Tailoring Course 1, The Bespoke Jacket – Complete

Hello faithful followers. I’ve really been MIA in the social media world for quite some time. Sorry about that. The first half of the course at The Tailoring Academy wrapped up on February 17th and it was a scramble to the finish. For international students like me, this was the final assessment on the making of a bespoke jacket. It included not only the garments we produced, but nine written assignments and a personal portfolio; all as evidence of our understanding.

Someday I’ll get around to doing an actual photoshoot of the jackets. Hopefully, that can happen on March 18th in Birmingham with the @Boyssewtoo catwalk. There’s a scheduled train strike that day, wouldn’t you know; but where there’s a will, there’s a way! In the meantime my “in process” shots will have to do.

So where did I leave off?

After the holidays the international students had six weeks in which to make an additional jacket, with the understanding that we were expected to work as independently as possible. For most of us, the choice was to make a jacket that required pattern matching. We were given a presentation on matching (basically, where you can, and where you can’t), and then cut loose.

Let the games begin!

The goal with any patterned fabric is, of course, to have all the pieces symmetrical. I won’t go into how time consuming and frustrating that process was. Part of my education here has been learning new techniques which I “dovetail” into methods I already know, or have done differently. In the future I see myself working from a “tool belt” of experiences that I can pick and choose from; melding techniques from multiple sources that work for me, and give me the result I’m looking for.

In the meantime when the going really gets rough, I have beautiful views out my window!

And if it’s a really challenging day………

A pie can melt all my troubles away and give me a reason to live!

I can’t possibly go into all the pattern matching mishigas that went down, but here’s an example.

This is the back at the first fitting. The center back is actually the only seam that has been sewn by machine. Everything else is just basted together. I ended up with two vertical stripes side by side at the lower back / vent. This was not intentional, just how my pattern piece and placement worked out. My instructor stated that having those two lines become one would be, in her words, “elegant”. I think she winked and walked away; so in the most subtle of ways the challenge was laid out. I unpicked and resewed that seam multiple times without success. There was always something off, either vertically or horizontally. Because each stripe is comprised of only four warp or weft threads, being off by one thread is obvious; at least to me. The solution was to unpick again and handsew the lower back, keeping two warp threads on either side of the seam.

Nailed it! Finally. One more notch in the tailoring “Tool Belt”.

Time for a break and a hike..

Our good UK friend, Jess (and her adorable cockapoo Ginny), guided us to Lud’s Church in the Peak District. The pictures don’t do it justice. If I hadn’t stopped to take so many pictures, we could have reached the brewery in Winkle before closing time! Here’s hoping for a next time.

Back to tailoring…..

The matching on the breast pocket was actually easier than I anticipated. Either that, or I just happened to hit it lucky. BTW I’m chuffed with the roll of my lapel, which I widened to showcase more of the windowpane fabric. In hindsight I might have moved the yellow stripe a little closer to the lapel edge. “Tool Belt” stuff.

I didn’t feel confident cutting the jets on the bias, so cut them on the crossgrain. A regrettable decision on my part. The interruption of the green horizontal line drives me a little nuts. I really didn’t notice it while working on the pocket. It all came into focus as the jacket came together; seeing it as part of the bigger whole. More “Tool Belt” stuff.

Time for a snow day!

The Blizzard of 2022-23! I had to get out quick before it all melted. It was enchanting while it lasted

Back to tailoring…

I set myself up for a tough match where the collar meets the upper back. Now that I better understand the “mechanics” of working with a windowpane, I would cut the back ever so slightly different. “Tool Belt” stuff.

Matching the green horizontal stripes of the sleeves to the body was way easier than I was anticipating. What I wasn’t expecting was the slightly awkward relationship of the vertical yellow stripe. I never saw that one coming! I play different scenarios over and over in my head; but no way in hell I’m cutting out another pair of sleeves. I’m satisfied seeing similar bespoke jackets on Pinterest that have the same look. More “Tool Belt” stuff.

Enough tailoring. Let’s go to Paris!

As an international student at The Tailoring Academy, I can only stay in the UK for six months on a tourist visa. The course lasts ten months. How to solve that dilemma? Take the Eurostar to Paris, eat lots of pastries and come back with a renewed visa…but of course!

Checked the Musée de l’Orangerie off my bucket list! Moody, Mysterious and Sublime.

