Preventing the Robot Apocalypse
I know I’ve bored every last of my friends with this, but really I just don’t think people understand the intricacy of hand stitching. Not only are there a few structural aspects of good quality suits that are impossible to achieve by machine, but by continuing to use this ‘primitive’ way of working couturiers also ensure the survival of one of the most beautiful (and I’d say practical) of humanity’s art forms.
So if you didn’t know; the front piece of a suit, from the edge of the arm into the lapel, cannot have its desired shape (originating with the Dandy movement in the late 18th Century) without some help from primate hands. A section of fabric called the chest piece, or sometimes breast plate, is specifically woven and shaped to insert underneath the fabric. The chest piece is stiff along the weft of the fabric, allowing for a smooth shape from lapel to armhole, but soft along the warp, permitting the wearer to move with comfort.
Here you can see the beige horse hair canvas being attached to the navy blue fabric of the suit.
In its very cheapest form this layer is a flat piece of evenly woven fusing (so forget about the warp and weft detail I just mentioned), which is heat-fused onto the fabric. This is 99% of what’s available in ready-to-wear today. Better quality suits have better quality fusing, or multiple layers of fusing of various consistencies (this is how I first learnt to make suits) or various combinations of fusing and interlining. The best quality suits use only real horse hair interlining, which is shaped BY HAND into the desired form before being inserted into the jacket. This too can only be done by hand, as to glue it in place would be a step backwards, and to leave it loose would result in disaster.
So instead of gluing the horse hair into place, it’s attached by pad stitches which, with Jedi skills, you can get into a rather neat chevron pattern (don’t see image above, I’m still at Padowan level here). Problem is these need to be so neat and tiny that they’re invisible on the reverse of the lapel. This is, of course, impossible, and on even the most expensive suits you’ll be able to see the minute stitches under the lapel, or at least the mottled effect they have on the fabric.
So don’t stress humanity, no machine has yet been able to replicate even the the most basic of hand stitches — the running stitch — and we’ll be around for a while yet before they’re able to achieve the feather pad stitch. So as long as there are those with taste enough to buy tailored suits, no-one need panic.
In other news I’m enjoying the intricacy of the construction sequence of the semi-lining, causing some rather interesting attachments here and there.
And who doesn’t love the power to tell young hopefuls to take their clothes off, and they simply obey 😉
A few of the models auditioning to be part of the saccaggi awesomeness
Image credit: http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2008/04/25/images/ASIMO_Conducting_lg.jpg