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Hymo, hair cloth, horsehair canvas, linen canvas

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
As a means of futhering our understanding of the materials and processes of construction, would one of you elucidate the differences and different applications of hymo, hair cloth, horsehair canvas, linen canvas etc. -SZ Also how sub-par should one consider premade canvas fronts for custom/bespoke work? Why? -
post #2 of 13
Also posted on AA, in response to the same question(s): I can tell you what I know, or think I know. First of all, I don't know what "hymo" is. And I'm not aware that there is a difference between horsehair and haircloth. Perhaps there is; I defer to a real tailor. A "structured" coat is typically made using several layers of different kinds of canvas or interlinings. The largest is a layer of wool/horsehair blend that is basically the same size as the front third or so of (each side of) the coat, running from the lapel through the chest, from the collar seam to almost the bottom edge. Then there is a piece of pure horsehair (much stiffer) in just the chest. The purpose of this is to smooth out and "clean up" the chest of the coat.  Some add a piece of linen to the upper chest. The horsehair and linen are then covered with a light cotton flannel to prevent the horsehair from poking through the lining and scratching the wearer's body. These pieces are sewn together around the edges, and then padstitched with basting thread (white cotton) before they are put into the coat. This is what is meant by "making" the canvas. "Canvas" used in this sense refers to the whole internal structure. Once made, that structure is then pad-stitched to the coat front and lapels using colored silk thread.  (Again, there are two of these structures, one for each side of the coat.) The problem with pre-assembled canvases is that they (obviously) come only in certain sizes. If a tailor has cut a unique pattern for a client, he can be pretty certain that no pre-made canvas will exactly match that pattern. So he has three choices: 1) Just put in the pre-made canvas anyway, which won't fit so well, and at best some of the fine effects of pattern cutting will be lost; at worst the shape of the coat will be seriously off; 2) Trim the edges of the canvas to make it fit better; this might work reasonably well, but it won't be as good as if the canvas were made according to his own pattern; and of course trimming is fine where the canvas is larger than the pattern, but what about those areas where it might be slightly smaller? And what if the canvas as a whole is the right size but (say) the horsehair piece really ought to be 3/4" forward and 1/2" down? Etc. 3) Take the canvas apart and remake it where necessary; this is generally so time-consuming that it obviates the benefits of a pre-assembled canvas, so the tailor just might as well make his own. Another issue is the materials used. Most of the really good tailors don't use the same exact canvas for every suit. They vary the materials according to the cloth they are working with. They generally have their own ideas about what works best with what. So for some cloths they will make a certain, stiffer assembly, for others they will do one that is softer. Sometimes they will use all four layers, other times they will use fewer, etc. With pre-assembled canvas, they are stuck with whatever is available. Okay. "Soft" tailoring does not use the whole assembly described above. The first thing to go is generally that pure horsehair panel in the chest. Hence, no clean chest but visible "breaks" or drape. Some love this, some hate it. Get rid of the scratchy horsehair, and you can get rid of the flannel which is there to protect the wearer from little stabs. At a minimum, this makes the coat lighter and bit cooler. Some go even further and use flax (linen) for the main interfacing, instead of the stiffer (and more common) wool/horsehair blend.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
All hail Manton.   I mentioned Hymo because on some websites it says it is the same as canvas? on others hymo and haircloth are different. I also saw a supplier who had hymo, haircloth and horsehair canvas listed as seperate items. Any opinions on the premade pads on sewtru? -
post #4 of 13
Any opinions on the premade pads on sewtru?
You mean shoulderpads?  I am not a huge fan ...  But I suppose they have their use. Ready-made shoulder pads are generally flat semi-circles with no contour to the body.  A handmade shoulderpad will have the wearer's shape "built in" as it is made.  Basically, the tailor builds in the curve by padstitching a layer of cotton wadding to two layers of muslin (one on top and one on bottom).  The wadding underneath is smaller than the muslin on top.  The difference in size and the tension of the stitches creates the curvature.  It's similar to the way the roll is built into a lapel.  Both the hand-made pad and the ready-made pad will then have to be pressed into their final shape, but it is easier to get the right shape after pressing with a hand-made pad. Shoulderpads are much easier and less time-consuming to make than the canvas assembly.  This is of course easy for me to say, but I think there is really no good excuse not to make the shoulder pads in-house.
post #5 of 13
My greatest compliment: File-->Save Page As... Björn
post #6 of 13
I googled hymo canvas and it seems to be 40% wool/60% goat hair. I got the impression that it is used for lighter weight suitings. A lot of sites call it hymo hair canvas.
post #7 of 13
OK, apparently "horsehair" simply refers to the hair fibers, which can be blended with other fibers to make various cloths.  "Haircloth" refers specifically to a canvas that is all or mostly horsehair.  (Sometimes cotton is added to make it a bit more pliant.)
post #8 of 13
Oops Manton I was off base with my original post. A lot of what is called horsehair these days is really plastic woven threads. I have seen this woven with canvas (it still pokes through just like real horsehair). Fewer horses these days.
post #9 of 13
So are the tailors I talk to -- all of whom call it "horsehair" -- just using the phrase anachronistically, or are they able to get the real thing? (I imagine if anyone could, it would be the bespoke tailors whom I like to quiz whenever possible.)
post #10 of 13
Yes they still make it. They used to mix horsehair in with plaster for walls as well. It made the whole mess less likely to crumble later on.
post #11 of 13
Manton ad any tailors outhere--

Sorry for dragging up an old thread, but it is exactly what I have been trying to find out for two years.

I am making a reproduction of an 1880's wool frock coat. My patterns are from Laughing Moon and a couple others that make accurarate reproduction patterns, including some Civil War documentation. I am rather a purest when it comes to reproduction clothing for myself. (No poly, acetate, etc. as well as possible.)

Anyway, I understand the structured coat and horsehair pad in the front. What I am not clear on is how it is held in place on the chest. It seems tacking it through the wool broadcloth would leave little puckers and defeat the hard flatness of th front. The only thing I can think of is hand sewing it right at the stitching of the arm holes, shoulder seam, etc. Is this correct?

Also, is true horsehir canvas still available?
post #12 of 13
Originally Posted by oscarthewild View Post
All hail Manton.  

I mentioned Hymo because on some websites it says it is the same as canvas?

on others
hymo and haircloth are different.

I also saw a supplier who had hymo, haircloth and horsehair canvas listed as seperate items.

Any opinions on the premade pads on sewtru?


Usage can vary, but generally CANVAS refers to the large wool/horsehair blend piece to which the hymo, haircloth and felt/domette are attached. Hymo is a moderately firm canvas whose every fourth pick or so (crosswise fiber) is a wrapped horse tail strand. Haircloth refers to a canvas which is horse tail in the weft and cotton in the warp- generally 18 to 21 picks per inch (a thread count). It is quite stiff (and expensive) so its use is variable; some makers use one large piece of hymo and one small piece of haircloth in the shoulder, while Canali, for example, will have a many as three largeish pieces of haircloth in the chest making a very clean but stiff chest. The choice of material, as well as the number of pieces and the grain upon which they are cut are the domain of the tailor or designer and are a key element in the shoulder expression and silhouette.
post #13 of 13

So, do bespoke tailors do their own canvas?

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