Know Your Fabrics

Know Your Fabrics


A suit is only as good as the fabric it is made from. You will hear a knowledgeable tailor talk with passion about various weaves, fabrics, fibres and counts of wool. These days fabrics are getting lighter in weight and the counts of wool are getting even finer. Most fabric types are available in light, mid and heavyweights.

For your guidance some of the terms are listed below, in addition, there are many more types of fabrics and we can email the information on request.

A fine or broken vertical thin line with a spacing of 1/4" to 1/2".

Chalk stripe
A thicker stripe spaced out up to 1".

Bird's eye
A diamond shape design in various colours with a contrasting white or coloured yarn.

Prince of Wales
A square check design usually in black and white but can be in other colours. This design was favoured by The Duke of Windsor, hence the name.

The chevron weave resembles the bones of the fish of the same name.

A large square formed by a horizontal and vertical design against a plain or slightly patterned background.

A diagonal weave cloth usually a plain, sometimes referred to as serge.

Usually woven from coarse wool into designs for either sports jackets or country suits. The name derives from the River Tweed in Scotland where the fabric originated from.

A tweed cloth that was originally designed to protect gamekeepers from ripping their garments on thorns and brambles in the countryside. This was the first self-repairing cloth. For example push a sharp-pointed object through the cloth to make a hole and remove, rotate the cloth between your thumbs and the hole will repair itself.

Cavalry twill
A diagonal weave cloth that is usually made into trousers that are either worn with sports jackets or for riding wear.

A smooth woollen cloth that is quite soft in handle, which originated from the Stroud area in Gloucestershire.

This refers to the way the yarn is twisted when it is woven. High twist fabrics are very good for travel suits as they don’t crease as much as normal woven fabrics.

Hard-wearing cotton cloth with vertical lines woven into the fabric called whales. This very old terminology is used to determine the line spacing. For example an 8 whale cord will have 8 lines per inch.

Wool is a natural fibre that springs back when crushed. This means that the crease recovery is very good. There is always confusion about the quality of wool. Put simply, the term super 100s refers to the micron of the wool fibres. The higher the count means the finer the cloth. We have fabrics up to super 160s woven from the wool taken from the neck and shoulder of Tasmanian sheep. Not all tailors can handle this type of fabric.


The fibre is from a Kashmir goat and is usually blended with 120s or 130s wool to give a soft luxurious handle. The cloth travels well and is cool in summer.

This fibre has greatly improved over the years and is used in many different types of fabrics. Originally the UK polyester was called Terylene and was woven into a very hardwearing cloth that was prone to pilling. Most quality cloths will not contain polyester apart from modern micro polyesters such as the Dormeuil voyage travel cloth.