Wednesday, 1 June 2016

A good challenge, making someone’s day

A few weeks ago, in the course of working for one of my brides, I was asked if I could make a tailored suit for her Brother in law to be, he has a number of physical challenges including his lack of mobility and a feeding tube to accommodate.  When I spoke to Mr C he told me a horror story about being trapped in a jacket when trying on a suit at major men’s retailers, with staff there ignoring his needs! Shocking.

So, the challenge was firstly, to make a jacket that would sit nicely, that was not too bulky around the neck, that was split down the back and closed with Velcro to make it easier to get into, and an opening for his tube to go into; all this and for it to look simply like a well-tailored suit jacket.  The trousers needed to have a soft waistband with a Velcro fly made to look like a standard one, no pockets and fully lined.

We started with the fabric, it had to be a good match for the suit his Brother, the Groom, was wearing – especially given that Mr C was the Best Man.  At Bailie House I found some beautiful English 120s Wool & Cashmere, Navy shot with Grey.  It is super soft and lovely to work with and feels more like silk!  To go with this wonderful fabric I got some very silky Navy Twill lining.  My only small misgiving with the fabric is that because it is light weight it can look a little creased no matter how perfectly it is pressed, but the big payoffs of comfort and softness far outweigh that minor point, added to this is that in the wheelchair it will get a bit scrunched anyway.

To start the suit off there was the shirt which had already been bought and needed altering and adapting.

The shirt sleeves were mighty long and were shortened as far as possible without losing the integrity of the cuff opening.

I moved the pocket to the other side and using the leftover fabric from the sleeves, made a jetted opening for the tube that sits about 8cm below the opening in the jacket to ensure the tube comes up through both without any trouble.

Next, came the trousers which are a slim cut dinner suit design without the flat piping.  We changed the waistband for a nice soft Cotton Jersey and made it much deeper to be really comfortable, to strengthen it I have used some 8cm wide elastic rather that any kind of stiffener.

Here you can see the trousers from the side with nice crisp creases pressed in front and back.

The waistband close up with the front fly in detail.

Rather than a zip and button I have used Velcro and poppers which are set in to look like zip flies.

The piece de resistance is the jacket.  The front has a welted pocket style opening at the top left and closed welted pockets on both sides lower down.  We designed the jacket without a collar to save bulk around the neck especially given the narrowness of the shoulders.  I am really pleased with the buttons; they were a fantastic find at Hansons in Sturminster Newton.

I love the buttons, they are really subtle with a matt finish, in the bag are the spares –one of each size for the front and sleeves and a bit of matched thread.  The sleeves are finished with 3 buttons and fake buttonholes.

The welted opening only differs from a normal pocket in that there is no pocket bag and a hand finished jetted opening inside.  You can also see the back neck facing similar to that of a women’s jacket which was the most practical to help strengthen the top of opening in the back of the jacket.

Here you can see the disguised welted pocket opening; I stuck a pencil in to demonstrate how little impact the tube will make to how the jacket sits.

This is the Velcro opening for the back which is so important for Mr C to be able to be dressed and escape from it relatively easily.  Finishing the lining inside was a bit of a challenge although you would not think so to look at it, it was a bit like a Chinese puzzle and I had to walk away from it and let my brain percolate for a while after the first go!

Here is Mr C in all his glory on his brother’s wedding day, it was such a delight to see him all gussied up for the day and looking very sharp.

You can see why it was important that the neckline was as slim line as possible from the side view.

The whole wedding party, the only outfits I had no hand in was the Groom and the Best Man’s second, I had done all the alterations for the Bride, Bridesmaids and Flower Girl.

When I delivered Mr C’s suit and the last of the alterations over to the Bride & Groom’s home in the week before the wedding, many the family were there to see the suit, everyone was so pleased with it and for myself, this has been one of my favourite projects since graduation in 2004.  This kind of project does not come along very often, to truly aid someone to look their very best and adapt clothing to accommodate with dignity my client’s particular needs has been a great privilege.  I love a good technical challenge and this has been a triumph all round.

Thank you Mr C for this fantastic commission and for your patience with all the fittings, I have enjoyed every minute.

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