Saturday, December 10, 2011

Story of An Unfortunate Cat - Part 2

Warning: The following content is very inappropriate for young children and the squeamish. Proceed without guilt if you like that sort of stuff...


My previous post ended with Whiskers lying face flat on the work table and her wondering about her fate. This post starts off with her face flat on the work table and her tail cut off. 

It's a cruel act. But she's only made of yarn. You know that right?

Whiskers in her state of unconciousness: "Wow, when I wake up, I will have on the most beautiful dress in the world, made to my measurements. My fellow critters will be so envious of me."

Whiskers still unconscious: "I can't wait to see what I look like!"

Whiskers slowly waking up: "Something doesn't feel right. I'm missing something. A button, perhaps?"

No no, silly Whiskers! We hacked your tail off... And now, the little girl who will receive you as a gift will love you like a normal yarn cat. ;)

So what's the moral of this story? 

I'm not sure if anything can actually be learned here. And if you can come of with a moral, you're probably a sick one.

Just kidding. Balsam LOVES you!  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Story About An Unfortunate Cat

Hello everybody. My name is Whiskers. The man who had just bought me from the store brought me into Balsam Tailors this morning--for what reason, I do not know. But what I do know is that I will become a special gift for an adorable little girl this Christmas. -- Also, please stop staring at the yellow hair growing out of my ears. It makes me feel very uncomfortable.

On the way to Balsam Tailors, I overheard the man who bought me mumble to himself that I had a weird appendage sticking out from under my lovely dress. I hope he knows that that weird appendage is my tail.

I am aware that my weird appendage sticks out too much and is clearly visible from the front. But I was made this way and it can't possibly be my fault.

Oh wait, why am I lying face down on the table like this?! I hope this is a place where I get pretty clothes made and my being on the table is part of the process.


(Disclaimer: The cat doesn't really talk. But this story is based on actual facts. Also, no real live animals were hurt in this event.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Is Your Son A Popular Kid At School? What? No? Read On!

Star-spangled pockets! Nothing says "Hip!" better than gold star badges.

The odd colour button. It's a new trend. Don't ask, just follow. Grown up guys can wear this too!

Shoulder tabs with chirping birds. Tell me that's not awesome.

Glittering gold cuff buttons. Wow!

It's not often that we get requests for custom-made children's clothes. Most parents would rather buy cheaper off-the-rack alternatives for their kids (because they know their darlings grow like lovely weeds) than splurge on expensive clothes that would only be worn for several months.

But when parents have that extra cash kicking around in between their kids' growth spurts, they might choose to satiate their fantasies of dressing up their little ones in luxurious apparel.

Whatever the reason you have for wanting to make your kids look super adorable, stylish and popular in school, we're ready to give you a helping hand!

Friday, November 18, 2011

No Project Too Small

2nd post in a day. I'm on fire today! Wooooo!

It's probably better this way. I have a whole collection of pictures waiting to be blogged but I just never get to them because I tend to prioritize and blogging, somehow, always gets the last spot on my to-do list. Don't get me wrong though--I LOVE BLOGGING. I've been told that I have a knack for writing and copywriting could possibly be my thing. Your thoughts? ....Actually, nevermind. If you're reading this, chances are you must enjoy my weekly/monthly rants!

Check out this little project that we got asked to do. It's really a pair of children's pajamas but I've only photographed one because they're both essentially the same. We made them for a pair of twin boys. Who are only 4. Who haven't even started school yet. Who have no idea what custom-made means. Who have a mother who loves them A LOT. Who have a mother who likes well-fitting clothes for her kids. Haha..

You want your kids to have an outstanding sense of style? Start them off with custom-made when they're really young! ;)

We're in the process of making two cute little dress shirts for them... will post those as soon as they're done.

Friday, September 30, 2011

If This Isn't Sexy, I Don't Know What Is.

I'm really not someone who likes to toot my own horn (at least not very loudly! tee hee) but I have to say it this time: Devin's custom made suit is a true piece of perfection. The cut, style, texture and material work harmoniously together.

We also have to give credit to Devin's athletic physique. He's a tall kid with a lean muscular body who can really pull off that slim fit trend that the Brits fancy so much.

Here's why I LOVE LOVE LOVE this suit:

1. THE COLOUR: Midnight Blue - Black to me always seems too formal (a black suit is better left for weddings, funerals and the times when the director of an MIB sequel needs a stand-in.) Navy screams "I'm wearing this suit to make myself look more approachable but in fact, I'm going to aggressively sell you something you may not even need." Devin's suit color is in between blue and black, which I think is supremely stylish and oozes sophistication. Chick's will dig it.

