Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring 2013

I've been busy lately. You may have noticed.

I work for the company that makes Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner Marx, two venerable old clothing companies in the U.S. Hart Schaffner Marx was founded in 1887 and Hickey Freeman in 1899- there's an enormous amount of history in the two companies but like many old companies things needed to be freshened up a little. So over the last few years we have been hard at work updating the product, not least of which is the fit. The latest new things to go to market are in the Hart Schaffner Marx brand.

We have three core fits in the Hart Schaffner Marx line, two of which have been completely updated for Spring 2013, and a third one which has very limited distribution for this season and will see a wider rollout this fall. In all, with all the variations available for advance and custom orders I had about 140 new patterns to make. We will discuss the fits and elements of the suits on the company blog, but I thought readers might like a sneak preview of one of them.

Readers may be familiar with my own personal style of cutting, namely a clean chest, very little drape in the blade, a nicely suppressed waist, a higher armhole and a clean sleeve. The third core fit is all of these things, only cut a little shorter as this is part of our "fashion" offering as opposed to the more classic fits which are longer. I grabbed one of the fall samples which happen to be close to my size to shoot off a few pictures. It looks almost as good as something I might have spent hours and hours making myself by hand, which underscores the importance of fit. People tend to fetishize hand work in garments, but I always say fit should be priority number one.

Now, if these photos are any indication, I need to get some rest. I look tired!



Monday, March 11, 2013

Fitting Jeans

A follow-up to my last post, but this time aimed at the SW&D crowd.

I have trouble finding jeans that fit. If your seat-to-waist ratio is greater than the six or seven inches that is industry standard or you have muscular legs, then you probably have similar issues. When I find a pair that fits in the seat and thighs, the waist is usually two inches too big. The last post was about adding darts to dress trousers- I do this with jeans as well. Taking two darts in the back I can remove from 1 1/2" to 2" in the waist; this takes care of the added circumference but also makes for a more flattering fit in the seat.




Regarding the question about the back yoke for jeans;

Starting with a basic block with one or two darts, draw your yoke line and split the piece, adding seam allowances. Cut along one dart leg and close the dart, repeat for the second dart, then smooth out the waist and yoke seam lines.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

On gaping pockets

Gaping pockets are a common affliction on plain-front trousers, and are almost always caused by tightness in the hips- the tightness causes the pocket to pull open and form what some say look like dog's ears on the side of your hips. Never an attractive feature.

When selecting a coat size, we advise to fit the shoulders first, then worry about the rest; when fitting trousers, it is best to find a size that fits correctly in the seat and adjust the waist to suit. This is one of the reasons. There is a possible fix, however.

Tightness in the front of the thigh is often a cause of this and can be remedied by dismantling the waistband and working about 3/8" of fullness across the front of the trouser, taken from the outlet at center back, shifting everything forward. An extra dart above the back pocket (there is usually only one) is helpful for prominent seats (but difficult to add to a finished garment), and a dart in the front helps with very muscular thighs.

We don't often see this front dart on ready-to-wear, and when we do, it is usually in the wrong place. The most aesthetically pleasing spot for this dart would be right under the belt loop where the crease would intersect the waistband were we to extend the crease all the way up the front, as illustrated.


Anatomically, however, this placement is incorrect. The hip is somewhat hollow at that point, and the fullest part is toward the side. By placing the dart next to the offending pocket we can add some extra room for the thigh and correct the problem.

The fullness and extra dart can be seen on this outstanding trouser, part of a suit made by Leonard Logsdail for an evidently athletic client who donated it to this blog. You can see the proper dart placement (some prefer to approximate the angle of the pocket for aesthetic reasons) as well as the slight puckering along the waistband where the fullness has been worked in. Bespoke tailors will be aware of this but some alterations tailors may not so if you are a former (or current) hockey player who has trouble with trouser fit, you may want to bring this up with your alterations person.