Pattern Drafting for Bespoke Menswear
Pattern cutting is the best place to start your sartorial journey. No matter how well a garment is made, if the pattern is not cut correctly and an appropriate fit isn’t achieved, then fine stitching will not make up for its shortcomings. Learning pattern cutting will give you a sense of garment
construction as well as learning about proportion and fit.
Patterns are the architectural plans for any garment. One built on a rock-solid system will stand tall, one built by an insecure and shaking hand will fail at every turn. Learning pattern cutting is as valuable to the tailor as any sewing technique. Not only pattern cutting but measuring accurately and learning to assess the figure is key to a well-fitting garment.
When Rory set out to start teaching pattern cutting online, he did so with his book Pattern Drafting for Bespoke Menswear, the Imperial System, which he wrote specially for his students committing his own knowledge to pen and paper. Rory didn’t do it alone and the book we have today has been meticulously checked and rechecked. Every claim and technique has been proven and assessed. Many of Rory’s students down through the years have asked the questions that he has answered, to make learning the art of pattern cutting so easily understood. One of Rory’s former students helped make the book a reality by taking his hand-drawn notes and creating a book layout as well as digitising every diagram on CAD.
Rory’s book is highly sought after with novices, apprentices and experienced tailors across the world contacting him weekly seeking a copy knowing all too well the power of knowledge and how sought after any book which can deliver the high-quality fit and finish of tailored made clothing could have for the outside world. As of now, Rory wants to keep this knowledge for his students alone so that the tailors of The HTA will have an edge over students from any other tailoring house or academy.
Many in the custom tailoring field has sought Rory out for his intellectual property with the aim of using it to program software to support 3D body scanning technology. Any form of technology is only as good as the people who program it. Many find it difficult to understand that measurements are only 30% of the fit and the rest is figuration. Indeed an experienced tailor does not need a hundred measurements to make a pattern. Tailors for centuries have been meeting clients with a simple inch tape and recording a handful of numbers to turn out a perfectly fitting suit.
It can often be seen that the advancement in technology could end up leaving the tailor behind but with so few resources and highly skilled artisans positioned in such companies, they have a long way to go before replacing the handcraft tailor and pattern cutter.
Pattern cutting is the first all-important step when deciding to make a tailored garment. Relying too heavily on the fitting process to find the right fit is bound to failure. Rory’s pattern cutting online course and the in-house course is the perfect place for any would-be pattern cutter to start. Rory’s easy to follow drafting system is one that he has brought together from many other sources. Some with their links in earlier forms of pattern drafting and others in the new age, techniques that have only been around fifty years or less.
Many experienced tailors from across the globe who have taken Rory's pattern cutting online courses have marvelled at how simple it is. So easy to follow even a child could learn it (our youngest student so far has been sixteen)!
Rory believes in simplifying things. Anything overly complicated is easy to make errors in. He has known many pattern cutters that still use such complicated systems. For example, in the US there are those that use a very long and drawn out drafting system called the Mitchelin System or German/European counterparts who use the Rundschau System. Some have even resurrected the Thornton Sectional System drafting up pattern styles that belong in the last century. All these systems do have merit and have worked well for those who understand them, but for most books, you need to have the back story and understanding of the system before being used successfully. Something that these books fail to include.
Rory was joined by a tailor from Singapore who had learned the Direct Measure System from her master. For the three weeks she spent with Rory learning his system, she first had to put her previous teachings out of her head. By the end of the course, Rory asked that she draft a pattern for him in her old system, it soon became clear that the system was not whole and she had to apply some previous knowledge to her system for it to work itself out.
What use is a system to a novice that needs prior knowledge in order to produce a fitting garment?
Surely the system itself should provide all the answers. Rory was met with the same frustrations when he started to learn pattern cutting. Over time he discovered the answers to these questions and started to formulate a system that could be adopted by anyone, even someone who had never drafted a pattern before. He committed all this knowledge to paper and presented it to his students in the form of his book.
Staying true to his Savile Row roots, Rory’s book is written in the imperial inch, a unit of measure found in the British Isles, the United States and China/ East Asia where he does most of his teaching. The pattern cutting online course and in-house course include trousers, waistcoats, coats, overcoats, tailcoats and figuration for both athletic, regular and disproportionate figures as well as measuring and fitting.
Each student must first purchase a set of tools that match those that Rory uses in his classes so they can follow along unhindered in the process. Students have the option to start a course online and finish in-house, and vice-versa.
Rory has no plans as of yet to include a pattern drafting course as a video series but provides drafting and fitting videos that accompany all of his making video series.
Pattern Drafting for Bespoke Menswear is only available as an online one to one course and an in-house course. Anyone who subscribes to one of these courses is provided with a complimentary digital copy of the book.
Last year I wanted to up my skill level and invest in my education. The HTA was recommended to me on a Facebook forum after a fruitless search for decent courses. It was the only place that I could learn online which suited my situation. I began with Pattern Drafting for Bespoke Menswear, followed by the Trouser Making and rounded off the year by taking the in-house Handcraft coat making.
My recorded lessons are a rich and valuable resource which I consult regularly to
consolidate my learning. The In House course lasted for six weeks; I could have taken some of this online had I wished. I had access to the fully equipped workshop 24/7 and the video series The Making of a Handcraft Coat so I could up-skill before the next lesson. It was a fantastic experience.
Situated in beautiful countryside I could be completely absorbed without distractions. The
accommodation was lovely and had everything I needed, including a board so I could work in my room if I wanted. Rory is a brilliant teacher and a fountain of knowledge. He’s really generous with his time and expertise. His family really looked after me and made my stay a wonderful experience.
Having a year’s mentorship following the course has meant that I am taking on jobs that I would previously have shied away from because I have access to help should I need it. Being a student of the HTA has been a game changer for me, I now have skills and confidence that I was lacking and a thirst to know more. I can’t recommend it enough.