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Revised Version of "Couture Sewing"


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#1 Sator

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 10:04 AM

Claire Shaeffer's Couture Sewing gives us a fascinating insight into the world of the sort of bespoke tailoring techniques used by the tailoring sections of haute couture houses. Claire tell us that she is working on a newly revised edition of her book:

QUOTE (Claire Shaeffer @ Apr 27 2009, 08:27 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thank you for the invitation to join and the warm welcome. Even though my book Couture Sewing Techniques is described as a dressmaking book, I think I'm a better tailor than dressmaker.
My goal when I started writing was to document sewing techniques which had not been described previously. This hasn't changed because so many traditional techniques are being abandoned.
My primary focus is women's garments and always quality construction--haute couture or very expensive ready-to-wear, but in my text book Sewing for the Apparel Industry, I write about construction at all price points and how it affects price and quality.
I have an extensive collection of vintage garments--almost exclusively women's designs which I use for research; and I frequently visit workrooms when I travel. The latter is a warning; I may invite myself to visit some of you.
My current project is a revision of my couture book. If you have the book, please make suggestions. For that matter, I welcome suggestions and corrections for any of my books.
I am particularly interested in the things you've learned as a tailor after you left school. My experience has been that it is the mole hills, not the mountains, that are most helpful to the less experienced. These are the things you do daily and never consider important such as how to clip.
I look forward to participating. Claire


Please share thoughts and suggestions here.

#2 Sator

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 10:43 PM

Dear Claire,

I have a few questions about women's tailoring based on your book, which I enjoy very much.

The first thing that struck me was the way you describe interfacing for the entire front panel, as well as back and side panel. This is something that I have seen called "underlying". That is you cut interfacing using the coat pattern, and then once the panels are underlined they are handled as a single piece for the rest of the making up. This is something never done in men's tailoring. Is underlying done only because women tend to choose cloths that are too light for traditional tailoring methods to handle? Or do women demand that their lounge jackets looks so immaculately clean that even a 18 Oz suiting is underlined to make the coat even cleaner? Otherwise, when do they decide to underline a fabric or not? Also, what sort of underlying is used - linen, wool/horsehair canvas etc?

The next question I have is about the technique of quilting the canvas. Quliting is a very old fashion technique that has largely died in men's tailoring. They use to quilt dress coats and frock coats. The results often looked like this:



This comes from a Victorian frock coat in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Whife describes this technique for dress coats as recently as 1962. Often the entire front panel was quilted like this. However, the chest piece and lapels were first pad stitched, then covered over in domette before being quilted on the lining (Whife, The Art of Garment Making, 1962).

In your book you talk about how the canvas is quilted in the area over the haircloth chest piece and corresponding shoulder piece in the upper part of the back panels. No pad stitching is described or shown over the chest piece. How common is it in women's tailoring to use quilting stitches in place of the traditional pad stitches in men's tailoring. Are the quilting stitches done by hand? How closely quilted is the canvas? And, why are the pad stitches omitted?

Cutting canvas on the bias. This is my third question to you. Your diagrams seem to show the canvas being cut on the bias. This, again, is rather uncommon in men's tailoring - but not unheard of. Whife describes it in the soft tailoring of drape cut coat:

http://www.cutterand...hp?showtopic=42

Most men's tailor's prefer to cut the canvas on the straight. What is the rationale for cutting canvas on the bias in women's tailoring?

For all of those interested the book can be purchased here:

http://www.amazon.co...r/dp/1561584975

#3 Claire Shaeffer

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:03 AM

The interfacing I described could be called an underlining (slightly diff. term). I used the term interfacing because it is hair canvas.

This process is unique to Yves Saint Laurent. The wool is lightweight but I've seen even lighter fabrics in menswear. It appears to have been used on most jackets but not all.

The quilting is just two layers (hair canvas and haircloth) and usually quilted by machine on the grains, spaced about 1" apart. I have one YSL jacket that is hand-padded instead of machine stitched. The hand stitching is slightly softer than the machine.

I thought it might be an earlier jacket but it isn't. I don't know whether the hand-padding was the choice of the individual tailor or the design--it has flanges at the back armscye. The second layer stops at the beginning of the flange.

I have another YSL jacket that has a "cut-out" in the mid-section on the front interfacing so there's greater suppleness when the wearer moves.

By cutting the interfacing on the bias, it is softer and less boardy than if cut on the straight grain. The sleeve is underlined only at the cap and wrist. In the cap, the interfacing length ranges from mid-cap to about 1" below the armscye. I don't know what determined the length on the YSLs--perhaps the softness of the cloth and its ability to drape attractively without support.

I don't know why YSL interfaced the entire body. My guess is that women hate wrinkles, but don't like a boardy look. In the US, all rtw has a fused front so the bias cut interfacing on the front provides a similar, but softer, more supple front.

My oldest YSL jacket is late 70s. It's a nice blazer cut and almost pristine.

I don't have an address for Jean-Pierre who was the head tailor at YSL, but I have a intermediate contact. Do we have someone who can translate French? If so, I can send an invitation. Claire

Claire Shaeffer

Author, Couture Sewing Techniques

claire.shaeffer@gmail.com

www.sewfari.org


#4 Sator

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:17 AM

I am sure that Jeffery would be very happy to help out with translating from the French if we contacted him.

