3
Nov

What makes a great suit?

Half Canvas – Full canvas – Fused

Did you ever ask yourself, when buying a new suit for the season, what you should be looking for? If you answered this question with: fabric, linings, cut, brands, you are probably right. And yet you are not entirely right. The key to the great suit is something that even if not visible to the beholders eyes, can give a jacket a more lively appearance.

We are talking here about the construction of the jacket, because when it comes to determining the overall quality of a garment, it plays a large role. Nowadays, the production of a suit can be done by fussing or canvasing.

The main difference between the two construction methods is the way the inside chest pieces are combined with the outer layer of the jacket and the interior lining. When talking about a canvas jacket, even if half or full, it has layers of canvassing material (the canvas), generally comprised of wool and horsehair (sometimes camel) hand-stitched to the outer fabric. The other option, the fussing uses a fusible material and going through a fusing machine it sticks like glue to the fabric.

If we look back in history, we will discover that all the suits were made of canvas. It’s not necessary to time travel that much. Sometimes it is enough just to look in our grandfather’s wardrobe and we will uncover handmade jackets that even, decades later, have the same shape and apparel as they did the first time they were worn. They were created by skilled, passionate tailors, handmade, full canvased. True art.

Unfortunately, the progressive demand of suits and the desire and need to lower the price tags, made jacket like our grandfather’s a true rarity.

Canvas

I find it appropriate to first talk about the canvas itself, due to the fact you will read about it for the rest of the article, from different point of view. You can think of the canvasing materials as part of the jacket structure.

Mostly, the canvas is a blend of wool, cotton and animal hair; mostly horse and camel hair. Why this combination? One of the key characteristics of the wool and animal hair is that they are molded simply, just by using humidity, pressure and heat and that they will retain that shape.

If going even deeper in technicalities, we can mention that various grades or compositions of canvas can be used simply by mixing different types of fiber together with the wool and/or cotton. Even the source of the hair can change the specs of the canvas; for example: horse and camel hair from the mane is softer while hair from the tail is quite stiff and wiry. In the entire process of the sewing of the jackets, the canvas is used together with a felt (sometimes called chest piece), which is not fused, but added to the mix for the softness effect the jacket front needs.

Let’s keep into more details for each of the three options: full canvas – half canvas – fused.

Full Canvas

Full Canvas Jacket Photo Source: https://blacklapel.com

Full Canvas Jacket
Photo Source: https://blacklapel.com

Technically speaking, “full canvas jacket” has a canvas structure running all the way from the top of the shoulder to the hem.

Why are the full-canvassed jackets the crown jewelry of any wardrobe?

The canvas allows the suit fabric to drape properly, more naturally and will conform to your body over time, for the perfect fit. The garment will have a prolonged life, the canvas distributing tension at stress points (shoulders), it allows the suit to “breathe” and holds up to repeated dry cleaning.

Why are they so expensive? These jackets are the most labor and time intensive, due to the fact that all the stitching is done manually, require a higher level of skill to make, upping the price tag.

We have to mention that when sewing a jacket from a high finesse fabric, it’s appropriate the front to be “skin fused”, meaning a very thin fusible material is used. A necessary operation to accommodate the finesse of the fabrics used.

Pros:

  • Natural fit, take the exact form of your body.
  • Most fluidity, support for any moves. Flexible.
  • Prolonged life
  • No risk of damaged after cleaning (delaminating or bubbling, since no glue is used)

Cons:

  • Higher price tag.
  • Sensibility to humidity

Fussed Jacket

Fused Jacket Photo Source: https://blacklapel.com

Fused Jacket
Photo Source: https://blacklapel.com

“The elephant in the room”, the fussed jacket, is the garment you should never purchase but sometimes you end up with it, for reasons such as: small price tag or lack of alternatives.

Why are they so cheap? In order to save money and increase productions, manufacturers gave up on the canvas; rather, a fusible interlining is glued to the wool shell of the suit. This way the jacket receives a form, a stiff form, which is always the same, never, truly adapts to your body, looking lifeless.

The risk? This process is also problematic when it comes to the lifespan of such jackets. Over time, the glue used in the production degrades over time, or may come unstuck during the cleaning process. The fabrics detaches from the fused backing, causing the “bubbling” effect. The worst part: there is no way to fix these problems once it’s occurred.

Pros:

  • Low price
  • Abundance of choices

Cons:

  • The overall look is stiff due to the glue, the chest will never mold to your body as it should. Lack of fluidity.
  • Risk of damage over medium term wear and cleaning process.

Half Canvassed Jacket

Half Canvas Jacket Photo Source: https://blacklapel.com

Half Canvas Jacket
Photo Source: https://blacklapel.com

Probably the best choice taking in consideration they came with a medium price tag while still benefiting from the canvas in the chest and lapel, where they are most needed.

The perfect combination? The lower front part is still fused, but the fusing materials does not extend into the lapel of the jacket. As seen in the picture (ABOVE/BELOW) the canvas is still used in the chest and lapel area, giving the wearer the same benefits like a full canvassed jacket.

Have you ever wondered what make the lapel keep its great shape over time? The usage of canvas on the lapel, confers a more natural look and curve for the roll, the overall aspect of the jacket being greatly improved.

Pros:

  • less expensive than full-canvas.
  • less sensitive to humidity.
  • good lapel roll

Cons:

  • stiffens the cloth slightly
  • slight risk of delamination

Conclusion

In few words, these are the stories behind each type of jacket you can desire, choose and wear. The king of the wardrobe should always be the full canvas garment but we should take into consideration the labor behind the creation of such garment hence the higher price, which might not be obtainable for everybody. It’s the garment for the true elegant men, the true gentleman.

We can say, now, that half canvas jacket, the perfect combination of canvas and fusible materials, having most of the benefits of the “king” jacket and yet a considerable lower price tag.

It’s October and the autumn-winter collection are now available, from fabrics vendors all around the world. Why not take the opportunity and enrich your wardrobe with a lovely dark grey windowpane, half canvass jacket for autumn?

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