“Shaping the Front Edges (Part 1)”

As part of the post-fitting alterations to my coat, tailor Rory Duffy cut back the front edges -- along with the left and right back, the left and right back foreparts, and the left and right chest darts -- to help evenly distribute reduction throughout the body; these must now be shaped. In a break with his former master at Henry Poole & Co, Paul Frearson, Duffy here eschews “rock of eye” freehand drafting for the consistency of a metal curve; he is, after all, trying to establish his own style in a crowded market. Next, the front edges of both foreparts are carefully laid atop each other to guarantee a perfectly symmetrical cut. The canvas is then trimmed back to leave only a minimal ¼” seam allowance, which will make for a fine, supple front edge.

We have previously seen how Duffy “draws off” the bridle, gently gathering the cloth just inside the breakline to snug it up against the wearer’s chest. Here, he uses the same technique to draw off the front edges with bias lining tape, gathering the cloth in two opposite contours: convexly at the lapels to help keep their edges flush against the chest, and concavely from the buttoning point southward to gently cup the edges around the wearer’s hips.

While discussing his preference for modern synthetic bias lining tape over more traditional linen, Duffy drops a delightful archaism: linen bias tape was once selected to match the coat cloth so it wouldn’t be as visible when the cloth had worn threadbare. In our own age of cheaply made fast fashion, it’s a quaint reminder that all these handcraft bespoke techniques were developed at a time when clothes were not only expected to fit with precision, but to wear like iron for generations.

- Text and video by Andrew Yamato

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