Life To A Cloth | Valentina Cirasola | Designer

This Friday Fashion is about a charming trade.
Today, they are called “Men of Cloth”  and “Men of Artistry”,  they are those few tailors left in the world. Their stories are so similar to the tailoresses’ stories, I know so well. My mom and all her sisters were professional tailoresses. The difference between a tailoress and a seamstress? Like day and night, without putting one on the pedestal and diminishing the other. They both contribute to the beauty of a person in a different way.

In my mom’s era, both men and women learned some king of trade in school or off school, a solid trade to make a living and support families. Tailoring was an art, it was about choosing a piece of cloth and make it come alive on someone’s body. Anyone going in that trade, had to start from the basics, learn how to manage the needle, how to use a thimble, how to do basting (a rough stitching that holds two pieces of cloth together, whether it was for hemming, holding fabric and lining, or interface) and even learn how to hold a scissor in the hand. The apprentices learned the artistry of making a perfect garment from established tailor teachers with a reputation of being beyond strict.

Artistry is having the ability to bend a piece of metal, to tame a stone, to shape a cloth, to give a life to any material as the artist wants. My mom celebrated the woman’s body, transformed large women, women with birth defects, tall and small women into perfect bodies, she made clothes to highlight their best features and knew how to hide imperfections.

In her sewing laboratory there was camaraderie between the girls working for her. Married women workers shared marriage hardships, kids difficulties and kids sicknesses, the single girls shared love stories and dreamt with opened eyes. They were proud to work in my mom’s tailor laboratory.  Working condition were good, clean and most of them knew my mom put high quality craftsmanship at the centre of their attention. They wanted to work for her, she was kind, sweet and understanding, very unusual qualities as a boss in the tailor trade. Our younger workers were always excited to get a glimpse at the clients’ young sons picking up their moms after fittings, the girls waited for that moment to be noticed. There was a lot of giggling and many mirrors came out of their purse to smear more red lipsticks or freshen up a make-up, every time there was a rich boy at the door. My mom’s clients were wealthy, every young worker aspired to end up in the grace of one of those wealthy kids one day.

With a few tricks of the trade, which weren’t tricks, but professional knowledge, my mom made miracles on paper patterns she drew free hands. She knew how to make the stomach of a woman disappear by drawing the right slit on the paper pattern, or how to augment a small breast with a dart in the right place. She knew how to make uneven shoulders look even and square, or uneven arm look the same length. All the designs happened on paper first, then transferred on cloth.

Her tools of the trade had been the same for over 65 years: chalk, measuring tapes, paper, pencils, some squares she never used, thimbles, heavy scissors, some decorated with cherubs or metal embroiders, some plain and heavy. She carried her scissors hanging on her waist, like a guard carries a gun on the side of the body. She never wanted anyone to use her scissors. Where did they end up? I wished I had them today.

(Click each photo to view it larger).



Her laboratory was in the house where we lived. Workers came to work there and they were part of our family life. It wasn’t an industrial place, like this one in my photos, but more like a large salon with nice furniture, sofas, tall mirrors and upholstered chairs for the comfort of the clients. The working area was filled with a couple of sewing machines, iron table, cutting table, shredded fabric and thread everywhere on the floor.  My mom had little time to devote to shopping and cooking. She would ask one of the girls designated for errands to go by the market to pick up this and that food between running errands for the tailor shop. Admonishing her not to flirt around too much was like telling it to the wall and completely disregarded.

(Above pictures were taken by Valentina Cirasola inside a seamstress shop with permission)

No one body is the same, there are no two people alike, the expertise of a tailor is not to make clothes that fit everybody like those mass-produced clothes today, but to understand the differences and find the solution to create visually perfect bodies, no matter the size.
My mom always said:  “Style is more than putting fashionable clothes on. One must travel through life changes, accept them and adapt by wearing clothes that will give you the power each age brings”.

I learned all my mom’s trade secrets just by being there, living and breathing fabrics, threads, notions, colors, style and hearing shop talk, I learned their jargon and techniques. My mom never wanted to teach me her trade. Often she exclaimed: “The needle is very small and very heavy, learn a profession!!!”. I guess, she didn’t want me to deal with long working hours, temperamental clients, delicate fabrics, disasters of the unexpected or being in a volatile field, but life always plays tricks with us. I moved away for work, I ended up going to the Fashion Academy in Italy and worked as a fashion designer after all. The cloth that comes alive under the hand of experts, fascinated me and I wanted to be part of that magic too. If you have a dream, let it happen and if you have stories in the tailoring trade you like to share, please write me and I will share them here. Ciao,


Copyright © 2017 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola is a trained Fashion and Interior Designer, born in Italy in a family of artists. Style surrounded her since the beginning of her life. Her many years of experience led her to offer consultations in both specializations and now she can remodel homes as well as personal images. She is passionate about colors and encourages her clients to express their individual style in their homes and with the clothes they wear. To better help people all over the world she offers consultations online. She is the author of three books. Get your copy of Valentina’s book on colors: ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors on





4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Teagan R. Geneviene
    Nov 15, 2017 @ 21:18:11

    What a beautiful post, Valentina. I loved seeing the vintage scissors.
    I used to design and make all my own clothes, from the time I was 12 years old. I even made my underwear sometimes! Now I don’t any more. Mostly it became too difficult to find fabrics that I wanted — and it was so very much about the fabrics for me. Hugs to you and yours. 🙂



    • Valentina
      Nov 16, 2017 @ 00:41:32

      Teagan, you have no idea how difficult it is for me to find the fabrics I want for both of my businesses, fashion and interior. Stores are closing one by one and I am pulling my hair. Thanks for stopping by.



  2. Oh, the Places We See
    Nov 10, 2017 @ 02:14:35

    My mom was a seamstress, too, although not a professional one. I wish I had listened more as she probably wanted to teach me, too!

    Liked by 1 person


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