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#20760 Learning to Tailor by Self Tuition- (Beginners Please Read)

Posted by J. Maclochlainn on 23 March 2011 - 08:31 PM

Please read this all the way through. It is over 2600 words long and did this for your benefit so start your journey in tailoring the right way by taking in this treatise. Thank you.

Beginners, Home-sewers and those passionate about tailoring.

I wish to welcome you to the Cutter and Tailor Forum and glad you have found this little vault of tailoring knowledge on the web. I am not an official spokesman for this forum, just a passionate contributor and thought this will help cover the absolute basics to help one get started, this will help keep the posts down asking the same questions over and over again while giving a central depot to all the beginning information to be referred to.

As alluded to above, over the past few months or so, there has been certain reoccurring themes in the threads started by those new to tailoring that has prompted me to write this guide. In this guide I will give the beginner a step by step focused look into how to get the most out of this forum. From where to start to beginning your first garment. But first, lets take a moment to look at some basic information that will make this forum more enjoyable for all and give the beginner some back ground.

What this Forum is:

The forum was started in March of 2009 by Sator, a passionate enthusiast of tailoring, to give the trade a place to “talk shop”, to educate, and to learn from experienced tailors throughout the world. As the trade has declined over the years, the trade journals and sense of community has started to be lost as well. This forum is a step forward for a new and progressive community of, for, and by tailors. As such, the majority of the topics on this forum are advanced in nature and well beyond the skill set of the beginner. So with this in mind, new sections have been added as the forum grows for those just starting in the trade. The "The Apprentice Cutter and Tailor" <click> section was set up to allow those new to tailoring to be educated by either the pinned posts or by posing your question to other forum members. Remember, the only stupid question is the question not asked. When posting a question, be patient and humble with the replies, no one is getting paid to help you. I will tell you now, being demanding, a know-it-all, or telling the tailors how to teach WILL NOT gain you any favours and the gift cow will dry up as quickly as it produced!

What the Forum is not:

While the purpose of the forum is to educate, be it for beginner or advanced practitioners of the trade, this is not your own personal tutorial site. In the past people have even made demands of the contributors. This is rude and frowned upon. Please realise many of the contributors to the forum are busy and make a living out of tailoring, their advice is given with the best intentions and from their own time. While the contributors are more than willing to answer your questions and help, remember that you can only be helped as far as you are willing to help yourself. With this said, please let me guide you in how to help yourself.

First off, this is NOT a historical or costuming forum for home sewers, if you ARE a professional costumer please read this thread. If you come here to learn how to make a Victorian Frock coat by the weekend, FORGET IT! You will be shown the door as this is NOT the scope of this forum and there are many costume forums available for this sort of thing. Some may think I am hypocritical in my view of this as I, myself, am considered an expert in the field (toots horn) and openly write on and make historical garments. To answer this, I respect this forum and its rules. I respect the members of this forum and their expertise and thus follow the guidelines probably more than most here. While I do make historical garments, I am, first and foremost a tailor. Lastly, on this subject, DO NOT message me if you think Sator or any of the mods are being unfair to you or your aspirations to learn historical tailoring, I will always side with the ToS(h)* of this forum. Thou hast been warned.

Beginning your journey:

As the forum has been up for well over a year now, and through the prolific and tireless scanning by Sator and others, it should be some time before you actually have to ask your first question. In each section there is more than enough to keep one busy until you hit a snag and need to ask for help or advice, typically around the first fitting. We do understand that a little help is needed to discern what is important to where you are and where to need to be, so the following will give you a rough guide in how you should focus your efforts. Again, there is more than enough information to get you started in tailoring, please be aware though that no book, article or on-line tuition will ever be a replacement to an apprenticeship or personal mentoring in person by a practising or retired tailor. There are a few here that learned from retired tailors and have built up a good living. Others here have had proper traditional apprenticeships. Never-the-less they will all tell you, no matter how broad and exhaustive this forum becomes, this forum will never replace experience, wisdom and knowledge that you can only find with a tailor. Seek out a tailor if you can!

Some steps to make your learning experience better:

1.First thing you will need to do is leave any desires of grandeur, big dreams, ego and enthusiasm at the door. While these are important, they will only hurt you in the beginning.

2.Be humble and respectful not only to the art of tailoring but to the contributors as well. They have years of experience and are willing to share, so in return take in, evaluate and apply their advice if applicable.

3.Remember tailoring has a thousand years of oral traditions passed from master to apprentice, it has only been resent, in the long history of tailoring, that these “secrets” have been put to paper. As the trade is no longer a large as it once was apprenticeships are few and far between and at the present moment this forum IS the best resource to learning the art of tailoring. As mentioned before though, it is NOT a replacement for learning from a tailor in person.

4.Make an effort. Take a little self initiative with the following advice and put it straight to practice. The more you show, the more willing we are to give input and advice to help you develop your skills.

5.Lastly, we will be honest with you even if you are not honest with yourself. We have passion for what we do and as such respect the art and science of the trade. With this understood, not being honest in our thoughts and actions will be disrespectful to the trade. Also bearing this in mind, some posts by contributors my come off or perceived as condescending and/or condemning in nature, this is not the case. Unlike costuming or home sewing forums where everyone is nice and give compliments over every little thing, we will not. So please do not take it to heart, as professionals we have professional standards. This is good, as you will always know we will be honest in our critiques, which will help you better yourself in the end.

The Basics:

As with any trade, there are certain foundational skills that need to be mastered before making a serious study of the trade. You can not build a house if you can not swing a hammer so to say. So here are some recommended steps to get you to the absolute basic skill set before you attempt any tailored garment.

Starting out

Your first hurdle, when starting out, is to hold and use your thimble properly. A simple enough thing you might think, it's not for most people. This in itself will test your mettle in wanting to become a tailor, or at least learn tailoring methods to improve your home-sewing projects. Your thimble should be an open top thimble, to make sure it's the right size you must place the thimble on the table, wide in up. Now place the middle finger of your sewing hand into the thimble. The tip of the finger should be able to touch the top of the table easily yet not fall off when you lift your hand. This in mind, lets find a thimble, look at this thread <click>!

Once you get a thimble that fits, you need to purchase a blister pack of multi-sized betweens.

