The skill of bespoke pattern cutting

Image credit Dora Mitsonia

A suit that has been hand made to fit you perfectly has the potential to make you look and feel great and by choosing a bespoke tailor made suit is a worthwhile investment for a special occasion. Behind every stylish suit lies a great pattern so when it comes to creating a bespoke garment, what exactly is involved?

A skilled tailor will begin by taking many detailed measurements whilst taking into account your body shape, your stance and your gait before creating a hand-crafted pattern. This is where choosing a bespoke suit really comes into its own and because all tailor made suits are cut from a hand-drafted pattern, they offer unparalleled fit.

Bespoke pattern manipulation

Savile Row is famous for being the home of bespoke tailoring and three main pattern drafting methods are used by tailors working in this prestigious London street. Pattern manipulation is the pattern cutting system which is used most frequently. A basic block pattern which has been created in a pre-existing size is used as a template and as the starting point to create an individual pattern, before it is improved to fit your unique size and shape. A block pattern will match the dimensions of the wearer but will also incorporate accurate details of your figure, such as your gait or how you stand.

There are pros and cons to this method of pattern cutting: an experienced Savile Row pattern cutter will use their skills to adjust the pre-existing template to produce a brand-new template that is designed to fit your figure perfectly. Although this method of pattern cutting is looked down upon by some tailors, it offers the advantage of providing the cutter with a tried and tested starting point and saves a great deal of time in comparison to creating a pattern from scratch.

Bespoke pattern drafting

This method of pattern cutting begins with your individual measurements which are then used to draft a pattern from scratch and relies on a high level of skill on the part of your tailor. Bespoke pattern drafting is extremely technical – in fact it could almost be likened to the creating of an engineering drawing! A ruler, drafting square and a scale formula are the tools of the trade for the bespoke pattern drafter and once the highly complicated process has been completed, the finished pattern is checked, double-checked and then checked again.

Different tailors have their own preferred system for bespoke pattern drafting and although this method of pattern cutting is very time consuming, when carried out by an experienced tailor, is guaranteed to result in a superb cut and fit.

Freehand pattern cutting

Freehand pattern cutting is something of a hybrid version of the previous two methods: pattern cutters who favour this method will calculate a drafting formula using their skills and experience before cutting the pattern freehand, using only their tape measure and tailor’s chalk to guide them. If you’re thinking that this method of pattern cutting sounds a little vague that’s because it is! Experienced tailors such as the renowned “No 1 Travelling Tailors” will know if a pattern works or not and if they don’t like the way it looks, or if they think it won’t suit you, then they’ll change it. So although freehand pattern cutting isn’t exactly scientific, it has the potential to allow your tailor to create an incredibly stylish suit that fits you like a glove.





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