Fused vs Floating Canvas

Claire Harris – Head of Operations

11th May 2020

Fused vs Floating Canvas - what's the difference?

Tired of feeling restricted and uncomfortable in your suits?  Or have you ever wondered why people invest in bespoke tailoring??

Of course, there is the benefit of the fit!  

In addition, there is being able to choose the exact style you want, along with the fabric, lining and buttons. But what about what’s under the hood?  Is there such a difference in the craftsmanship and quality of materials?

Firstly, it’s important to understand that a suit jacket has layers;  The outer layer is the cloth – typically wool, cotton, linen or silk.  The inner layer is the lining – this is what allows the jacket to slide on easily. Then there is a middle layer, often overlooked but in fact extremely important.  It is called the canvas and this is what gives the jacket its shape. 

The canvas (middle layer) allows you to take something which is two-dimensional, like a piece of fabric, and turn it into something which is three-dimensional, like a human body.  

A jacket’s canvas can be either floating or fused. A floating canvas construction allows for many more measurements and figurations to be taken into consideration.  There can be anywhere between 20-40 unique measurements and figurations in the jacket alone.  However, a fused canvas garment typically ranges from 1 measurement (i.e. the chest on an off-the-peg garment) to 8 measurements (in a made-to-measure suit).

Floating Canvas

Up until the 1970s all jacket canvases were floating. This means the outer and inner layers are held in place by hundreds of tiny stitches into the canvas, which is typically made from horse hair. Horse hair is strong, light and breathable, making it the ideal material to use.
 
In a floating canvas construction, the materials need to be matched and positioned by hand.  The materials are held in place by large white stitches called basting stitches and then sewn together, also by hand. This attention to detail and element of hand craftsmanship results in a garment which is far lighter, more breathable and gives a stronger silhouette.
 

Fused Canvas

In the 1970s, as a part of the increase in mass production, fusing was invented as a way to reduce costs and speed up the manufacturing process. Fusing is effectively an additional layer of interlining which is fused (or glued) to the canvas and in turn the outer fabric layer. 

The benefit for the manufacturer is that a machine can do this whole process.  This is an easy way to increase the speed of mass production whilst limiting the effect on accuracy. However, the downside to the consumer is each garment is constructed to one specific body type and the extra layer of fusing adds weight, reduces breathability and restricts movement. It can also make the jacket more prone to damage. 

If the garment becomes damp, through an unexpected rain shower or through dry cleaning, the fusing can come away causing the jacket to appear ‘bobbly’ across the shoulder and chest. Nowadays almost all off-the-peg suits have a fused canvas.

 

Claire Harris

Claire Harris

Head of Operations

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