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Made To: Work. Scenes from a Tokyo Tailor Shop

Scenes from a Tokyo Tailor Shop

The "Goat Coat": Part 1

On Sunday I get the privilege of spending 8 hours making coats. It's the only day of the week my shoulders are completely relaxed, and I have the luxury of focus.

Today, Hirokawa and I are putting together a cashmere overcoat. The pieces are heavy and delicious. They have such a high nap I have to reposition everything before I sew it at least 3 times.

It is also so thick and luxurious that it hides all of one's minor mistakes. I love this cloth.

When I arrived, we snatched it off the hanger, I fixed the thread markers and Hirokawa started marking which bits we need to cut off. I still haven't memorised all of the coat seam allowances so I let him do that bit.

He handed me the pieces and I went to my table cubby, surrounded by natural light, my favorite iron, and all the sewing implements a person might possibly need. I reached for my favorite 4 pieces.


They keep your arms warm. And as my least favourite knitter once said:

"there are two of them".

I love putting the seams on a pair of sleeves together, and the ensuing plackets make me giddy.

Even the parts of the sleeve you never see are absolute magic.

This is something no one tells you about tailoring... When I imagined "the art of hand sewing", I saw thousands of tiny stitches in a row, one attached to the end of another. I had no idea I'd be making giant loopy ugly stitches, and half of work I do will be ripped out and unceremoniously thrown on the floor. I like that part.

Folding up the end of the sleeve, the garment comes together, and I can start to see all the work I did, and choices I made previously come into focus a little bit more.

I can't think of anything better than matte horn buttons.

And then I get to prep plackets for the best part: 8 hand stitched button holes. Hirokawa knows I love doing those when there is nothing else waiting, so they were sent home with me for next week.

I'll do them on the sofa in my own atelier.

My days in Kamata go by so quickly. I blink and it's 4:45.

I've arranged to take my daughter for pizza, so my last task of the day is sorting the back lining.

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