Is it tragic that new ironing board covers have just made my week…?! After many tantrums (me, with a stained white shirt) and huffing and puffing (them, with a budget), this new arrival to the cutting room has made me positively glowy!
I’m sorry I’ve been so absent from here for the past few weeks; as you can see from the mounds of remarks in this picture, I’ve been buried under jobs waiting to be ripped down for the flurry of September-work. The industry, it seems, goes into hibernation in August: all the tailors go on holiday for at least three weeks for a well deserved break. The only slight problem is asking clients to add 4 weeks onto their expected wait time, and for us to frantically try to use the time to catch up on neglected jobs!
A little light Saturday reading to occupy me at work today. The man gave it to me…heavy hinting?!
Another selection of an extraordinary learning curve: tailors are frankly just odd. Like in any other industry, they have vocab, and unique phrases, but many of these are still making me double take, as though the boys are talking in tongues. I remember referring, for at least my first month here, to ‘seam allowance’. As it happens, I meant the ‘inlay’ left round the pattern piece; spare cloth to allow for alterations. I think after about the 12th correction (and Mr Head Cutters exasperation becoming apparent) I got the hang of it.
Along with the strange words (see selection below), one industry chap commented on the change in my language over the past year… Could the locker room conversations be to blame? Easier to foist it on them, but I feel maybe I need to scrub my mouth out with soap before the boys rub off on me too much!
Mungo: old cloth, useless ends
Rip: take apart a baist after a fitting
Baist: tack together
Skiffel: hurried job (‘skiffled’)
Koshing: patching up an old job
Pork: a job that turns into such a problem that it ends up on the ‘pork rail’- a rack of garments clients have rejected.
Saturday’s job. A snuggly wide charcoal herringbone. Perfect for this grey weather.
A sad week for the cloth house Scabal: Terry Brown is leaving. Having worked there for 30 odd years, Terry (in my view) knows everything about the company and it’s running. Possibly one of the gentlest people (yet according to one account, he’s the man who taught his youngers how to live), Terry has been referred to as ‘the godfather’ of Savile Row by one cloth merchant. A very rowdy lunch was thrown for him, which saw Mr Head Cutter on glorious form. This, followed by drinks, led to many a delicate head on Wednesday… But all for a good cause celebrating Mr Brown’s career. I had a few interesting conversations that evening, including one with an owner of one of the Row’s most established houses: Mr X, as we’ll call him, stood in front of Mr Head Cutter and I, and openly warned him about training up a girl: give her five minutes and she’ll be up the duff. So antagonising. Luckily the man laughed (a lot) and said very plainly that he had no worries. This shocked Mr X quite plainly. Great man.
I also had the joy of meeting George Crossman- one of the oldest old school tailors I’ve been lucky enough to be introduced to. He regaled several brilliant tails about Mr Head Cutter and trips to New York “when I was young…oh, I must have been 65?”. This was twenty years ago, and he’s still going strong. ADMIRATION.
*the ‘piece’ refers to the bolt of cloth. When trying to match an existing jacket to the same fabric for say a new pair of suit trousers, you check the ‘piece’ number. This means the yarns will be the same colour as they were dyed in the same batch. Otherwise very minor differences in brush/tone can appear. Terry Brown is his own piece- good luck to whoever has to fill those very big shoes…!
Having had a few discussions about progression (him: this is where we need to get you to. Me: how realistic are we being?), Mr Head Cutter has taken the plunge: I’m now cutting and striking plain jobs on my own. No checking pieces, no cross checking of measurements: just him, trusting me. Idiot. With this new fun feeling of responsibility (and constant fear) does however come an upside- it is forcing me to chat less and think more…possibly not a bad thing?!
I’ve been in Paris, sewing like the clappers for fashion week. Back to Savile Row (ad vague normality) tomorrow- more news to come…
The way all boys should roll.
The definition of male-chic. Not tailoring, as such, but glorious ne’er the less. The boys at work make so much fun of me for my Barbour- this is my defence. There can be no bad in a jacket that holds a bottle of goodness like that.
The more lays I learn, the more I think they look like placements at a swanky dinner party. Wishful thinking on a grey tuesday! New lay for a checked 3 piece. Fiendish.
The Woolmark and Coolwool event was held yesterday on the row; promoting New Zealand coolwool we all opened up houses and workrooms to the general public. Combining champagne, cutting rooms and journalists, the event was a huge success. Due Mr Head Cutter’s unfortunate absence, some rather strange interviews were given… But a huge thanks to Patrick and Sonya at Dormeil for all their incredible patience and kindness to us; we as a house want to adopt you. The (frantic, if not glorious) day was ended with cocktails down Burlington Arcade- i just pity the poor caterers- I’m not sure they had dealt with alcoholics of this (tailoring) quality before…
Too Euro? We have this discussion quite a lot at work: the line a cloth crosses from chic and quite original to just quite naff. A tricky one.