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Custom shirts

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by banksmiranda, Sep 22, 2003.

  1. banksmiranda

    banksmiranda Senior member

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    Cherrytree is right.  I thought the exact thing when I read the RR articles - don't they know that a basic bedsteet is 200 thread count, and why don't they then make shirts from bedsheets ?  The thread count across the warp and weft will be different.  The warp may be 190 threads per inch and weft may be 95 threads per inch.  I wonder how they weave bedsheets at such high thread counts.  Are bed sheets made from 2-ply yarns?  I know that with voile they weave a lower thread count, hence the sheer effect.  If they weave shirt fabric with a very high thread count of 2-ply yarns then it would tend to "bulk up," a reputed custom shirtmaker has told me.
    Yes, sadly yarn numbers(though the salespeople call it thread count) for shirt fabric and micron numbers for woolens have become the main basis by which fabrics are judged.
     
  2. cherrytree

    cherrytree Member

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    While yarn numbers, or cotton counts, are not everything, I wish it were easier to get this information for shirting fabrics. One can always get the microns, or the Super-XXX equivalent #, for suit wools, but it's difficult to get yarn sizes for cotton. I've looked through many cotton shirting swatches, and this information never seems available. I thought it may be helpful to give what I believe are the important considerations for cotton quality. Yarn size, yarn count, yarn number, cotton count They all mean the same thing and are a measure of the fineness (thinness) of cotton. Typically, it is measured using the English count method, which measures the number of hanks (840 yards) in a pound of the cotton. The higher the number, the finer the cotton. For instance, with 150s, a very high quality cotton, 150 means that a pound of the thread would measure 126,000 yards (150 x 840). 200s are the finest cottons I've seen. Blue jeans are made with 13s and 20s. The grading system for cottons (e.g., 80s, 150s, etc.) is completely different from that used for for wools (e.g., Super 100s, Super 150s) even though the numeric values are close. Single ply or two ply. Yarn made by twisting two cotton strands is called two ply cotton. Yarn that is simply a single strand of cotton is single-ply, or singles. Two-ply is generally better as it is smoother, stronger, and more uniform than singles. It is important to be sure that it is two-ply in both directions (weft and warp). Typically, singles will be marked with the letter s, such as 100s. A two-ply yarn will be designated with a 2 after the yarn size, e.g., 100/2 means that a 50-weight yarn is being made with two 100s. Often though, one will say the cotton is two-ply 100s, which is the same as 100/2. Length of cotton Egyptian, Sea Island and Pima are ELS (extra-long staple) cottons that range from 1 3/8 inches to 2 1/2 inches. They are all derived from the seed gossypium barbadense. The greater the length of the cotton, the smoother and more comfortable the fabric feels. Egyptian Giza and Sea Island cottons are considered the best, but in most cases Sea Island does not truly come from the West Indies, but rather is a generic name used for the g. barbadense seed. An Egyptian extra-long staple 60s cotton will feel better than a long-staple 80s. Thread count (don't use this measure) This is the most bogus of all characteristics assigned to cotton. Thread count refers to the number of single yarns stuffed in a square inch of the cotton fabric, including both the warp (lengthwise) yarns and the weft (crosswise) yarns. This is a function of both the yarn size and the sewing technique. Thread count is typically used in classifying bed sheets. It really never is used when classifying shirting fabrics, although the term is frequently misapplied to shirting fabrics (e.g., Robb Report). To give a sense of how thread count relates to yarn size, a 200 thread count sheet uses single-ply 40s cotton.
     
  3. rbjones

    rbjones Well-Known Member

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    I had an absolutely wonderful experience at Hamilton in Houston. Fun little trivia, Hamilton has been making shirts longer than T&A. Anyways, I went in the store and was immediately well received and picked out my favorite swatches from over 600. The helpful saleswoman was keen to my tastes and helped make suggestions. Then the tailor came out and put on a trial shirt, took plenty of measurements, although the trial shirt fit me pretty darn well. He noted what the shirts purposes were for (14 hour workdays [​IMG] ) and we both decided it would be best to err on the side of comfort for the collar. The minimum order is 4, I ended up ordering five. You have to pay for the first trial shirt, but it is 100% guaranteed, if you are unhappy at the first fitting you can cancel your order at no cost. So after three weeks of my first visit I came in for the first trial fitting. They had prewashed the shirt and it fit immaculately. No alterations were necessary. I came back in three weeks to pick up my final order. All in all I could not be happier. All the different swatches were priced differently but I did order a couple of their higher end "Kent" cloths, a sea island fabric, and some more durable (read: inexpensive [​IMG]) fabrics. The average shirt price came out to just over $250/shirt. I wore one of these the other day and I have never experienced such comfort all over, in the neck it was if I could not feel my tie. I highly suggest Hamilton to everyone. See this months Men's Vogue for a good article.
     
  4. tiger02

    tiger02 Senior member

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    Heh, at least the spammer pulled up a gem of a thread. Since it's back, I might as well raise my question here instead of starting a new thread.

