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Is it a good or bad idea to start with shirts before trousers?


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Poll: Which to make first? Shirts or trousers? (16 member(s) have cast votes)

Which to make first? Shirts or trousers?

  1. Shirts (5 votes [31.25%])

    Percentage of vote: 31.25%

  2. Trousers (8 votes [50.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 50.00%

  3. Doesn't matter (3 votes [18.75%])

    Percentage of vote: 18.75%

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#1 pat

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 06:08 PM

Hi, I'm a brand newbie. I haven't made any clothes yet.

 

I've spent the last several hours reading threads on here, including all the stickied threads. I have one major question:

 

Would it be a good idea or a bad idea to start by making shirts before trousers?

 

The threads I've read suggest skirt / trousers -> waistcoast -> coat. I've read a lot of threads about shirts, but nothing which suggests where they might fit in terms of learning. I'm mostly interested in shirts... but if the collective wisdom here is that trousers should come before shirts, then that's what I'll do.

 

Thanks for any advice you can give me :)

 

p.s. I've added a poll to this topic 



#2 Henry Hall

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 07:38 PM

There is a thread somewhere on here where JCSprowls (I think) suggests waistcoat before trousers...so the opinon on progression is not always the same.

 

With shirts the issue is this: previously a shirt was not a particularly fitted garment, so as long as the collar and sleeve length was good it was fine for them to made up according to a fairly standard draft.

 

Currently there is a trend toward a more fitted shirt and this ends up with fitting issues that have something in common with fitting issues on other upper-body garments (coats really). So unless you're confident with working through those issues (and people are wiling to help) you can best begin making up a standard shirt draft - like the tunic shirt or so-called 'slimline' C&T shirt, or a commercial pattern - for experience purposes.

 

Trousers have problems all their own, but are simpler garments than coats and somewhat easier to fit on yourself than upper body garments. So a good starting point.


Each phenomenon which is taken up should be treated with as much thoroughness as possible at that standpoint... One thing at a time and that done well!

 

- Otto Jespersen (How to Teach a Foreign Language).


#3 peterle

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 08:44 PM

Both demand a certain level of skill and therefore some practicing.

But try it yourself and make a pyjama. This is easier to make then a shirt or trousers. You will recognise some of the specific difficulties and make some steps forward to create a wearable garment.



#4 Schneiderfrei

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 09:50 PM

May I say, just start something :)


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#5 Terri

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 09:52 PM

Buy a commercial shirt pattern and start with a shirt. Don,t start with drafting anything unless you just like drafting for its own sake.
If you have never sewn anything, you will hve enough to deal with without figuring out a pattern as well.
Maybe pyjama bottoms are better than a shirt to start with, true. No pockets, basic seaming and seam finishing, making an elastic casing, or drawstring casing etc.

Edited by Terri, 26 March 2016 - 09:53 PM.

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#6 shadoman

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 04:20 AM

May I say, just start something :)

 

 

Buy a commercial shirt pattern and start with a shirt. Don,t start with drafting anything unless you just like drafting for its own sake.
If you have never sewn anything, you will hve enough to deal with without figuring out a pattern as well.
Maybe pyjama bottoms are better than a shirt to start with, true. No pockets, basic seaming and seam finishing, making an elastic casing, or drawstring casing etc.

 

These, exactly.

 

Working from a 'tried and true' pattern, (even though it's very generic and simple) is some of the best experience you can give yourself.

It's much easier to see if and when you make a mistake, much less stressful than trying to draft a perfect pattern ( which isn''t going to
happen on your first try, unless you're a genius reincarnate) and will give you confidence to tackle the more difficult things later.


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#7 pat

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 09:11 AM

Thanks so much for taking the time to offer up your helpful suggestions, everyone!

 

I went to a local fabric store today, where the owner walked me through the process of making pajama pants using one of their pre-made patterns. It was a lot of fun and I learned a ton, especially when I made mistakes.

