Fabric & Tailoring Education

Suit Construction

Cutting

After your measurements are applied to a pattern, that pattern is overlaid onto your chosen cloth. If there is a feature of the cloth such as a check or a stripe the way in which we overlay the pattern will ensure continuity of that feature once the suit is complete. The cloth is then cut taking into consideration all of the necessary darts, welts, pockets and vents. The result is several individual pieces of flat cloth that can now be positioned together to make a 3D object. This is the most crucial stage of the whole process.

Making and Trimming

The cloth pieces are then sewn together and your suit is born. Various parts of trim are added. Body Canvas: Made from horse hair, it’s available in many different weights, contents and textures, the canvas is used to construct the chest area of the coat, Lloyd Hall Bespoke use the softest, lightest weight canvas on the market for a more luxurious feel. Under Collar Melton: made from 100% wool this is used to construct the collar. Sleeve head wadding: made from foam, cotton, viscose and goats hair, this is placed and sewn into the crown of the sleeve to give the crown a “roped” look, a very common look with fully hand tailored bespoke suits. Shoulder Pads: made from a viscose & cotton, shoulder pads come in a variety of thicknesses and depending on the clients shape will determine what we use, for instance should someone have square shoulders a thin pad would be placed in so to not emphasise that feature, should someone have sloping shoulders a thicker pad would be placed in. Snugtex: is a rubber piping on the inside of the trouser waistband. This grips the shirt when tucked in to prevent it from coming out. There are in the region of 5000 hand stitches in a jacket alone, this takes many days of work and is one of the reasons bespoke suits are the price they are.

Finishing

Now into the final stage the suit pieces before being ultimately sewn together are pressed into shape using various pressures of steam over different moulded forms called bucks. The jacket is placed over a buck, steam is applied and the jacket is re-shaped to the contours of that buck. The same happens for the shoulders, collar and sleeve. The trousers are inverted and placed on a double rail with a thin groove down the middle of each. A hot pointed iron the shape of a pencil is then run down the groove in each of the rails to create the permanent crease. After final inspection the suit is given a light steam and placed in a garment cover. The process from start to finish is likely to take 3 – 6 weeks to complete. This is because as your suit arrives at each stage there is likely to be a cue of work ahead of it. However even if a tailor was working on your suit none stop this process would still take more than 30 hours.

Shirt Construction

  • In the first instance a pattern is drawn onto pattern paper by hand – this is true bespoke.
  • A photo of the client from 4 angles is studied by the cutter to take as much into account as possible.
  • The fabric is then cut by hand every time, which allows perfect patter matching. This is when the check or stripe of a shirt continues seamlessly from one piece of material to another like shoulder to sleeve, collar top and bottom and the back and front of the shirt.
  • The individual pieces are then sewn together using 25 stitches per 1″. This is in stark contrast to the 10 stitches per 1″ in off the peg shirts. This serves to make the shirt more robust.
  • The seams of each shirt are so thin they are barely visible. This added to the patter matching makes the shirt look as if its made from a single piece of continuous cloth wrapped around you as opposed to a patch work.
  • Buttons are shanked – raised from the shirt to allow the buttonhole to sit behind them. This prevents buttons looking pitched tight when the shirt is fastened.
  • Finally in each of the buttonholes there are 240 stitches all sewn by hand as well as any embroidery again finished by hand.

Materials

Wool

The wool fibre is found in the fleece of sheep. Fine wools come from the Merino breed and the number 1 producer is Australia. Wool is a light fibre but can be woven heavy. It has the ability to absorb humidity and is an insulator. The Super number is a grade of fineness. Super 100’s to 190’s are typical and ideal for bespoke suiting. Normally off the peg wools will be either lower in super number or a mix of wool and synthetics (plastic) which heats up, stores heat and and makes the wearer hot.

Mohair

Mohair is from the Angora goat the main producer of which is South Africa. Often referred to as the diamond fibre due to its occasional sparkle and two tone affect. The finished material can be smooth and hard wearing. Adult Mohair makes out into very interesting fabric for suiting and the finer Kid Mohair is often blended with wool for jacketing.

Cashmere

Cashmere is from the undercoat of the Falconari goat found at 16,500 ft above sea level, a little over half way to the top of Mt Everest and as such incredibly difficult to harvest. The conditions in which the fibre is grown adds to its fineness and it is the finest fibre on earth. This gives the most amazing insulation and temperature regulating properties as well as the very softest touch available.

Silk

The Bombyx spins its self a type of cocoon. After harvesting and soaking in warm water the cocoon can be unwound and typically one cocoon and unravel up to 1 mile of continuous fibre. Silk is famous for it’s sheen and smooth finish but also has fantastic insulation properties and can be woven in a mix with wool ideal for jacketing.

Linen

Linen is a vegetable fibre produced in most of the northern hemisphere. It’s very hard wearing, has the ability to keep the wearer very cool and is great as a mix will wool to prevent as much creasing. That said linen should be chosen because of it’s creased look not inspire of it. The two piece with a panama hat is a very dapper look in the right weather.

Cotton

Cotton comes from the cotton plant. Ideal for shirting and trousering the material is typically strong, soft and cool in the summer but warm in the winter. The best plants are in Egypt and the Caribbean.

Weaving

The process for outerwear

The fibres whichever type are collected and either combed (worsted) or not (woollen).

Next the fibres are spun or twisted together in either an S or Z direction – this creates yarn. This yarn can then but twisted with other yarn either of the same fibre of different to create a mix. The end result will be a rope looking thread. This can now be woven to make cloth.

Weaving is the process of interlacing many vertical (warp) yarns with many horizontal (weft) yarns normally on an industrial loom. The end result is unfinished cloth. At this stage the cloth feels a bit like cardboard.

The finishing process gives the cloth its life, its lustre. The cloth is washed with the soft water from the pennines which has been filtered through the Yorkshire mill stone with very few impurities in it, added to which is a natural soap which creates a beautiful lather that scorers the material. The cloth is then set and dried at a heat that allows the cloth to go forward and stand up to the riggers of life without loosing its shape and lustre or going shiny.

The process for shirts

Cotton is harvested and combed so all the fibres run the same way. Those fibers are then twisted together and spun to create a 1 ply thread of cotton typically used to create off the peg shirts. More luxurious fabric is made up of cotton which has a longer staple (fibres) of cotton and the resulting thread is then spun with another thread to create a 2 ply thread which is then used to weave the cotton sheet. More luxurious fabrics like Egyptian cotton are made of literally twice the amount of cotton per square inch, which is twice as strong and very crease resistant. The fibers used to create this fabric are combed in a way that stretches them giving them an elastic memory meaning the shirts wont want to crease they will under normal body heat bounce back to being wrinkle free. Not possible with the much more common shorted staple of cotton because its much more brittle.

  • Off the peg cotton is normally a mix of cotton and synthetics which isn’t always good for the skin and is made of fibers typically 10mm long.
  • Egyptian cotton is 100% cotton and is made of cotton typically 25mm long
  • Sea Island cotton is typically 52mm in length.

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