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Guide to suit quality 1949

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

This is a fascinating guide to the quality of different full-canvas suits, published in 1949 by the U.S. government.  It also has a guide to fabrics on pages 6-7.  Fused suits make no appearance in this volume.  You can read the book here:

 

http://books.google.com/books?id=rxwuAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

Some interesting observations: hand-made buttonholes are often identified today by their rough appearance on the non-facing side. The guide points out that the best hand-made buttonholes should be finished smoothly on both sides (doubling the work and expense for the tailor). 

 

 

Not all canvases are made the same:

 

 

 

 

The quality of a coat front:

 

 

 

 

For the rest of the book: http://books.google.com/books?id=rxwuAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

post #2 of 13
Why was the US Government involving itself in such things?
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

It was part of the US Department of Agriculture's Home and Garden Bulletins: http://www.nal.usda.gov/ref/USDApubs/hgb.htm

 

They also have a guide to mending suits: http://agnic.msu.edu/hgpubs/modus/00000039.htm

 

Direct link: agnic.msu.edu/hgpubs/modus/morefile/hg39_46.pdf

post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by GBR View Post

Why was the US Government involving itself in such things?

Harry Truman was in office. Who happened to be a haberdasher and a fan of industrial policy. Coincidence? I think not.
post #5 of 13
thank you for posting this.
a very informative piece.

who needs styleforum when youhave the US gov. giving you the facts
post #6 of 13
I wonder how many makers on that tedious SF suit hierarchy have mid or low grade canvas. (Had no idea some could be cotton/burlap)
post #7 of 13
Very cool CrimSox...how did you come across this?

jrd617: "I wonder how many makers on that tedious SF suit hierarchy have mid or low grade canvas. (Had no idea some could be cotton/burlap)"

I would love to know this also. I recall Jeffrey d stating that some half canvassed suits are better than poorly made canvas versions. Just saying...
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you Carl.  I've always enjoyed and learned from your posts on the art of the dress shirt, so I was happy to contribute something helpful.

 

That's a good question Vida.  I was trying to find out more about the quality of suits from the first half of the 20th century.  A friend once commented that when he saw a Scholte suit from the 1930s, it was sewn incredibly finely, to a level that would be unheard of today.  Foster & Son in their thread make a similar remark about how the density of the stitching in shoes was far higher a century ago.  So that made me curious to learn more about the quality of suits from that time.  It's surprisingly difficult to find sources on that question, but the book above was one of the first that turned up.

 

A bit of inspiration -- hand-tailoring at Henry Poole during World War II:

 


Edited by CrimsonSox - 11/22/13 at 3:34am
post #9 of 13
Thanks for the link!

You know the picture of the tailors sitting on the tables reminded me of a conversation I had with Rory Duffy. He mentioned that back in the old days, the boys stricken with polio would be trained as tailors so they could make a living. So it is possible that some tailor traditions, such as sitting on the table like that, arose from people who were unable to stand or walk.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by poorsod View Post

Thanks for the link!

You know the picture of the tailors sitting on the tables reminded me of a conversation I had with Rory Duffy. He mentioned that back in the old days, the boys stricken with polio would be trained as tailors so they could make a living. So it is possible that some tailor traditions, such as sitting on the table like that, arose from people who were unable to stand or walk.


that is an interesting point.
I knew of an English tailor who worked at Catania clothing at 85 fifth ave.(a building that was filled with tailors, clothing fatories, and rack jobbers of suits)
John curran had one leg that was about 5" shorter then the other. He was the fastest tailor I have ever seen.
fueled by coffee and cigarettes
he could make a jacket in a day and a good one!!!,
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

It looks like tailors have been sitting cross-legged while sewing for some time.  This is a painting from 1780:

 

post #12 of 13
There is a leg muscle called the sartorius muscle (ie the tailors muscle) because it is the muscle believed to let a person cross his legs. So the association between tailors and crossed legs must have been around for a long time.
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by poorsod View Post

He mentioned that back in the old days, the boys stricken with polio would be trained as tailors so they could make a living. So it is possible that some tailor traditions, such as sitting on the table like that, arose from people who were unable to stand or walk.
It seems somewhat unlikely. As has been noted, the tradition dates back centuries. Thing is, polio was a rare disease prior to the 20th century. (Indeed, the history of how polio went, almost overnight, from being a disease of virtually no significance to society, to one which frightened entire nations, is a fascinating one.) And of those few boys who were stricken with polio, only a fraction of 1% wound up unable to sit in a chair or on a bench or stool. (Chairs were enormously less common historically than were benches and stools.)

It just seems like a bit of a reach to hypothesize that a tradition which can be reasonably explained in other ways, owes its origin to such limited factors.
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