Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear: book review and Giveaway!

classic tailoring techniques for menswear

Today I would like to share a review of a great book that is already my best friend and bible for #Blazerof2016. The lovely people of Bloomsbury Publishing have not only sponsored me this fabulous book but have also sent an extra copy for one other lucky reader!

The title of the book is Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear: A Construction Guide. And this is the 2nd edition written by Roberto Cabrera and Denis Antoine since it first published in 1983.

My bookshelves are home to all sorts of sewing literature but when it came to ventures in proper tailoring techniques, none of them books scratched that itch, if you know what I mean.

I am a woman on a mission with a man’s jacket to make before June is out. Jamie has already completed his stunning plaid blazer and panic was beginning to set in fast. But now I have my trusty guide I feel the journey will be easier.

If ever I was doubting the ‘why’ of tailoring, the short and concise intro reassures the reader of the unsurpassable techniques over faster more modern ways to achieve that impeccable finish. It gives a brief but insightful history that inspires a preparation for a very slow but satisfying journey ahead!

classic tailoring for menswear intro

The contents include the following chapters: Tailoring; The Pattern; The Fit; The Fabric; Layout and Cutting; The Jacket; The Pants; The Vest; and Alterations.

There then follows an extended table of contents which allows the reader to go straight to the finer points within each chapter. The Jacket is clearly my primary concern and so when I come to pockets, I now have all the necessary information to create a welt, cash, patch, double-piped or double-piped pocket with flap should I choose to add one… or all of them!

As a book designer myself I’m very particular about presentation and I am a stickler for levels of information. So I’m very happy to report that I found the inside layout to be very clean and concise. The font is classic and unfussy, a good size with comfortable space and set in good readable chunks.

I must admit, at first I was disappointed by the black and white photography. It does appear take away some visual interest but on further inspection, all becomes very apparent. The hand-stitches which are crucial to the tailoring process along with other key marked areas are highlighted in red against the greyscale photography and therefore are easily recognised without distraction. It’s a more sophisticated approach than the sole use of line-drawn illustrations and diagrams which can sometimes be too graphic and disassociated with the real thing. Colour photography would have looked lovely – especially to see some of those coloured tweedy fibres – but style over substance would have been useless in this instance. I’m after good, clear and immediate instruction and this is what this book delivers.

The reality of the photography delivers on other levels too: you can identify the lay of the fabric, how it ripples, how it rolls, how it behaves. You’d never get that across with any amount of linework!

That said. This book also displays some fine line drawings which hone in on the tiniest details.

All the tailoring and understructure supplies you will need are clearly listed and defined along with necessary techniques and hand-stitches. And there is a  very well explained section on how to take measurements. The repeated photo of the man in white pants is a little distracting but as I mentioned before, far more preferable to a line drawing. It’s easier to see exactly where on the body those measurements should be taken. Nothing left to the imagination here!

classic tailoring taking measurements

And fitting is obviously a major part of the process. This section does good to address posture and body imbalance and how to identify the issues. I’m focussing on the jacket here and where wide shoulders and a stooped posture adjustment might come in dead handy, but should I venture into tailoring trousers in the future I’ll be ready for any amount of bow-legs, knock-knees and flat bottoms!

There is brief but great insight into the world of wool fabrics that are used in tailoring. The weights, the textures and the usages; naps, shrinkage and how to straighten a grain. This section may have benefitted from some colour just to see those checks and stripes pop, but again. It’s just the information I need. I can go see and stroke any amount of fabrics up the Goldhawk Road for that kind of fix!

Laying and Cutting Out covers exactly how the professionals do it. Great to see the hands at work and of course a vital section on matching plaids/checks and stripes.

classic tailoring for menswear

When I got to the Jacket section I was a bit overwhelmed. So much stuff to learn. But that is the whole point. I want to learn. And I want to have reference to it all. I want to get good at this and there is no fast track way. Just slowly and properly and remembering to enjoy each little step-by-step instruction. I’m really looking forward to making some shoulder pads. There’s a great how-to with a pattern at the back of the book. Incidentally there are also traceable patterns included for a French fly and a French tab and some other elements that I’m not going to pretend I know what they are yet!

The Trousers and Waistcoat sections are just as detailed. Covering the classic tailored processes for each stage. No stone unturned, it would seem.