I couldn’t resist the drama of absinthe! The bartenders were so much fun. It was an amazing show for six euros, and I’m so glad I went with “the strong one”!

And of course, I shopped for some fabric

There are plenty of blogs that cover fabric shopping in Paris. This place was a gem, and came recommended by an Instagram follower @australianwoman. Beautiful wools, arranged by color, with big designer names. I splurged on 2 meters of light olive worsted that may be Hermès (but who really knows, or cares for that matter). It should make a great pair of trousers and a matching waistcoat. That’s my idea of a great souvenir of Paris.

Au revoir, Paris.

Bonjour The Tailoring Academy, Course 2 — Bespoke Trousers and Waistcoat

Spring is on its way. May it bring fresh sewing adventures to all of us! Be well and happy sewing.

19 thoughts on “Tailoring Course 1, The Bespoke Jacket – Complete

  1. Great to hear you are doing well, learning a ton, and getting to see the countryside -and Paris! Your posts are so enjoyable. Have fun!
    Birmingham’s Moseley area has a wonderful fabric shop called Guthrie and Ghani, including Liberty cotton is on sale right now, they have prints I haven’t seen in the US. I’m debating on a piece now – since the DHL shipping is significant. And my fabric pantry is already well stocked! The owner (Lauren Guthrie) was in the first British Sewing Bee.


  2. I am astonished at the depth of detail you engage in — so extraordinary.

    In today’s blog communication, I was most intrigued by the last photo, of pants on fabric, and the shape and grain line of the pants back. That shown in the photo is different from every other pants pattern I’ve seen and I would love to read what you have to say about grain lines in pants. I am a woman. I’ve long thought that shape and grain lines in pants could better fit women’s curves than they often do.


  3. Oh what a wonderful post. Fabulous tailoring geeky detail and then interspersed with exquisite scenery ( including Tissus Edre … in all its grotty glory ), more tailoring and a peek at Paris. Sheer heaven. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have no words — living vicariously through your experiences. Hope to learn from you as you create more posts and garments.
    (If you have time, check out Broomhill Estates in Devon. My sister and brother-in-law currently own this sculpture garden boutique hotel.)


  5. Thanks for the recap. Think about your adventure and was looking forward to a post from you. I think your jacket is fabulous. You should be chuffed about all of it. I got a giggle out of the “snow storm.” As a half year Mainer, I’ve been in Maine for a storm or two…real snow, hah.


  6. Hello dear friend Duane’s and others, You can not imagine how amazing, Duane, I believe you are. And, even though I am no critic of great tailoring, I must admit the V in the back, the seams created is very elegant and beautiful. You are a master and I can imagine you having not only the challenge of a lifetime but the time of your life. You have lived your previous life just too be right where you should be. How blessed I am to call you friend.

    Gibb and I had a nice weekend away at Fort Kent to the Dog Sled race. We have been two previous times and love to see the dogs run. They are so excited to be doing what they have been bred for generations to do. I am sending a few seconds of video for you to enjoy the excitement. And, by the way, I recently learned what Bespoke means…so all the richer for me to have received your update. By the way it was 5 above zero at Forest Kent while watching the start, so we did not hang around very long. Sent from my iPad



    1. Jane, so glad to hear from you! We’ve had our share of life changing adventures for sure. You would absolutely love walking in the Peak District. It’s a dream world, and a hell of lot easier than the AT! See you this summer when I get back home.


  7. Absolutely love your blog, the photos, the story, the inspiring tailoring, incredible and beautiful. Thank you


  8. ohhhh thank you for taking us on this trip. I really appreciate the ‘tool belt’ concept (and may adapt it to train folks at my nonsewing job). Mostly I appreciate your sharing your experience, all of it. All best to you on this adventure (trousers!)


  9. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am living vicariously through you! Your work is coming along so well. Truthfully, I thought all of your previous work was of couture quality, but now you are getting confirmation of same. Wishing you continued good luck and health!


  10. It is always good to see a post, and the Tailoring Academy experience just makes your posts even more fun and full of inspiration. Plaid tweed is just too good. Tip: pull an individual thread of your wool in the matching color of the pocket stripe and thread a needle and take a stitch over the area to blend it in. 🙃


  11. This post has everything. Beautiful English countryside, Paris, fabric and exquisite tailoring. I’m particularly excited to see your progression as I’m booked onto the shirt patternmaking course in April with The Acadamy, and hope to do the shirt sewing course this year too. I may be a tad excited!


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