Morley College in South London runs a number of part time tailoring courses. I signed up for one earlier this year to make a man's coat (jacket). There were 11 three hour sessions in which the tutor demonstrated all the steps to make a fully structured coat including the use of goat hair and horse hair canvas in the plastron, pad stitching, setting the sleeves etc. We worked on our own coat at the same time but there was nothing like enough time in the class itself to finish all the steps the tutor demonstrated so lots of homework was needed using his excellent worksheets as guides. Mine is still not quite done but having just put in the sleeves I am nearly finished. Until the basting comes out and it has been given a good press it is difficult to judge its success.
Those who had not made a coat before were given a standard pattern and told not to worry about fit at this stage, which was solely about learning how to make the garment, not cut or fit it. Those doing the class a second time were encouraged to use their own drafts.
Thirty three hours is clearly no substitute for a seven year apprenticeship but I have learned a great deal. Even if I never made another coat what I have learned about the manipulation of woollen cloth, making pockets etc would have made the course worthwhile. But perhaps more importantly it has taken away the fear of tackling a coat-making project. A copy of Cabrerra has been on my shelf for several years but the chapter on coats just seemed too intimidating. No longer! In fact I have now drafted and made up in calico two alternative coat designs for my son - one based on Poole's book from the early 1920s and another from a 1970s draft on this site. This in itself has been a revelation; the first is along "Edwardian" lines - a very narrow back, close fitting shoulders and a wide skirt - almost like a woman's dress. The 1970s draft has the classic wide, square, heavily padded shoulder giving the drape more usually seen in what are now regarded as traditional British suits. My son will no doubt prefer the more modern look but I am thinking of making an Edwardian coat for myself - in a plaid, just to make things more challenging.
I am signing up again for next term, when we will be making a less structured coat. If and when I have something I am reasonably pleased with I will post a picture (but I promise not to break the rules by asking for advice about it).