Cloth, Measurements and Fittings

How an idea becomes a suit …

What do you have to consider when selecting cloth?

Mostly clients know roughly which kind of cloth they are looking for. It depends on the style and context the garment is intended for. We usually go through bunches, look for and compare patterns, shine, heft and color until a suitable cloth is found.

Where does your cloth come from, who’s the supplier?

For many years I’ve been supplied with cloth from Scottish cloth merchants Holland and Sherry and Hardy Minnis. I also work with Italian weavers like Loro Piana and Drapers.

Which cloth is the best choice for a business suit?

Merino cloth from Super 100 up to 130 yarn is best suited, with a weight ranging from 280 g to 320 g. If one travels a lot it’s generally a good idea to use high twist yarns or a wool-mohair blend. But those fabrics aren’t entirely free from wrinkles also.

How detailed does the clients vision of the suit has to be considering there’s no try-on-garment?

The more precisely the customer is able to describe his vision the clearer the image becomes. Often customers send me images of styles they have in mind, like advertising images from the 30s or 40s. Then we talk about all the details in my workshop, like the shape of the pockets — angled, straight, with or without flaps — the shape and width of the lapel, position of the gorge line, pattern and details of the vest, pleated or flat-front trousers and so on. Based on those details we end up with a precise idea of what the client wants. And after that we have the fittings, where we can go into detail even further.

How long do you need to take the measurements? What is it like?

The first appointment takes about one and a half hours. In that time we talk about all the details and choose a cloth, then I take the measurements. The client stands relaxed in front of the mirror and I use measuring tapes for all the measurements that are required to draft the pattern. At the same time I observe the posture and possible lopsidedness.

Do I have to wear a suit or do you measure in a shirt?

Measurements are taken with a shirt and trousers on. It’s not necessary to bring a suit. Measuring clients works just as well in jeans and a t-shirt. But for the fittings it’s crucial a collared shirt is worn.

Wouldn’t a scanner be more precise?

Irregardless of the use of a scanner or measuring tape, measuring is itself only a means to an end. What makes the difference is how those measurements are interpreted and used to draft the pattern. If a scanner is merely a way to pick the nearest suitable off-the-rack size to alter, the elaborate process and the result simply aren’t proportional.

What exactly is happening at the fittings? And why are they even necessary?

At the two to three fittings the fit is perfected and details like length of the jacket, height of the butting point, position of the pockets and width of the lapel can be inspected in an unfinished state. For clients this offers the opportunity to observe the creation process and to steer it in a direction they like.

How long does the whole process take?

Depending on how busy I am it usually takes about four months until the client receives the final garment. I work about 70-80 hours on a two piece suit alone.

How much room is there to change one’s mind during the fitting process?

At the first fitting a lot can be done, but there are limits. That’s why I discuss all the necessary details at the first meeting and if there are open questions I make sure to consider them in the pattern.

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