Canvassing: What is it and what’s the difference between high and low quality?

01 August 2016

Canvassing: What is it and what’s the difference between high and low quality?

Every suit needs its foundations and no matter the quality, it has a canvas. Like a work of art it’s the foundation on which to construct the garment, adding each piece until you have a work of skill and magnificence. When an apprentice tailor learns his craft, one of the most intensive components to learn is canvassing. As it’s the basis of the suit they must interpret the client’s measurements in two dimensions and translate them into a three-dimensional garment. This process is steeped in tradition and technical skill; only once an apprentice masters this can they advance to working with fabrics and tailoring a suit.

As with car models, there’s a difference in quality between the bog-standard and the high-end model. Think about how the engine will differ from a Toyota to a Rolls-Royce. The former is largely machined with little human interaction while the latter is created by hand over a substantially longer period. The same analogy can be applied to a suit: the canvas defines the quality of a suit from its very foundation. 

There are two types of canvas: floating and fused, and they’re as they sound. A floating-canvas construction is the preferred method. The canvas is allowed to “float” or otherwise moves between the layers of the lining and the suit fabric from where it’s fixed at the seams. This gives you a greater sense of movement and moulds to the body when wearing the suit. Traditionally made from a blend of horsehair and cotton it has the heaviness to weight the suit correctly and to retain your body shape.

The alternative is a fused construction: a canvas or interfacing fabric that is fused to the fabric using heat and an adhesive. While this type of canvassing is fast and cheap to produce, it’s inferior. A fused-canvas suit is prone to bubbling or rippling after repeated wear or dry cleaning, and it has a rigid feel to it. Furthermore, rather than using natural fibres, it’s made from a synthetic fabric that won’t breathe.

Oscar Hunt always uses floating canvas because it’s the perfect complement to our premium range of imported fabrics. You wouldn’t stick a Toyota motor in a Rolls-Royce, so why would you do your suit a disservice?