The final section covers Alterations, which will prove invaluable if I ever I fancied some more unselfish sewing further down the line. And already I am inspired to pick up on the advice for relining a jacket. Something I have been putting off for so long (see this Boer War jacket). It is so simply and brilliantly explained that it makes me feel daft for every doubting my capabilities! And if you ever need to alter a pair of trousers for the man who has muscular inner thighs, look no further.

In fact, it’s all there: what you need, and what exactly you need to do to achieve each stage of a perfectly classic tailored jacket, waistcoat or pair of trousers. Brilliantly presented and clearly explained… in black and white (and red)!

If this little review of Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear has whetted your appetite, click here to be taken to Fairchild Books – an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing– where you can buy one for yourself and peruse all the other amazing fashion titles they have on offer.

Or if you fancy winning yourself a FREE copy, simply leave a comment below and let me know how you are getting on with #Blazerof2016 or indeed any other tailored garment you have plans for. Entries will be drawn on 30th April and the winner announced on 1st May 2016. It really is a fabulous prize – good luck!

Both the review and the giveaway copyies of Classic Taloring Techniques for Menswear were kindly given to me free of charge by Bloomsbury Publishing. All opinions expressed are my own.


72 Replies to “Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear: book review and Giveaway!”

  1. The book looks fantastic – I do really love reference books, even though project books can be more tempting when flicking through in the shop! I’m working on a jacket for myself (using a Gertie pattern B5962), progress is a bit slow at the moment but I’m taking my time & enjoying it (& stopping for quicker projects in between when I feel like it!)

    1. It really is, Charlotte. Look forward to seeing your Gertie Jacket. It looks amazing. And consider yourself entered. Good luck! 🙂

  2. I am not working on anything at the moment. However, I am the go to person for friends and family in search of alterations and tailoring.

  3. That book looks amazing! Trying to work up the energy to make myself a little jacket to match a skirt I made last year – I’ve been itching to try more structured garments but sadly haven’t got underway just yet! I love all the geeky detail 🙂

  4. I’m currently working on a shirt for my fiancé. The book looks like a great resource for future projects for him – in fact there’s already been some talk about a blazer…

  5. Great review. I have just recently upped my sewing abilities. I have just finished a bombshell swimsuit which boosted my confidence and am lining up something alittle more challenging. Like a tailored pants suit for myself. I am In the process of finding a great fabric. I also sew for the grandchildren, however now their parents are starting to show some interest. Have brought all the daughters sewing machines so I am excited to see how they progress. But I have to keep a few steps ahead, they are fast learners.

    1. Well done on passing on those skills, Kim. What a treat to make a tailored suit for yourself. This book will be a brilliant resource for you I’m sure. Good luck.

  6. What a fantastic book! I love learning more and more about tailoring. I am finishing a Dior (Vogue 2615) from 1971. Very sharp and it fit right out of the envelope. This year I tailored a Thread Theory peacoat for my husband. He gets compliments every time he wears it. I would LOVE to win this book. Thanks!

    1. Wow, Hillary that Vogue pattern is amazing. And what a lovely wife you are to make a coat for your husband! You are duly entered and wishing you lots of luck!

  7. I recently finished a vest for my husband, it’s a pity I didn’t know about this book as it looks like it would have really helped. Plan is for my next tailoring project to be a blazer for me, hopefully the book will spur me on

  8. This book sounds amazing! The alterations section is really what interests me, my husband is always wanting me to do some kind of alteration and some I breeze through while others I’m stumped. I am also a reference book junkie, so I would love to have the book in case I eventually tailor a jacket. Thank you for the chance.

  9. Great book! I am going to sew first ever blazer for S. this year. The challenge is a big help for me. For now I am collecting ideas, patterns and instructions. I would love to win this book!

  10. Fantastic review, I will Def be trying to get my hands on a copy of this book, the tailoring book I do have concentrates more on female jackets and coats, so I know for sure thus will fill that gap in my bookcase superbly well. Much needed information to progress my stages of #Blazerof2016 which has sort of ground to a halt.
    Well reviewed. Thank you. Xx

  11. Thank you for entering me in the drawing. It’s so funny I have been curious about going further in jacket making. I can and will definitely put to good use the instruction in this book!

  12. This seems to be a very informative and good book. I have a Chanel jacket to make. Have bought the fabric 😀

  13. Oh, this looks amazing!!!! My last attempt at tailoring for my husband was a very mixed result—looked good but my fitting was lacking—and was destroyed tragically shortly after completion. I’d love to make him another attempt, but I’d feel much better about trying with some guidance like this!

