New to Buying Cloth

A guide to buying cloth

New to buying cloth? Do you need more information on the different types of cloth? Not sure how much you’ll need?

Have a look at our helpful guide below and hopefully you’ll find the answers you are looking for. If you don’t, please don’t hesitate to send an email to [email protected] and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

How much cloth do I need to buy?

If you’ve never bought cloth before, or if you’ve bought for a suit but not for a coat or jacket, then here are some broad guidelines to assist you with how much cloth to buy.

Before we provide some guidance, it’s important that we point out that everyone is a different shape and size, and so there are no definitive guides as to the right length of cloth you should buy. The suggested lengths below are an average and if you have any doubts you should either consult a tailor to be measured or make sure you order a little extra to be safe. Remember tall people as well as those that are slightly heavier will need more cloth also.

In broad terms, and for an average-sized man, the length of fabric required (at our standard fabric width of 150 cms) is:

  • For a two-piece suit – 3.5 metres
  • For a waistcoat – 0.80 metres
  • For a jacket – 2.0 metres
  • For a full-length overcoat – 3.0 metres TBC
  • For a pair of trousers – 1.50 metres

If you have any queries don’t hesitate to contact us via email on [email protected] or visit your local tailor who can measure you up specifically.

What are the differences in the ways that cloths are described?

Like most people, you’ll want to know why something is as good as they say it is. With wine, it’s the grape, the vintage, and the region. With diamonds, it’s colour, cut, and clarity. With fabric there is a complex set of attributes to justify the price you’re paying.

Is there an objective way to compare suit fabric quality? What about the description Super 120, Super 150, Super 200 etc? Well this system is only one of many variables that determine suit quality.

It is true that the higher the “Super” number your suit is made from, the higher the grade of fabric. By that we mean the finer the fibre of wool that is used to make the yarn from which the cloth is woven. But is fine and light a good thing?

Raw wool, generally Merino wool for suit fabrics, is officially “graded” after shearing. Using accepted standards related to the thickness of the natural fibres, the wool is measured in microns under a microscope. This scale translates into the Super numbers we use to describe fabric.

Any raw wool measured to be finer than 18.5 microns is said to be at least Super 100s”. But the scale doesn’t stop there. There are 110s, 120s, 130s, 140s, 150s…all the way to 200s, and above – the higher the number, the finer the fibre. Fewer sheep produce the fine micron counts of raw wool, and therefore the prices for finer grades of wool rapidly increase.

But is more expensive, finer wool always better? It might feel better as it’s woven into lighter fabric with a lighter handle (how it feels to the touch). But how often the garment will be worn is important as is the climate inside and out. It’s important to buy the right fabric for how you’ll use the garment. Suits benefit from at least 48 hours rest between wears but if you travel a lot, that’s not always practical. Fabrics with a higher twist, lower Super value or that contain some mohair will make better travel suits.

Another important point to consider is the fabric’s weave. There are two different weaves you’re likely to find. Regardless of grade, we tend to describe fabrics as either “plain weave” or “twill weave”.

Plain weave, also known as “tropical weave” is like a basket weave, with one yarn overlapping or alternatively passing under the adjacent yarn in a grid-like fashion. There is less yarn in plain weave construction, and less weight, which is good for warm climates. Twills come in a heavier construction and are more suitable for colder climates.

However the higher the Super the lighter the fabric both for plain and twill weaves. All our fabrics show their weights in ounces and grammes so you can get a feel for the relative fabric weights.

The final choice is down to you. What fineness of wool do you want? Do you want any other fibres in the cloth? Silk, cashmere or mohair?

The one thing we can guarantee at Pepper Lee is that all the fabrics on our website are woven in England, a sure sign of craftsmanship, quality fabrics and the best raw materials.