Most tailors have their standard blocks or patterns that they have developed over the years. These reflect the house style of each tailor. They include little idiosyncrasies that become a trademark for that tailor. The slope of a shoulder, the positioning of the waist, the depth of the collar, all the mark of each particular tailoring house.
With Made to Measure the tailor will take a series of measurements and adjust the standard pattern to fit those measurements. The fabric, lining and button will all be individual to the client’s choice. The internal construction will be to a standard formulae, a combination of interlinings, canvases, padding and wadding to suit the customer’s needs or requirements. A fitting may be involved but more often than not, the finished suit will be made through to completion. A great deal of flexibility can be achieved with this method.
The term Bespoke in fact comes from the fabric of the suit and not the suit itself. In the early 19th century the fabric was worth much more than the labour content of an item of clothing. Merchants would sell lengths of fabrics to tailors, which would remain exclusive to that tailor. A client would choose from the lengths of fabric held by a tailor and would place a ticket on the cloth to reserve it. That reserved fabric was then spoken for hence the term bespoke.
A bespoke suit combines the individual choice of fabric with the individual skill of the tailor. A much higher level of measurements are taken, some sixty in all. These include all the usual measurements but also take into account stance, posture, head position, along with physical anomalies such as dropped shoulders, protruding shoulder blades, corpulence and seat definition.
Once all these measurements have been assimilated the pattern maker will produce a firm card pattern, based on one of the Jeff Bank’s blocks, exclusive to that client.
If the client has a particular challenging shape the tailor may recommend that a toile be made in a disposable fabric to test the pattern before the final fabric is cut.
The selected fabric is then marked with the pattern ensuring that all checks or stripes are accurately aligned. Once all the interlining pieces, corrective shoulder pads and waddings are individually cut, the suit is ready to progress to the workroom to be sewn. A combination of hand and machine sewing is incorporated.
The suit is then basted together ready for its first fitting. At this point the tailor will decide if a further fitting is required or whether or not the suit can be completed ready for delivery, with button holes and additional stitch details being added for the final finished effect.