In Continental Europe, get Prym no. 5-9 betweens. The no 5 needles (the longest) are used for basting and buttons. The no. 7 (middle) is for general sewing and seaming. The no. 9 (shortest) for felling and thick cloths.

In the UK and North America, get John James no. 3-9, The no 3 (largest) then would be used for basting.

Soon you will get a feel for the different needle sizes and can purchase them by the size as you need them.

Now that the thimble and needles are sorted, you will need a bit of good worsted cloth, preferably with a pinstripe, a cake of bees wax and a spool of 40wt mercerised cotton in a contrasting colour to the worsted. Once you have these simple tools read this thread!<click> Paying particular attention to the opening section of Liberty's work as this explains how to sit and hold the thimble and needle. If there is any doubt if you are holding the thimble and needle correctly watch this <click> about 1:37 in until about 2:00 then watch it again. Look at where the base of the needle is on the thimble and mimic the movements.

Here are some helpful hints, start with ONLY the fore stitch. This will help your muscles gain memory of the movements and holding the thimble without making any extra movements. Hold the needle so as your fingers are about a 1/4” from the point. The reasoning behind this is when you bite the needle into the fabric and break the cloth over the point you should always have a 1/4” stitch. Think of it as the amount past your fingers is the stitch length and when you grab the needle at the same point each time you, have calibrated the length of that stitch and each succeeding stitch. If you have problems keeping the thimble in that position as you are not used to it/ can't get the muscles to work that way, try this <click>.


Do this exercise until each fore-stitch is evenly spaced and straight and you have full control over the needle and thimble. Be honest with yourself, this will take a week to a month depending on how often you practice. Then move on to the back-stitch and repeat the process all over. I am not being funny, I am dead serious about this. This is a serious trade, not a hobby, and it will not be easy. If you do this right from the beginning, I guarantee by the time you make your first garment the workmanship will be much cleaner and you can take a little more pride in the finished product. Once you have a thorough understanding of the fore-stitch, back-stitch, cross-stitch, padding-stitch and prick/side-stitch you are ready to move on to

Your First Garment.

Your First Garment should either be a skirt (recommended) or a pair of trousers. I had been an advocate to start out with a commercially available pattern, but I have come to realize much work would be needed to make them suitable for tailoring that you might as well draft your own. It can be a little daunting at first but like the stitches it gets easier with practice. Once you make up a few you will start to see how the pattern truly works and be able to adjust more readily.

Each person here has their own drafting system that works for them, and if you ask them they will tell you “it's the best” so we will try and start with something simple. Mansie has been kind enough to provide a nice trouser draft in metric <opens a download of the system>.

For this you will need some craft paper, a yard/meter stick, a tailors square (fairgate) and hip curve (fairgate) along with a good pencil, I use a .07mm mechanical with H lead. After you draft your pattern, cut it out, place pieces on your toile cloth and trace the patterns with a good sharp chalk. Add inlays and add marking threads and then cut out.

Now we are ready for making up!

But now, how do we actually make this up? Simple, get a book. The most basic work on the fundamentals of the trade can be found in Roberto Cabrera's “Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Men's Wear”. It's not the best in my opinion, but it's the easiest and most widely available text on beginning tailoring. This is probably the most recommended book on the forum and is a good base to launch from. There are a few methods scanned in the apprentice forum, but they are a little more advanced or antiquated and you will be scratching your head more than if you use Cabrara's book. Make up a few trousers, perfecting your patterns and using Cabrera's methods. Once you achieve proficiency using this book, move on to Trouser Making By Archibald Whife and Phillip Dellafera . This will give a more in depth look into classic trouser making and will give you much more professional results.

As a side study whilst making your trousers have a look at Jeffery's blog:



While you may be enthusiastic and roaring to jump right into making a coat I strongly advise against this approach. The amount of work needed in order to get to the point of tailoring a coat is currently well beyond your skill set. Not trying to be mean just being honest. I know trousers are not as exciting, but a well executed trouser will give confidence and will make you stand out. People are so used to the ill fitting tubes the ready to wear markets call trousers people forget what a properly made and fitted trouser feels like and have become almost a second thought in planning ones wardrobe. Truth is, a good trouser should be the foundation of your wardrobe.
By the time you make a couple of trousers by this method you will be ready to move on to Waistcoats/ vests. Again, start with Cabrera and then move on. While not many people wear waistcoats today, they are making a comeback and will help provide applicable skills toward your goal of making a coat in a couple of years time. Yes really :D

And finally, for those who do not necessarily want to learn tailoring but just improve their skills, try DPC's site on trouser making <click>. His style of basic trouser making has the home-sewer in mind and will provide you with some ideas from this perspective. You can also find David Page Coffin's book on trouser making here! <click>

* ToS(h)- My own acronym for “Terms of Service (historical)”

#43038 A "What to do before you ask for help on the forum" guide

Posted by Schneidergott on 08 June 2015 - 12:22 AM

I took the time to put together a simple guide regarding what to do before you ask for help on the forum. It is in no way complete (if it was I could publish it as  a book and make money from it).

In case you wonder "Why?", the answer is quite simple. I frequently get frustrated when I see posts regarding more or less the same problem, mostly related to making trousers. And I'm not the only one, many professionals simply give up when they see either no progress or the OPs prefer to take the advice of another amateur.


Anyway, here it is:


For aspiring „tailors“ out there:



We’ve had quite a few threads that covered the subject of trouser making which, sadly, got blown up beyond proportion and either lead nowhere or weren't used as a reference for others.


One of the reasons for that was (and still is) the often lack of understanding how the different elements in the process of making a garment work.


Let’s start with the pattern. I have no idea why someone with often zero experience would want to draft a pattern from scratch. Chances are they’ll end up with a pattern full of flaws, because they got their measurements and/ or the formulas wrong and end up with a big mess and leave it to forum members to sort it out.


So here is my advice (for “normal” figures):


  1. Buy a commercial pattern. They are available online or in specialized shops/ stores. It doesn’t matter which company made it, just make sure it has your size on it. Online sources for decent multisize patterns are:



Amazon and other (online) shops selling BURDA, Butterick, Vogue and so on.

  1. Pick the size that is closest to yours. Go for the larger one of your measurements, meaning that if (for trousers) your waist is size 50 (EU), but your hips are size 52(EU), go for the size 52(EU). And vice versa.