2. THE SHADOW STRIPES: A man with little fashion sense or is timid about stepping outside his comfort zone may find pin-stripes...daunting. Making a patterned suit work for you requires effort and let's face it, most guys aren't fashion savvy and really don't care how navy looks amazing with lavender. It's a girl's job to know how to look good, right? ;) So, that's why I recommend shadow stripes (alternating stripes of a dark and a light shade of the same colour). If you go this route, you don't need to worry about matching your stripes to your shirt, tie, shoes, glasses, rings, belt, eye colour, nose piercing, car, hair and so forth. You'd still be kicking up your style a notch because your suit has texture.

3. THE CUT: It's all about the sexy skinny fit nowadays. 'Nuff said.

4. THE STYLE: I have a weakness for peaked lapels. It was a big trend that started in the 1920's and carried on until the 1930's. The style re-emerged during the 70's and has now been a hot trend for the last couple of years. Peaked lapels make you look smart. Together with a the two-button closure, they elongate your torso and make you look tall.

Devin clearly has a keen sense of style. He tops off his new suit with a pair of unique semi-glossy shoes and a black-placket front shirt.

This boy is gifted.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Behind the Scene Shots: Waistcoat, PART 1

Here's a rare look on the making of a waistcoat in its early stages.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Murray's Getting Married

This is Murray. He sports a head of lush long locks and an awesome beard which I'm guessing he will not shave off just because he's getting married. It's an extremely well-groomed beard though, I must say. He'd probably look like a baby if he were to get rid of it completely--which is maybe why he even has a beard in the first place. I bet he doesn't want to look like a baby getting married. Can you imagine? A baby getting married? That is too strange for anybody to imagine. I hope you don't try to imagine that. If you're reading this Murray, I hope you don't mind this self-discussion of your beard. I genuinely think your beard is awesome! I swear, really.

I'm a little nervous about writing again which explains the babbling. I've been absent from the world of blogging and I'm perfectly aware of that, so I apologize. Summer's been keeping me nice and busy. I'm really happy to be back though.

Murray was kind enough to let me photograph him wearing our waistcoat. From what I hear, his wedding attire as well as the bride's will be unconventional. I'm a fan of unconventional. I love traditional too but being unconventional amplifies the uniqueness and beauty of a couple's wedding.

Murray wanted a burgundy waistcoat that would match the colour of his bride's dress (Isn't that cool? Step aside, boring white!) and so we made this for him:

The "how-could-anybody-resist-giving-me-what-I-want" look. It's pretty darn powerful, I'll tell you that. I had to pull $50 out of my wallet for him to take this picture. Haha!

Murray couldn't contain his emotions when I asked him about his beard grooming regimen. Err, not that I have a beard or anything...

Because my inquisitiveness moved him, he gave me back my $50.
We received a lot of stares from passers-by (especially the ladies because they were jealous that I got to photograph Murray who possibly could pass for a GQ model). So, we came up with an idea that would help deflect those stares:

Murray pretended to ponder about stuff and not know me while I pretended to take pictures of Balsam's storefront and pretended not to know Murray.

It worked and I got my picture!
This is Murray's backside. A totally unintentional shot. He spotted a man with a comparable beard and his eyes followed.

Thank you for participating Murray. I wish you a beautiful marriage. :D

Custom Waistcoat: $230 + HST (Labour and Lining)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Where's This From?

I wish I knew my video games because then I could tell you who's vest Stacie modeled hers after. She mentioned it to me before but I have the memory of a goldfish for names of places and things.

It was a fun little project for our seamstress. It's a hunter's vest equipped with individual pockets for rifle ammos.

Stacie made it for a convention that she'll be attending and maybe use it for a Halloween costume.

Custom Vest: $290 + HST

Friday, July 29, 2011

Don Approves!

A little while back, a man named Don came into the store. I have to admit, I was a little intimidated by him. He had this stern voice and an authoritative attitude to go with. He also had sort of a half smile which made it confusing for me to judge whether he was genuinely in a good mood or it was just the way his lips were shaped.

His request was to have us tailor a shirt for him. Following his request, he said something like this, "You do this for me and if I like your work, I'll bring in more."

A couple weeks later, he showed up, tried on the shirt and we received a nod of approval.

In my head, I was like "YES!"...and "Phew."

The next time Don came in, I was able to smile without beads of perspiration tumbling down my forehead. I knew that since he had chosen to come back, that meant he liked our work.

To our surprise, Don had trusted us enough to ask us to make him a suit!

Although he gave me the jitters, I was confident that Balsam Tailors had the skills to make him look really good.

