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Hello all,

I thought I'd share my experience in case anyone else is interested (and because I'm really excited!). I've been doing quite a bit of homework for my first MTM over the last year or so and ended up at my first fitting today. Apologies, I didn't take my camera this time as it was my first session and I wasn't sure if the tailor (or I) would be comfortable with pics. I should be OK next time, though.

I've been intending to drop a bit of weight for a while and although I've come down a little I realised that I'm not going to do the rest in the imminent future and it shouldn't stop me ordering my first suit (especially given the ability for alterations in a MTM).

Anyway, the fitting took around 2.5 hours and was very thorough. I had a lot of measurements taken, tried on loads of samples and part-made jackets, had loads of questions asked and had a great time choosing cloth (I went with Holland and Sherry Super 100s worsted in Navy Blue - there was a lot of fabric choice but I went with a safe option for now) and cut (2B SB fairly traditional English cut as trim fitting as looks right on a 44ish size).

I went with a lowish gorge, notch lapels, twin vents, high armholes and working buttonholes. I also went with belt loops from personal preference as I like the way a belt looks with a suit. Since this will be a working business suit I stayed conservative and went for straight cut pockets without ticket pocket on the jacket (although I have gone for a rather natty royal blue lining).

There will be another fitting with the partially made jacket in around 3-4 weeks, and then another with the more or less finished suit in around 5-6. Any small alterations that need to be made then will take about another week, so I should have it in about 7 weeks.

One last thought in my head is where does this process sit in the MTM/Bespoke axis? Three fittings plus being able to choose just about all the details and having the suit specifically made to my own specifications leans towards bespoke in my mind, but I know many would class this as MTM as I believe the suit won't be made entirely by hand. Any thoughts on this?

My plan is if I'm happy with this suit, I will order one every three months or so in various colours/cloths and styles until I have a complete suit wardrobe (my existing wardrobe is Canali, Cerruti and DAKS, with a bit of Tyrwhitt....).

Finally, I must say some words about the tailor. I used Steve Whalley who worked for Chester Barrie (RIP) for many years and is incredibly knowledgeable. He made the process very easy for me but allowed me to make my own decisions and used his experience when I needed help. He's an extremely nice man and his prices are very good indeed. It's also a bonus that he is local to me and the suit will be made close to where I live which ticks my box about supporting local business (I also ordered a shirt while I was there).

Sorry for the long post, but this is a bit of a rite of passage for me (I made the switch on shoes a few years ago and never looked back), and the forum is all about sharing experiences......I'll post pics for critique when it arrives.

Cheers,

TB
 

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It depends. Will he make a new pattern for you from scratch and mostly hand sew the suit together, buttonholes and all, or will he alter an existing pattern to your measurements and mostly use a sewing machine? The former is bespoke, the latter is MTM.
 

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The essential and irrevocable difference between bespoke and MTM that the former is worked from a paper pattern cut specially for you and used for no one else. Any other stage involving altering a block is MTM. The detailing has no bearing in determining the nature of the garment.

I suspect that you will be MTm here although some good MTM suits can be had.
 

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You never gave near enough info as to whether it is m2m or bespoke. It may very well be bespoke.

If you go back far enough most tailors were illiterate or nearly. That so many people can read today is really resent history. This means most tailors used block patterns. I wouldn't doubt today some of the best SR tailor firms still use block patterns. After all, house styles comes from somewhere, but it can come from other methods, too. There are systems of drawing. A system produces basically a block pattern, though it could eliminate a number of adjustments. Another method is rock of eye, which is somewhat free hand. Some rock of eye'rs never make paper patterns, so every time you ask for a new garment they simply draw it on the cloth (only a few of these people exist, anymore).

M2M does not go into much for fittings. Bespoke is very interested in your cut cloth being fitted during the process of making. How it is cut, sewn and pressed is very detailed and aimed at fit compare m2m which is more interested in looks. There are a few m2m companies that are more extensive towards better fit, like Oxfford, but not quite bespoke.

I would say there are varying degrees of Bespoke, or you could say Custom tailoring; from completely hand sewn, to major seams machine sewn, to premade canvasses, to even machine made button holes. If the major seams are sewn there is still about 75% sewn without a machine; if you add premade canvasses then the percent goes down, and so on. The collar can be 100% hand sewn, maybe over 1,500 stitches, or a wee little bit with a machine and the rest hand sewn. There are ways of doing almost all of it by machine and still be bespoke; whereas, most m2m would be all machined and probably with jigs. Real tailoring has been developed over hundres of years with few changes within the last 100 years. Comparing real tailoring with RTW is like comparing squash with apples - they'er both food, but that is about it. Most m2m goes through the RTW system of construction.
 