 

I'll be on the lookout for more simple patterns and continue on...


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#8 Henry Hall

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 04:54 AM

So it was trousers after all...


Each phenomenon which is taken up should be treated with as much thoroughness as possible at that standpoint... One thing at a time and that done well!

 

- Otto Jespersen (How to Teach a Foreign Language).


#9 tailleuse

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 06:25 AM

For whatever it's worth, at the Fashion Institute of Technology nondegree students usually have to take the evening men's shirt class before being allowed to take the three-course men's tailoring series, which is open to anyone.  Because I'd taken so many women's sewing classes at FIT I was allowed to take the first men's tailoring class without the prerequisite, but I later did take the men's shirt class and found it tremendously helpful, although part of it was that teacher was terrific.  After it, began to feel more comfortable sewing on an industrial machine, which is all they have and most teachers demand that the work be done on one.

 

In some ways, in my opinion, sewing a man's cotton shirt is harder than sewing a pair of trousers -- there are so many details -- but working with wool and Bemberg,which was used for the lining, presents its own challenges.

 

The men's tailoring sequence, unlike the women's tailoring sequence, doesn't teach a vest.  I would have loved to have made a vest with fine hand tailoring methods, but I guess there isn't time.  The men's sequence tends to be taught only by people with bespoke experience.  The women's sequence is taught by people with production, and occasionally, bespoke experience. Both approaches are valid, it's a question of the style you want to learn. 

 

At FIT, here's the sequence for Men's Tailoring:

 

--Menswear sewing (the prerequisite);

 

--Tailoring I (high-end trousers with half-lining and curtain, lots of hand work like hand overcast seams);

 

--Tailoring II (numerous small projects leading up to making a men's jacket, such as pockets, lapel pad stitching, vents, besom pockets; I was one told that these skills were put into a separate course because when people used to be thrown into the jacket class without it, many people couldn't finish.)

 

--Tailoring III (the full jacket).  The final class in this series has been canceled for lack of sufficient enrollment or not scheduled something like seven times since I took Tailoring I, I've lost count.  Perhaps one day before I'm dead I'll get to take it.

 

 

 

For Women's tailoring:

 

--(No sewing class pre-requisite, pretty sure, but I could be mistaken);

 

--Ladies Tailoring I (two wool skirts, one lined, one piped, different types of zippers);

 

--Ladies Tailoring II (one vest, two trousers);

 

--Ladies Tailoring III (a jacket);

 

--Ladies Tailoring IV (an overcoat).  

 

In addition, for some odd reason, after completing all four courses you can get a certificate in Ladies Tailoring, but no certificate is offered after completion of the three men's tailoring class, which is weird because they are just as much work, if not more, because of all the hand sewing.  Actually, I once heard a rumor that it was an administrative decision, there were too many certificate programs.  But I guess your actual garments would be more important if you were actually looking for one of the rare tailoring positions for apprentices.

 

Both series teach only the making up of tailored garments; officially, there's no drafting or fitting, although sometimes a given teacher will offer to help a student fit a garment.  That happened in the shirt class too.

 

If I were a woman and didn't want to make a cotton shirt first, I'd probably find a simple fitted skirt pattern, make a muslin, and then make it up in wool several times.  That's what the Cabrera tailoring techniques book for women suggests.  A skirt is usually considered the easiest garment to execute. But it requires finesse. You have to learn how make the darts flat (in Ladies Tailoring, I was taught how to steam them with a threaded needle), not stretch the wool, cut slippery lining, if adding piping, how to cut bias strips and wrap them and a host of other things. For the longest time, my skirt extensions would either be knobby or would open up when I poked them out.


Edited by tailleuse, 29 March 2016 - 06:31 AM.

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#10 tailleuse

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 06:37 AM

Buy a commercial shirt pattern and start with a shirt. Don,t start with drafting anything unless you just like drafting for its own sake.
 