  14. I have a tailored blazer I fit and have cut out but am not sure how to do all the tailoring. I would live this book! Thank you for the opportunity.

  15. I have a tailored blazer I fit and have cut out but am not sure how to do all the tailoring. I would live this book! Thank you for the opportunity.

  16. I have a tailored blazer I fit and have cut out but am not sure how to do all the tailoring. I would love this book! Thank you for the opportunity.

  17. Oh that looks lovely! I have a plan to make next winter’s coat and I want to put in some tailoring that isn’t the fusible kind (the kind I’m more familiar with). If all goes well, I might make something for the hubs…… Love your blog!

  18. I am a blazer of 2016 participant. Just cut out the fabric for a seersucker blazer. Having a reference book would be so great! Looking forward to seeing your progress!

  19. This sounds like a book I can use very well! My boyfriend has great difficulty finding clothes in his size. Last winter we’ve been to soo many stores to find a properly fitting jacket. Without any succes, so I want to draft and sew him a jacket. And this book would be very helpful.

  20. This sounds like a book I can use very well! My boyfriend has great difficulty finding clothes in his size. Last winter we’ve been to soo many stores to find a properly fitting jacket. Without any succes, so I want to draft and sew him a jacket. And this book would be very helpful.

  21. Hi, I read through the first edition that I borrowed from the library a good year ago. At the time I didn’t feel I had nearly the amount of experience to even think about starting a jacket project. Since then I made some more shirts, a moto-jacket from a Japanese pattern and a pea coat. I’m starting to feel like I should be able to make something slightly presentable. But it is still a big step. When I look at Jamie’s beautiful jacket, I don’t think I can ever accomplish something like that. Maybe this book will get me over the self-doubt?

  22. Thank you so much for your detailed review! It doe look like this book has a wealth of information… I’m itching to buy it but I must say the prospect of winning it is too tempting, I’ll try! I’m so excited to be part of #Blazerof2016, but it’s quite a daunting project, I need all the help I can get. My husband has picked his two favourite wools and I really cannot wait to start the construction, hopefully next weekend! 2016 was meant to be the year when I sew more for him, and this blazer is quite the introduction to menswear… let’s see how I make it work, and hopefully finish it before June… Look forward to seeing how yours turns out!

    1. Don’t worry Emilie, youre not alone… I need all the help too! I’m not sure I’ll be finished by June either but it’s all about having a go. And giving a heads up to menswear. Hope you get hold of the book one way or other. Good luck!

  23. Wow! This looks amazing. Fitting instructions for men are so few and far between. My hubby has “rugby thighs” and as trousers are on my wish list for him, this looks like a great resource.

  24. I’m planning to make a tailored jacket for my husband but not until after your challenge as I’m busy making my daughter’s wedding dress (for beginning of June – then I collapse for a while!). I already have his fabric. I hope I win your giveaway but if not will consider purchasing it as it and your review look great.

    1. Wowzers! You will defo need recovery time. Will keep my eyes peeled for that. Good luck on all fronts 🙂

  25. Having recently made my fourth dress (newlook 6000, and I used your wonderful belt instructions), my 5th project is a Vogue woman’s blazer. It’s got over 100 instructions! I’ll admit I’m slightly intimidated but toile has been cut out and I am at first fit stage. Some problems to iron out (quite literally in some cases!) but I will NOT give up on this! If I don’t win the book, I’ll have to invest in one!

  26. Having recently made my fourth dress (newlook 6000, and I used your wonderful belt instructions), my 5th project is a Vogue woman’s blazer. It’s got over 100 instructions! I’ll admit I’m slightly intimidated but toile has been cut out and I am at first fit stage. Some problems to iron out (quite literally in some cases!) but I will NOT give up on this! If I don’t win the book, I’ll have to invest in one!

    1. Very flattered that I could be of help, Vikki. Sounds like you have a lot of patience and quite frankly I think that’s one of the most important requirements! Good luck with the giveaway!

  27. It’s so great to read a book review for menswear sewing for a change. And this seems to be a really informative book. I would love to win one, but will probably get one anyway. I sew a lot for my husband, and have so far made him trousers, vests and shirts. Even a bow tie. But no blazers yet. I find them somewhat intimidating, but I guess it’s only one way to learn for sure. At current I’m working on a 70’s style shirt for him with self drafted pattern and vintage fabric.

    1. 70’s men’s shirts are the best! I’ve made 3 for Mr O now and there’s more to come! Got good value out of that pattern! Good luck!

