The Embroiderer's Story

Tailors

October 22nd, 2008 by Tricia

As it happens when researching these things, one ah-ha leads to many questions. I am blogging all this so I don’t forget anything and so please forgive my rambling from one subject to another. So after I went “oh crud”  and joked about a lot of stitching in front of American
football to make those covered seams, I started to think about the order of
things. This was great as I verbalized it to Susan and she went and got a
colleague of hers who is working on the pattern book and had been thinking
about exactly these questions about the Laton jacket.

So the back
seam on the arm would have to be joined and then embroidered upon. Also
the godets or gussets would have to be installed on the fronts and backs
and then embroidered. Also the fronts would need to be joined to the back
along the side seams and then embroidered. Then the rest of the seams could be made along with the cuffs, collar and wings being installed.
Again the vertical integration idea came up.  Well, I asked, then who sewed
the initial seams? A tailor on-site with the embroiderers or the
embroiderers themselves? Or could the tailor embroider plaited braid. Susan and her colleague felt that the well known tailors guild and
embroiderers guild meant that the people were separate and the pieces would
have been turned over. The implication was that the initial seams were done by the embroiderers and then the partially completed jacket was turned over to a tailor’s shop who finished it.

They brought up that
the bespoke (English for Custom-Made) nature of the jackets meant that the
tailor had made a muslin for the person or had modified a general pattern
they had using measurements they had made of the person. They mentioned
that measurements weren’t like we make them, in inches, but more like
positions on a tape. The order would then have been to draw the outline of
the pattern pieces on pieces of linen to then send to the embroiderer’s
workshop for design application and embroidery.  They mentioned evidence
from inventory books that the commissioner may have supplied the linen
themselves to the tailor.  (This brought up the question about suppling
embroidery threads too). Certainly we can see on many jackets that the embroidery was worked to the pattern outline and stopped and that on many jackets the outline is visible and so hasn’t been altered. I had asked if they thought that there could have been an industry supplying partially completed jackets for final construction after purchase. I mentioned this in light of the comment in ‘The French Garden’ about embroidered jackets for sale in the Royal Exchange, implying ‘Ready-Made’. Susan and her colleague really felt that the jackets were commissioned bespoke. And certainly there is plenty of evidence from the garments themselves to support that along with the great cost we now know in making them on risk of having a buyer.

More tomorrow
about the linen and pattern making.

Tricia

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One Response to “Tailors”

  1. norma says:

    Just a note about the measurements being not a real measurement in inches or centimeters — in some of the high end couture houses, measurements are still made this way!

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