What I Learnt From an Armani Jacket

I am not sure if many of you know but I am a Saturday 7am Lycra clad, Beach Rd cyclist. I love it because it de-stresses me and I also get the chance to ride down the Paris end of Collins St while everyone sleeps.

It almost feels like I am playing Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (although slightly healthier and at a much faster pace). Every time I ride past Armani I am reminded at of the day my passion for pattern making was ignited. Many years ago when I was fresh out of fashion school, I attended an industry event. I can’t remember what it was about but my guess it was about quality and fit of fashion. One of the attendants brought along an Armani jacket and I was privileged to try it on. I am not sure how many of you have had such an experience but to me it was truly life changing. 18 years after this event, I can still remember the feeling of the neckline hugging my neck, the balance of the jacket which gave me the confidence I would never have to readjust it whilst wearing. The natural swing of the slim sleeve which still allowed for movement and the fit of the body which hugged in the right places and skimmed over the flaws. I have to say that this was the pivotal moment that set about a chain of events, long hours in the workroom, hundreds of hours observing the human figure and the way clothes fit on people and what pattern solution could flatter the body in order to aim for near perfection in pattern making. The skill and knowledge of the pattern maker as much as the designer were evident in this Armani jacket.

Someone asked me the other day ‘what is this ‘fit’ thing you always talk about’. To answer this question I must know about the quality of clothes you wear. The art of fitting has been lost on some labels and the customer does nto know the difference…until the day they try on a label that does care, then the customer will never turn back and will be a loyal customer forever. I am often asked for a set of blocks for a company to use as ‘the block seems to be having an effect on the end pattern’. Or they ask for hints on the top 10 fit issues of a shirt pattern so they can communicate these to their factory. I am sorry to tell you, in pattern making there is no magic formula. 1 + 1 does not always = 2. A block does not make a garment any more than a pattern makers skills are improved with a good block. If someone cannot see how to fit a block then I am sorry to say there is not much hope in fitting a garment.

When a pattern is fitted it is important to understand your perfect client. Incorporate this with a house model to suit that fit and your pattern maker should be able to assist you with the fitting. As a pattern maker, a garment fitted externally then bought in to us with pins makes me feel very uneasy. Often the most obvious fitting solution is not the solution at all. It may even cause more fitting issues. Equally it is important to give your pattern maker the time to trouble shoot the issue. They are often creating the solution to the pattern visually in their mind so they know exactly how to solve it when back at their computer.

Many fit issues are not a matter of cutting off the side seam where the excess is. They are internal and require rotation, splicing, pivoting and moving sections in a way that cutting off the side seam could never fix.

So you can probably see, we are a little proud and a little obsessed about fitting at Sample Room. Needless to say we were in pattern making heaven whilst developing the patterns for the Pattern Room website (www.patternroom.com.au). All the patterns on the website have undergone an extensive development process. The pattern and toile are fitted on our stand then a professional house model before alterations are made to the pattern. The first sample is then fitted again to the stand and a house model and then repeated again in a second sample. We have had time to discuss and tweak and re-tweak to create a near perfect pattern available for immediate download to you. In the background of each pattern is approx $900 of work in fitting and re-sampling. This makes these patterns a bargain! These patterns can be used as basic shapes to style up to your individual look or use them as is.
You might like to start with a Basic Pant, Sleeveless Dress or Fitted Shirt to see if the fit is right for your customer. Have a look and let us know what you think.

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