Master tailors by Italian Heart
Article originally published on the Italian Heart site by Giulia Campomizzi on March 25th, 2015: http://www.italianheart.com.au/2015/03/master-tailors
“I grew up with a needle in my hands, I could do needlepoint and jackets since a very young age. I remember when I was ten I would come to Pescara to take some fabrics with me, I would then go home and embroider them. With the money from the first works like this I bought a suitcase (Giulia: “there is no doubt now she is my nonna!”). When later on I was running the tailor shop with nonno I suggested to start making the women’s styles and that moment represented the benchmark to the beginning of many commissioned works for women’s dresses. Then the leather boom. My job was to unpick old coats and then remake them. I earned £3000 (3000 lire, old currency) for the first mended leather coat, the starting point of so many works like this. This idea changed our lives and our job: we became the most popular tailor shop in town! But it surely wasn’t just for our ability to work with leather.
The tailor’s job is a highly creative job. Velvet collar, sideways placket, sideways pocket to enliven the jacket…all created and designed by me! To create using leather means to undo an old cloth and make something new following a design. It is essential to have manual skills but also a flexible mind, you can learn to work as a tailor but you need intelligence to learn creativity. A person can learn the technique but lacking in dexterity. You learn both watching and trying with intelligence and ability.
To create a woman’s dress it takes roughly two days. In our shop we had so many commissions we decided to send works different from leather to our trusted tailors (one of them specialized in trousers) outside our shop.
These are the steps to follow to make a man’s suit: design, decide what to do based on the measurements of the leather, tacking, fitting, sewing, ironing with a piece of wax paper on top (and without steaming).
To be a good tailor…you must be in two! My best advice would also be to always be punctual. We used to call our customers as a reminder for pick up. Also we were seriously organized. I remember driving to my children’s school early in the morning and then riding my bike to work (with the flatiron full with coal with me).”
Grazie nonna for this beautiful interview with you, I loved every second!
My nonno’s story
“I was born in Acerra in the vicinity of Naples. As a child I learned the profession of the tailor after school. Every day I would walk to the tailor’s shop in town when the school bell signed the end of another day at school. I would spend hours watching, learning and practising with the master tailor and then later in the afternoon I returned home tired but after dinner I had to do my homework for the next day. At the age of 17 I moved to Pescara to enrol in the army and become a Carabiniere to earn both good money and social prestige. But I continued working as a tailor during my free time in the army. One day I met a tailor that worked close to the barracks and would earn a lot of money, so I had the idea of opening my own tailor’s shop right in the centre of the town. Then one day a friend of mine told me “Come with me I will introduce you to a girl”, that’s when I met your nonna. The following day I was at her parents’ to propose. The rest is history!”