          It’s easier to take a garment/ pattern in than letting it out.


  1. Choose materials that are easier to work with. Don’t copy the pattern using flimsy paper, go for stronger stuff that keeps its shape and that you don’t have to pin to the cloth. Use weights to keep the pattern in place on the cloth. No need to buy expensive stuff for that. The cheapest weights are (for example) strong freezer bags filled with sand. For durability use 2 bags for one weight and seal them tightly. If you are more the DIY type, you can use clean old yoghurt cups and fill them with a ready to use concrete mix. You have the option to paint the weights in your favourite colour. Glue some felt to the bottom to avoid damage to paper or cloth.


  1. Transfer all the marks to “your” pattern. This makes it easier to apply alterations later on.


  1. Take proper measurements, which in most cases means let someone do it for you. Preferably in front of a big mirror as to check whether the tape is actually in the right place. There are threads about taking your measurements here on the forum or just search the internet.


  1. Compare and transfer your measurements to that given in the pattern size chart and see point 2).

          Müller (Rundschau) patterns come without instructions, since they are meant for professionals. Others (like BURDA, Butterick/ Vogue have a little booklet with instructions that include pattern alterations.             There is also quite a large number of books available that cover this subject.

          Since you have a proper pattern you have lines to work with that are based on a tried and tested system. Once you get the important measures right (waist, hips and rise) you can then proceed to adjust             the secondary ones (like leg length and width).


  1. Buy cloth that allows you to work with it. Stay away from stuff that has too much synthetics in it. Go for a high wool content.


  1. Check your pattern. The seams should have the same lengths, only exception in the inside leg seam. Here the back trouser is at least 5 mm shorter than the front. This amount is added through ironwork. Make sure you have enough ease built in. For example you need a minimum of 6 cm ease in the hips for a plain front trouser and a normal figure. For pleated trousers add the amount in the pleat. This number can go up and may need redistribution according to figure features (strong hips, butt shape and so on). Whether you put the seam allowances onto the pattern pieces or you keep it net is up to you. Rundschau mentions the amount of seam allowance on the pattern (when included usually 0, 75 cm), others give a hint in their manuals. Just make sure it’s a constant amount along each seam, for example 2 cm all along the inside and outside leg. Don’t leave too big inlays at the centre front and centre back, as they will create tightness when sewn.


  1. Keep in mind that your first attempts may not be satisfying, but even professionals use fittings to get things right.


  1. If something is off, try to figure out what went wrong. If necessary, go back to the start and repeat the entire process to check for mistakes you might have made.


  1. Transfer lines and marks onto the cloth. Important ones are: centre front (fly), waist (top of trousers), crease line all the way down, knee level, hem line. These will come in handy when assessing possible fit problems (balance, tightness, and lengths).


  1. Work with precision. Use the marks as guides when putting the pieces together. Don’t worry about pockets in a mock up. First you need to get the fit right.


  1. Put a zipper into the front fly and attach the waistband. Make sure it cannot stretch. Either press the seams open or baste them down to one side. Either way, the garment should look clean without puckers and unnecessary pleats.

Have pictures taken during the fitting. Check for distortions, pulls or ripples. The direction of those will (literally) point you in the right direction.


Easiest things to check are:


Run of front crease. It should be straight from top to hem. If it isn’t there is something wrong with the leg width (the line is pulled other towards the outside leg seam or into the crotch) or the balance (line is swinging away from the centre of the foot).

Hollow areas usually appear along with tight areas.


Most common flaws are (showing up on their own or in combinations):

  1. Tightness over the hips, which will make the waist area above look full.
  2. Waist attached to the band without ease or stretched out. The waist should have at least 1 cm ease (compared to the finished waistband) on each side and needs to be fulled onto the waistband shortly before and behind the side seam. This will give room for the hip bone. If more is needed, put in a small dart half way between front crease and side seam. Just make sure it doesn’t interfere with the pocket.
  3. “Whiskers” at the front fork indicate that the fork is too tight. Often comes along with:


3a) The centre back seam pulled into the crack. Let out front fork/ inside leg seam at the top and give the seam a nice run down to the knee.

3b) Short rise and long rise (rise is the difference between outside and inside leg measures). Simply means that it’s not in the right place, either too high up or too far down.

  1. Diagonal pulls from the top of front thigh down to the back of calves. This indicates a lack of length for strong calves. Can be fixed with ironwork, if cloth allows it.
  2. Horizontal folds under the butt. They can have at least 2 causes.
  1. Wrong balance (back trousers too long above the hip)
  2. Centre back seam too angled/ long.
  3. Rise too short, fullness for the hips/ thighs doesn’t go to the right place and is blocked in the fork.

Keep in mind that a very clean trouser leg will mean that the trousers will be uncomfortable when sitting or using stairs. You will need a certain amount of fullness and length in the fork and seat for comfort. 

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#46244 scanned Patternbooks in english and german

Posted by tailor_s on 04 May 2016 - 03:26 AM

I just wanted to share my scanned pattern books...


Some of you thought  there might be an issue with the copyright...

good point :-)

for that reason I just posted a list of my books wich I'm willing to share for free.
Please pm me.






18th Century Costumes
1944 Schnittmusterzeichnungen Wäsche und Kleider
Ancient Egyptian, Assyrian and Persian Costumes
Book of Sewing
Codex de Manesse
Comedia dell arte
Das Buch der Hausschneiderei
Der moderne Zuschnitt
Die Zuschnediekunst 1927
Die Hohe Kunst der Kleidermacher
Dressing a Galaxy
Evolution of Fashion
Fachwissen Bekleidung
Geschichte des Kostüms Rosenberg
Handbuch für Zuschneidekunst
Hirsches Lehrbuch1
Hirsches Lehrbuch2
Historic Costumes in Pictures
Historic Costumes and how to make them
Historical Fashion 17th 18th
Janet Arnolds 1
Janet Arnolds 2
Janet Arnolds 3
Janet Arnolds 4
Japanese Chlothes
Kleine Kostümkunde
Kostümgeschichte und Gewandformen Tilke 1
Kostümgeschichte und Gewandformen Tilke 2
Lehrbuch über das Caree System
Medieval Costumes
Mens Garments