  28. This couldn’t have come at a better time! Although I’m not yet confident enough to tackle the #Blazerof2016, I have booked on a Guthrie & Ghani two day sewing course in July to learn how to sew a tailored women’s shirt. I have also bought the Negroni men’s shirt pattern and crisp white cotton to have a go at making a short sleeved shirt for the hubby. Can’t wait to get stuck in!

    Gem x

  29. Do not think I can be accused of tailoring, exactly… Fitting yes, but tailoring? Seems unlikely! However, you never know, I could give it a go!

    1. I think you’d be a dab hand, Rachel. All those beautiful hand stitches at your nimble fingertips ;-)! I’ll count you in anyhoos!! x

  30. Book looks amazing. My goal is to open a custom clothing business in the fall. Working on a custom fit #Blazerof2016 for my son. I am using Burda 6813, have fitted him and have the toile cut and ready to sew. Hope to have the toile and 2nd fitting done next week and then start on the real garment. Very excited about the whole process!

  31. My #blazerof2016 is in the toile stage! I hope to have it sewed up and a second fitting for my son next week. Getting really excited, have been practicing my jetted pockets. I am using Burda # 6813 and a mid weight linen in a stone/light rust color. Not sure of lining yet.

    The book looks amazing!! I am hoping to start a custom clothing business later this year!

    1. It’s a long process isn’t it. But all adds to the experience. Good luck with your second fitting and good luck winning the book!

  32. I would love to win this book for my son. He has taken an interest in sewing over the past three years, to the point that he has invested in industrial sewing machines to create the looks he wants. He is anxious to learn more about tailoring for men and I just don’t have that experience, my forte is quilts. This would be such a gift and would truly be valued and used.

    1. A son that sews… hooray! I haven’t managed to convince mine but he does bring his t-shirts to me to fix if they have holes or falling hems. So I have managed to drive home the message of making and mending in a roundabout way! I agree there’s not much inspiration out there for men’s sewing or tailoring. We need more!! Consider yourself entered, Karen 🙂

  33. I have to say, I agree with your review 100%! I recently used this book to make a navy-green plaid jacket. Having never made a jacket before, it really took the mystery out of the process for me. I’m using it again for a second round on my #Blazerof2016 brown linen jacket, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get into the details.

    1. Thank you The B. Its great to have a recommendation from someone who’s actually tried and tested it. And looking forward to seeing your 2nd round of #Blazerof2016 🙂

  34. Oh my word! This book looks amazing. I adore ‘proper’ reference books and this looks like a gold mine of amazing information and a fabulous learning resource!

  35. The book looks just wonderful. As for a jacket, it is total indecision here, but I need a Spring coat so I’m thinking of making one soon. Hopefully I will get my act together and finish it by fall. I’m always behind on things.

  36. I’ve just read the comments from The B, and would love to win so I could also make a jacket which looked as good as his.

  37. I’d love to win this book! I haven’t done all that much true tailoring to this point but would love to get this skill

  38. Oooh, this book looks like it would be a terrific addition to my husband’s library. I do have plans to make a tailored jacket for myself at some point, but the dude can sew for himself — there’s a lush velvet frock coat currently in the works. I think he wants to expand into trousers. I’d love to win this for him.

  39. I’m keen to branch out into tailoring for my 3 sons, 2 of whom are tall and slim and struggle with RTW formal clothes. At present I buy too large and try to adapt down but I’d made rather make to measure. I would just love to win this book.

  40. I am in the process of making myself a tailored Chanel-inspired jacket. I was fortunate enough to source some lovely trim that has been in my stash for too long!

  41. I happen to own the ‘tailoring for women’s wear’ version of this book and I must say that it’s a gem. Okay, pictures are black and white, but everything else is so good!
    This is a great giveaway!
    I’ve started making more and more clothes for my boyfriend and I hope to continue to do so. I feel that menswear has some challenges of it’s own, but making men’s clothes is also more simple in a way!

  42. I love the idea of the #Blazerof2016 and would love to have a go but I’m a bit terrified ! This book looks fab and just what I need to get going 🙂

  43. I like to sew my own clothes but I’m not happy with some of the patterns, they never seem to fit properly. I came across this book and think it would be a big help for me. I would like to find a way to draft my own patterns and I think this book would be perfect.

  44. Hi,I’m in Afghanistan. I can’t buy this book from my country and love it. what am i do? Do you give me a pdf file of this book?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.