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A different full/half canvas, fused/sewn question: When does it matter most?

zimmt

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I can’t afford to have all my suits made with full, sewn canvas, and I’m trying to figure out for which suits the extra expense adds the most/least value. For example, if full, sewn canvas makes a light suit look much better but a dark suit look just a little better, then for those of us with constrained budgets, it makes sense to go the extra mile on a light suit and save money on a dark one. And of course, there is a second part of the question. If not full, sewn canvas, then fused half canves? Or something in between (e.g. fused full canvas or sewn half canvas)?

This is undoubtedly a choice many of us face – if cost wasn’t an issue, there wouldn’t be so many threads about canvas and fusing.

I would expect there are four key things that influence how much the contruction makes a difference: (1) light vs dark fabrics, (2) the pattern, (3) fabric weight, (4) fabric stiffness, and (5) the style of suit. So, gentlemen, your advice and insight would be grealty appreciated: Where to spend your money and where to save it (and what construction to choose when you do)?

Fabric color: All else being equal, which benefits most from full, sewn canvas, and which the least (and what construction to choose)? Light fabrics or dark fabrics?

Patterns: plain vs. stripes vs plads/checks?

Weight (and use): For me there are four types: (1) light, breathable fabric for hot sunny days; (2) flannel for cold days, (3) not-flannel but similar weight (290g+ / 10 oz+) for cold days, and (4) “four-season” fabric for in-between days.

Stiffness: Soft Italian style fabrics vs stiffer, English style?

And finally style: English suits vs Neopolitan vs more structured Italian style suits?

Any advice or insight re. where going from half to full, and/or from fused to sewn improves the suit the most would be greatly appreciated!
 

zimmt

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So many interesting threads with so many contributions from so many members. But I've now posted two questions, a month has passed, and no replies. Quite different from my experience on forums on different topics. Has this forum changed since most of the other threads I've read were posted? Or am I just not asking good questions ... ?
 

Andy57

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Your original post wasn't a single question and when I look at a post like that I think that I don't really have the time to give as in-depth an answer as the post appears to ask for.

But looking at it again, the answer is fairly simple. Always buy fully canvassed jackets. If your budget doesn't permit you to buy as many as you want (and who's amongst us does?) then buy fewer. If you want a jacket that looks good, has some structure, and will hold its shape, then you want a full canvas. So-called softer tailoring or unstructured tailoring calls for lighter canvas or lighter padding, but the best examples are all fully canvassed. Jackets without padding or canvases are little more than cardigans.
 

breakaway01

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Jacket construction isn’t like choosing options on a computer where it's easy to swap out one component for another and then quantify the difference that one component makes. I suppose the most rigorous test would be a double-blinded comparison of two jackets made identically with the only difference being one made with half canvas and the other with full canvas construction, but I doubt such a study has ever been (or ever will be) performed. So any answers you'll get on this topic are grounded on highly subjective personal experience and speculation. With this caveat in mind, here are my two cents.

For RTW there will be compromises at all but the highest price points in RTW. So a $2000 RTW jacket is much more likely to be fully canvassed -- but it also will be made of higher-quality materials and likely be constructed with fewer compromises than a $500 jacket. You can't compare a $2000 fully canvassed jacket and a $500 half canvassed jacket to judge the importance of full canvassing because the more expensive jacket will generally be 'better' all around in terms of materials and construction. Another and perhaps more critical issue is that these two jackets will probably not fit you identically. At the end of the day, fit is far more important than whether the jacket has a full or half canvas.

For 'high-end' bespoke, it wouldn't make sense to ask for half-canvas or fused construction to save a few hundred dollars off the cost of a $3-5k suit (even if the tailor was willing to do it, which probably they wouldn't).

So I think your question is really only applicable to the buyer who is looking at 'low-end' custom (MTO or MTM, not bespoke) and is considering a half vs full canvas construction option. It's hard to be too prescriptive. I have both fully canvassed and half canvassed jackets. I do think that full canvas construction has perceptible (at least to me) advantages but it would only make sense if you are also getting decent fabric and construction quality as well.

