The tweed suit: basted fitting

Sunday, June 6, 2010
Around ten days after I watched it being cut, the coat of my Donegal Tweed suit was ready for a basted fitting at Cad and the Dandy. At this stage, the coat is assembled quickly with basting thread. The collar, lapels and pockets will not be finished, and a minimal amount of padding and canvassing is used. None of the buttons are done, and the sleeves won't open yet. The point is to be able to check the basic fit of the pattern (and so is more useful early on in your relationship with a tailor), and to be able to correct any serious mistakes before the time-consuming hand-sewing and internal construction work is done. At this stage, relatively significant changes, such as changing the button stance or the shoulder width, can be made without requiring huge amounts of extra work as the basted coat will be completely taken apart after the fitting in any case. This is a substantial advantage over the approach of most made-to-measure tailors who simply offer as many adjustments as you want after the suit is finished.

There weren't any huge changes needed on my suit, but there were some that would definitely have been harder once all the padding and canvassing was in place; making the shoulders very slightly narrower, and taking a little bit of material out of the chest. The former is marked with chalk, although you probably can't see it in the photo, while the latter is pinned, and accounts for the pinched fabric just under each arm. The other changes were to shorten both the sleeve and the overall coat length slightly, which have been made only on my right hand side in the photo, so the difference is obvious. The trousers don't usually have a basted fitting, as their construction is so much simpler than any changes can be made easily enough after they are finished.

After the basted fitting, the suit is sent off for a straight finish, which ought to take about five weeks. Any last remaining tweaks will then be made after the suit is finished.