocabulary of 13-year olds, regardless of language. 90% of our customers are English speaking and fully literate, so it is important the cutter, who is customer-facing, shares these characteristics. 

He also seems like the sort who can deal with humans relatively successfully, another trait not easily found. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just saw Carrie Lam's latest press conference. I finally understood why the situation in HK. Why the persistent unrest.

She's a charisma-less bureaucrat. Instead of a leader of the people by the people, she's an administrator installed by Beijing---who moreover evades direct questions in a public forum. She is completely out of her depth. 

Beijing is now already looking hard for her replacement. Her successor will be more popular with the people. Someone who sides with the people of HK without alienating Beijing. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I called Ah C. His voice sounded like someone I could work with. He's currently living in a small town away from KL. Resting, he said. 

I told him the deal: He gets paid such and such per jacket, and he must work in the shop. He balked at working in the shop. Can't I work from home? he asked.

I said he must at least work three or four months in the shop before he gets to work from home. This is so he understands our way of doing things. He really disliked the idea. I said this is a non-negotiable requirement.

Well, he said, what if I drop by and you explain to me your requirements. I'll understand with a single look, he said. No need to spend months in the shop, he said.

Obviously, he will understand nothing with a look. These are the dumbest class of people I've met in my life. I need them in the shop to learn the meaning of personal standards, which none of them have any. I need them to learn the meaning of specification conformity. I need them to see, with their own eyes because they will not believe it otherwise, the thoroughness with which the garments are fitted and the consequence with which we edit the patterns. There is no room for them to interpret anything, especially since they are retarded. Their job is to follow exactly what we patternmakers have specified. Something they almost never can do. If they can't follow, they have to seek an explanation from us instead of doing their own thing.

He also needs to be here for me to dispel the many superstitions he has. He thinks he knows tailoring? Working here will show him an entirely new world.

He really wasn't keen on working in the shop. I said that's the deal. Call me if you want it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

New-Star-36411-Commercial-Grade-Aluminum

I just bought four of the above from Lazada. They're steak presses. 8"X4". Perfect as cloth weights on the cutting table. As far as I know, I'm the first to use steak presses as cloth weights. Let it therefore be hereby documented. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMG_20190815_185746.jpg?raw=1

I can't remember the last time I chalked and cut cloth for trousers. Must have been ages. I even sewed the baste myself, which took an hour. 

Previously, it wasn't possible for me to take a picture like this because the cutting table was too small. This new cutting table gives a complete view of the lay. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×