Welcome to the Apprentices' Forum.
Background: Although there is a resurgence of interest in bespoke tailoring, finding tailors good enough to employ as an apprentice are becoming increasingly difficult. Traditional tailoring schools have disappeared in most countries, and there is a lot of competition for the few apprenticeship positions that remain.
Forum Aims: To learn to make garments to a standard that will make you employable at a basic level. Members will all expect you to learn proper professional methods, rather than home sewing methods. If you wish to learn quick and easy home sewing shortcuts you should find a home sewing forum better suited to your needs. Learn to respect the difficulty of the Art of Tailoring and the years that are required to master it. Members here are not paid to tutor you, so you must learn to win their respect if if you want help.
Target Audience: Due to the difficulty of this task, this forum is suited only to intermediate to moderately advanced level learners who have mastered basic sewing techniques. You must be capable of independent learning and have good initiative. If you need to be taught the basics one small step at a time, then you should pay a personal tutor to show you what to do step-by-step.
Progression: As in a traditional apprenticeship you have to start with simpler garments such as a skirt or trousers before progressing on to waistcoats. If you need to be taught the basics, you should use a commercial pattern and consider enrolling in a homesewer's class first. Google for private tutors and sewing classes locally where you can be taught to sew skirts and trousers. You will need to be given permission by a moderator before you move onto making more difficult garments.
Skirts. This is the best place of all to learn how to cut. It is for this reason that skirt drafts are provided in the Women's Cutter and Tailor forum, as well as threads on how to troubleshoot problems with fit and balance. There are also threads on how to make up skirts. Cabrera's book on ladies' tailoring also contains step by step instruction for making up skirts.
Trousers. The second step is to learn to make trousers, you need to have three books:
1. David Page Coffin's book.
2. Cabrera's book
3. Hostek's book on making bespoke trousers
If you wish, you can start by learning to make up trousers. This is where you would normally start in a traditional apprenticeship. However, it is better that the first garment you learn to draft be a basic skirt, as it is simpler.
Waistcoats (Vests). The third step is a waistcoat. Cabrera has instructions in it, although unfortunately they are for a fused waistcoat. Hostek's book on making vests is also required.
Time Scale. You should give yourself plenty of time to cut and make up, if you wish to get professional looking results. If this is a weekend project you may need several months of dedicated application for each step of the progression. You will need longer for your first coat.
There are three important rules for this forum:
1. You Must Use a Modern Cutting System (post-1940)
2. You Must First Learn to Make Trousers and Waistcoats before Progressing to Coats
3. Learners Must Obtain Permission from a Moderator Before Progressing onto Asking Questions About Making a Coat
4. Questions About Coats Are Only Permitted in the Advanced Apprentices' Forum
Learners must use a modern system because troubleshooting dated systems increases the difficulty drastically and is considered an advanced subject. Before being allowed to progress to discussing coats we need to have seen examples of your work, showing that you have first learned to make trousers and waistcoats. You can do this either by sending a private message to a moderator, or in a public thread. You will only get the go ahead to attempt a coat if your abilities are judged as being sufficiently advanced to be allowed to proceed to the next stage. The term "coat" includes all kinds of jackets, overcoats, and body coats both for men and women.
These rules are to help you, not to be mean to you. We want to see you gaining confidence bit by bit. We want to see you enjoying yourself. We also want to be rewarded by seeing the fruits of the effort we put into helping you. Making a coat is like climbing Mt Everest. We don't want to help you to kill yourself working for 400 hours trying to make a coat only to find that at the end of it, you have to throw it into the rubbish bin and start again. You are just going to be discouraged and disappointed. Either that or you will give up, but not before you waste a lot of our time as well as yours. Worse still, you might just get into the habit of making very shoddy coats ("something mother made me"). We also find it challenging to help people cut and make coats, or any other garment, so be nice and respectful to the more senior forum members here that give up their time for you, and always listen to the advice they give you.
So please, do not try to start your learning journey with coats of any kind. Threads that disregard this rule will be locked or deleted, because they risk wasting everyone's time.
We have found that the best way for beginners to learn is:
1. Draft a paper pattern for your skirt (or trousers) using a modern system
2. Make a trial garment (of disposable cloth preferably in a similar weight to the final intended garment)
3. Take pictures of the trial garment being worn by the figure it is intended for, as well as the paper pattern. The pictures should be of good quality. We need to see shots from the front, back and side.
Expect to be sent back to the drawing board numerous times before your pattern has been well proofed enough to proceed to the making up stage. It may take you weeks or months to get the pattern for your skirt or trousers right. You may want to make your first trial garment out of a cheap cloth and then once you gain confidence in your pattern, you can the use more expensive cloth similar to your final garment.
A Word of Caution
Never underestimate the level of difficulty in learning proper professional tailoring methods. Please try to understand that the rules about starting with basics and gradually working your way up are in your best interests. When you look back, you will be grateful that some sort of structure has been given to your learning process. It takes as long to become a professional tailor as it does to become a surgeon, so you will need many years of patient practice and study to master the trade. That also means that you can no more learn to become a tailor by on-line learning than you can become a surgeon. The best you can hope to achieve on-line is to become good enough that you can make yourself useful as an apprentice in a busy tailoring shop without slowing the workshop down, and being considered more a help than a hindrance.
Remember that there is nothing wrong with making things to a homesewer's standard. However, this is outside the scope of this forum, and you should find yourself a friendly homesewing forum where you will get advice better suited to less than professional expectations.
Show initiative. Beginners seeking advice are also asked not to start threads demanding that members "show me how to make this", and expect to sit back and be taught step-by-step. The amount of private tutelage this would require is too much of a burden on members, and there are already plenty of threads on most topics if you do a search. The recommended books will also have detailed instruction in them too. So please show initiative by carefully searching the forum, and studying the recommended books. Only then ask a carefully thought out question. You will find you will be rewarded with plenty of helpful advice and encouragement. In rare cases, we may need to send you off to find yourself a private tutor in real life before you are ready to use the forum to seek advice from members.
Please only discuss garments suitable for learners. If you post things that are extremely difficult here such as body coats, before you are ready to make them, it will be deleted, because it tends to encourage beginners to attempt things that are way too difficult. Once again, this is to help you learn gradually so you are rewarded with satisfaction and enjoyment rather than frustration.
Beginners are also asked to refrain from sending a barrage of private messages to members requesting step-by-step private tutelage. You are asked instead to post your question on the forum, so that the burden of giving you advice is shared with other members. If members get an unreasonable number of private messages asking for help please report this to a moderator We understand that novices crave to have someone that they can call their Master, but this forum and its members cannot fulfil that role.
Lastly, remember that members are not being paid to give you professional advice. That means you have to have enough initiative to be your own teacher here or else pay a teacher to help you in real life. This forum is suited only to those capable of self-directed learning. Learners who repeatedly abuse the good will of members will be asked to leave the forum.