Kate Rawlinson: Cutter Extraordinaire

Buried in one of last week’s comments was one from Kate Rawlinson who left a link to some recent work she’d done. It’s phenomenal. Even her mistakes are phenomenal. Just to temper my gushiness, I’ll throw that one up first. Left is the original, right is the marked up one showing the matched stripes. Do note how the plaids match across seams in the skirt. The bodice is a bit off but what the hey. [Blue lines are seams, dashed red are the stripes.]


Here’s another dress Kate described in her album comments as “stupid stripey”. I challenge you to draw these seam lines on a blank sketch. Just try to calculate the number of pattern pieces this number contains.

Here’s an understated number, a plaid jacket. Other than the lovely matched stripes across the back, is there anything otherwise remarkable? Look closely.


It’s the lapels. Once stitched and turned, the plaid of the revers display perfectly horizontal and vertical. I think Kate certainly raises the ante around here. I’d be tempted to call her a show-off but something like this takes at least 80 hours of work -especially if you’re a student as she is. Yeah, she’s a student. Do you hate her already? Don’t, she’s a love. I’ll include a bio once I’m done embarrassing her.

Okay, here’s another one from the insolent pup (click on the image for a larger version):


Note the photo on the right. The vertical stripe on the top portion of the pocket perfectly matches the stripe on the flap -hop skipped with a row of piping- the flap in turn also matches the front jacket. Is this cool or what?

Here’s the back on one last jacket. Again, note the stripe matching. She does this so well it’s almost boring by now but then you’d have to go through her album to reach the saturation point. Don’t miss her earlier pieces one of which is a museum quality reproduction she calls the “V&A jacket” on page 6. Simply stunning work.

I was placated with this jacket above as I’d come to suspect there was no place left for me in this world, only pre-Kate and post-Kate. This jacket can be helped with a bit of fusing. A lot of people don’t know this bit, one of my techniques I hold in reserve. You want to fuse the back piece at least 2″ wide along the seam line (before joining the pieces) and the diagonal back waist and peplum. It’ll buckle less. Nice piece tho, no?

All kidding aside, Kate is lovely, self effacing, hard working and highly skilled. After I saw her work, I wanted to know everything about her down to her shoe size and her dog’s name. I did ask specifically about her schooling and she was kind enough to provide details. This will be a bit sobering for our colleagues in the UK and I did edit portions at her request …but enough blather, here’s a bio she wrote for us.

Thank you for the lovely compliments, I’ve actually been reading your book all this week to find my path making a living at the craft.

A potted bio… I did a bit of sewing as a kid but nothing much. My first degree was in journalism and I worked as a copy editor for women’s magazines for about 10 years. I got married in 2000 (I’m 37, by the way) and something about the search for a dress rekindled a childhood love of historical costume (when I was about 8, I used to go to the fancy-dress store every weekend and try on the big Victorian dresses – I never made anything, though).

At the beginning of 2001 I started taking evening classes, then in 2005 I packed in my day job to do a one-year course in handcraft tailoring at the London College of Fashion – I was planning to do a costume degree, but I didn’t want to do an art foundation course (the usual precursor to an art/fashion degree in the UK) and thought the hand-sewing aspect of the tailoring course would come in handy.
It was a great course, very intense, and I learned a lot, some of it from proper Savile Row tailors. I did start a costume degree after that (also at the London College of Fashion), but it was too bitty for me and I’d already covered a lot of the topics. The college was just starting up a new degree in bespoke tailoring, so I jumped over to that.

While the course wasn’t great, it did give me the time, space and framework within which to practise what I had already learned and build on my skills. The work in my Flickr set is my final project, which took me almost the entire college year – I am not a fast worker, by any means. I kept a time log of all the hours I spent on each garment, and the very stripey dress clocked in at nearly 150 hours!

I really do believe that bespoke has a future – if nothing else, I think fashion will mutate to a point where people will want things that no-one else has (which I guess is why vintage has been such a big deal for the past few years). And I also believe that fit and quality are elements that high-street fashion continues to ignore and that bespoke is obviously well-placed to tackle those. I don’t have much fitting experience, but I have done enough to understand just how difficult it really is.

Thank you again for the compliments – it really means a lot.

Amended 6/21/11
This post collects an inordinate number of spam comments and I don’t know why. On the order of 200 or more each day. So, I’ve deactivated comments for now. If you should stumble on this post at a later date and would like to leave a comment, please email me (kathleenATfashion-incubatorDOTcom) to remind me. I’m certain by then that spammers will have purged this entry from their list of options so we can safely post to it again. Thanks

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