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A question of ironwork


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#1 DanielMerrick

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 09:41 AM

Hi all. This is my first post to Cutter & Tailor. I am a young fashion designer who started out in (factory made) suits (of the Greenfield / Primo ""bespoke"" variety) and I've been lurking these fora for quite some time, and it has been an extremely eye opening experience. I've been interested for awhile in taking up the true craft of tailoring and am interested in an apprenticeship of some level.

The greatest difference I've noticed between the suits that I've made and designed and the examples found here, of generally older pieces is the near or complete absence of a technique called "ironwork" where if I'm not mistaken areas of the garment are stretched and shrunk in order to create a more sculpted fit on the finished piece.

I've noticed something unusual in older photographs here (the gelatin silver and sepia prints) such as this one pinched from schneidergott's post in a Coatmaker's thread:

Posted Image

Am I simply making note of print retouching or do these coats have a very rounded, shaped look because more ironwork was used? I have gathered that over the decades cutting has become more and more involved leaving less ironwork for the tailor to do and thus making the process less time comsuming.

Please enlighten me, and please post some images of finished or partially finished or before / after images that will help me understand the technique better.

An additional question:

Can I ironwork an off the rack jacket to be more form-fitting?

Thank you,

DM

#2 J. Maclochlainn

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 10:02 AM

Can I ironwork an off the rack jacket to be more form-fitting?



I say no, a lot of the shape, especially the fuller chest is done during the under-press and in cooperation of cutting the NP a little crooked. Thus once you impart shape the canvases are cut to the same shape and holds it.
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#3 DanielMerrick

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 10:42 AM

I say no, a lot of the shape, especially the fuller chest is done during the under-press and in cooperation of cutting the NP a little crooked. Thus once you impart shape the canvases are cut to the same shape and holds it.


Ah, right. I'm not using common sense, that was pretty obvious.

#4 greger

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 02:35 PM

Yes and no. As Jason says some parts are taken care, or finished. Where there is no canvas you can do a bit of shaping. I recommend an old fashion tailors ham and sleeve roll and press mitt. One problem is the cloth today doesn't take to much iron shaping, so I hear. A good way to learn about shaping is to do it on shirts. If you make an error it is all gone after the next wash. The method I'll explain isn't stretching or shrinking but, setting the weave. With the ham you put it in the shoulder (big end into the sleeve a little bit) with a damp press cloth you can roll the iron over the round of the ham so the the shirt cloth takes the shape. The shoulder blade area you put the small lend of the ham down and do the same. The upper waist you work it the same as the blade, but move it as needed. The same goes for the lower part of the waist, except the small end is up. The hem can be shrunk a little by putting small end of the ham down and work that part. The sleeve "cap" can be shaped with the mitt. The more ease (excess of cloth the more shape, up to a point). A sleeve roll works for the sleeve (One type of sleeve roll is made of wood, about 3 1/4" diameter covered with a couple of layers of cloth slide on tight). You learn how to do this pressing so that it is comfortable and works with your movements and embellishes your looks. The old tailors did a lot of fitting with the iron, something that is almost never seen anymore. And it is an art form that some were much better at than others. Dry Cleaners today will press all of that out of a coat. With shirts every time you wash it it is gone. On a coat at back waist you can try using basting thread over about 8 -10 inches pulled 3/8" tight/shorter and with wet rag and iron shrink it. Beware, you may not like it. If your cotton shirts are wrinkle free it may not work. I think with shirts and the directions above you can figure out on you own pretty well how to do that much. Some seams they had uneven lengths where the longer was eased in when sewing or preshrinking which would make the cloth no longer flat, and some of that is still done. Making your own you can play around with that. Silk is a whole different ball game.
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#5 Schneidergott

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 04:27 PM

Can I ironwork an off the rack jacket to be more form-fitting?


Not without taking it apart (I've done this endless times), and unless you know how to put it back together, stay away from it. The rear armholes as well as the neck hole usually have some fusing in them which you would have to remove first (nasty work, trust me), otherwise it's a waste of time.

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#6 jukes

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 05:32 PM

Its called under pressing, forming the shape as the individual pieces are constructed. Top pressing is the final part, to clean up the finished garment.