I'd also suggest that you first read up some more on the difference between a full and half canvas construction given your references to "fused full canvas" and "full sewn canvas". You'll also probably be able to answer some of your own questions (e.g. why on earth would fabric color or pattern interact significantly with full vs half canvas?).
 

zimmt

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Your original post wasn't a single question and when I look at a post like that I think that I don't really have the time to give as in-depth an answer as the post appears to ask for.

But looking at it again, the answer is fairly simple. Always buy fully canvassed jackets. If your budget doesn't permit you to buy as many as you want (and who's amongst us does?) then buy fewer. If you want a jacket that looks good, has some structure, and will hold its shape, then you want a full canvas. So-called softer tailoring or unstructured tailoring calls for lighter canvas or lighter padding, but the best examples are all fully canvassed. Jackets without padding or canvases are little more than cardigans.
Thanks Andy57 and breakaway01 for the helpful advice! Andy57, just to be sure we are discussing the same thing, you compared full canvas to no canvas (in other words, unstructured). For me, the choice is between the kind of structure. But I gather that you would recommend paying extra for full, sewn canvas over any other kind of structure. (No?)
 

zimmt

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I'd also suggest that you first read up some more on the difference between a full and half canvas construction given your references to "fused full canvas" and "full sewn canvas". You'll also probably be able to answer some of your own questions (e.g. why on earth would fabric color or pattern interact significantly with full vs half canvas?).
Well, it may be that I’m overlooking something, but I started this thread after first searching and reading about canvas options, and I only asked what I didn’t learn from that exercise. One thing I suspected, and maybe this is what you are getting it, but which is still not clear to me, is that "full canvas" may be a synonym for "sewn canvas". My best guess now is that there are three main types of construction of a structured jacket: (1) a canvas lining sewn benieth pretty much the entire front side, (2) a canvas lining sewn benieth the upper part of the front side, combined with a fabric or fabric-like substance glued (fused) to either the lower part of the front section or the whole thing, and (3) no sewn canvas, but instead the same substance fused to the entire front side. But I have not seen a clear statement to this effect and I'm not sure it is right.

On the other hand, I do have some hypotheses about some of the factors that might make a difference. I thought I’d save them for later so the discussion didn’t focus on whether or not they were right. But I actually do think the pattern and color could matter. If a fused suit doesn’t drape as well, that would probably be more obvious on a light colored suit with a bold plad than on a dark, plain suit, no?
 

breakaway01

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Read this for an excellent discussion on the pros/cons of full canvas vs half canvas vs fused construction
https://www.styleforum.net/threads/canvas-and-suit-construction.269171/

While the layers of material that make up the internal structure of a fully canvassed jacket are sewn together, I have not heard of the term "sewn canvas" as a synonym for "full canvas".

For light (less heavy, not color) fabrics, fusing will stiffen the fabric slightly so fully canvassed construction might better preserve the suppleness of the fabric. I don't think color or pattern really matter.

jefferyd's last point in that post is worth repeating: "While purists will insist that only full canvas garments should ever be considered, there is a significant cost involved and so it is a little disingenuous to insist, particularly to newbs, that fused or half-canvas garments should be avoided outright. Someone who is just starting out his career will likely not have the means for full canvas, nor is he likely to be familiar enough with suiting in general to risk purchasing something off the internet in order to get a good deal. Half-canvas is a more affordable alternative, and if he is really on a budget, a fused garment makes an inexpensive first step; considering how our tastes and preferences evolve once we have been wearing and trying on suits for a while, it is perhaps wise to start off with a less expensive purchase and work up to the better makes once we have a better fix on our tastes and what fits and suits us."
 
