Calling all tailors and/or cognoscenti: shorten jacket sleeve from shoulder question

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by warlok1965, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. warlok1965

    warlok1965 Senior member

    Messages:
    1,547
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2007
    Location:
    Over the hills and far away.
    Dear MC friends,

    I have searched but have not found a good answer or thread to add to with my predicament. I have a blazer with functional button cuffs whose sleeves are too long. Therefore, according to accepted SF dogma the proper way to shorten the sleeves is from the shoulder. I took the jacket to my tailor, whose credentials include being an old man from Italy with 50 years in the industry, who has in the past done a lot of bespoke work. In short, he told me there is absolutely no way to do this alteration without ruining the jacket.

    He took a good 15 minutes to show me, including a hands-on mini-workshop with scissors and chalk and some on spare cloth, why it can't be done satisfactorily. The short explanation is that jacket sleeves taper a lot immediately below the shoulder, and if he were to even try to shorten it by a little, the armhole circumference would become so small it would be all but unwearable.

    My question is this: Is he full of crap? Are there any tailors here who can naysay? Have any of you gentlemen that have had this alteration done noticed said armhole constriction? How much did you have them taken up? Is there a tailor in LA that could do the job?

    Sincerely,
    warlok1965
     


  2. Parker

    Parker Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    7,836
    Likes Received:
    13,002
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Location:
    Yerba Buena
    I'm neither a tailor nor cognoscente, but I think it depends on how much you are shortening and the fullness of the sleeve. Some sleeves might have enough width that it won't be a problem. Your tailor sounds like he knows what he's doing, so I'd probably just take his advice. But, I suppose you could always get a second opinion from someone else.
     


  3. Caffeine

    Caffeine Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2009
    I'm female and I'm here to do my work for my first MTM suit, but I can share my experience with you.
    I've had Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen jackets altered from the armholes. My tailor took them up by at least one inch. They look fantastic. I won't be surprised if taking too much can create problems though.
    Unfortunately my tailors are all located in NYC. The tailor at World Class Cleaner in the city is the best. (Although the store owner is an A$$). The tailors at Bergdorf are also very good. I am extremely happy with my Alexander McQueen jacket.
     


  4. David Reeves

    David Reeves Affiliate Vendor Affiliate Vendor

    Messages:
    3,122
    Likes Received:
    2,076
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    Location:
    New York
    This is nonsense. I perform an alteration of this nature several times a week. In fact I used to work at a store that had all the off the rack suits altered from the sleeve head. They did about half a dozen suits a day.

    Of course you can only do it by so much. You should also consider taking a bit off the cuff as well. A lot of suits start there button holes quite far up the sleeves. There's nothing to say you can't have your button a little closer to the edge. You can also shorten the sleeve at an angle reducing the length but not running into the button.

    If yo need to shorten the sleeve by quite a bit your tailor may perform all of the above alterations.

    If this won't do you can replace the sleeves altogether. Of course this can't be done off the rack.


    I have searched but have not found a good answer or thread to add to with my predicament. I have a blazer with functional button cuffs whose sleeves are too long. Therefore, according to accepted SF dogma the proper way to shorten the sleeves is from the shoulder. I took the jacket to my tailor, whose credentials include being an old man from Italy with 50 years in the industry, who has in the past done a lot of bespoke work. In short, he told me there is absolutely no way to do this alteration without ruining the jacket.

    He took a good 15 minutes to show me, including a hands-on mini-workshop with scissors and chalk and some on spare cloth, why it can't be done satisfactorily. The short explanation is that jacket sleeves taper a lot immediately below the shoulder, and if he were to even try to shorten it by a little, the armhole circumference would become so small it would be all but unwearable.

    My question is this: Is he full of crap? Are there any tailors here who can naysay? Have any of you gentlemen that have had this alteration done noticed said armhole constriction? How much did you have them taken up? Is there a tailor in LA that could do the job?

    Sincerely,
    warlok1965[/quote]
     


  5. erdawe

    erdawe Senior member

    Messages:
    2,121
    Likes Received:
    15
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Location:
    TBA
    I'm interested to see the various responses myself... Also, anyone want to comment on they pay for this alteration?

    This issue is why I do not consider working buttonholes to be an upgrade or sign of higher quality for RTW items some makers/sellers lead on. Buttonholes could be added later if necessary.
     


  6. Journeyman

    Journeyman Senior member

    Messages:
    6,832
    Likes Received:
    1,846
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2005
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    It's not an easy procedure to do, as I understand it.
    However, it certainly is possible, as I have had it done to about six jackets thus far.

