or Connect
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › On Swelled Edges: When Are They Best Used?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

On Swelled Edges: When Are They Best Used?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I've been thinking about swelled edges, or "double stitching" on Neapolitan jackets, and wondering when they look best. It seems to me that they almost always make an odd jacket or casual suit look better. Casual jackets almost don't look right to me now without swelled edges.

Any thoughts?

Swelled:
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)















Regular/ non-swelled:
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)




post #2 of 29
I like this detail on casual jackets a lot too, but only if the edges are actually swelled. If its just double stitching, as in some Neapolitan jackets such as Crompton's jacket or some Sartoria Partenopea jackets I've seen, I don't like it near as much.
post #3 of 29
I think swelled edges are best on fuzzy tweedy coats.
post #4 of 29
To be clear, double-stitched and swelled edges do not always go hand-in-hand. My odd jackets and overcoat and casual suits are all double-stitched, but none have swelled edges.
post #5 of 29
I liked this suit at a J Press store very much:

AppleMark
AppleMark
post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 
I had a nice talk with Vox about this yesterday. I think a good rule-of-thumb is: double stitching if it's a plain, solid-colored, casual jacketing - like something such as a cotton, linen, or a very casual wool (say fresco) - especially if the jacket is going to be of an Italian make. Then swelled edges on rougher fabrics such as tweeds and corduroy. Vox noted that swelled edges can either be hand or machine sewn, but I'm unclear on what difference it might make. My assumption from browsing threads is that machine sewn ones would be tighter and fuller, but this is only a guess.

There's also apparently something called single stitches, which are different from the AMF or handsewn pick stitch that everyone is familiar with. I'm unclear what a single stitch would be on a lapel, however.

The above rule-of-thumb would be good for sport coats and suits, since we're talking about casual garments in both cases.

As is, I have a tobacco brown linen suit, gun club faux tweed, and a blue fresco in the works with NSM. And next month, I plan to ask for a navy hopsack BlazerSuit, brown Shetland houndstooth, and brown herringbone tweed from Steed. I asked for double stitching on the fresco, and think I might see if Mina can put the detail into the linen suit as well. I think the faux tweed might be too busy for swelled edges, but am open to comments.

The Shetland houndstooth and herringbone tweed, however, I think really call for swelled edges. I don't think they'd look right without them. BlazerSuit will be plain, just to tilt it towards a suit.
post #7 of 29
Agreed that swelled edges look best on rough fabric, like thick Harris tweeds. Frankly, I think they look really weird and vintage, in a very bad way, outside of that.

I honestly haven't given a lot of thought to double stitching on flatter fabrics, but I have to say, my first inclination is to keep it to only very casual fabrics--cottons, linens, etc.

Gives me something to think about, will need to ponder this one a bit more.
post #8 of 29
There seems to be some confusion about what swelled edges are and are not. So here we go.

The cut edges of cloth fray so the seam is made a certain distance from the cut edges, using a lockstitch, which is the technical name for an ordinary machine stitch. The ¼” to the right of the seam in this photo is known as the seam allowance. The cloth is sewn face to face.



The seam is then turned so that the cut edges are concealed between the layers of cloth. It’s easier to see on this double-faced cloth



The edge is then pressed. This is done on all edges, regardless of whether they will be plain (bluff) or swelled.



Because this pressed edge could puff up if exposed to humidity (steam!) or roll the wrong way, it is traditional to pick stitch the edge to keep these four layers of cloth flat, about 1/16” from the edge (using a backstitch, for those who care). The stitch creates a compression of sorts, keeping everything in place and flat; when done by hand, the goal is usually to be very discrete.



There are machines which replicate this stitch (to varying degrees) known as AMF, Complett and Columbia machines.




If this stitch is done with a lockstitch machine (the same type of stitch used to make the seam itself), it is known as a single stitch. It used to be a feature of all J. Press suits to be single stitched 1/16” from the edge, I don’t know if this is still the case.

On sportier garments, this stitch is sometimes done a certain distance away from the edge, away from the seam allowance. The compression created by this stitch where there are only two layers, next to the four layers created with the seam allowance which is encased by this stitch, creates a sort of bas-relief effect. Think of the effect of quilting a down jacket.



When a single stitch is used instead of a pick stitch, the added tightness of the stitch and additional number of stitches per inch create a more pronounced effect.



The effect is much more evident on heavier goods (conversely, it will be almost nonexistent on lightweight goods).



Done this way, the swelled edge is seen as a somewhat decorative detail to give character to sportier garments. The style in southern Italy is somewhat more exuberant, so it is common to see heavier threads being used to do the stitching there (silk buttonhole twist is common). Having two rows of it is just seen as an additional detail to show that just a little more work has gone into the garment, and most garments that have two rows are done in a very showy, exuberant manner.
post #9 of 29
Wow, very helpful, thanks for that.
post #10 of 29
^Great post as usual!

I have a question about pickstitching,

In the lapel do you usually use a real backstitch or a running stitch like the one used for pocket flaps?

Thanks
Edited by alexSF - 3/6/13 at 8:37am
post #11 of 29
More photos: brown jacket is an Attolini, I think bespoke, from 20 years ago (I got it off eBay). These swelled edges are very subtle, and I think done by hand. The black is on an Armani pea coat, from maybe 10 years ago, I am almost sure machined.



post #12 of 29
The Attolini one looks great--it's a rough tweed fabric, and a subtle swell. The pea coat... I think it works because I would expect that on a pea coat. Were that a blazer, I'd be less enthusiastic.
post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by aravenel View Post

The Attolini one looks great--it's a rough tweed fabric, and a subtle swell. The pea coat... I think it works because I would expect that on a pea coat. Were that a blazer, I'd be less enthusiastic.

Agreed on both counts. The Attolini one is by far more elegant. The fabric on that coat is actually cashmere and therefore soft, but it's quite heavy and has a bold pattern of a tweed.
post #14 of 29
Right, rough as in not-smooth-worsted, not rough as in polyester-imitation-Harris-tweed. I'm sure it's a gorgeous fabric, I'd expect nothing less from Attolini.

So, are handmade swelled edges the next SF-approved "it" feature? biggrin.gif
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by aravenel View Post


So, are handmade swelled edges the next SF-approved "it" feature? biggrin.gif

A series of posts on the bastardized near-misses can't be far behind.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Classic Menswear
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › On Swelled Edges: When Are They Best Used?