[EDIT: I found the original title: “Quotes from the master: A good tailor has any cutter in his pocket” a little bit too heavy, so I changed it. Small edits in the text below as well.]
Ok, I hope the title of this post causes some curiosity. As I’ve said before, my teacher mr Dahoe, used to speak at great length about all kinds of clothing-related topics. His favourite expression was always: People underestimate this work. And it’s true: in a general sense, people have no idea what it takes to make a jacket, or a shirt, or a pair of trousers.
First, you take measurements on a person. This is a three-dimensional, living and moving body. The measurements are a very rudimentary distillation of some of the aspects of this person.
Then, you draft a pattern based on those measurements. That very pattern is a two-dimensional thing, it’s just lines and curves on a piece of paper. The tricky bit is doing it in such a way, that once all the seams are closed, this becomes a well-fitting, three dimensional garment that is adapted to the client. So essentially, you translate three dimensions into two, and then translate that, back into three dimensions. The first half of the process is mostly the part of the cutter, the second, putting it together, is then the tailor’s job.
One of the things mr Dahoe used to say was: “A good tailor has any cutter in his pocket.” What he meant by that, was that a tailor, when making up the cut fabric, needs to apply many tricks and knacks. He may be less experienced than the cutter who supplied him with the cut cloth, but no matter how good the cutter is, in the end it is the tailor who applies the art when it comes to making. He is the one who actually needs to assess how much the cloth needs to be eased in, or stretched. He may decide to alter the line of a seam ever so slightly, based on his judgement. With his iron he actually makes the cut into a garment, and in many ways therefore, has the final say. And if he’s wrong, he can very easily mess up or destroy a wonderful cut. Obviously he can’t go and change the cut or the design, because these were created by the cutter, according to the clients’ wishes.
This is the fun part for me. Since I’m a cut&make tailor, I do everything myself, from cutting through fitting to stitching and pressing. It would be great to have a few tailors working for me and turn out 200 suits a year, but that’s not reality.
I guess I can say I have myself in my pocket. Makes me feel a trifle schizofrenic at times. But seriously, I often find that when making up a garment, I will want to change what I had previously designed, so mr. Dahoe’s axiom does hold true.