    There are two provisos to bear in mind:
    - It's generally not possible to shorten to sleeve from the shoulder by more than an inch or inch-and-a-half, as sleeve usually become narrower and thus, as your tailor pointed out, you can't fit the sleeve into the sleeve-head.
    - If the suit has a reasonably large-scale check pattern, it will be very difficult to ensure that the jacket retains any pattern-matching around the sleeve-head. I've been very lucky in a couple of cases that the amount that I needed to sleeve shortened corresponded exactly with the scale of the check. Of course, as David Reeves pointed out above, you could have the jacket shortened a bit at the top of the sleeve and a bit at the cuff and this may allow you to retain pattern-matching.

    So, whilst there are concerns or issues, and whilst it can only be done by a certain amount, it certainly is possible.
     


  7. warlok1965

    warlok1965 Senior member

    Messages:
    1,547
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2007
    Location:
    Over the hills and far away.
    Thanks for the responses so far. I did point out to him the possibility of taking off some from the cuff, which I don't mind at all. I would need about 2" total reduction for it to be wearable. He said he would not even think of doing more than .5" from the top, which would not be enough. If he could do 1" from the cuff and 1" from the shoulder, it would be perfect. He was adamant [​IMG] He's always done amazing work for me and does pretty much whatever I ask, but in this case he is making a blanket statement that it will hose the jacket and he won't do it. Sounds like I need a second opinion!
     


  8. Caffeine

    Caffeine Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2009
    I'm interested to see the various responses myself... Also, anyone want to comment on they pay for this alteration?

    This issue is why I do not consider working buttonholes to be an upgrade or sign of higher quality for RTW items some makers/sellers lead on. Buttonholes could be added later if necessary.

    my tailor charged $75-100 for a job like this. Again, they always charge women more......[​IMG]
     


  9. dragon8

    dragon8 Senior member

    Messages:
    4,617
    Likes Received:
    52
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Location:
    San Francisco
    My advice is don't do it. All tailors will say they can do it but its very difficult to do. My tailor told me he can do it and butchered it.
     


  10. Journeyman

    Journeyman Senior member

    Messages:
    6,832
    Likes Received:
    1,846
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2005
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    My advice is don't do it. All tailors will say they can do it but its very difficult to do. My tailor told me he can do it and butchered it.

    I think that if a tailor tells that you it cannot be done or that he cannot do it, then don't ask him to do it.

    It took me a couple of years to find a tailor in whom I had sufficient confidence to ask him to shorten a jacket at the sleeves, and he did a fantastic job.

    I don't know what the situation is like in the US, but here in Australia quite a few stores seem to order Brioni or Borrelli with working buttonholes and thus they need to shorten the sleeves from the shoulders.

    Therefore, there's usually one or two tailors around in the bigger cities who are able to perform that procedure.

    I really don't understand why there is this drive to put in working buttonholes recently as if you really want working buttonholes, it actually seems to be both easier and cheaper to simply cut working buttonholes in the sleeve. I had a Caruso suit with basted sleeves and my tailor charged me about $60, from memory, to cut and sew the buttonholes in each sleeve. He charges about three times that for shoulder alterations, due to the time consuming and complex nature of the work (particularly if pattern-matching is involved).
     


  11. LesterSnodgrass

    LesterSnodgrass Senior member

    Messages:
    581
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    DC
    I had it done by a tailor at Brooks Brothers on a chambray sport coat that had stitched faux button holes that would have looked funny of they were unstitched. In my opinion it didn't work out all that well. Nobody I know would think it looked bad at all. All of you nit-picky bitches would notice that the sleeve pitch is off.
     


  12. Jokerman

    Jokerman Senior member

    Messages:
    1,624
    Likes Received:
    16
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2008
    Location:
    Nantucket
    I had the same problem. I bought my blazer from Sak's in NY and they had to do it from the shoulder. However when I got it they where still to long and plus they did a horrible job so I went to a local tailor shop who said they would do it again and do it right. So it is possible.
     


  13. warlok1965

    warlok1965 Senior member

    Messages:
    1,547
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2007
    Location:
    Over the hills and far away.
    So the guys that have had the work done, how much length did you end up removing?
     


  14. GusW

    GusW Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    19,282
    Likes Received:
    3,518
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    I had 2-2 1/2 inches shortened on three jackets from a tailor in San Francisco (Oxford). It cost about $150 and was perfect each time. I have no idea why your tailor made a big fuss over it. Get a new tailor.
     


  15. Jokerman

    Jokerman Senior member

    Messages:
    1,624
    Likes Received:
    16
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2008
    Location:
    Nantucket
    Yea I had 2-3 Inches shortened on my sleeves. It only cost me $35.
     


Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by