(Horace)Thank you Alex. I know you've kindly answered many a question on this board & perhaps you've been asked these ones: but, nevertheless, I am curious: 1) in general in the RTW shirt rag-trade, is the body of a full-cut Brooks or Hathaway shirt scaled to the measurements of the collar and sleeve. That is, is the body of a 15 1/2 -3 shirt smaller than a 16 1/2 -3 shirt? And what about a 15 1/2-3 v. 15 1/2-4, etc, etc.
The art and science of pattern grading is the terminology relating to your question. Yes. The entire shirt is scaled. The more areas whch are properly scaled, the better - and much more time consuming - the grading job. As an example, Model Size (the size usually supplied for models at photo shoots) is a 15 1/2" neck. This shirt is made to fit a 40" chest. The next size up, 16" neck, is graded for a 42" chest by adding just a tad more than 1/2" to each of the four side seams (front and rear, left and right). Conversely, a 15" neck size is made for a 38" chest. The vast majority of RTW shirts us a waist suppression of 3". Thus, the intended waist on a 15 1/2" neck sized shirt is 37". Account must also be taken of the "Fullness over Skin Measurement". This ranges from a low of 5"-4"-5" (Chest, waist, and hips, respectively) to a high of 9"-8"-9". In other words, after shrinkage, the 15 1/2" shirt (made for a 40" chest) would measure a total of 45" of fabric at the level of the chest on 5-4-5 shirt and 49" at the same place on a 9-8-9 shirt. The degree of fullness, from 5-4-5- to 9-8-9, is a decision made by the designer. There are no standards applicable to this decision, only designer preferences.
2) You make some very astute comments on your site about the decline in quality in products in general. That is, people not taking time to do things the right way, or skimping on certain steps in the manufacturing process, etc. This obviously doesn't apply just to shirt-making but to those of us old enough to remember, the cars coming out of detroit, etc. Anyway, in the standard process of making an American RTW shirt, what steps have been discontinued from the days when you started in the rag-trade, to the present time? Cheaper thread? Less quality control (e.g. insuring that seams are straight, etc.)?....
In this arena, it is less a matter of the steps which have been eliminated than is is which steps have been sped up or robotized. As a simple example, there is virtually no inexpensive RTW shirt made today where the pocket has been attached by a human sewing machine operator. Likewise, though collar and cuff fabrics and interlinings are still, in the main, loaded into the sewing machine by a human operator, that operator merely sews the first set on his or her computer-controlled sewing machine. By so doing, the computer memorizes the stitches per seam and the degree of turn. The next 11,719 collars are sewn without human intervention ... until the size or style changes. In contrast, a very good shirtmaker will adjust and "turn" all of their seams prior to sewing, either with their fingers or using an iron just like a tailor, to insure accuracy. In mass-market manufacturer, sewing machine "feet" - the small device which holds and guides the cloth - are designed to substitute, however poorly, for the operator's fingers. Seams are thus sewn faster by an atronomical factor. A "proper" bespoke shirt, just as with a suit coat, is sewn by one person. A "proper" mass-market RTW (or MTM) shirt is sewn by 52 people on 52 different sewing machines, each specially designed to sew a certain component of the shirt. And how excited would you be preparing to sew your 4,739th Left Sleeve Small Gauntlet Strip of the day??? Copyright Â© 2005 Alexander Kabbaz All rights reserved