4 weeks later, he came and tried on his suit. To judge our success, I used the smile on Don's face... it went from a half smile to a full blown mile-long smile! We did it!

Don's a cool guy. He really is.

Lesson here: Never judge a book by its cover, but do judge a man by his smile ;)

Love the brown loafers!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Affordable "Custom Made" Suits Online. Is It Really Worth Your Money?

So I recently read an article featured in a free local weekly magazine (obtainable at one of those street newspaper dispensers) that enthusiastically praised a certain Vancouver-based online suit company for coming up with the brilliant idea of selling inexpensive men's "custom-made" suits and other custom apparel via the internet--making what used to be a luxury shopping experience now accessible to young men all over the world. The concept is brilliant, I have to agree.

But what I have to disagree with is how the author, Steven-something, (I will keep the anonymity of this particular writer because I believe in free speech and not slander) had to exaggerate--or worse, make up shortcomings in what is a normal, safe experience for a clothing-shopper.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"Buying a suit, even for a man who loves to shop, can give rise to a certain level of anxiety. First, there’s the trying on of layered, woolen garments in cramped fitting rooms under dubious lighting. Then come the tape measure and the pins, wielded by a well-meaning stranger whose job requires a degree of proximity that could, at worst, be described as intimate and, at best, requires a loosening of the traditional Western rules relating to personal space. Meanwhile, you’re standing stock-still (remember, there are sharp, shiny pins involved) and second-guessing where exactly on your waist you wear your pants. Wavering in either direction means tripping over hems that are too long or evincing a Noah-like fear of an upcoming flood. Oh, and if the store in question also caters to women — even on a different floor — chances are this whole discomfiting operation is taking place in sauna-like conditions."

I think this Stephen-something guy got finger-tapping happy and his brain vomited an eloquent paragraph of BS?

I would like to ask this Stephen-something guy how much space he needs to take off and put on a pair of pants? Chances are, fitting rooms in clothing stores are up to building code standards and there is a reason why there are building codes: So that they ensure the safety and comfort of the customer who is using the fitting room?

Stephen-something also mentions the dubious lighting present in stores--that could possibly mislead a person into thinking that the black suit is a blue suit? Okay, he's got a point there. I give him props. But also, do keep in mind, dear shoppers, if you're going to go online and look at pictures of suits and order them, your computer screen isn't going to give you the best representation of the garment's true colour. So that's why I say, go look at the real thing. Make comparisons to other fabrics. Go stand by the window with the fabric. Go outside into broad daylight with it, accompanied by the sales/tailor of course.

Tape measures and pins are necessities during a fitting session. Yes, Stephen-something, the tape touches your body when you're being measured. And there's going to be the occasional finger-brushing-your-skin action. But no finger or hand will be going anywhere near your private areas if that is what you're concerned about. There are specific techniques to measuring a body for a suit or shirt so that the hand doesn't touch your privates--and that's why a trained tailor is required to do this. Not your friend. Not the salesperson helping you. A true tailor with 10+ years of experience. And nowadays, the real tailors you meet are most likely over 50 years old, who have been practicing this rare art of suit-making by hand for decades..longer than any young man has been a young man. So if you think having your measurements taken is the equivalent of having your comfort zone invaded, then I suggest you don't even think about getting a custom suit made nor should you ever go see the doctor. Also, pins go through the fabric, not the skin. Anybody who isn't trained probably shouldn't even be holding pins so close to a customer in the first place. And that's exactly why you go to a professional tailor or custom clothing specialist.

As for the fit, Mr. Steven-something, no real tailor guesses where the waist on a pair of pants should go or how long your pants should be. Common sense tells me, the tailor would ask the customer?

And where did you get the idea that you'd be trying clothes on in a "sauna-like condition"? If you're clueless enough to walk into a boiler room and get your suit made there, then maybe you'd be in this "sauna-like condition" you speak of?

Anyway, after reading this little nonsensical excerpt, it left me in complete awe that this Steven-something guy had the balls to write something so..uhhh, nonsensical?

SO, getting back to the main topic, is online "custom-made" menswear a good idea? I put "custom-made" in quotation marks because I have a pretty strict definition of what custom made really is:

A "custom-made" suit is a suit produced by having your body measurements accurately measured in accordance with your personal preference in fit and style. You would tell the tailor, for example, "I want a suit that is form-fitting but not snug," and immediately, the tailor will know exactly how many inches to add on to the actual body measurements to make that finished suit a "fitted suit" and not a "snug suit". The tailor will also take into consideration the drape and weight of the chosen fabric so that he can inform you what style is possible with that fabric and as well, what style looks best on your body type. A custom-made suit must include a fitting session at which then you get to make adjustments to the size and length before the suit is fully complete. That's how a genuine, traditional "custom-made" suit should be produced. You get the best in quality, fit and style if you go this route.

