Talk of the Tailor


Between the Tailoring Houses of the 'West End' and Savile row, to the workshops of Carnaby Street, Berwick st and Soho, a language has developed that is unique to the trade of tailors. The follow is a few examples of the terms used and their means.

 Balloon: A week without work or pay.

Bodger: Shoddy work carried out by a cutter or tailor.

Board: A tailors bench.

Banger/ Clapper: A block of wood used the draw the water out of the garment during pressing.

Cabbage: Leftover canvas, haircloth, domette, pocketing, melton. All the trims used in making a suit bar the cloth. The coat makers of 'the row' would save their cabbage and either give it or sell it to the tailors of Soho, who would piece together the cabbage and use it to make their coats.

Coat: The jacket of a suit.

Chuck a dummy: To faint or pass out, usually from excessive drinking.

Clapham Junction: A pattern draft that has been altered many times. ( It takes its name from a train station in london where many lines cross.

Codger: A tailor who repairs old suits

Cork: Alternative term for the Guv'nor

Crib: Large piece of leftover cloth, enough to make a pair of trousers from.

Crushed Beetle: Badly sewn handmade Buttonhole

Darky: Sleeve board used for pressing.

Dead work: Work that has already been paid for.

Doctor: Alteration Tailor

Dolly: Rolled up damp rag used for applying water when pressing.

Flash basting: Usually refers to basting stitches found in ready to wear garments so that they appear to be tailor made.

Guv'nor: The owner of a Tailoring House.

Job: New work in the form of a coat or trouser.

Hand Job: Work which is sewn by hand.

Machine Job: work which is made by machine.

Kicking: Looking for more work.

Kicking your heels: No work to do.

A Kill: A job which is ruined beyond repair.

Kipper: A female hand finisher who sews in the buttonholes, the edge stitching and the felling stitches.

Mangle/ Iron Tailor: Sewing machine.

Mungo: Leftover cloth collected and sold to a ragman.

On the Cod: Gone drinking. A popular past-time among tailors.

Pig: An unclaimed garment.

Pig sale: The sale of unclaimed garments by the bespoke house.

Pork: A misfit suit rejected by the client.

Rip down: Disassembling the baste after fitting.

Rock of eye: Good judgement based on ones experience and observations when cutting a pattern.

Scye: Scye line is the chest line, Front of scye is the front of the armhole or armholes eye.
Skiffle: A job need in Hurry.

Small seams: A warning call when someone enters the room who is being discussed.

Soft sew: A cloth that is easy to work with.

Trimmings: The materials used in making a suit, e.g canvas, pocketing etc.

Trotter: A person who delivers work around the trade.

Try-on: A garment sewn together with basting cotton without the lining or finished details to check the fit.

Tweed Merchant: An unskilled tailor who is given only heavy weight wool to work with, otherwise they'd make a bad job.


(Referenced from Bespoke, The Men's Style of Savile Row, By James Sherwood)

1 comment:

  1. good evening Mr.ROY IM SO Proud for your new project ,an academic courses for tailoring and pattern cutting .honestly Iam one of your followers in you-tube and so glad for learning the the real tailor skills from you.im from middle east and im a professional tailor of course not like you are a senior in the fashion world .but im trying to learn and do my best in this world.so I wonder when you will start in your project and if i could to join in your class .I need more details about the payment and the class date .coz I HAVE to get the visa before that .finally accept my regards and wish you the best.

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