Interview with a Tailor // Closet Case Patterns
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Interview with a Tailor: Wisdom from Maimu

I’ve been really lucky over the years to find some incredible pattern testers. Pattern making and development happens in a sort of bubble, so it’s wonderful to be able to get another set of eyes on our designs, especially if our testers are as skilled and knowledgable as Maimu. She’s been pattern testing for us for a few years, and I always love getting feedback from her; it’s always filled with insightful suggestions and constructive criticism.  Maimu is a trained tailor and all around sewing genius and she was invaluable while we were working on the Jasika Blazer. Today we’re sharing some of her wisdom with you. If you’d like to keep in touch, you can follow her blog here and her instagram here.

Interview with a Tailor // Closet Case Patterns

Kalle Shirtdress (TOPSTITCHING ON POINT)

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

First, I studied fashion in a school that no longer exists. I lasted for two years. Then I studied tailoring at Tallinn Industrial Education Center. Since the start, I made it clear to my two very lovely teachers, that I wanted to focus mainly on menswear and outerwear. The two year course covered both women’s and menswear, everything from shirt and dress making to tailoring suits and outerwear. I graduated in 2006 as tailor/cutter; meaning that besides tailoring I had also learnt the skill of cutting. In bespoke tailoring, a cutter may measure the client, advise them on style choices and eventually cuts out the actual garment. After learning my trade, I worked for few years both as a menswear tailor and in RTW manufacturing and in (God knows what year) I decided to go to Tallinn College of Engineering and learn Technical Design of Apparel and Manufacturing.

How long have you been tailoring?  

On and off since 2006. Nowadays, it’s really more a hobby of mine. Living in a small town doesn’t help either since there aren’t that many clients who are interested in bespoke garments.

What is your favourite part of the tailoring process?  

Removing all the basting stitches at the end. So satisfactory.

What fabrics do you especially like to work with?

Anything thick and heavy really, but especially melton. I absolutely love coat making.

What skills should people try to master when tailoring blazers?

Sewing straight is always a must. But, get those pockets right! They should be at equal height, equal in length and width. So, before you cut your pocket open, measure everything from the left side to be sure. You don’t have to dive right in, sew a few pockets as a practice run first.  Secondly, how to press and shape a garment. Pressing is something that people fear, since one can very easily ruin a garment. Again – test first. Some fabrics do bruise more easily, some don’t like a lot of moisture. It’s also very important to let the garment parts set and dry after the pressing.

Do you have any designers or instagram accounts you like to follow for inspiration?  

For style inspiration:

For all the basting thread glory :

Do you have any fitting advice?  

First, get to know your body and posture. Maybe your one shoulder is lower than the other one? Maybe one of your arms is longer than the other one. Do you slouch? Knowing that in advance will help your fitting go a bit smoother. During the fitting, try to keep your posture as natural as possible, standing erect during the fitting will result in an ill fitting garment. Secondly, get the balance right. Make sure that the bottom hem and the waistline are parallel to the ground. And thirdly, don’t over do it! You have to be able to move comfortably in your clothes.

Any other other tips, tricks or insight you’d like to share?  

PRESS. YOUR. SLEEVES. Those tubular trunk-like things really bother me. (Heather here: There is a special pad tailors use to shape and mold sleeves to the natural shape of the arm. Maimu explained how to do this and I demonstrate in our online tailoring workshop). Also, facings on any coat that goes past your knees should be attached to the main body. Same goes for double breasted coats, and coats or jackets without a closure. Those facings will start to roll out at some point, and that is just…a no. Oh, and clip your threads!

Thank you Maimu! We love you!