gushing review: Kenneth King’s “The Tailored Jacket”

Book Index/Chapter headings

  1. Materials
  2. Resources
  3. Patternwork
  4. Preparation and Cutting
  5. Body Interfacing
  6. Lining
  7. Jacket Back
  8. Sleeves
  9. Preparing the Lapel Facings
  10. Constructing the Body Front
  11. Final Assembly
  12. Installing the Lapel Facings
  13. Installing the Sleeves
  14. Lining and Finishing

Does this book have clear illustrations or photographs?
every step, every description, every explanation is accompanied by a visual aid, be it photograph or illustration. he photographs every step of the process and includes technical and drafting diagrams for his descriptions of patternmaking.

Would you recommend this book as a MUST HAVE?
undeniably, this book deserves a prominent space on the shelf of any sewist who is interested in tailoring. to my knowledge, “The Tailored Jacket” is the only tailoring resource out there that literally goes step-by-step through the construction process. it’s not the only reference out there by a long shot–kenneth himself recommends adele margolis’ tailoring book as his own go-to reference–but it should definitely be a part of your tailoring library. i’ve found it to be, by far, the most practical of my references, even given the focus on hand-tailoring techniques. (for machine or fusible tailoring techniques, LOOK ELSEWHERE–but your results will not be the same)

Great things about this book
in addition to that step-by-step explanation, there is an amazing amount of detail that somehow never manages to be overwhelming. it literally feels as if kenneth is with you, talking you through the process of making a jacket–his voice is that clear. in fact, having met him, i can say honestly that whenever i consult this book for a project i can literally hear his voice, in my head, reading the words to me. should i be seeing a doctor about that or what?

About the electronic format…
one the one hand, it’s excellent to keep the book on your computer, ipad, PDF library, google docs or whatever your electronic format of choice may be, especially since it is then printable and portable and “in the cloud” all at once. that said, if you do not have access to your office’s giant xerox (which i may have mis-appropriated during a lunch hour to get this done) explaining to kinko’s that you want this printed is a challenge. kenneth includes in the CD an acknowledgement that a printout for personal use is acceptable under his copyright but the kinko’s near me did not believe him and gave me a bit of trouble about printing the book.

Quibbles
in spite of the generally comprehensive nature of this book, i could never recommend it as your only tailoring reference. i’ve gotten the most benefit out of it in tandem with other, more basic references to get additional notes and photos of techniques such as padstitching and bound buttonholes. i don’t want to misrepresent this book–kenneth absolutely includes information on padstitching, since he does the entire demonstration jacket using hand-tailoring techniques–but if you need more than a few photos on one particular technique, or multiple options for, say, taping a roll line, you’ll absolutely want to supplement “Tailored Jacket” with a reference such as the group-published “Tailoring.” if you don’t already know how you want your jacket to fit, you’ll probably want to keep Palmer/Pletsch “Jackets for Every Body,” which has infinitely more information on fitting, nearby as you work out your muslin.

What this book does NOT include

  • information on fusible method (or RTW) tailoring
  • information on fitting your muslin
  • information on machine-inserting, or “bagging,” a lining
  • techniques for bound buttonholes or welt pockets, which kenneth included in “Cool Couture”
  • very basic information on patternmaking.  kenneth’s diagrams for drafting linings, facings and undercollar pieces may assume a bit more knowledge than a novice will have–i know i was, at first, quite wary, but keep going.  we can all do it this way with a bit of effort.  and it works on every jacket that i’ve tried so far.

Conclusion:
at the end of the day, all i can say is this:  i first attempted these techniques a year ago, just over a year into my sewing career.  and i was able to do them.  and since then, no project has been hard.  tricky?  yes.  challenging?  absolutely.  but none of them have been overwhelming, or impossible, or difficult.  i literally felt that, having completed this and gotten a wearable result, i could try anything i wanted to with my sewing projects.

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2 Responses to gushing review: Kenneth King’s “The Tailored Jacket”

  1. JillyBe says:

    Thank you for such an excellent review! This book has moved up several slots on my wish list :)

  2. Pingback: papercut watson in blue cashmere: or, the miracle jacket | puu's door of time

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