The fascination with things being made by hand is odd. If I sew a button on by hand, chances are it will be done worse and not last as long as the best machine doing it. This is firstly because I am not very good at sewing on buttons; but secondly and more importantly, it is because a machine will sew more stitches to the inch, so it will be stronger.

Purchasers of fine clothes should ask themselves, when presented with something made by hand, whether that is necessarily an advantage. Seams that come under a lot of strain usually need to be strong above all else. The advantages of handmade construction are flexibility, movement and life; it adds stretch to the shoulder seam of a jacket and personality to the padding of its chest. But it is not always and necessarily better.

Equally, ask yourself whether the marginal difference made by hand construction is worth the money. I know that my tailor, for example, uses pre-made shoulder pads. Some of the Savile Row tailors make their own, by hand. Personally it’s something I am quite willing to save on. But I want to pay to have the chest made by hand.

I have also never understood people that want something to be flawed to prove that it is handmade – fluctuation in the hand-stitched lapel or a slight skew in the welt. To them imperfection is honesty. To me it is a fault. I want my individuality in the fit, the design and the wear. I don’t want to see evidence of the craft; I just want to benefit from it.

It’s true that no two items made by hand will ever be identical. As a bespoke shoemaker told me once “if I ever punched two medallions exactly the same I wouldn’t be a craftsman, I’d be a robot.” But, contrary to him, I don’t see a virtue in the slight looseness of one seam on a shoe’s counter. It bugs me and I want it changed.

The fact that he has lasted the shoe by hand is not something that can be seen. Its virtue is that he was able to adapt the natural leather and its personality when stretching it over the last. The attention to detail means it will wear better. That’s the kind of hand construction I want.

Buy handmade intelligently.

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Mr Brown

This smacks of a point made for pointing, an argument for arguing etc.

The comment ‘buy handmade intelligently’ if almost laughable;

Think about what you’re paying for.

Think about who’s hand did the making.

It’s not really news is it?


I can’t remember ever losing a shirt button that was sewn on by hand, while even the more expensive machine-made shirts have a habit of shedding their buttons with ease.


I agree with your point and as someone who is training to be one of these craftsmen (I am an apprentice tailor) I can tell you that this is a subject that comes up often with my peers. However I must make a correction about one example you made. When using factory shoulder pads one must design the shape of the armhole to match the chosen pad. However when a tailor makes the pads himself the pattern piece for the pad if made to fit the armhole and therefore there are no design or fit compromises. As well when the customer has uneven slants in his shoulders making the pads can often be the best method for guarantying that the jacket rests evenly on him. This is not to say that your point about the cost benefit analysis is not valid it is just to say that there is an actual point to handcrafting shoulder pads where as there is no real advantage to hand sewn buttonholes other than that hand crafted look.