Saturday, August 28, 2010

Real men knit...and tie Windsor knots

So do real men eat quiche, knit and ask for directions? Good question. Cary Grant struggled with the mechanics of knitting in the 1943 film Mr. Lucky. He comes out of it, err, frayed but largely intact.

Mr Lucky - Cary Grant knitting

Mr Lucky - Cary Grant knitting

Grant also receives a lesson in tying a Windsor knot by his romantic protagonist in the film. She prefers the fuller Windsor knot, he prefers the four in hand. A serious matter of course.

Oddly enough, more than a few long-haul truck drivers have apparently taken up quilting and sewing according to a March 2010 Wall Street Journal article.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Trimming the sails: How to alter an oversized shirt

If you have a RTW dress or sports shirt that you like but is large across the chest and waist, here's a Threadbanger (what a name!) DIY video on altering a shirt by taking in the sides:

Remember pinch and pin, pinch and pin and sew. Obviously, I wouldn't recommend this for your $600 Anna Matuozzo shirt. But as the video suggests, if you are serious about making shirts, there is a very good book called Shirtmaking by David Page Coffin, which my own shirtmaker Freddy Vandescasteele recommends.

The video also features Bodymetrics, a body measurement company. Bodymetrics is focused on using its bodyscan for fitting jeans (apparently 25-30% of all garments are returned due to wrong size).

A cheaper alternative to Bodymetrics is creating a bodyform using three tools - a duct tape, a t-shirt and a friend. Seems much more commonplace in constructing women's clothes. It would be interesting to know of any men's tailors or shirtmakers who take this approach.

Additional links
- Threadbanger thread on trimming shirts

Thursday, August 19, 2010

British style heritage menswear: Nigel Cabourn, Grenson & Gloverall

Por Homme came up with a nice find - the July issue of Journal de Nimes which is dedicated to British handcrafts. The issue features articles on Nigel Cabourn, a factory visit to Grenson and Gloverall's relationship to the duffle coat. You can view the issue or download a pdf version of it.


Nigel Cabourn is well-known in Japan but less so in the US. His label focuses on vintage and military-inspired outerwear and has amassed an impressive collection of 4,000 vintage (mostly British military and expedition) pieces. Cabourn's workshop and sample pieces can be viewed here.

Additional links
- Heritage Research
- Styleforum thread on Nigel Cabourn

Updated Dec 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

Roman tailoring: Ripense

My fellow blogger Hugo of Parisian Gentleman forwarded me a recent article submitted by one of his readers featuring the Roman tailor Ripense. They offer bespoke suits, shirts and (unusually) shoes under one roof. Although based in Rome, the tailors in the workshop are apparently Neapolitan.

I like the double-breasted blazer they made for Paul:


The name of the tailor rings a bell and given the location I probably walked by it in my last visit to Rome.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Designing fabrics: A mill to consumer direct model?

Cloth mills rarely, if ever, work directly with individual consumers. They typically work with distributors or large customers. Less frequently, individual tailors may commission special designs and weaves just for their shop. The cloth is probably produced in a length of 20-30 meters and will likely go to several of the tailor's customers for their suits or jackets.

Taking the logic of customization even further, one can imagine a true one-for-one cloth commission from mill to consumer. We are getting closer to that reality - mill to tailor to consumer.

Cooper & Cooper is a bespoke tailor based in Huddersfield, the home of fine English textiles, and are now offering a single cut-length bespoke cloth commission individualized to the customer. They call this their Bespoke Cloth Designer.

I suspect it is just a matter of time before cloth mills find it worthwhile to go direct.

Friday, August 06, 2010

William Halstead: Traditional English mohairs

When I was in Los Angeles recently, I also spent some time with a knowledgeable contact in the cloth trade and learned about a couple of fantastic new books by William Halstead, a weaver and mill based in Bradford, Yorkshire. Operating since 1875, they are perhaps most well-known for their classic English mohairs.


Mohairs are sheared from the Angora goat and have a higher luster than typically found in other worsted fabrics (see the wool-mohair jacket below). The younger the goat, the finer the diameter of the individual hairs (kid mohair). When woven into cloth, mohair provides a nice firmness and memory (or recovery) for retaining shape. Mohair blends make fine cloths for dinner jackets and what I would call "evening suits" (or evening jackets) for events which are not quite black tie and where a business suit may be acceptable but a bit predictable.


I looked through a couple of new Halstead books of English mohairs and Super 120s worsteds. The former contains wool mohair blends but also contains one cloth of 100% mohair. It's an unusual fabric to be sure, as I don't recall ever seeing a 100% mohair before.

Along with the summer formal shirt idea described below, the English mohairs book would be at the top of my short list for a summerweight dinner jacket cloth. The second Halstead book has lighter weight worsteds in classic solids and terrific patterns, ideal for leisure or business summer suits. These have a softer finish than the Lesser tropicalweight worsteds for instance.