Müller und Sohn
Kleider und Blusen Damen
Mode nach Mass
Röcke und Hosen Damen
Trachen Damen
Trachten Herren
Atelier 2
Fachwissen Herren
Historisch Damen
Historisch Herren
Jacken und Mäntel Damen
Jacken und Mäntel Herren


Oriental Costumes Tilke
Pattern Magic 1
Pattern Magic 2
Pattern Magic 3
Patterns of Theatrical Costumes
Salzburger Trachtenmappe 1
Salzburger Trachtenmappe 2
Shirts Men's Haberdashery
The cutters practical guide
The Tudors
The Cut of Mens Clothes
The Cut of Womens Clothes
Tracht ist Mode
Uniformen Deutsche Reich
Wiener Zuschneideverein

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#49193 Fascinating resource for aspiring shirt-makers

Posted by dpcoffin on 01 April 2018 - 07:48 AM

Hoping this isn't off-topic, as it's not perhaps "tailoring". But for any readers here who'd like to watch a pro making shirts, these links should certainly not be missed, IMO—which is always that the more you know about, the better choices you can make, and that being aware of methods that very experienced experts use is always useful, even if you're wanting to go in a different direction personally (aren't we all?). Who knows what an impact even the tiniest of revelations can ultimately have on one's own work?

That said…

I've watched a lot of YT how to sew videos, but none have impressed me as much as the ones from this channel; I'd say no one who wants to learn shirtmaking (or any sort of pro/factory menswear construction and pattern-making techniques) should miss 'em:


There's SO many interesting things he does that most home/DIY sewers would never think of, nor regular consumer sewing instructional material would ever show, including mine…tho if I'd seen these shirt-making clips long ago, I certainly would have incorporated some of his methods, and will from now on. Most of what I've seen so far depends so much on long practice and supremely confident hands and visual judgement that it's almost useless to a sometimes-sewer like me, but still, just watching his hands and how he thinks (and how useful an ordinary stapler might be to add to the tool kit!) is totally fascinating!

The two videos in particular that I enjoyed were these, even though I'll never make styles like these, nor use fusibles in my own collars:



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#46260 Crookening and straightening explained

Posted by jukes on 11 May 2016 - 04:12 PM



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#48824 Please Help, PDF Books on Tailoring Anything

Posted by tombennett on 23 December 2017 - 07:48 PM

Here is the link to my Tailoring books dropbox: https://www.dropbox....OnFL5RWz3a?dl=0

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#44235 My advice for aspiring Shirtmakers: Start Reverse Engineering

Posted by R.m.Bakker on 18 September 2015 - 11:50 AM

Hey all,


First of all my credentials, for those that don't know me, I've been an accomplished bespoke shirtmaker for several years now. I specialize in making fully handmade shirts. Besides that I'm also a bespoke tailor and own a business in The Netherlands.


I just received a question from fellow forum member David Page Coffin on wether or not I knew of any shirtmaking books or literature to get people going, other than the frequently found examples on the internet.


My answer to him was, well, the only book on the topic of shirtmaking I ever read was yours, and I looked up some drafts in a book my teacher had laying around on a dusty shelf.


That's it.


I learned the entire craft from ripping apart other people's shirts, reading DPC's book, and fiddling around with patterns. Trial and error.


Especially the first thing learned me a lot. Ask relatives, friends, wether or not they have expensive, high end shirts at the end of their lifetime, and just pick them apart. Look at >every single seam<. Every placket. Every collar. Every shoulder seam. See what you like. Emulate it. Try it. Develop your own style from combining the best of all of those details. Look at collars. Pick them apart completely, make a pattern based off of it, and see how all the different collar shapes work around an actual neck. Then reverse engineer the pattern so you can use that collar and stand style you like so much in every single neck size.


Reverse Engineering. Much like the italian tailors did in adapting stuff from savile row.


Shirtmaking starter kit:


- Thimble, Shears, Pattern paper, proper drafting rulers, etc.

- DPC's Book. "Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing" http://www.amazon.co...g/dp/1561582646(seriously, get it, as it's the only book out there afaik and full with good advice and techniques)

- ingenuity. Take DPC's methods, see if you can adapt them for yourself. If you fail to use a specific method, try it "in your own way", no matter how odd that way you want to try it may seem. 

- A whole lot of expensive shirts you can pick apart (get all the expensive (italian) brands!)

- Patience. Took me 1,5(!) years of painstaking reverse engineering drafting and making absolute crap to finally make a proper shirt that actually fitted well.

- Draft, Draft, Draft. Use family as dummies. Read up on how to fit garments (I made a quite lengthy post on how far you can take fitting shirts here: http://www.rubenbakk...he-first-place/

- Trial and error

- A fair amount of stupidity, because who's going to spend this much time learning something? :p

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#42796 Shirts, Well fitted

Posted by dpcoffin on 27 May 2015 - 02:34 AM

I went looking for some useful pix and found it very difficult, compared to finding pix of shirts NOT fitting (shockingly common, even amongst fashion pix supposedly showing off a nice looking shirt...AND very instructive)...or of people looking good in shirts whether they fit or not, which obviously is a matter of taste or dispute. There's plenty of those!


For developing your own standards with help from a very discerning eye, you could hardly do better than to study this post. And, I'd say, to also keep doing your own on-going and never really ending survey of what looks good—AND bad—to your developing eye. Collecting pix will increase the usefulness of your search, as you'll actually be able to see your own standards developing over time.


I snapped a bunch of screen shots at Pinterest, but quickly found I had so many (almost all negative) that it would be quite time-consuming to put them all together with even the most minimal commentary, but I did find it fascinating to see how obviously uncritical of fit either most image posters are, or most fashion stylists are, or both. Suggesting that hardly anybody seems to really know what fit looks like in a shirt, or that the standard for shirt fit is quite low, not really surprising since almost nobody wears custom-fitted shirts, but almost everybody wears some sort of shirt, and hardly anybody, not even models, has a perfectly "normal" shape. Also of course, whatever style is current is a highly moving target, except that no shirt EVER seems to be tight enough for slim young guys, in any era!


And finally, in that same vein, the main thing the average image-posting person seems to be imaging that male shirt fit is all about is not actually a fitting garment, but a "fit" body inside it, being shown off, often by how much it's straining and distorting the helpless garment because it's such an extreme and shapely form.