    Is CMT as common in shirtmaking as in suitmaking? I am going to visit a shirtmaker here tomorrow and wonder if it's even worth bringing up as a question. I'll need to look into it, but there's a good chance that fabric quality that I'll get here won't really be up to snuff.

    Tom
     
  5. rbjones

    rbjones Well-Known Member

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    Good question, Id like to buy enough fabric to make 10-15 white comfortable "workhorse" shirts. I simply don't want to pay 200/shirt. Any thoughts?
     
  6. Manton

    Manton Senior member

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    Every NY shirtmaker that I have used accepts COM (customer's own material). I can't say how widespread the practice is, but if I were you I certainly wouldn't hesitate to ask.
     
  7. Rolo

    Rolo Senior member

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  8. Concordia

    Concordia Senior member

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    Good question, Id like to buy enough fabric to make 10-15 white comfortable "workhorse" shirts. I simply don't want to pay 200/shirt. Any thoughts?


    I've never done it, and would hesitate for the following reason: unlike wool suitings, cotton shirtings have to be washed a lot. Part of your maker's expertise (if he really has any) will therefore involve making the correct allowance for shrinkage. Harder to do if it's cloth you've never seen before.
     
  9. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    Jesus Christ! How old is this thread?

    Jon.
     
  10. Manton

    Manton Senior member

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    I've never done it, and would hesitate for the following reason: unlike wool suitings, cotton shirtings have to be washed a lot. Part of your maker's expertise (if he really has any) will therefore involve making the correct allowance for shrinkage. Harder to do if it's cloth you've never seen before.

    If you don't know how the cloth responds to shrinkage, get an additional 1/4 yard or so. The shirtmaker will then wash the cloth a couple of times before cutting. That will suck most of the shrinkage out.
     
  11. tiger02

    tiger02 Senior member

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    If you don't know how the cloth responds to shrinkage, get an additional 1/4 yard or so. The shirtmaker will then wash the cloth a couple of times before cutting. That will suck most of the shrinkage out.
    This sounds like a winner. Thanks! On a somewhat related note...anyone have a source for discounted shirt fabric in Naples? [​IMG]
     
  12. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    If you don't know how the cloth responds to shrinkage, get an additional 1/4 yard or so. The shirtmaker will then wash the cloth a couple of times before cutting. That will suck most of the shrinkage out.

    If I were to ever get bespoke shirts, I would take the cloth and wash and dry it at home as I would normally do with finished garments to shrink it to the point where it won't shrink anymore during its life as a finished garment, then give the cloth back to tailor for cutting.

    Jon.
     
  13. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member

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    This sounds like a winner. Thanks! On a somewhat related note...anyone have a source for discounted shirt fabric in Naples? [​IMG]
    which shirtmaker are you going to? and no, I don't know of any fabric discounters, but in general you pay less from the shirtmakers anyway.
     
  14. tiger02

    tiger02 Senior member

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    which shirtmaker are you going to? and no, I don't know of any fabric discounters, but in general you pay less from the shirtmakers anyway.
    Not ready to take that step yet, still paying for for the suits and pants. There's a shirtmaker in Budapest who supposedly does good work who I will go see tomorrow. Leave for Naples Friday.
     
  15. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member

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    For discount fabrics you should head to the areas where the fabrics are processed. I think that some of the makers sell to the public. In Naples I would imagine that you are more likely to get ripped off on something like that than to actually get a good deal.
     
  16. GQgeek

    GQgeek Senior member

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    Tom, I'm not sure what you're intending on using, but it's really worth going with the better fabrics.

    For my first shirt, which was intended as disposable because I needed it fast and my pattern wasn't quite perfect, we used my shirt makers' lesser offerings (some italian company, not sure which) and it shrunk quite a bit.

    The shrinkage of the alumo stuff on the other hand is negligable.
     
  17. tiger02

    tiger02 Senior member

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    For discount fabrics you should head to the areas where the fabrics are processed. I think that some of the makers sell to the public. In Naples I would imagine that you are more likely to get ripped off on something like that than to actually get a good deal.
    You're probably right. What I was hoping for was something along the lines of Tip Top in the US, but with Riva end bolts and the like. I have a ton of free time while I'm there so will go looking.
     
  18. A Y

    A Y Senior member

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    If I were to ever get bespoke shirts, I would take the cloth and wash and dry it at home as I would normally do with finished garments to shrink it to the point where it won't shrink anymore during its life as a finished garment, then give the cloth back to tailor for cutting.

    This can be tricky because the interlining shrinks as well. A good method used by many shirtmakers is to make one shirt, and have you live with it for a few weeks following your normal laundering routines. After that, they check the fit and make any necessary adjustments to the pattern and shirt.

    --Andre
     
  19. rbjones

    rbjones Well-Known Member

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    How much fabric is needed for a shirt?
     
  20. Manton

    Manton Senior member

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    Two yards for the average guy, of 60" goods. 3.5 of 36" goods. More if you are tall, fat, muscular, if the cloth has a pattern that needs to be matched, or if the shirtmaker feels skittish with only two yards. 2.5 will get almost anyone a shirt from any maker. I'm 6'4" and my shirtmaker likes to get 2.25, whether solid, striped or plaid.
     

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