From sheep to suit: how your bespoke suit is made – Part 1
Your new bespoke suit from gentlemen’s outfitter Senszio is elegant and sophisticated. But it didn’t start out that way. Here, in this two-part blog entry, we track the lifecycle of your designer suit, beginning with the origins of the high-grade wool that’s woven into fine fabric.
Wool is a natural fiber from the fleece of sheep that’s composed of proteins. Over 200 varieties of fleece are used for wool-fabric production. Farmers generally shear sheep once a year, usually in springtime, and then send the wool for grading and sorting.
They’re graded according to the length and quality of the fleece. Each animal’s fleece has a variety of grades, but the highest-grade fibers come from the shoulders, sides, and back. The lowest are taken from the lower legs.
Cleaning the wool
The wool is sorted into similar grades. It’s then sent off for cleaning and for preparation for weaving. The raw wool is washed, rinsed and dried to remove the dirt. For the washing stage, alkaline baths are used. It then gets rinsed and dried by being squeezed through rollers. Lanolin is released in this process and it’s harvested for use in soap and cosmetics.
The wool will be spun into woollen or worsted yarn. Woollen yarn tends to be used for carpets or jumpers as it’s quite irregular and hairy. Worsted yarn is tighter, stronger and smoother. This is the yarn that’s generally used to make suits. Before that, some further processing is required.
Before being spun into yarn, fleeces are carded. This is done on a machine that’s made up of rotating cylinders. Wire teeth filter the wool into individual strands and remove pieces of straw and other unwanted matter.
Shorter fibers, or noils, are removed through combing. This also places the remaining fibers parallel with each other. This ‘sliver’ then gets wound into a ‘top’, in preparation for spinning.
This ancient craft twists the fibers into one long thread (yarn).
Weaving hasn’t changed in centuries, except that today it’s carried out on much more modern machinery. Today’s equipment weaves two sets of threads: the warp and the weft. The warp goes onto the loom in lines and the weft is threaded at 90 degrees between the warp threads.
Different colored yarns and altering the number of warp threads create the variety of patterns and textures that we’re used to.
Senszio carries wool fabrics from the world’s finest brands, including Cerruti, Dormeuil, Ermenegildo Zegna, Fratelli Tallia Di Delfino, Holland & Sherry, Loro Piana and Scabal.
In Part Two, we’ll tell you how we go about creating our bespoke gentlemen’s suits from the fine fabrics we receive.