Saturday, March 30, 2013

A textile without qualities...

...is perhaps almost as impossible to find as "a man without qualities". I mentioned recently in a tweet that I've taken the step of enrolling in a textile quality management class. I'm doing so because quality is an oft-used but rather poorly understood word in the consumer world of menswear. Even among men's clothing aficionados, discussion of textile quality is based almost entirely on the impressionistic assay of fabrics. Sometimes it is based on years of experience in having bespoke garments made. However, experience in the end-use of fabrics, while helpful, is not sufficient.

For example, a common way among aficionados to ascertain fabric "quality" and "performance" is through the hand feel of fabrics. The hand of a fabric is simply one measure of aesthetics and comfort but many aficionados seem to believe that hand feel alone can be a good indicator for textile quality. Ask a textile professional if hand feel is a reliable and complete indicator of overall quality and performance and the diplomatic response would be a simple but decisive "no".

Italian wool blend testing sample


Back to the class I'm taking. Our term project involves testing 4 yards of a knitted (or woven) fabric through a battery of tests for durability (abrasion, pilling), strength, colorfastness, moisture management, shrinkage (dimensional stability), etc. My sample is a wool/polyester blend which I picked up at Mood Fabrics in NYC's Garment District.

The yield scale below measures the weight of a cloth based on a standard sample cut of the fabric:

Alfred Suter yield scale
Alfred Suter yield scale (probably c. 1960s)

Below is the sample cutter used to punch out a sample of my test fabric:

Test sample puncher
Sample cutter (likely pre-1950s)

2 comments:

C.Lee said...

Dear Juhn,

An open question for you:

What properties in a cloth should a bespeaker look for when sourcing cloth for a benchmade commission?


Charles

sleevehead said...

Good question! Stay tuned for a future post (or posts).