“I Blame the Cutter”

I am reposting an interesting article I found on LL. It echoes some of my sentiments about drafting systems, and the propensity for bespoke cutters to be slightly “loose” in their cutting, leaving a lot to be adjusted during fittings and by the tailor. Though RTW and MTM is often maligned on the fora, the patterns and cutting systems have to be perfected to a great degree since there is very little basting and adjusting being done. A sleeve pattern must be so perfect that the sewer merely matches notches and sews, and can do about 20 pairs in a hour. My work in RTW has positively influenced my cutting for bespoke for this very reason.

But let me be clear here. It is not any cutter’s fault that his system may be loose or imprecise. The author is partly correct in that many who do have knowledge of better cutting systems do not share that knowledge, largely because it was hard-earned. We all learned cutting from one system or another, and these systems were imprecise. They mostly date to a time when production standards were different. In a factory, I have the opportunity to observe my patterns being made up thousands of times in different cloths- I can make observations and generalizations that a bespoke cutter can not. I also found that the cutting systems we were all taught were not perfect; in RTW when we do a draft it was common to make several samples, fitting each one several times, before something satisfactory was achieved. Sleeves were probably the worst. So I started to reverse-engineer the results of my testing and fitting and came up with much more precise ways of drafting which eliminate the need for a lot of these fittings and trial samples. This is an advantage that I may have had over the cutter who only cuts a few garments per week. Many of the old-timers like to say that they stick with what they know and don’t bother with fads. that’s fine. They like to think their systems work so why change them? That’s fine too. But I counter by saying that technology evolves, things improve. Why not keep up, if it offers a competitive advantage?

This article could have been written today, but I was surprised to learn that it dates from 1932.

Interesting

One Reply to ““I Blame the Cutter””

  1. The author is partly correct in that many who do have knowledge of better cutting systems do not share that knowledge, largely because it was hard-earned. I hear that a lot but I wonder if there’s more to it than that. In one particular situation I experienced, I think the other fellow didn’t teach me because he wasn’t certain he knew what he knew. As I’ve come to discover tho, teaching another becomes the vehicle by which we learn to articulate that which we know; it’s a gradual process. In other circumstances, the bigger problem could be merely a matter of opportunity.

    In a factory, I have the opportunity to observe my patterns being made up thousands of times in different cloths- I can make observations and generalizations that a bespoke cutter can not.That’s a very valid point, one I’ve struggled to explain to others. Nearly anyone can make any given one-off work once but the standards of reproducibility as dictated by the commercial environment, weed out work arounds.

    I spent a week at the Library of Congress researching old drafting texts, photographing entire books of drafting systems. I think the running commentary from given authors as to the validity of their methods vs that of their peers would amuse you. From the crude survey I did, I think Harry Simons (_the science of grading clothing patterns_) probably represented the cleanest break with traditional methods that relied on proprietary tools to usher in the era of well made standardized RTW suits. I’m also a fan of his _designing men’s and young men’s overcoats_.

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