The big question I came away with was: What's the difference between bad fit and simply too tight in an era when too tight IS the current fashion? My own opinionated answers were simply: 1) No matter how tight, the yoke, shoulders and upper body, at least in front, should be as perfectly smooth as possible, with no drag or sag lines going in any direction around the neck, or between the shoulder ends and the neckline and center front. VERY rare! 2), and even more rare, there should be no diagonal drag lines across the side seams; almost every slim male body seems to suffer from this, esp. from lines going from up in back to down towards the front. And finally, and rarest of all, 3) the cuffs, when buttoned, should be right at the wrists, not falling over the heels of the hands or exposing wrist bones, while allowing for some drape in the sleeve. 


I'll post my images sooner or later, because I think your question's an excellent one, and that here's a perfect place for a gallery of opinions on this topic, and presumably a few fitting "facts", too. but right now's a VERY busy time, sorry!

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#41293 Tailoring Tales.

Posted by MANSIE WAUCH on 13 March 2015 - 07:34 AM

I had occasion to go to Liverpool town centre yesterday.  While I was there I called to see an old tailoring friend of mine who still has a workshop in the town centre. We both served our apprenticeship in the same workshop years ago (55 to be exact. He is due to retire soon.) We got talking over old times, and some of the characters from those days. One story came to mind and we both laughed at the situation that transpired.
A certain trimmings merchant who used to call into the workshop, was well known for his persistence in selling you a bargain, and would pull the wool over your eyes to clinch a sale. One day he called in and tried to sell the boss a very 'exclusive sleeve lining' this lining was not the usual striped lining that most tailors used, but was a very nice plain white satin. The boss admitted, “it was not bad at all, but not what we usually put into our coats” “I can do it for a very good price, if you are interested”, insisted the merchant.
After some lengthy haggling and finely settling on a price, the deal was made. The boss became the owner of several bolts of white sleeve lining, (more than he really needed at the time, but it was a good price he always insisted afterwards.) A few weeks later, another cloth merchant called in with some nice fabrics for sale. During conversation with the boss, the merchant mentioned to the boss.

“ Did you hear about, H**** so and so, trying to sell a load of  'coffin lining' the other week!!!


Another old, well known trouser maker, would pawn or sell customers trousers if he was short of money, to pay his rent or staff wages.   When trousers were finished, it was customary to sew the order docket opposite the back pocket with some basting cotton for identification. You knew when the trousers had been stained, scorched or nicked by a careless snip. He would sew the docket over the damage and plead ignorance. There were times when the trousers would be returned with the docket sewn somewhere in the knee region!! 


Yet another character, would pay off his debts, (his cutting bill, in my case,) by offering you a selection of books he could obtain from a relative in the book trade. One Christmas, he could not pay his bill, and I threatened to withhold his work if he did not pay up. He begged me to take some books instead. I ended up taking a number of children's books for my youngsters for Christmas.
It was only later on, someone in his lunchtime pub, spilled the beans. (He had a friend worked in the stockroom of a local bookshop, he was  stealing them to order! It all came out when the bookshop did a stock take, and found that someone had done a bigger stock take!)


One funny sequel to this story, another tailor, quite a religious man, had asked for a Bible!


All these characters have sadly gone to the tailoring workshop in the sky now.

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#339 Matching sleeve and armhole

Posted by Nishijin on 21 April 2009 - 11:21 PM


This thread was initiated by Schneidergott on the former Atelier section of the London Lounge. On his request, I publish here a digest of the discussion he had with Jefferyd. I claim not to be the author of this very interesting thread, but just the "editor" of the work of Shneidergott and Jefferyd. I hope I will have been faithfull to their words and meaning.

Drafting the sleeve head according to the armhole

Schneidergott posted a translation of the following instructions (from a German tailoring book from the 1960’s), to make them available for the english speaking world. Looking at all the badly set in sleeves, with bulging fabric in the back, it seems that this kind of information is not common knowledge.

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There is a sleeve draft included, but that is not what we will be discussing in this thread.

Look at Abb. 6 : this is the starting point by placing the sleeve pattern onto the front and side part pattern in the way displayed. The centre of the sleeve (indicated as 6 in the draft) has to match Zs1 at the armhole. Further down, the centre line is placed according to the customer’s stance.

The armhole should be fitted and corrected before drawing and adjusting the under sleeve shape accordingly : the black and white diagram in the middle (Abb. 7) shows how to do that.

Most tailors/ cutters already cut out the sleeves along with the rest of the coat. However, in many cases, alterations of the coat are made during the different fitting stages: usually, that is influencing the width and height/ depth of the armhole. The following image shows the changes necessary when for example the armhole diameter becomes smaller or bigger.

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On this plate, Abb. 1,2 &3 show different armholes from normal (Abb. 1) over a 1 cm enlarged one(Abb. 2) to a smaller, narrower one (Abb. 3) with -1 cm compared to the normal one. As you can clearly see, the shape of the armhole changes, so the shape of the sleeve has to change also.

Abb. 5 shows a regular sleeve, which will fit in the armhole shown with Abb. 1 if the lines from Ae to A match(see Abb. 6)

If you try to set the normal sleeve into an enlarged armhole, the following problems will occur(Abb. 7): Point A is moved further to the back and at point B the under sleeve will be too full, causing that bulge under the arm.

Abb. 8 shows what happens when the normal sleeve is set into a smaller armhole: Point A is moved to the front and it will need a strong gathering of the under sleeve to get it into the armhole, creating a baggy look.

Abb. 9 shows what changes need to be done to receive a well fitting and good looking sleeve. At the same amount that the under sleeve has to become larger the upper sleeve has to become smaller and the other way round.

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The sleeve cap must not only be matched to the armhole, but also to the coat itself. Here are some “rules” of major importance for the fit and comfort of the coat :
- for a coat with less additions to the body measurements (close-fitted back), the sleeve has to be wider to give some comfort for movement of the arms, since the back can not provide enough room.
- with a wider back the sleeve can (should ?) be narrower, as less ease is needed from the sleeve head.

