Our pattern room is a place of making, neatly arrayed with the timeless tools of the trade: frighteningly sharp shears (don’t dare use them for cutting paper!), thimbles, tailor’s rulers (helpfully curved in shape), pins, papers, chalks and spools of thread. Calico toiles hang from the rails – each one a pale premonition of the garment to come. It is from these finished toiles that the patterns for all of our OAS garments are made.
To create a toile requires considerable skill – a two dimensional fabric must be made to fit a three dimensional body. For this, a deep understanding of the human body, its proportions and contours, is crucial. The pattern cutter knows where ease should be added or a discreet dart inserted – and, working with the designers, understands the purpose of the piece: whether the pockets of an apron skirt are sufficiently deep, strong and practical or whether a long denim skirt has the required swing.
At the beginning only a half toile is made – the half back and half front, from the top of the right shoulder. Details such as the topstitching – always heavier on an OAS piece – the yoke, seam lines and button holes are marked lightly in pencil. When the designer and pattern cutter are happy, a full toile is made by the machinist and fitted to our model – we only use one fit model so that all our patterns are consistent. The toile is then further adjusted and tweaked until it is just right.
All our pieces go through this process – altering, checking, tweaking. Each garment is fitted at least four times, sometimes more. And though it is increasingly rare now for a fashion brand to have its own full pattern room we strongly believe that the craftsmanship shows in the final product – that there is no better way to arrive at our intended destination: satisfyingly well-cut, well-crafted garments.
Words by Emily Mears
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