#7 Der Zuschneider

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 12:12 AM

The MTM/RTW rag jackets are so miserable be made with not form, there is no way to bring form into it later. Even the fabric is so thin and hard, even shortening will not work. A coat is made by constantly nurturing the form and build pieces like egg shells into each other to stabilize the form. This is what makes tailoring so difficult even if you had the nicest pattern is no proof to make a good coat if you donít know where to stretch seams to create shortness in the hollow of the body.
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#8 DanielMerrick

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 02:36 AM

Can someone confirm whether the images in my first post are of retouched photo prints or if the garments are, in fact, heavily ironworked to produce the pronounced smooth, rounded effect?

For instance there seems to be a bit of shrinking in the hollow of the shoulder of the man in the center, no? The man on the right has more stretched?

Edited by DanielMerrick, 09 February 2012 - 02:39 AM.


#9 J. Maclochlainn

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 03:03 AM

Altered, No... but the Germans did love to reline images to contrast the stitching details. At the shoulder hollow, no it is not shrunk, rather the neck point and the front of shoulder are stretched.

For the Rundschau drafts the iron work is handled THUS
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#10 Nishijin

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 03:12 AM

The coats in the picture indeed have shape, it is not photo "magic".

Creating those shape in RTW would not always be a good idea : the shape has to be in the right place for the customer, whereas RTW aims at having a "good fit" for many people. There is a concept in RTW called "vestibility", meaning that the garments looks good on as many people as possible.

That said, it is possible to get at least some shape on RTW, and the high-end, luxury RTW do have some (the coats are canvased, sometimes a lot of work is hand-made). Not every RTW is cheap and cheaply made.


Ironwork is not always possible on modern cloth, so some things done in the past can't be done today (at least, not with every cloth). Even bespoke tailors had to adapt.
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#11 DanielMerrick

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 03:17 AM

Thank you for the link, Mr. J. Maclochlainn, I will treasure it.

The coats in the picture indeed have shape, it is not photo "magic".

Creating those shape in RTW would not always be a good idea : the shape has to be in the right place for the customer, whereas RTW aims at having a "good fit" for many people. There is a concept in RTW called "vestibility", meaning that the garments looks good on as many people as possible.

That said, it is possible to get at least some shape on RTW, and the high-end, luxury RTW do have some (the coats are canvased, sometimes a lot of work is hand-made). Not every RTW is cheap and cheaply made.


Ironwork is not always possible on modern cloth, so some things done in the past can't be done today (at least, not with every cloth). Even bespoke tailors had to adapt.


Thank you. i understand the principle of versatility in ready to wear, Which makes it less feasible on a large scale (why go to the trouble of making your clothing more difficult to wear?) however I was actually referring to stretching my own wardrobe, both custom suits and RTW pieces to fit a bit better.

Pardon my vanity ... I suppose I use at as a means of exploration and experimentation. It leads to wider application.

Edited by DanielMerrick, 09 February 2012 - 03:20 AM.


#12 Der Zuschneider

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:25 AM

The first and the third coat has a lapel dart included, they have a full chest. RTW don't have this anymore.
The lapel dart in the third coat is hidden in the seam of the coller.
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#13 kusumarose

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 07:30 AM

Greger, You mentioned silk is a whole different topic. Would you mind elaborating or directing me where I can learn about ironwork on silk?

 

A few questions I have:

 

Does seam tape help it to hold the form afterwards?

 

Would I alter the shape of my underlining to reflect the shape of the ironworked piece as a way to help it hold the shape?

 

And since I am new to this topic, in general, does washing eliminate ironwork even when it is done as 'underpressing', or is this a permanent shaping method?

 

Thank you SO much!

-Kusuma



#14 greger

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 05:15 AM

Didn't learn everything. Silk doesn't stretch nor shrink. Darts and pleats and moving seam lines are necessary to create shape, and barely easing in when sewing. Where a ham or press mitt or sleeve roll works best besure to use those. How many tailors use a sleeve roll? Many use sleeve boards instead? Sleeve boards are rather flat. Some shape is usually better than none, so add some padding. Some tailors grab an excessive amount of cloth in their hand and make a fist with the excess outside of the fist and press over that (a soft ham allows you to do that and some press mitts). The object is to get the shape you want. A sawdust filled ham is rather limited, but good for some pressing. Stretching and shrinking are a couple of ways to put in shape when possible. Easing in, of course, is another. Setting the weave from flat to curved is another. Can only do what the cloth allows you to do. 


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