This is shown with the sleeve draft diagrams( Abb. 10 to 12), where the sleeve head from A to B will have only 5 cm instead of 6 cm added to the armhole diameter. To get a somewhat broder under sleeve the line to shape it is drawn from u1 to B1( instead of u1 to B), moving point K1 closer to point K.

Abb. 13 and 14 show the final sleeve shape with the final seams placed onto each other.
Abb. 15 to 18 display the set in sleeve.

Here is another instruction, from a different magazine from about the same decade:

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Zeichnung 1 shows how to change the sleeve parts if the armhole diameter had been enlarged by 1 cm. At the upper sleeve the shoulder mark is moved 5 mm to the right(1/2 of 10 mm) and broadened to the right by again 5 mm. Same happens with the under sleeve.
The instruction on how to get the needed extra 10 mm into the under sleeve is as follows:
- Draw a vertical line at about the half of the under sleeve
- Measure 10 mm to the right
- Draw the new shape accordingly.

Zeichnung 2 shows how to adapt the sleeve head when the armhole is 10mm deeper.
- Move the front pitch down 10 mm
- Move the back pitch down only 5 mm.
- Deepening the armhole by 10mm makes the armhole width to become 20 mm larger. Of these 20mm, 10 mm are gained through heightening the sleeve head, leaving the rest to be added at upper and under sleeve 5 mm each.
Other changes must be done on the sleeve, as can be seen in Zeichnung 2 : note that to keep the correct sleeve length the sleeve has to be shortened at the hem if the sleeve head height is increased.

Zeichnung 3 shows the needed changes for a widened and deepened armhole. It is a combination of the aforementioned instructions.

Adapting ease to fabric type

The ease added in the sleeve head varies according to the type of cloth used : silk or tightly woven cloth allows less shrinking than loose weaves such as tweed, and the object is to shrink in as much as one can, but not too much.

One could conclude that, since the sleeve needs to be much bigger for the loose weave than the close weave, it seems ultimately more “rock of the eye” than rules and systems. Indeed, the systems help to cut a better sleeve draft, but in the end it is still a judgement call by the tailor and not the cutter, who cuts enough so the tailor can put in as much ease as he possibly can.

Nevertheless, some “systemic” indication can be used by the cutter to improve his draft. Depending on the weave (and the ease needed), the sleeve should be 7 to 12% larger than the armhole depending on the fabric, so silk, linen and rather stiff and/ or densely woven fabrics can have only 7 or 8%, while softer or more loosely woven fabrics, incl. flannel and tweed can have more. It could be tricky to go higher than 10% for the woollen cloth, since every millimetre extra means more gathering and shrinking.

Many cutters cut the sleeves with large inlays and seam allowances and then leave it to the tailor to deal with it. Does the cutter correct the sleeve after the first or second fitting when the armhole is finalised? Maybe he should not : if he already marks in the pitches and notches, it will be so much faster and easier for any tailor to set the sleeve in. And even then, there is still enough space for jugement of the eye. ;-)

The back pitch is normally 1/4 of the rear scye depth (back depth line to finished shoulder seam. You can then measure the distance from the side seam to that back pitch and add 7 mm or more (up to 15 mm depending on the cloth and the size of the armhole) and measure that distance on the under sleeve as well (starting from the side seam notch) and mark that point. At the sleeve head point one can measure 3,5 cm or up to 4 cm to the left and right, but measure only 3 cm from the shoulders down.
On Abb. 7 (the black & white sketch on page 96), there should be no width gathered from front pitch(Ae) to point Ad.

All the mentioned millimetres are of course not a rule, just a suggestion.

Adapting the sleeve to body proportion

In the end it depends on the experience and skill of the cutter and tailor how large a sleeve can be, but as always, extremes are no good. Here is an example:

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Armhole and sleeve need to be in good proportion, a huge sleeve for a slender person will look as bad as a tiny sleeve on a massive person.

If you have to have a wide sleeve to get the muscular arms into it then there are other ways than just draft an overall huge sleeve and (try to) gather all the extra width of the sleeve head. You can measure from font pitch to shoulder of the coat's front part and transfer that result plus 7 or 10% to the upper sleeve from front pitch to sleeve head point. Same do in the back. This way you can determine the unwanted width and take it out by cutting from the point between the notches down to the head height line and left and right. Make the notches match. Correct the shape of the sleeve head.

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(Before anybody crys out: "What a strange shape for a sleeve!", this is just a rough sketch done by hand.)

Drafting with checked cloth in mind

Some RTW practice can be adapted to bespoke drafting with good result :
- Always draft and adjust as if cutting a check, regardless of whether the fabric is checked or not. This way, when one achieves a succesful fit, one can keep the pattern for future garments and know that it will be balanced for checks.
- Always draft for the most difficult type of fabric. It is easy to be loose when working with tweeds but if you then come to cut that same pattern in a lighter fabric, there is usually some trouble. Great precision in the sleeve area is required.
-When drafting and trueing the sleeve, working with seam allowances stripped leads to greater accuracy.
- The shoulder and armhole should been fitted before drafting the sleeve (as already said) : this way, rather than adhering to a typical drafting system, one can use the real shape of the armhole to develop the shape of the sleeve.

Here is the instruction proposed by Jefferyd:

Once the armhole is fitted, strip the armhole seam allowance, and strike a plaid line perpendicular to the grain line, intersecting the front pitch. One reason for stripping the seam allowances is that notches (or balance marks) must be perpendicular to the seam edge : the angle of the seam can cause a balance mark to appear higher or lower than its actual position on the seam line, which will become clearer soon.
Place a crossmark along the scye seam line at the front pitch, and use THIS mark for matching, not the notch.
Extend a plaid line which will intersect the scye about 4” below the shoulder point, and here place a notch. The angle of the armhole is such that the notch appears lower than it should in order to intersect the plaid line exactly at the seam.
Measure line a-b along the seam line, not the cut edge. The little seeming variations in the positioning of the notches may seem insignificant, but in light, tightly-woven cloth it can make all the difference between success and failure (they have beel slightly exaggerated in the diagram so it is more clear).

