Full Canvassed Jackets
The Traditional way a well tailored jacket or coat was constructed involved a layers of horsehair canvas underneath the wool fabric outer. The canvas gives the jacket structure and shape especially around the shoulder and chest, and stops the garment from sagging or deforming.
The canvas is cut to the jacket’s shape and then the outer fabric is stitched to the canvas creating an excellent fit and shape. Over time, as you wear the jacket, the canvas conforms to your body’s shape, and holds its shape. Furthermore the natural fibers of the canvas allow the garment to breathe, and hold its shape after dry-cleaning and high usage.
The process of using traditional canvas is costly and time consuming. In an effort to keep down the costs of manufacturing suit makers started replacing the traditional canvas interlining with a cheaper method of stiffening called fusing. Fusible interlining is glued to the outer fabric by applying heat and as such becomes “fused” with the outer cloth.
And although fusing does an adequate job of keeping a jacket’s shape, it often creates an unnatural stiffness in the jacket, making a fused jacket appear lifeless compared to a similar canvassed coat.
Furthermore the fusing degrades over time and starts to separate from the outer cloth creating a bubbling effect and sagging as the garment loses its shape.
A fused jacket will not breathe as well as a canvassed garment, as the process of “fusing” to the outer fabric stops the movement of air, essentially filling the space between fibers.
It’s not just budget brands that construct jackets in this fashion. Many designer labels construct their suit jackets this way to save themselves money.
What is sometimes problematic with fused jackets is the fact that the glue degrades over time, or may come unstuck during the dry-cleaning/pressing process. Where the wool detaches from the fused backing, the fabric ripples around the chest and lapels, a phenomenon known as “bubbling.” Unfortunately, there is no way to fix this problem once it’s occurred – as I’ve learned the hard way.
Nowadays, fusing technology has improved to the point where you may never experience bubbling problems, but there’s always the chance that this might occur. Its a risk you take when deciding to purchase a fused garment.
Between the two extremes lies a compromise – the half-canvassed jacket. Half-canvassed jackets have canvas material running only through the chest and lapels of the coat. Past that point, the jacket is fused.
Half-canvassed jackets have several benefits. First, they generally have a lower price than a similar fully canvassed jacket. Less handiwork means a lower overall cost to you.
And because the top half of the jacket is not fused you’ll not run into any bubbling problems as you might in a fused jacket. This adds to the lifespan of the garment.
Finally, the canvassing provides the proper base for the jacket to drape naturally across your chest, rather than appearing stiff and lifeless as many fused jackets do.