There can be a lot of jargon used in the tailoring world. Here is a brief dictionary to help you understand the lingo - if you feel we have missed something off or there is a word you’d like us to add please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Baste – garment roughly assembled for first fitting
Basting – tacking with long stitches to hold garment parts together.
Bespoke - this refers to a very particular type of tailoring whereby a skilled tailor will take up to 35 of your measurements and craft a completely unique pattern for you without the use of blocks or templates. The suit is then cut, constructed and finished by hand. It will involve at least 3 fittings and will be fully canvassed with horsehair or something similar. Bespoke is a term which is much misused these days, if a tailor is promising you a Bespoke suit in anything less than 3 months and 3 fittings it isn’t Bespoke.
Block/Template - the pattern pieces used by a Made to Measure tailor to create your pattern. Unlike in Bespoke, with MtM your pattern will be created by altering these templates to create your perfect fit.
Canvas – a cloth usually made from cotton, flax, hemp or jute and used for providing strength or firmness. While a Bespoke suit is always 'Fully Canvassed', a Made to Measure suit can come in 'Half Canvassed' or 'Fused'. Half Canvassed means there is a piece of chest canvas to build shape but it doesn’t extend the full length of the jacket. Fused means glue has been used instead of canvas. Avoid this, it doesn’t last long.
Coat – jacket. (Only potatoes have jackets, it used to be said)
Cutter - The tailor who you are most likely to meet. This is the person who will do your fittings and cut your pattern. It is unlikely to be the person who constructs your suit.
Fell - a type of hand sewing used to attach the linings. It is done by hand to make sure the linings aren’t tight or twisted, and can be easily altered in the future.
Finishing - refers to the hand sewing done at the end of a suit. Felling linings, securing the edges of the facings and adding handsewn buttonholes. It is this sort of attention to detail which really makes a Bespoke suit so special.
Inlay - the additional fabric left in the seams for letting out a garment over the years.
Made-to-Measure – a suit made to a customer’s individual requirements but not necessarily by hand. This means the process is a little quicker.
Pattern - the paper jigsaw pieces used to cut out the suit.
Pressed Off - the final part of coat manufacturing. A professional will “Press off” the coat. Meaning they use a big heavy iron to set the shape and curves of a coat. It is not the same as ironing something which is the process of flattening a garment. Pressing creates shape and keeps a garment looking smart. It can be a good idea to get a suit jacket re-pressed every few years to keep it looking its best.
Striking (out) - nothing to do with baseball. Instead this refers to using a piece of chalk to trace around the pattern pieces and add all the relevant inlays and seam allowances for a Bespoke suit.
Trimmings - this refers to everything which makes up the garment which isn’t cloth or lining: buttons, under collar, canvas, linen, thread, zips, pocketing etc.