What does it take to make a bespoke jacket?

I’m often asked what makes a bespoke jacket different from ready to wear / off the peg (occasionally with an exclamation that they’re half the price on the high street!), so I thought I’d share with you my design / manufacture process and what makes an Eliza Wyke bespoke jacket different.

The jacket illustrated below is a new design, inspired by a visit to the McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A earlier this year.

Each garment design commences with the block traced onto plain paper, from this point I can scale up or down the sizing, and at this stage I add the design.  In this instance, as I’m making a sample (my size!), there is no need to make up a toile (a calico version of the final design to ensure style, fit etc meet the customer’s expectations).

Drafting the pattern from the block
Drafting the pattern from the block

I’m now ready to lay my pattern and cut in cloth.  In this instance I’m using a remnant of wool herringbone from Marton Mills.

Placing the pattern on the fabric - this design has many pieces cut on the bias which means lots of wasted fabric
Placing the pattern on the fabric – this design has many pieces cut on the bias which means lots of wasted fabric

The next stage would be to baste (tack) the pieces together for the first fitting.  However, today, as it’s a sample, I’m going commence the sewing stage.

I start with basic construction of my shell
I start with basic construction of my shell

The first fitting highlights the areas where there is need for further attention – in this instance we need a nip and tuck around the waist area as the bias pieces are not sculpted enough.

This would be the first fitting stage with all the pieces basted together - we're working on the stand today and further tapering is required to achieve the right fit
This would be the first fitting stage with all the pieces basted together – we’re working on the stand today and further tapering is required to achieve the right fit

…and then it’s back to the pattern to mark additional darts and shaping.

Back to the drawing board - the pattern will need to be revised to included a darted waistline
Back to the drawing board – the pattern will need to be revised to included a darted waistline

So far we’ve taken a full day’s work to get the shell of the jacket to a point at which I’m comfortable to commence the interlining and lining stage.  I’ll leave the jacket to rest overnight (fabric can sometimes drop, especially if it’s cut on the bias as many of these pieces are, so needs to rest).

Front view - early construction, under padding and lining construction can commence
Front view – early construction, under padding and lining construction can commence
Rear view - early construction, nearly satisfied with the line
Rear view – early construction, nearly satisfied with the line

The following day was spent nipping and tucking the cloth too create the perfect silhouette as it had relaxed overnight and, on reflection, I wanted a sharper fit.  Only then could I commence the lining, interlinings and facings stage of manufacture.  This stage involves a lot of hand stitching and pressing.

Inserting the canvas padding into the jacket - often this is where I start
Inserting the canvas padding into the jacket
Hand stitching is an integral part of the jacket manufacture - here the canvas is being stitched
Hand stitching is an integral part of the jacket manufacture – here the canvas is being stitched
Hand stitching the shoulder pad and sleeve head into place
Hand stitching the shoulder pad and sleeve head into place
Jackets require a seemingly never ending about of streaming and pressing - here I'm pressing the sleeve head
Jackets require a seemingly never ending about of streaming and pressing – here I’m pressing the sleeve head

The lining and facings are cut and manufactured in the same way as the outer jacket shell,  they are then machine stitched together.  The lining body is constructed on the machine and then inserted into the jacket.

Hand stitching lining to jacket at sleeves - ensures the lining stays in place
Hand stitching lining to jacket at sleeves – ensures the lining stays in place

The above process is a lengthy one with much steaming and pressing, and of course sculpting the jacket on the mannequin and can take at least a day.

The final stages of an Eliza Wyke jacket is the hand stitched finishing.  This includes hand stitching the sleeves into place, the under collar and any top stitching that might be required.

Yet again more hand stitching
Yet again more hand stitching
Completed front view
Completed front view
Completed - rear view
Completed – rear view

I like my jackets to stand out from the crowd, so will always pick a funky or bold lining.  In this instance I used a rose print lightweight satin.

Finished view of the jacket lining and facing
Finished view of the jacket lining and facing

Finally, the with a cheeky finish to the rear, I’ve used a newspaper print for the under collar, which I’ll wear stood to attention to show… and keep my neck warm!

Newspaper print cotton design on the under collar
Newspaper print cotton design on the under collar

 

 

 

 

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