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Vuchko

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I think you may do better by trying to figure out what looks good on you, rather than trying to parse through the details of what makes a "technically" good garment.
In a way, I find that learning about technical details of luxury products is a curse. One starts looking down as inferior on things that are perfectly fine functionally and aesthetically, just because they're not made with some "real thing" that's characteristic of their still more expensive equivalents.
 

Vuchko

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As far as I understand, there are three potential problems with fused jackets:

(1) Cheap fused jackets may "bubble" after some number of years and/or cleanings. But as far as I've observed, that's unlikely to happen nowadays, except maybe with very low-end jackets.

(2) Fusing is essentially a way of making fabric heavier, by attaching an additional layer to it. Obviously, this defeats the purpose for fabrics that are supposed to be very lightweight, breathable, and cool-wearing. Whereas it's less of a problem (if at all) for heavier and warmer fabrics.

That said, I'm not sure how much better a canvas really is in this regard. Certainly it also adds an additional layer of weight and insulation. And of course, that also goes for whatever lining the jacket has.

(3) Arguably, a well-made full canvas jacket looks better than anything that's achievable with fusing. However, I do have several very good-looking and well-fitting jackets with a half-canvas and fusing. On occasions I've tried exorbitantly expensive full-canvas jackets that do have a stunning look unlike anything I presently have, but I don't know how much it is due to canvas, and how much due to other factors such as finer materials and overall more fine and skilled cutting and tailoring.

But certainly, if your goal is to achieve a killer look that will get compliments and turn heads, a full-canvas jacket is not a necessary condition.
 

jefferyd

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One thing I suspected, and maybe this is what you are getting it, but which is still not clear to me, is that "full canvas" may be a synonym for "sewn canvas".
That is correct.

My best guess now is that there are three main types of construction of a structured jacket:... (3) no sewn canvas, but instead the same substance fused to the entire front side. But I have not seen a clear statement to this effect and I'm not sure it is right.
If by this you mean canvas that is fused to the front, this is incorrect.

But I actually do think the pattern and color could matter. If a fused suit doesn’t drape as well, that would probably be more obvious on a light colored suit with a bold plad than on a dark, plain suit, no?
It is not always true that a fused suit doesn't drape as well. In some circumstances a fused suit might drape even better than a canvas suit. A light-colored suit might look better with a fused front than a canvas front.

To let go of the technicalities (and there are many more of them than have been touched on here), if you are on a budget and trying to determine where to spend your money, you would be better served to get a half-canvas suit made from better cloth than you would by getting a full-canvas suit out of inferior cloth.
 

zimmt

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Thanks everyone for the helpful advice. I think I can sum up some of the comments by saying (1) "whether canvas or fused is not the most important thing", and (2) if you have to economize, better on this than on things such as fabric and fit.

Undoubtedly true, though in my case I need to economize because I am choosing fabrics that I really like and paying more than I otherwise would. And as for fit, as far as I can tell, I am using the best I can afford. There is a huge price jump to those who I think are better - too huge for economizing on fabric and canvas to get me there.)

So while the full/half/fused question might not be the most important, as far as I can tell, it is not unimportant. And it seems to be one of the most important of the choices that I'm not sure how to make.

Your advice helps with that. And one takeaway so far seems to be that fusing tends to be more of a mistake with for lighter weight, softer fabrics. So seems like I should not do it with a super light summer fabric - I was leaning that way anyway. On the otherhand, while it sounds like it's less of an issue to use it with a heavy winter fabric, perhaps it is still an issue with flannel, because that is soft? Perhaps if I'm going to make a 4-season suit from normal wool suit fabric and a winter one from flannel, I should save money on the 4-season suit? (And in fact, these will be the next two suits I order.)
 

zimmt

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and (3) no sewn canvas, but instead the same substance fused to the entire front side. ?
If by this you mean canvas that is fused to the front, this is incorrect.
No, I don't mean canvas. By "same substance", I was referring to the material I had mentioned in the preceding phrase. I think I've heard the material described as felt. Anyway, I know it's not canvas.
 

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