There are many pros and cons to ordering a "custom-made" suit online. Custom-made in this sense means you get your mommy dearest or your trusted old buddy to measure you, send those measurements to goodness knows who and you wait a few weeks for your suit to show up at your door. That will solve the "stranger-possibly-touching-your -privates issue" that the Steven-something guy brought up.

Hmm, doesn't sound very promising, does it? But wait, there are pros. Just wait.

So what happens when you get the suit and uh, it doesn't fit? Why--you take it to a local tailor and hope that you can get it fixed. Or, you pop that suit back into the mail along with new measurements and you hope, hope, hope that this time you get it right? If you're going to go this route, you better order your suit way WAY beforehand, way before your wedding or your interview.

OK, the cons are pretty obvious.

Nowadays, prices on clothing online can and have hit rock-bottom because of the HUGE garment producing industry in China and the competition here (referring to North America) and there (China). And the selection online is amazing.

But before you get excited, just keep in mind: You do get what you pay for. There's a reason why you pay an inexpensive price...corners are cut and quality is compromised.

Let me clearly illustrate my point:

In the picture above, two sets of shoulder pads are shown. The set on top is what traditional tailor shops use to make those handsome structured shoulders in your suit. They are firm, durable and shaped correctly. The set on the bottom is from a brand new "custom-made" suit, bought online for about CAN $300, that was brought into Balsam Tailors for a major fixing. It looks dingy, way too soft, cheap and mishaped. The owner of this suit complained that the suit gave him slumping shoulders. Hmm, not a surprise.

The grey shoulder pads are what we use at Balsam Tailors, referring to the above picture. It's thicker and firmer than the sad looking ones underneath them.

Okay, so what's so good about online "custom-made" suits and are they worth your money? I can think of two reasons that anybody would order online:

1. They are inexpensive.
2. Buying clothes online is a trend.

And if you ask me, (and...WHY on earth would you ask me if you should buy a cheap suit online because you know I'm biased) my answer would be:

Use your own judgement.

Happy shopping!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is This Man Possibly The Happiest Man On Earth?

I smile a lot and I especially love when my photo subjects are smiley. When everybody is smiling, taking pictures is a breeze.

So, what made Jeremiah smile from ear to ear for these photos?

A. Could it be that he was wearing full cotton underwear that day?
B. Perhaps, the sun came out after the rain and he was able to get his daily dose of vitamin D?
C. He's getting married in the Philippines to his lovely fiance?
D. He's dressed from head to toe in woolen luxury doused with fitted perfection?

The answer?

Only JEREMIAH would know.. Haha!

Jeremiah's 3-piece custom suit: $1030 + HST

Monday, July 4, 2011

Our Seamstresses Sew And Can Kind Of Draw...

I must admit. Drawing is not one of our fort├ęs.

It made me chuckle when our seamstress produced her interpretation of a blouse that one of our customers requested. However terrible it is, the technical drawing served its purpose, which was to illustrate all the details on the said blouse.

The blouse to be made was actually based on a sample with only a minor change to the hem.

Our blouse:

Customer's sample:

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Happy Couple with Cute Smiles Brightens The Day!

This is Kahmal and he's getting married in August to his lovely Japanese fiance. He's a tall and lean guy who we thought would look best in a lean suit. The lean look offers both comfort and good style whereas a skinny suit would give you plenty of style but offers no comfort.

I heard they're having a traditional Indian wedding and it excited me! They're often colourful and always full of intense happy energy. I wish this new couple a joyous new life together!

Kahmal's Custom Made Suit: $780+ HST

Monday, June 13, 2011

Not All That Glitters Is Gold. It's The Craftsmanship and Attention That Goes In That Makes It Gold!

Ever seen a shirt that BLINGS?


Scroll down and see.

Sample shirt

Finished product

We had a request recently from a nice lady who was looking to get a super-bling costume made based on a shirt that she already owned.

I'm not going to lie. It was incredibly difficult for our seamstress to produce such a peculiar piece. The style was not straight forward and the stretchy sequin material made it 10 times more difficult to make.

But guess what? Our crazy talented seamstress made it anyways. She's one of those people who I love giving great big hugs to because she's like Rumpelstiltskin who can make gold out of straw, except she's not really a gnome and isn't evil. Best of all, she's real.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Our New Look!

We've always wanted a store front that would reflect who we are. We love simple and clean designs because they seem to hold up against the test of time.

Anda and I love our new look. Thank you Nobuko Takasu from Adnovation Design Inc.