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How common is this?

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Posted 30 April 2015 - 10:47 PM

Learner - if you do a cursory Bing search on synonyms, "common" and " normal" are perfectly acceptable synonyms.

Five professional tailors answered your initial query. The takeaway from that as I understand it, is as follows:

A first fitting without canvas doesn't seem to be very common any longer, yet may prove useful for a tailor cutting from rock of eye.

Question answered fully and completely in my mind. Please, anyone should feel free to correct me, if you feel I misinterpreted anything.

Then a person with literal decades of expertise and study of the craft openly admitted to still being a bit confused by the terminology. I had never heard the term prior to this post, yet I am able to understand that the term may be used differently by different people, as is common/normal in numerous trades. Prior to the internet, terminology in one region of the US could have distinctly different meanings in another. The internet is slowly settling some of the confusion.

Perhaps your initial question should have been, "What is the benefit of conducting a first fitting without the canvas vs with the canvas?"

Oh yeah - isn't the #1 rule of this site : NO NEWBIE discussions of jackets?

It was a privalege to receive the initial responses and a discussion to help clarify the terminology.

Becoming defensive while trying to learn and be taught by those with greater knowledge in a field is rarely a recipe for success.
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#20 Claire Shaeffer

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Posted 01 May 2015 - 01:52 AM

Thanks to all for your input. 

One of the books I'm reading is by Heath (Eng. author). He describes a skeleton baste with a canvas. The darts on the jacket and canvas are basted together for this fitting with no pad stitching.


This is a mid 20thc. book. Sadly, the book doesn't start the instructions by calling it a skeleton baste or indicating that this is a temporary assembly to check the fit before it is ripped apart, darts stitched, etc. It isn't until the end of the chapter that the author tells you that all that basting has served its purpose and now that you've done that, you should rip it out. The French term is mis a plat. This is one of the major differences between haute couture and made to measure.


I'm still working on a proposal for a women's tailoring book--hopefully a text book. With that in mind, I'm reading again some of the tailoring books in my library. Some are 19th c., but these don't include sewing instructions only pattern drafting instructions. Many have very few illustrations and often include terms which I have not encountered before. Yes, I can decide which bits and pieces I think are more important to readers, but I appreciate the time and effort which you take to offer your opinions and/or knowledge.  


Jukes points out that even though some terms have been around for years, there are many who may be unfamiliar with them. My reader is sometimes an individual on a farm in mid-America. The information in a book is the only contact, he or she will have instruction. I try to be as accurate and precise as possible. 


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#21 Henry Hall

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Posted 01 May 2015 - 02:36 AM

This is the second time that you've responded to posts that I've made in what I perceive as an unnecessarily confrontational manner. 


I didn't feel particularly 'confrontational' at the time of writing. Sorry if it appears that way. It's still puzzling to ask if a particular practice is common (accurate word this time) whilst providing counter evidence against it along the way. Isn't it already known that there have been lots of varying practices through time e.g. breast pocket put in before canvas or breast pocket cut through canvas. Both have been done, who knows which is most common in different places? Opinions may vary.

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Posted 01 May 2015 - 02:56 AM

Claire - thank you for your response. I of course will look forward to any new book you write, but I would be especially interested in a more inclusive tailoring book written with regards to womens' wear. It can be quite difficult to ferret out needed information when many tailoring texts will provide only a few pages addressing the subject. This site has done a very good job of consolidating some of this information.


I think one other situation that is different for women, is that if one desires to create garments for wear in a professional setting, quite often skills that are needed for jacket fitting/cutting are required just to produce a professional shirt for a woman. For example: a skirt suit with the upper portion worn alone - no shirt underneath, obviously not fully canvased, but yet still requiring knowledge of specialized fitting.


I truly understand the need to have no "newbie" discussions of jacket fitting on this forum, but it does leave a bit of a gap in communication for the female perspective.

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#23 Alievens



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Posted 01 May 2015 - 05:40 AM

Well, the shape and size of the canvas is going to depend on the shape and size of the coat forepart.  As a novice, I might get that completely wrong. 


I see your point but I think it's more likely that a lack of canvas and shoulder padding will lead to erroneous decisions.

The canvas is supposed to have inlays on all sides so it can be moved anywhere.


Anyway, we shouldn't be talking about making coats here :)

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#24 tailleuse



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Posted 05 May 2015 - 02:03 AM

Claire, in all of the literature that I've read, "skeleton baste", which is usually the first fitting, refers to the shell with canvas (because, after all, the canvas is the "skeleton" of the coat).  A simple Google search will confirm that most people use the term this way.


Being a self-taught novice, a shell fitting, with no canvas or facing would definitely be the way that I'd begin with a coat, but I think it's fairly rare for professional tailors to do it that way.


In the Old Cabrera book, which assumes the reader has no experience and is fitting a commercial pattern, the very first fittings are of the muslin alone.  Then when the fit of the muslin is good, the instructions are to cut the hymo using the modified shape of the pattern.  The darts are sewn closed, etc.  After that, the horsehair canvas and domette are pad stitched.  A professional, who started his or her apprenticeship by learning to make up suits before proceeding to cutting, presumably knows how the understructure and shell fabric will work together (sewing and ironwork), obviating the two separate steps.  Of course, adjustments always are needed in the fitting, which is why tailors cut inlays.


FWIW, in most photos I've seen of first fittings by professionals tailors I believe the canvas was included.

Edited by tailleuse, 05 May 2015 - 10:02 PM.

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 06:46 AM

A skeleton baist would only have been made in an emergency, say if the customer needed in about a week for a wedding or such. Sometimes with just the canvas inserted and nothing else. On very rare occasions even without canvas and the seams only baisted. This was just to get an idea of the balance and fit of the customer. If the customer could call in before the finish date, he might try on the forward fitting before jacket was finished off ! Trousers would be finished straight off.


I might stress that this was not the norm, as pointed out by Jukes. And not to be recommended.

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#26 ChiTownTailor



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Posted 05 May 2015 - 07:21 PM

From the 1978 video from Johnson Tailors, Carlow, Ireland, it seems they used to do a baste-up without canvas.

8 mins. into the video!

Edited by ChiTownTailor, 06 May 2015 - 02:16 AM.

-There might be a lot of tweed merchants out there making a bodger, but I'm sure not one of them. I'd rather be kicking my heels than making a pork on the mangle. No crushed beetles to be found here!

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