The subject line read “Bespoke Tailoring–2-week short course at FTM.”
“FTM” is the Fashion and Textile Museum in London. I had visited it as part of my research two and a half years ago for “Sewing Destination: London, England,” which I wrote for Threads magazine. I had been getting the museum’s e-mail newsletter ever since.
Every few weeks I’d glance at the announcements flowing from FTM about its exhibitions, events and courses and enjoy imagining attending. Then I’d get on with my day.
But this subject line grabbed me. Immediately I clicked on the link.
“Led by a Savile Row tailor,” it said. Wow. “Including tours of Savile Row,” it said. Wow!
“Download the Course Outline,” it said. I did.
It just got better–and more daunting.
“All-day field trip exploring London’s tailoring centres and the market for bespoke.” Yes!
“Students will understand the technicalities of fitting a garment [right…in one day?] and begin to draft their own pair of trousers using Savile Row techniques.” Eek.
“Students will be invited into three tailoring companies to be shown the unique ways of working within each company.” Ahhh.
“Using all of the techniques learnt the previous day, students will create their own waistcoat baste completely by hand.” Hmmm. Maybe. We’ll just have to see how much I learnt first.
Despite my qualms about drafting patterns, since anything beyond the simplest alteration gets the better of me, the thought of being exposed to the arcane arts of British men’s tailoring from a pro, in the company of fellow enthusiasts, in my favorite city, was almost more than I could stand.
I forwarded the e-mail to Jack at work with the single sentence: “I want to do this!”
He wrote back, “And I want you to do it.”
The next day I registered for the course.
That was just under three weeks ago. I learned yesterday that only a few places are still open, and the course is expected to go. It takes place January 14-24.
The evening of January 9 will see me boarding a plane in Minneapolis, landing at Heathrow at noon on the 10th. I’ll have a few days before and after the course to revisit some of the places and events–museums, vintage fashion fairs, street markets, and stores–that I covered in “Sewing Destination.”
Between now and the flight I’m assigning myself some homework:
- planning a travel wardrobe
- reading about the history of British men’s tailoring
- studying men’s pattern-drafting and tailoring books
As to the last of these three assignments: I won’t be an expert, but at least I’ll be able to ask better questions.
But, just maybe, I’m being too pessimistic.
Could be a bespoke waistcoat for Jack be in the offing?