Your tailor has been trained to recognise most – if not all – cloths and their weaves by eye. The different weaves and their properties will be engrained into their brain, ready to use at their disposal. Though this is wonderfully useful when you are with your tailor, recognising these weaves without their assistance can prove difficult. If you were then to see a beautiful herringbone jacket whilst on your travels and decided you would like one made – describing it may prove a challenge when you don’t know what the weave is actually called!
Equally important is that you know what you are buying. If you like the look of a cloth but don’t know what you are actually purchasing, you may find that the finished garment is cooler or less durable than you were expecting it to be. For these reasons, we’ve put together a quick guide of weaves to help you out:
TWILL – a Twill is easily identified by the diagonal pattern that the threads in the cloth create when woven. It is a simple looking cloth that is very strong – strong enough that jeans are often made using twill. Twill cloths also drape very well. 4* durability 4* Versatility (Great in heat and cold)
HERRINGBONE – a Herringbone is also known as broken twill, this is because it has two rows of diagonal twills passing opposite each other. The cloth is called herringbone because of its likeness to the skeleton of a herring fish. Because the herringbone pattern is made up of twills, it is equally strong with the added feature of its distinctive pattern. 4* Durability 4* Versatility (Great in heat and cold)
FLANNEL – Flannel is woven from a twill to start with and is then brushed to soften the appearance and feel of the cloth – the brushing also hides the twill underneath. Flannel looks very slightly fluffy in comparison to a plain twill. The fibers are very short and tightly woven. This is why the cloth is very warm and incredibly hardwearing. 5* Durability 2* Versatility (Superb at insulating in cold but with little breathability in heat)
WORSTED WOOL – Very similar to flannel, worsted wool is also made from a brushed twill weave. Much like flannel, worsted wool also looks fluffy in comparison to a plain twill, more so than a flannel. The difference is that the fibers are much longer and the weave is a little looser, meaning the cloth is softer than flannel with a little more breathability. 4* Durability 3* Versatility (Very good at insulating in cold but with little breathability in heat)
HOPSACK – Hopsack is made using a simple basket weave, to create a hatched kind of effect. The threads are woven very loosely, which makes the cloth very breathable – ideal for summer. However, due to the looser weave the cloth is more susceptible to snagging. 2* Durability 2* Versatility (Great breathability in heat but almost no insulating in the cold)
Of these 5 cloths, twill and herringbone are the two most useful for all year round suits. They have great durability and will breath in heat whilst insulating in the cold. Flannel and worsted are joint number one for cold weather suiting when more insulation is required. Hopsack is best saved for warmer climates as it is incredibly breathable.
Though weave has an impact on cloth behaviour, the weight of the fabric will still alter how the cloth performs. A 15oz herringbone will be warmer than a 10oz flannel for example, which is worth bearing in mind.
So there you have it, when you next meet your tailor you will know exactly what you’re looking at or what to ask for!