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Unfunded Liabilities: a/k/a The Cloth Thread

dieworkwear

Mahatma Jawndi
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Objective measurement of fleeces on-farm and at the auction house has been developing rapidly over the past 3 decades, supplementing the skills of the woolclasser who works in the shearing shed. In addition to measuring staple length and average fibre diameter, it can very cheaply identify tender fleeces (those susceptible to a break in the fibre due to nutritional setback), standard deviation of fibre diameter within the sample (uniformity, in other words), and tensile strength. All this is information available to the topmaker at the combing mill when their agent buys the fleece, and they are correlated with how the spun fibre, and to an extent the derived cloth, performs. They are not a perfect substitute for objective durability tests like the Martindale test (resistance to rubbing) on finished fabric but they are correlated. Topmaker, spinner and weaver/finisher have very detailed objective information on the fibres they are working with, but merchants may choose not to communicate that to tailors or garment factory operators, which I think is a pity.

With superfine and ultrafine fleeces, some growers will break a skirted fleece into further pieces to produce two lots with smaller variation of fibre diameter than if submitted as an unbroken skirted fleece, which increases the overall sales price of the fleece.

The tendency over the past three decades has been for reduced variation within wool bales, which makes the topmaker's blending decisions much easier and helps him/her produce top to a tighter spec at a lower cost. Some people bemoan that greater uniformity in a top destined for fine worsteds reduced crease resistance and durability in the fabric (the rationale for the old Smiths Whole Fleece line, which had a higher variability in fibre diameter within each thread than most, and hence more strong, stiff fibres that resist breaking or creasing) but it is not the only factor at play.

For those interested in the interface between woolgrower and the textile supply chain, the attached article is interesting reading. An extract;

" It is also important to define the term topmaker. It is often loosely applied to a company or mill that converts raw wool into top. That is in fact a “comber”. A topmaker is the person that undertakes the blend engineering. Most exporters carry out the topmaking function and all combing mills will have a topmaker on their staff. The topmaker can in fact be regarded as the “cook” in the wool combing industry. He takes different farm lots and blends them together to meet the specifications and price restraints placed on him by the combing mill, much the same way as a cook takes flour, butter, sugar, eggs etc. to bake a cake. If the chef wants a chocolate cake he must add chocolate in the same way as the topmaker can and probably will add pieces or skirtings to a blend if the end product is to be used for dark suiting fabric. In another example, the topmaker will only use low diameter fleece wool if the top is to be used in pastel shade ladies next-to-skin knitwear. The analogy between cook and topmaker is a very apt one."
This is all well and good, but I'm not sure how this information is relevant for the consumer. As Despos noted, it's difficult, if not impossible, for people on this end of the trade to get that information. The best they can do is rely on direct experience and the maker's name/reputation. For people who don't even know how to tailor (us and other customers), I'm not sure we're in a better position.

If you have experience with two cloths, say an Engish worsted and an Italian worsted, it's not enough to say that the English worsted lasted longer because it was heavier. That's because the two fabrics differ in many more dimensions than just weight -- it could be any number of factors. It may be that you didn't have a good experience with that specific Italian worsted and thus don't recommend that book, but it doesn't makes sense to me to generalize this into "heavier fabrics are better."

The Brooks executive I interviewed said that he saw fabrics get worse over time even when accounting for all the same specs -- same weave, same mill, same finishing, same machines, etc. He attributed it to declining wool quality. According to him, they couldn't achieve that old quality anymore even when they tried, but the program ended up being cut off in the mid-aughts, so this was a brief ten year program.
 

brax

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Is your tailor OK with working on that? I tried to have NsM make the trousers, and their seamstresses couldn’t manage it. Had to use Whitcomb and Shaftesbury instead.

Also, will you have any special construction on the jacket, as it cannot be dry cleaned?
Sorry for the late response. He hasn’t started working with it yet so I’m not certain what his reaction will be to such a heavy, stiff cotton.

I‘m just going to ask him to make it as unstructured as possible. Maybe a very light (no?) canvass. I’m going to beat it up and will not baby it. When it’s time to clean it, I’ll just ship it off to Stu at Rave and let him worry about how to clean it.
 

Concordia

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Consider a few runs of hot wash with detergent first.

Apparently, the dye in that fabric turns white if it is dry cleaned.
 

brax

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Consider a few runs of hot wash with detergent first.

Apparently, the dye in that fabric turns white if it is dry cleaned.
Thanks. I ran it through the washing machine (with detergent) twice before shipping it off. I do that with all my cottons and linens.
 

Concordia

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Keep us posted on how Rave is able to clean it without screwing up the linings and trimmings. I have thought of getting a lightly-constructed jacket out of that, but am not sure how that would work after the first few seasons. Or perhaps your tailor knows a few tricks?
 

ruvort

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Does anyone know of a good source for mohair velvet fabric?
 

oscarthewild

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I was looking for some mohair velvet remnants to get evening shoes made. Pieces too small for couches etc can work. Do you have access to any?

-
 

The Chai

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Cashmere mohair...now I have really seen everything...
 

9thsymph

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Hey folks, not sure quite where to post this question, but I guess it's mainly a cloth issue so...

How do you guys feel about wearing lighter weight blazers in the winter (not SCs. Blazers)? For example, I would never think to wear a heavy blazer with linen trousers in the summer, but lately I've found that the inverse - wearing, say, a lighter hopsack or even a fresco blazer with fuzzy flannel trousers in the winter - kind of works. I guess this can be functionally attributed to the fact that one can easily wear a warm overcoat on top of a lighter blazer, whereas wearing an overcoat on top of an already heavy SC can be kind of a drag.

Anyway, my question is about the aesthetics of this sort of "mismatch". Without getting too bogged down in the whole "rules vs fuck the rules" - do any of you wear some of your S/S jackets in the F/W? What do you think works particularly well? Where do you draw the line in terms of coherent tops vs bottoms (i.e. the proportion of smooth, lightweight blazer, with heavier, fuzzier bottoms. A worsted hopsack with cords? A sleek serge with grey flannels?)?

I'm ready to get on with some new orders, but in considering what I "need" I'm finding it hard to shake the impulse of yet another navy blazer iteration, as getting various weights across various textures in tandem with various button configurations and silhouettes becomes rather endless...(do any of you share this madness?)

Are there any "true" 4-season blazer cloths? (assuming hot summers and cold winters, with overcoats in the winter).

Thanks!
 

FlyingHorker

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I like how Moon has their shop setup compared to the antiquated methods that other companies have. Similiar to Magee's.


What is the functional difference between Melton, Duffel, and Hunting Pink? They all look the same to me.

https://www.moons.co.uk/product/navy-6/ (Melton)
https://www.moons.co.uk/product/navy-5/ (Hunting Pink)
https://www.moons.co.uk/product/blue-7/ (Duffel)
 

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