21 Jul 2013

Alterations to my 1932 suit

Recently I had the luck to obtain a beautifully made 3 piece suit in brown colours. The suit is quite old and has had several mendings done to it but the cut and the fabric are absolutely eminent. The suit was made in October 1932 by tailors Denman & Goddard, Eton.

Shoulder, chest and waist size fits me perfectly, but the length of legs and arms were too short. Never the less I would not let this opportunity go and I went ahead acquiring the suit; confident that a tailor could help me with the few alterations.

Given that I had already 11vintage suits and odd jackets in my wardrobe it is surprisingly my first visit to an alterations tailor. I had read in the local newspaper about a newly established tailor in my neighbourhood. This young tailor Riis was trained as an alterations tailor in Vejle at a well-established tailoring company Strauss.

I decided to give him an opportunity to have a look at my suit and recommend how to make the alterations. We discussed different alternatives and despite this being his first alteration of sleeves with working cuffs we agreed on a solution. The buttons were relatively near the end of the cuff making the spare fabric to prolong the sleeve with very limited. He suggested to open up the fabric in line with the lowest buttonhole, insert a ribbon, and make a new buttonhole by hand. This would prolong the sleeves with 1½ cm (approx. 0,6’’).
The trousers would have to lose the cuffs, but I decided to go for this alternative, as I would get more use of the trousers in full lenght than if I went for the alteration to plusfours or breeches.

When I was picking up the suit, Riis expressed his frustration of not being able to make perfect buttonholes due to the old and frail fabrics.

But I think it turned out OK under the circumstances.



  1. Lovely suit. I noticed in your other photos that the suit was patched several times. I like that! It looks much better than I imagined,and It encourages me to make good use of damaged vintage clothing.
    It looks like your tailor did a good job.
    However, I'm not quite sure I understand how he altered the working cuffs though-how did you cover the original buttonhole?
    Could you please elaborate?

    1. Thank you! yes it is lovely to see a suit that has been used and repaired over the course of time since 1932. The original buttonhole was restored on the outside and on the inside hidden behind the brown ribbon. It is only because the sleeve was prolongued so little that we avoided the back of the original buttonhole to show.