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You never gave near enough info as to whether it is m2m or bespoke. It may very well be bespoke.

If you go back far enough most tailors were illiterate or nearly. That so many people can read today is really resent history. This means most tailors used block patterns. I wouldn't doubt today some of the best SR tailor firms still use block patterns. After all, house styles comes from somewhere, but it can come from other methods, too. There are systems of drawing. A system produces basically a block pattern, though it could eliminate a number of adjustments. Another method is rock of eye, which is somewhat free hand. Some rock of eye'rs never make paper patterns, so every time you ask for a new garment they simply draw it on the cloth (only a few of these people exist, anymore).

M2M does not go into much for fittings. Bespoke is very interested in your cut cloth being fitted during the process of making. How it is cut, sewn and pressed is very detailed and aimed at fit compare m2m which is more interested in looks. There are a few m2m companies that are more extensive towards better fit, like Oxfford, but not quite bespoke.

I would say there are varying degrees of Bespoke, or you could say Custom tailoring; from completely hand sewn, to major seams machine sewn, to premade canvasses, to even machine made button holes. If the major seams are sewn there is still about 75% sewn without a machine; if you add premade canvasses then the percent goes down, and so on. The collar can be 100% hand sewn, maybe over 1,500 stitches, or a wee little bit with a machine and the rest hand sewn. There are ways of doing almost all of it by machine and still be bespoke; whereas, most m2m would be all machined and probably with jigs. Real tailoring has been developed over hundres of years with few changes within the last 100 years. Comparing real tailoring with RTW is like comparing squash with apples - they'er both food, but that is about it. Most m2m goes through the RTW system of construction.
The degree to which the garment is machine sewn is not the determinant as whether it is bespoke or MTM. The essential test remains the pattern. The quality of an MTM may well be assisted by greater hand sewing rather than machining but it will not convert it from one to the other nor vice versa.
 

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Another method is rock of eye, which is somewhat free hand. Some rock of eye'rs never make paper patterns, so every time you ask for a new garment they simply draw it on the cloth (only a few of these people exist, anymore).
Just because a cutter drafts straight onto the cloth doesn't necessarily mean that they use some rock of eye freehand method of drafting. Rather it can mean they have the block patterns in their head, and merely manipulate the pattern in their heads and draft this straight onto the cloth. Often they have a shorthand way of writing down the modifications to the pattern, although some of it is still memorised.
 

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The degree to which the garment is machine sewn is not the determinant as whether it is bespoke or MTM. The essential test remains the pattern. The quality of an MTM may well be assisted by greater hand sewing rather than machining but it will not convert it from one to the other nor vice versa.
Believe that is what I wrote. Most mtm goes thought the same line as rtw and most of this is done where the outside is sewn and then the inside is sewn and after that the two are sewn together and the garment is turned inside out through a small hole which is then sewn shut. Bespoke is almost always open coat method or semi open coat method because more finer details can be put into the coat. The better rtw and mtm use more of the bespoke methods of construction. The real difference is the fittings. Any cutter worth his salt can take just about any pattern, good to terrible, and make an excellent fitting garment. Why? A bespoke tailor leaves extra cloth for fittings which changes the pattern to one that fits correctly on the cloth, after that the paper pattern would need to be changed to match the fitted garment. Probably most cutters would look at a poorly made pattern and find the style of it and then make a brand new pattern for the customer to save time at the fitting. For repeat customers it is often wiser to have a pattern just for that person. Some tailors keep block patterns and a book of notes about each customer and then adjust the block pattern; the problem with this is the curved lines may not have the best curved line and each one different, therefore, taking more time at the fittings. Anyway, however the cutter gets a pattern to start with it is at the fittings where the true lines for a pattern get revealed and tailors that keep patterns for each customer would use that for making the final paper pattern; there are several ways to get the final pattern, one is to cut away and paste on as needed, another method is to use a rowl with lots of sharp little spikes throught the cloth right onto new paper. Either way has considerations because of shrinking or stretching of the cloth. I'm sure there are other methods too that haven't come to mind. I was reading about one cutter that kept all his patterns for cusotmers in his head, and he thought cutters that had paper patterns were rather dumb (if he had a stroke all those patterns could be gone).
 

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Just because a cutter drafts straight onto the cloth doesn't necessarily mean that they use some rock of eye freehand method of drafting. Rather it can mean they have the block patterns in their head, and merely manipulate the pattern in their heads and draft this straight onto the cloth. Often they have a shorthand way of writing down the modifications to the pattern, although some of it is still memorised.
Yes, there are many ways of chalking the cloth. Whatever way works best for that cutter is best. We don't all think the same or process info the same, so what works for one may not work for another. There are many variations and even to each customer a number of variations that a cutter may use depending on how one is thinking that day.
 
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