Guide to Buying Cloth

New 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 and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

How much cloth should I order?

If you’ve never bought cloth before, or if you’ve bought for just a suit and are now interested in our coating and jacketing, then here are some broad guidelines to help with how much cloth to order.

It is really important that we point out that everyone is a different shape and size, and so there are no definitive guides to the exact length of cloth you should purchase. The lengths which we suggest below are an average, based on our experience of global tailoring standards, if you have any doubts please consult a tailor to be measured up or make sure you order a little extra to be on the safe side, it is far easier to do this than have to come back and order an extra few centimetres later.

Remember if you’re a little taller or a slightly heavier build you’ll be best ordering a little more cloth, maybe an extra 50cm or so.

In broad terms, and for an average-sized man, the length of fabric required (at our standard fabric width of 1.5m) 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
  • For a pair of trousers – 1.50 metres
If you have any queries don’t hesitate to contact us via email on sales or visit your local tailor who can measure you up specifically.

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

If you are buying cloth direct you may find it a challenge to visualise what it looks like, a little trick is to drape a sample on your wrist showing a little bit of shirt cuff that way your mind will see the cloth as you’re wearing it.

It’s a challenge when buying cloth as there are so many attributes to justify the price you’re paying. Ever heard of Super 100s, 140s, 160s or 180s wools? Many believe that the higher the number, the better the quality. The number refers to the number of times that the worsted wool has been twisted when it is made. The higher the number, the finer and lighter the cloth will be. HRH King Charles III is known for his lightweight preferences and with that he favours wools that are in the realms of 140, 160 or 180. What are they like to wear? They feel lightweight and are extremely smooth – perfect for the summer months and hot climates abroad.

The drawback with the higher twists is that they don’t keep their shape very well. After a day of wearing, a suit can struggle to stand up and may well need a press to recover. The other thing to note is, that because the cloth is that much finer than a more conventional Super 100, it isn’t as durable and won’t last long if worn regularly. With this in mind, anything above a 140 should really be considered a special occasion suit, rather than a daily option.

Types of Weave

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, the majority of cloths will have some twill weave.

Twill weaves include:

Flannel – This common twill can be made with either worsted (smoother) or woollen (hairier) threads, and the surface is “napped” with a bristly brush to create a soft, fuzzy texture. Flannel suits are some of the softest to the touch, and can be quite heavy and warm.

Worsted Suiting – A family of fabrics made with a twill weave from worsted threads are referred to, collectively, simply as “worsted” or “worsted suiting.” They are characterized by a smooth surface and plain, matte finish. Worsted suiting can range from cloth made with very light threads for a silky, lightweight surface to heavy suits made from “milled” cloth with a soft, flannel-like finish.

Tweed – A diagonal twill weave done in thick, carded yarns. Tweeds have a distinctive rough and woolly texture.

Serge – A very simple twill weave made in fine threads for a matte surface with faint, diagonal lines. Serge is the traditional cloth for navy blazers.

Gabardine – A twill variant with more threads running horizontally than diagonally. The tight weave is stiffer and less breathable than other suit weaves, and is somewhat old-fashioned these days. However, it is tough and very water resistant, making it a good traveling suit.

Herringbone – A specific weave with V-shapes running throughout it. There is always a small break between one column of repeating V's and the next in a true herringbone. The warp and weft threads can be the same colour for a subtle pattern, or differently-coloured for a more visible effect.

Houndstooth – A very distinctive twill using four light-coloured threads and four dark-coloured ones interwoven to create a small check pattern. It makes for a fairly bold suit, usually only suitable for casual/social wear.

Sharkskin – Considered a luxury material, true sharkskin is a very tight twill weave in two similar but distinct colours (traditionally medium grey and light grey, or two different tans for a golden variation). The weave is actually a simple and rather old-fashioned one called “pick-and-pick,” but it makes a striking effect when woven very tightly with very light, fine, high-count threads.

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.

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