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Begin the sleeve draft in the usual way.
Strike a line the length of the sleeve inseam, then two more ¾” on either side of this line. Square out form this point, then determine the crown height, which is usually around 1 1/8” lower than the average height of the shoulder points, with the seam allowances on, but will vary depending on the type of shoulder.
Determine that the inseam will intersect the armhole 3/8” forward of the side seam, match the sleeve draft to the front and trace off the lower armhole up to the front pitch, keeping the 3 straight lines of the sleeve draft perfectly perpendicular to the front grain line; the line of the sleeve will start to deviate away from the armhole about 1/8” at the pitch notch.
Now if you place a notch perpendicular to the sleeve seam line but which intersects at the correct point, you will see that it appears higher than it should but in reality is properly balance to the check line.

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This next step is important for the proper matching of checks. If the shoulder has been widened or narrowed the sleeve head neeeds to be adjusted, if the shoulder has been crooked or straightened, the head should also be adjusted to accommodate for the shift of the angle of the armhole relative to the plaid line.
The grain in the area between a and b on light worsteds permits no more than 3/16” fullness; any less, however, and the sleeve will draw up slightly when the sleeve head (rollino) has been inserted. It is a very fine point but often overlooked in many garments. In order to have precisely 3/16” fullness and also have a sleeve that will match correctly, now apply the measurement of line a-b plus 3/16” to the seam line of the sleeve, intersecting at the plaid line, labeled a1-b1.

When adjusting a sleeve which has already been drafted, measure the fullness between these two notches, always on the seam line, and readjust the head shape here.

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The undersleeve shape is developed from the shape of the side body armhole as shown in the german texts we’ve studyied. The position of the elbow seam (point K in the texts above) is where one can adjust for fullness. It is determined roughly at ¼ the breast less ¾”. Then, measure the armhole and sleeve head - any necessary adjustments to add or remove fullness are done mostly by shifting this point forward or backward as required.

Adapting the sleeve to costumer’s posture

In some systems (as in the Rundschau system), the construction lines and the grain (stripe) lines are not parallel. In others, all grain lines are kept parallel to the line squared down from the neck at center back.

More than just an drafting option, this is must be taking in consideration, as the setting of the sleeve depends on the customer’s posture : cutting the sleeve to the wrong posture should create pitch problems.

If we look at the page 96, we can see that the shape of the sleeve has been correctly balanced to the armhole, and that the sleeve is set to the natural posture of the customer, according to the position of the wearers arm. On a normal posture, it appears that the sleeve is sitting a bit forward of plumb: the position of the centre front of the sleeve is at ca. 1/2 of the pocket.
For an erect costumer, the sleeve is more plumb with the jacket, and the sleeve head pivotes. It must be adjusted accordingly : the undersleeve would need to be hollowed out, and the front curve adjusted a bit for it to fit properly.

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Now let’s have a look at this diagram. This is the upper part of a so called 50/50 sleeve, which makes pattern matching easier, since there isn't that much stretching involved because the sleeve parts are more or less equal at the seams.

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Instruction says: Draw a line from Dp (pivot) down to the hem( point H ). From there measure 1,5 cm to the left. Hold sleeve pattern at pivot and move the point H to the new point H1.

The old grain and base lines are kept, so if you then do the adjustment shown in Abb. 6 it might create matching patterns with the back. I have to try it once in a while.
The normal sleeve itself is not drafted into the armhole. It starts with a square, like so:

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One might try it with a mock up sleeve first. Adjusting the check if the pitch needs correction is a lot of work and means recutting most of the sleeve, that is with enough inlay left.
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#5897 MTOC

Posted by Alexander on 14 January 2010 - 03:45 AM

Who here is looking for "The Modern Tailor, Outfitter and Clothier"?

I would like the information contained in these rare books to be more readily available to everyone on this forum, which is why I scanned them.

Here is the first volume, enjoy.

Also, I will scan the other books if people want me to. I may also touch up the first volume scans at a later date.

Attached Files

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#49756 Learn the Secrets of a Master Tailor Online

Posted by Rory Duffy on 08 January 2019 - 12:45 AM

Dear All.


As I am sure most of you are aware, I moved back to Ireland from New York in 2016 to start my own school of tailoring, The Handcraft Tailor Academy. I am proud to say that so far it has been a great success and I have no regrets leaving New York behind and moving to the tranquil Irish countryside. In the past year I have completed my drafting book 'Pattern Drafting for Bespoke Menswear, the Imperial System' and added a number of new online courses, which have allowed so many people to learn tailoring skills, that may have otherwise eluded them. 


Like so many, my online students would love to take the time and career break necessary to join me on one of my in-house courses, immersing themselves in the magical world of tailoring, devoid of outside influences and distractions. Alas not everyone can take the time away from their commitments and responsibilities, so I have introduced a number of online options, so that you too can learn a new skill, from the comfort of your own home.


The first course I offered in-house back when I launched The Handcraft Tailor Academy and welcomed my then student and now good friend Tom Bennett to Ireland, was Pattern Drafting for Bespoke Menswear. This course is also available online as a ten week program with two one hour lessons per week. Backed up by my new book of the same name, live one to one demonstrations over Skype video calls and the option to record the lesson for future learning, it is certainly a good rival to the in-house course. Students are encouraged to mail their patterns in weekly for assessment and some much needed feed back on their progression. This course covers everything from taking Measurements, to Figuration, Pattern Manipulation & Alteration, Coat, Waistcoat, Overcoat and Trouser Drafts for Regular and Disproportionate figures.


As the thirst for knowledge from my international students seemed unquenchable and video series seemed so impersonal I bowed to demand and now offer online making courses too. Supported by trimming packages from Dugdale Brothers in Huddersfield England, students can be reassured that when they take my online making course their raw materials are an exact match to the ones I am using during all of our lessons. Whether its my 'Waistcoat Making the Savile Row Method' or 'Men's Bespoke Trouser Making' course, you decide what size and style you would like me to demonstrate. Perhaps you've always wondered how I draft and make my signature Trousers, Brace-top, half band with full extensions or would like the emulate a style you have seen in a Hollywood production or BBC series. 


I work with all my students to give them a unique learning experience and not limit them to my own style and preferences.


Alas Coat making is too broad and complex to offer through live demonstrations, after almost twelve months of filming, I can now say with confidence I am only weeks away from launching my new and complete video series 'The making of a Handcraft Coat'. Unlike my last video series this is a how-to series and covers every step in depth and is also backed up with a trimming package from Dugdale Brothers. Once this series is complete it will be available to view on my website.


