“Experience is by industry achieved, And perfected by the swift course of time,”
Has proven a truism to many a cutter since it was first uttered, and never was the force of it more true than at the present time, when we are in the midst of an age of changes. We have hardly settled on one style before it is displaced by another. the ingenuity of a ladies’ cutter has to my mind to be far in advance of any other profession, to be able to cope successfully with these different changes that take place almost every day of his life. It is not altogether the difference that takes place in the styles, but it is the different requirements, or must I say the different deviations, that are required to meet and harmonise the balance of the coats &c., to suit this change. To my mind there is no branch of the tailoring trade that gives a cutter more opportunity of acquiring that knowledge which is gained by experience through successive trials than does the ladies’ trade. There are really two classes of men that become successful ladies’ cutters, viz., the man who is self-educated and by a self-educated man, I mean the cutter who has turned every fit, whether a good fit or misfit, into practical account. It is wonderful what lesson a man gains through a misfit; he can see, or ought to find out where he really made a misfit of it, and it really sets a man thinking more over this man he does over a good fit, and nearly always comes off a wiser man at the finish. A misfit sometimes seems (although we do not like to believe it) like a friend in disguise. The second successful man is the one that is cute enough to gain from
The Experience of Others, Both by their fits and misfits, and turn it to his own account. an experience of this sort is very often gained in the pages of the Ladies’ Tailor. I find from experience that it is more necessary to possess the knowledge of adaptation in the ladies’ trade than the gents, because of the different alterations that are required in the block for a certain style even in the same figure. We know that the man who does not possess the knowledge of adaptation in any branch of the trade is no good in tailoring; he could not be successful even with the best system, if he does not acquire more than that. A successful cutter should be able to see at a glance when measuring his customer what departure there is in the figure from his ideal form, and so be able to see what deviation is required from his block to meet that figure. Then he should persevere so as to know what alteration to make so as to keep his balance in harmony for this particular style that the lady has selected.
Now this experience is mostly achieved by industry and perseverance, and is a matter to a great extent of observation; this is a study that can be gained every day and everywhere, in his daily walks he can see different forms, figures and styles. Just as an illustration to show the consequence of not knowing this art of deviation, I will take a leaf out of my own experience. I had not been engaged as a ladies’ cutter very long, when happening to be employed in a good size trade, I was called to cut a coat that was to fit close at the back and sides, and to be worn open at the front. After taking the measures and particulars of the style, &c., I had in due course handed over to me the material to
Cut Ready for Try On. This, of course, I proceeded to do; taking down a block of a certain size to agree with the measures of my customer, I began to chalk round the pattern, making the necessary alterations required to meet the form of the customer. I got it cut, roughly basted and tried on, which to my idea at the time fitted fairly well, with the exceptions of a few alterations, which I marked. I took the coat off, got it ripped, smoothed, and re-marked, and gave it to the workman to finish with the necessary instructions. In the course of time I had the coat finished, which I sent home with the skirt and vest that was part of the costume.
I, like many others of more or less experience, thought when passing it into the packing room to be packed, that being so satisfied with the fitting it could not but prove success. I thought nothing more of this costume until about four days after, when the costume was
Sent Back with a Note that that the lady would call; and call she did, as if she was anxious to break my spirit altogether. She started by the announcement that the vest and skirt were all that she could desire, but that the coat was a complete failure, and she could see nothing else for it but make her a new coat, and I thought the same at the time: and to aggravate matters as we had no more of the cloth, and naturally my governor was over proud or pleasant with my production. At any rate, there was one thing left for me to do, and that was to try and make the best of a bad job. so I did what I thought a very wise thing. I left the coat as it was that day, and had an evening of studying over it, and very nearly a whole night as well, with the result that in the morning I had fully made up my mind what was the case, where I had made a mistake, and how I should alter it. But, Mr Editor, I very nearly forgot to tell you what the fault was. In putting the coat on first it seemed fairly right, but as soon as the lady moved about two or three minutes it hung away at the back and sides, that there seemed as if there was not a particle of waist to it. My first thoughts were to take it in at the various seams, but it seemed as if it required inches taken out before it would go in close at the waist; then I thought with this arrangement I should destroy all the various parts at the waist, and that all the pieces would be too narrow, But after a great deal of thought and wondering over the thing, I came to the conclusion that the fault did not lay in the suppression, but that it was
A Question of Balance, For that particular style of coat the back did not harmonise.
As this kind of defect is so often seen, even in the streets of London, I thought if I gave your readers the result of this experience it might prove of service to them, and help them not only to get over a similar trouble, but prevent them to a great extent from falling into the same error as your humble servant. As I said before, the fault of this coat did not lay in the suppression, but in the balance; the back was too short for the front, which in its turn kept the waist from finding its proper level, and fall into its right place.
Now it is a fact, it does not matter whether it is a ladies’ or a gentlemen’s coat, the same rule applies; if it is an open coat, and required to fit close at the back, the back balance must be longer than an ordinary buttoned coat. Ever after the experience of this misfit, I never cut a coat of this description, such as Eton, Zouave, or any loose-fronted coat without making this alteration, viz., a longer back. when cutting these coats I suppress the back 2 inches, instead of 1 inch, and carry all the other seams more forward. This in itself creates a long back: but in this case I could not do that, as it would make all the parts as I said before out of proportion in width at the waist. So I had to resort to other means, which I will to show by the diagrams. The solid lines show the coat as originally cut, the dotted lines the alterations, which I can assure your readers were most effectual. I was really surprised myself at the result, with which I may say the lady was pleased; and I regained her confidence, which is a thing that a cutter, if he wants to make the business a success, must gain. Never send a customer away if you possibly can help it that has lost confidence; better by half make a new garment at a loss, and regain her confidence, than to get rid of a misfit at a profit with all confidence lost, because it is very doubtful whether you will have another opportunity of doing it.
The alteration marked in the forepart is what I always do when cutting these coats. In the misfit coat I only altered the shoulders and underarms.
I hope, Mr. Editor, that this leaf out of my own experience, with a kind of friendly advice, will be of service to some of your numerous readers.