Constructing a bespoke suit is not a short or a simple procedure – the entire process can take up to 14 weeks. If you want the perfect suit for a special occasion then it will take time, patience and numerous appointments before both tailor and customer are completely satisfied. From the initial consultation to the delivery of the finished garment, each appointment will see the suit progress from one key stage of construction to another. What are each of these fittings known as, and what is their purpose?
Otherwise known as the ‘skeleton baste fitting,’ this fitting will probably take place just a few weeks after your initial consultation. By this point, the tailor will have tacked together the bare bones of the suit with a white basting thread. There will be no inner lining at this point and in fact the interior will have barely been touched – apart from to insert an adequate amount of canvas and shoulder padding for the sake of this fitting. This first fitting, which isn’t necessarily required for repeat customers, will ensure that the customer’s measurements have been taken accurately. Once any necessary fundamental structural amendments have been made and these changes have been noted on the paper pattern, the first fitting is over. The suit will then be taken apart to leave the constituent pieces before being re-stitched back together in a slightly modified form that is better for the particular customer. The skeleton baste fitting can be repeated as many times as necessary, two or three such fittings is very common.
Also known as the ‘forward fitting,’ there can again be two-to-three of these before the suit fits as it should. It is not the purpose of the forward fitting to make structural changes to the suit, but instead to make small adjustments. This could involve inspecting and amending the seams, the trouser hem length, the sleeve length and the waist fit. As surprising as it may seem, it is only at this stage that the customer’s choice of waist shape and fit is built in – this could be loose and relatively unfitted or perhaps tightly fitted to the wearer’s body shape. During these fittings it becomes clear how close to finished the suit is. The suit will have pockets, lapel facings and an inner lining.
This third and final fitting could be known as the ‘finish bar finish’ fitting. By this point the structure and the fit of the suit are both perfect. All that is left to complete at this point are the finishing touches – sewing the buttonholes, buttons, any extra hand stitching that is required and of course pressing the suit ready for wear.
Every tailor is different, but this guide offers at least a basic understanding of the process. Hemingway Tailors – based on Savile Row and in Leeds – has a rich history in tailoring. Book an appointment for your first consultation here.