This past month I’ve been learning a lot about the different lays for different types of suit. A lay is the way the sections of a suit are arranged on the cloth, and there are lots of permutations. There’s single-breasted and double-breasted suits, obviously, then three-piece suits, suits with an extra pair of trousers, and suits for different sizes of customer.
Customers that are particularly large or particularly tall present different challenges. There’s a point where you can’t lay three different sections across the width of the cloth, for example, because the customer is large. At that point more cloth is needed because the pieces that have been pushed off need to go at the end. Other complications are one-way cloths, where there is a nap going in one direction. Then you have to make sure all the sections are laid facing the right way. And checks are a little trickier as the various parts have to match up at the edges.
Different tailors also have different methods. So you might get an order where one person has ordered the cloth, and you’ll find that there is more or less than you would expect because they lay out in a different way to the one you have been taught. It takes time to get to know all of those.
Each time I’m taught a new lay I sketch it out in my notebook. I’m on about 10 so far, but I’m not sure how many more there will be!