Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Exploring Bespoke 6: The Baste Fitting

In the last chapter we explored the individual cutting pattern as foundation of the perfect fit and the floating canvas as the structural scaffold of the bespoke coat. Next up in the bespoke process is the first - baste or basted - fitting, which puts it all to the test: it is the first opportunity for the tailor to gauge how successfully she translated data collected - customer measurements and observations on figure and posture - into the garment.

At the first fitting the coat is held together by white thread known as basting

The term is borrowed from the process of sewing together roughly the parts of the coat with white cotton thread - known as basting - which has become synonymous with true bespoke.

The first fitting is all about fit and proportion. It will be generous dimensionally - surplus material can be cut away, but missing cloth cannot be replaced - and should be seen as an approximation, the beginning of the process of taking away, to find the ideal shape.

Brita and I discuss details from the old photograph which inspired the coat

I decide I want very unstructured shoulders, so out come Brita's scissors

First and foremost, the customer should be comfortable, there should be no feeling of physical restriction or limitation of their movement. Nor should there be discomfort with any feature that may not go along with their own idea of the garment’s design. By that I mean respect for the customers wishes when it comes to style and its elements. A massive peak lapel may be the tailor’s own idea of great style, but should not be imposed if the client feels uneasy with it.

Secondly, the garment should flatter their shape, whatever that may be, and this is where a trained eye for proportion comes in. Chiselling away at waist and back but adding where needed in shoulder and skirt, all the while making sure that the fit is not compromised, the craftsman makes the most of the opportunity: taking notes - often in chalk on the garment itself - on changes and adjustments that need to be made in preparation for the next stage - the forward fitting.

Brita pins the back and will remove some material for a closer fit

For other features in the Exploring Bespoke series here on the blog, click here.

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