I have recently found myself feeling what it must be like in Dino’s shoes, after spending a week testing my own knowledge as I taught Magdalena, a keen young lady who was recently on a work experience placement with us here at Denman and Goddard. Coming all the way from Bautzen in Germany, I was tasked with giving her a good understanding of what being a bespoke tailor is like. Having had limited previous sewing experience, she first began mastering how to sew using a thimble- something surprisingly difficult if you’re already accustomed to not using one. After beginning with some mark stitching, she soon learned how to control the needle and stitch tension, so I demonstrated how to do padding stitching. By making her own mini canvases to practise on, I could quickly establish where improvement was needed before moving on to some real ones that will be used in Dino’s new suit. As a slight variation to the same stitch, Magdalena also padded an under collar. Despite fundamentally being the same technique, the variation is in fact how much of the stitch is visible on the ‘right side’ of the under collar. It is necessary to ‘catch through’ as little as possible when doing this, ensuring that very tiny (if any) stitches can be seen if the collar is lifted. Whilst being very repetitive, it is essential that the very basics are fully mastered, as they provide the foundation on which one’s tailoring career is based upon.
It wasn’t all one-way teaching though. Magdalena described to me how she’d read through all of my previous blog posts, and was particularly interested to see the photo from our workshop in 1905. As she explained, in German the word for sitting cross-legged is ‘schneidersitz’, which roughly translates as ‘sitting like a tailor’ ie. cross-legged on the board. Fascinating.
Below you can see examples of Magdalena’s work, including just how miniature those practise canvases were!