Here, with Claire's kind permission, are scans of the relevant diagrams from her book Couture Sewing showing the techique of underlying the panels, with quilting stitches in place of pad stitching over the chest and upper back pieces, canvas cut on the bias:





#5 jefferyd

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:32 AM

I'd be pleased to translate. If anyone one would like to post here in French they should post, send me a PM and I will translate. Having the original here will be a benefit to native speakers.

I learned to interline (or did we call it underline? I don't remember) everything for women's, depending on the weight of the fabric. It gave extra body, reduced wrinkling, and gave something to affix seam allowances (which were all felled), interfacings and hems to so there would be no dimpling where the hems were affixed (I would catch the interlining only). I most often used cotton batiste, sometimes organza for a crisper appearance, and on soft cloth I use silk pongee, and on the odd occasion I would use lambswool. My mother had a room full of fabric which may or may not end up being used so sometimes I used stuff out of there. I lay the cut cloth piece over the interlining, use a BIG diagonal baste all over the piece so they act as one, then trim the excess and overcast the edges.

#6 Sator

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:35 AM

QUOTE (jefferyd @ Apr 28 2009, 01:32 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Having the original here will be a benefit to native speakers.


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#7 jcsprowls

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 05:52 AM

Agreed w/ Jeffrey.

I call this method interlining because the two pieces are basted together then handled as one component. In fact, in my experience, we sent out two rolls of goods to be quilt-basted together before spreading on the table and cutting as a [combined] single ply. The plies remained basted through construction - the basting being pulled away in order to execute the operation and then all basting removed during finishing.

If I were bonding a 2nd layer of goods to a shell fabric, I'd give serious consideration to lamination. This technology isn't available to the custom-make sector; but, is very common for technical outerwear.

And as much as it makes y'all cringe... I will stand up and say it: "I'm a fuser and that's OK. I work all night and a I sleep all day!" Batting Eyelashes.gif

Underlining, to me, is synonymous with 'lining'. An example would be the front lining of men's trousers. While the edges are overlocked together during construction, they are separate pieces and not typically basted together to handle as a single component.
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#8 Sator

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 09:30 AM

QUOTE (jcsprowls @ Apr 28 2009, 05:52 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I call this method interlining because the two pieces are basted together then handled as one component.


The trouble is that some books then show you to go on and then add canvasing in the usual way. I think that's why some authors talk about underlying to distinguish between it and interfacing. Of course, there's interlining as well to make the coat warmer.


#9 jcsprowls

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 02:25 PM

Interlining/interfacing can add warmth as well as stabilize or support the shell fabric. I don't think there is a magic articulation for this one.

I have a tendency to refer to things by their process/verb. I think a lot of factory folk do.

In other words, if muslin, batiste, etc. were padstitched into the garment, I'd refer to it as 'canvas' or 'interfacing' - not the noun, the verb. Likewise, if I basted the layers and handled them as one component - whether for warmth or support/stabilizer - I'd call it 'interlining'.
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web: http://www.studio9apparel.com
portfolio: http://www.behance.net/studio9apparel

#10 Sator

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 03:19 PM

Today's Custom Tailoring, Ethel Wyllie, Illinois 1971:





#11 Sator

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 03:27 PM

The Complete Book of Tailoring, Adele Margolis, NY, 1978:



#12 Katherine Maylin

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 06:34 PM


I would term this process as mounting! where the cloth is 'mounted' onto a sanforised mull. I do this quite frequently but only with loosely woven tweeds. Every garment piece is attached to the mull which offers stability to the cloth. I would then canvas in the usual manner. On one occasion I used a light wool canvas with a very soft cashmere but only mounted the forepart, the cloth was very soft and had no resiliance, body (or guts!) the wool canvas gave it a bit of 'loft'- for want of a better description! as opposed to the mull which only gives stability.
Katherine Maylin





#13 Claire Shaeffer

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 01:13 AM

Sorry to have dropped off line. I've been traveling and trying to finish the revision diagrams for my Apparel Industry text.

I'll focus on the terminology which varies with different groups--homesewers, tailors, dressmakers, and production professionals.

In home sewing, an underlining is applied to the fashion fabric (self or cloth); then the two are handled as one piece. It can be the same size or only a portion of the section. In production of high end rtw, this is generally called a flat lining; in couture, it's called a mounting. The fabrics can vary from silk organza to hair canvas. They can be cut exactly like the garment section, on a different grain, or , slightly larger or smaller. Underlinings have a variety of uses: provide opaqueness or minimum support, add color, prevent stretching, reduce wrinkling--you can add additional reasons. I generally use the term underlining when writing for homesewers if it is sewn into the seam.

An interfacing is used to provide structure. The term interlining is used in the fashion industry and canvas is generally used by tailors. Again, when writing for homesewers, I use interfacing. In my Apparel Industry book, I use interlining. There is always a question when interfacings are used to completely underline the entire section about which term is best. This is particularly true when describing the interfacings in the body of a YSL jacket.

In home sewing, interlinings are use for warmth and applied to the lining instead of the garment section. This is rare today.

There are also some differences in terminology based on your locations--Germany, England, Australia, and France.

In home sewing, fashion fabric is used to describe the garment fabric. In tailoring, it's usually called cloth; and in the apparel industry, self is used.

If I've missed something or you want to add to this discussion, please do. Claire

Claire Shaeffer

Author, Couture Sewing Techniques

claire.shaeffer@gmail.com

www.sewfari.org


#14 Sator

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Posted 17 May 2009 - 10:28 PM

BTW thanks Claire for clarifying all of those terms. It's good to see you back and posting again.




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