Thursday, 22 August 2013

Should have paid more attention in geometry class.

I've recently (read: the beginning of June) finished my first version of the Wiksten Tova and it got me thinking about stripes. This top was a really interesting exercise in deliberate cutting because I was working with scraps, not actual yardage. There were quite a few constrains on what could be cut from where. It's something I'm usually very lax about, so it got the cogs churning in my head.



Firstly, I wanted the front inserts to create chevrons from being cut on the bias, so folded along something like the CF line.

I see no chevrons. Whoops.

I also had a big issue at the back of having no single scrap long enough for the whole back piece , nor any scrap wide enough to cut a yoke on the fold. Once again, more chevrons and some flat piping to break everything up. Generally, I like the top, though next time I'll bring in the shoulders just a bit and possibly curve the hem a little. There's not much else to say about it really, there are hundreds of versions floating around the web so do go and check out all of the other lovely versions. Let's move on to something meaty.

I see a lot of suits everyday and it's had me pondering about stripe matching and manipulation in tailoring. Firstly, for stripes to always match over a shoulder seam, the shoulder seam angle compared to the CF/CB must be the same for both front and back bodice pieces. Okay great, so what? As long as your pattern placement is careful, your stripes will always match.

But what if they don't? Shoulder seams vary in placement and angle on several axes, which means you could have a style designed where the shoulder stripes NEVER match, no matter how careful you are. More importantly, you could feasibly achieve a point of fit (perhaps with forward sloping shoulders) where the stripes never match. Couldn't you?

Will shoulder darts throw off the stripe matching?
Secondly, I've been thinking about the CB line on tailored jackets. It sounds thrilling, I know. Stay with me, I'm about to spin off some mad thoughts. Please jump in with counterpoints if I'm waaay off the mark because it's mostly anecdotal.

CB seams aren't necessarily straight like the CF appear to be. I think this might be to do with our bodies having a more regular curve across the whole of our back compared to some odd lumps at the front, or perhaps the need for ease in the shoulders. That's beside the point. If you have a curved CB seam, your stripes will need to meet/splay out at some point.
Oval. Oval. Oval.

I guess this is a trait of RTW and industrially produced jackets: you add extra ease in the shoulders by curving the CB seam to create more room. Simple, and works well with plain fabrics.

Bus many industrious sewists know that the traditional norms dictate vertical lines are good. Good fit is the grain running perpendicular to the floor. Since men's jackets don't really have darts, logic says that these stripes should run vertically and if they're a bit curvy, that's probably not a good thing.

The curve on this CB seam is quite gradual
But, I think good tailors can get around this. There are techniques to steams and shape suit cloth to add room at the shoulders while essentially maintaining straight stripes at the CB seams. This will obviously only work with certain fabrics, more likely a wool than a poly for example. It's also obviously more time and labour intensive. This will be reflected in the price.

In fact, appear straight from afar...

So here's what I'm wondering now:
- Are curved stripes generally an indicator of an industrially produced jacked while straight/vertical ones an indicator of a bespoke/artisanal suit?
- Where's the tipping point between these two methods?
- What can you know about a man's background, socioeconomic status, financial resources, outlook...etc just by looking at his suit? (Or just the angle of his suit stripes)
- Does this apply on a large scale? (ie: changes in the garment industry towards certain production techniques?)
- Can producers of these jackets manipulate these expectations? Can they make an inexpensive poly suit look expensive by creating patterns and establishing a process with vertical and parallel lines? Can a Savile Row tailor make a bespoke suit look industrial by cutting a suit to fit industrial characteristics?

Is this a barmy discussion point, or is there something to it?

To finish, I wanted to leave you with a dynamic shot of the Wiksten in action mid-boogie. They came out a bit blurry.

Until next time...

No comments:

Post a Comment