If you would like to find out more about the courses available from The Handcraft Tailor Academy please visit my website www.Handcrafttailor.com where I have listed all the courses available until the Summer of 2019, under the heading "COURSES".


If you have any comments or suggestions I would love to hear from you and you can contact me directly on Roryduffybespoke@gmail.com


All the best for 2019, keep sewing.



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#48826 Please Help, PDF Books on Tailoring Anything

Posted by lngn2 on 23 December 2017 - 11:11 PM

And mine: https://www.dropbox....v8XJdR-ECa?dl=0
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#46098 Forty years and ready for more!

Posted by jeffrey2117 on 14 April 2016 - 08:46 AM

Hello All,


    This month I am celebrating forty years working at my shop, and thirty years as it's owner!  


Each day I look forwards to arriving in the morning, keeping so busy has made the years flow by all too quickly. 


I look forwards to the next forty years!  




Jeffrey 2117

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#40322 Advice on path

Posted by Schneidergott on 20 January 2015 - 05:10 PM

I've been told that, if unsure about a decision, you should toss a coin.

By the time it's up in the air you will know what you hope it will be... :Praying:

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#38662 Tailoring videos

Posted by ChiTownTailor on 29 September 2014 - 02:14 AM

Hi all...
Thought I would share this video. All I hear is: "all made by hand"
What a guy!

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#38602 A little treat: A Ciraci shirt draft from the early 60's

Posted by Schneidergott on 24 September 2014 - 07:11 AM



I haven't touched that book for a while, but just recently I went through it again and found a shirt draft:


Page 1 is mostly about the (proportionate) size of the collars. In the chart you find the following measurements (from left to right): half chest measure, 1/10 of full chest measure, collar width and the corresponding industrial shirt size.

There is a rule saying collar size is half chest minus 1/10 of full chest, but this is only true for sizes (or better half chest) 46 to 52. Below these measures there is 0,5 cm added for every 2 cm step.

For measures above 52 0,5 cm is subtracted for each increase of 2 cm.









You start your draft with an angle from  point 1 to the left and down.


1 to 1' is 1/10 of the collar width.

1 to 2 is 1/10 of full chest girth plus half of that amount.

2 to 2' is always 10 cm.

1 to 4 is total length ( 1/2 of height minus 3 to 5 cm).

1 to 5 equals distance 1 to 1' plus 3 cm.

5 to 6 is 1/2 of 1 to 1'. Draw the center neck through 6 and continue to hit the top horizontal line.

5 to 8 is like 1 to 2' plus 1,5 or 2 cm.

Point 7 is squared down from 8 to the line coming from 2'.

8 to 9 is 1/3 of 1' to 2 or 1/2 of 1/10 of full chest.

9 to 9' is 4 cm.

2' to 7' is 1/2 of half chest plus 5 to 6 cm. From 7' square down to bottom.

7' to 13 is 1/2 of 1' to 2' plus 8 cm.

13 to 13' is half of 13 to 14 plus 2 cm. From 13 go 1,5 cm inwards for side seam shape.

14 to 15 is like 13' to 14 plus 2 to 3 cm. Shape the bottom as you like.

For the yoke measure from 1' half of 1' to 2 minus 1 cm and square to the left. Form a little dart at the armhole.


(It doesn't say so in the instructions but it makes it easier if you continue the horizontal lines from 1 and 2' to the left. I would also suggest to have a squared line through point 13 and continue it to the left. Makes further steps a bit easier, since you don't need to measure the distances in the front part).





1 to 2 equals 1 to 5 in the back.

1 to 1' is like 1 to 2 plus ca. 1 cm.

1 to 2' is same as 1' to 2' in the back.

1 to 17 is 1' to 4 in the back minus 5 cm.

2' to 8 equals 2' to 7' in the back.

8 to 13 to 13' is the same as in the back.

2 to 5 is like 5 to 8 in the back minus 1 cm. Square down from 5 to the bottom, creating points 10 and 15.

16 to 15 is 16 to 13 minus 2 cm. Shape the hem as you like.

10 to 11 is 7 to 9 in the back minus 3 cm.

2 to 2'' is 2 cm.

Shape the armholes following the diagram.

From the centre front line (1 to 17) measure 1,7 cm to the left and another 4,5 cm for the fold in button/hole facing.






Angle from 1 to left and down.


1 to 2 is 9 to 7' in the back (measure diagonally, not along the seam line) plus 2 cm.

1 to 3 is 1/2 of 1 to 2.

2 to 4 equals 2 to 3.

connect 1 and 4 with a straight line, 5 is at the middle.

6 is 1/2 of 3 to 5. Draw crown as shown in diagram through point 6.

1 to 7 is sleeve length plus 4 cm, minus the height of the cuff.

7 to 8 is 1 to 3 plus 5 to 6 cm.

8 to 9 is 1/2 7 to 8.

9 to 10 equals 1 to 5.


I find that the shape of the crown should not be the same in front and back, but it's up to you (it needs to be higher in the front and lower/ flatter in the back to follow the shapes of the front and rear armholes, which have different curves).

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#34635 A trouser draft

Posted by MANSIE WAUCH on 08 August 2013 - 07:33 AM

I have reproduced my trouser draft on youtube in a way that might be better for beginners to understand. (just type in youtube, basic trouser draft (gents).)

I apologise in advance for the poor graphics, as it was all done with bitmap graphics.

If anyone can recommend a vector graphics programme that will do the same images (very cheap) I would be obliged.

SG if you are on line I hope you will do the honours. (it's OK I have managed it myself, Lord knows how?)

If you change to youtube to view it you can view at a larger screen)

(I'm getting good at this video lark! Not bad for a 71 year old.)

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#49812 Post a link to your work

Posted by J. Maclochlainn on 21 February 2019 - 05:48 AM

Weve not done anything fun on here in awhile. So lets see what youve been working on and show off your work! If you have an instragram share it for others to see.

My Instagram is lachlan_bespoke
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#36449 "Tailoring Tutorials" on Youtube

Posted by Rory Duffy on 11 February 2014 - 01:03 PM

You might want to check out my new video, 'How to use a Needle & Thimble':



Still working on the buttonhole video and pattern drafting, my assistant is working hard to get these videos ready for you all soon.

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