 

The opinion I usually encounter is that even if you want to learn how to draft you need to learn how to make up patterns first. The best thing about taking classes in which everyone had to use the same pattern drafted by the teacher was that I knew what the finished garment was supposed to look like.  But even then, different wools (within the range approved by the teacher) made up very differently and required slightly different treatment.

 

I'm not saying that a beginner shouldn't try to fit the pattern or even better, have someone fit it on her or him.  Fitting can be hard unless you are shaped like the pattern maker's ideal person.


Edited by tailleuse, 29 March 2016 - 06:38 AM.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#11 tailleuse

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 06:39 AM

 

 

 

These, exactly.

 

Working from a 'tried and true' pattern, (even though it's very generic and simple) is some of the best experience you can give yourself.

It's much easier to see if and when you make a mistake, much less stressful than trying to draft a perfect pattern ( which isn''t going to
happen on your first try, unless you're a genius reincarnate) and will give you confidence to tackle the more difficult things later.

 

The Cabrera women's tailoring book provides many exercises involving changing a basic skirt pattern: adding pockets, pleats, etc.


Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#12 greger

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 06:49 AM

Instead of a skirt how about a cape?

#13 Schneiderfrei

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 08:28 AM

I'm looking for the emoticon with the evil laugh and arched eyebrow. :)


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#14 Henry Hall

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 09:36 AM

Instead of a skirt how about a cape?

 

And a Superman outfit to go with it?


Each phenomenon which is taken up should be treated with as much thoroughness as possible at that standpoint... One thing at a time and that done well!

 

- Otto Jespersen (How to Teach a Foreign Language).


#15 greger

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 04:08 PM

It is probably simpler than Batmans.
Got to keep it simple for beginners, you know.
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#16 boy_out_of_hell

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Posted 30 June 2017 - 02:37 PM

If you're feeling adventurous and like a good challenge then sure, by all means, tackle mens dress shirts first. That's also the first step I took in learning how to draft patterns for menswear on my own, but I'm stubborn and a little bit of a masochist, so I can't speak for anyone else. Like Mr. Hall said, if you were born couple decades ago, mens shirts would've been basic. Today, with all the fitness craze and body image self-awareness, trends in menswear tend to go towards a more fit, tight-to-the-skin approach and that is most visible in shirts and tops in general (I mean I’ve seen mens shirts with princess line seams, for pete’s sake!)

 

Professionals don’t usually encourage beginners to start with shirts right off the bat because most of them are impatient and expect to get things right from the very start so they can easily be discouraged and lose interest in tailoring when facing all the challenges a mens dress shirt presents. But if you’ve got the right dose of stubbornness and perseverance, the lessons drafting a shirt pattern will teach you are invaluable and will help you later on. Shirt patterns are about the uniqueness of each torso, they train you in looking for balance and ways to achieve it. The secret to a well tailored mens shirt is not drafting the pattern itself, but learning how to manipulate the base pattern and adapt it so that it looks as if it was cast for the one wearing it.

 

My advice? Look up as many pattern drafting resources you can find, even if they’re not destined for professional tailors at all times. Ask yourself why they tell you to draw those lines the way they do. And practice. Practice a lot and expect to fail not once, but a thousand times before getting it right. In tailoring, finesse comes with a lot of practice and experience.

 

P.S. Also ask for feedback and advice, don't take critique to heart and use what other people have to say to fine tune your work.

 

Good luck and have fun!  :D



#17 zanzare

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 08:10 PM

My apprenticeship was divided like this:

1) men's Shirts and women's skirts
2) trousers
3) waistcoats
4) Jackets
5) Coats

And that is how I do. it with my apprentices nowadays.
Though I have to say although it did work Out When I was learning for me and my fellow apprentices, my experience now is that not every apprentice will make it to number 5) coats during the time given for the apprenticeship . In reality only a few will manage to get trough number 4) Jackets in a decent quality. Nethertheless I think the order of tasks is good.
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