Sunday 26 April 2009

Comparing fabrics

I recently met a Baron’s suit owner who’s suit is made from a new fabric. (You can see a report on the suit under Ten to the power of Two.) I have added this below in comparison to the swatch sample I was sent in 2008. 
I recently acquired a  swatch from what I believe is THE trousers on which the Tennant Suit is based. This is therefore the target for all other matches.
You can read more about it in Revelation Of The Trousers, and below is how the fabric measures up so you can compare it with the fabrics used for the replica suits below.

GAP trouser fabric - believed to be the fabric
Type of fabric: 100% cotton (according to label)
Fabric weight: Lightweight
Colour of fabric: Chocolate brown/beige (approx 70%/30% mix)
Colour of pinstripes: Cornflower blue
Width of pinstripes (in threads & mm): 5 threads - 1mm
Pinstripe repeat: 11.5mm

To fill a little time before I get stuck into my suit, I thought it worthwhile to take a step back and look at the fabrics used to make Tennant suits by some of the professional replica costume makers, as well as the fabric I will be utilizing for my own suit.

Most of the below is based on what I have observed in the fabrics I have been able to lay my hands on. If you have any additional information, please feel free to get in touch so I can revise appropriately.
To calculate the pinstripe spacings as accurately as possible, I measured 10 stripes and averaged the result, hence the very precise figures!

I have done my best to get the images as close to the original fabrics as possible, and relative to each other, so I believe this is a pretty fair visual comparison, though it may depend on your monitor, so please do not take this as the definitive colour match.
So, in the order they came on the scene, or to prominence, looking just at the fabric and not at the merits of the suits themselves or how they are made, here they are.
Honest Dragon
Type of fabric: Wool/man-made mix (from feel and look)
Fabric weight: Medium
Colour of fabric: Chocolate brown
Colour of pinstripes: Mid brown
Width of pinstripes (in threads & mm): Wide strips, 3 threads - 1mm; Narrow, 1 thread - 0.5mm
Pinstripe repeat: 15mm

Apart from being brown, the fabric is really nothing like the real thing. The pinstripes are of two different widths, and are too close together, as well as being the wrong colour!
This image is taken from my suit which I bought way back in February 2007 and they may have revised the fabric they are using.
If you have a more recent Honest Dragon suit in a better fabric, please get in touch and show me what they are using now.

Type of fabric: Wool/man-made mix (from look and feel)
Fabric weight: Medium
Colour of fabric: Chocolate brown
Colour of pinstripes: Cyan
Width of pinstripes (in threads & mm): 3 threads - 1mm
Pinstripe repeat: 16mm

From the website this looks the best, and some images I have seen of cosplayer in their suit, it certain shows up well in photographs. However, when I ordered my suit in March 2008, he was unable to source the same material, so an alternative was used instead, which is shown here. It is a nice enough fabric, though the pinstripes are darker than earlier suits and less distinct.
If you have an earlier Magnoli suit made of the fabric as seen on the website, please get in touch so we can compare yours with this.

Baron’s Boutique
Type of fabric: Wool/man-made mix (from look and feel)
Fabric weight: Lightweight
Colour of fabric: Dark chocolate brown
Colour of pinstripes: Blue
Width of pinstripes (in threads & mm): 1 thread - 0.5mm
Pinstripe repeat: 11.9mm

The fabric looks fair in images on their website, though maybe a little shinny and pinkish in colour. To check it out I requested a fabric swatch, which is shown above.
The material is very thin with exceedingly narrow pinstripes, which on close inspection are only a single thread in width. The brown is very nearly a black.

Baron’s Boutique: 2009 fabric
Type of fabric: Wool/man-made mix (from look and feel)
Fabric weight: Lightweight
Colour of fabric: Dark navy
Colour of pinstripes: Blue
Width of pinstripes (in threads & mm): 1 thread - 0.75mm
Pinstripe repeat: 12.8mm

I recently met with a young lad who has new Baron’s Boutique suit which uses a new fabric, different from the swatch I was sent in 2008. Pictures of our meet can be seen in the Hound Tor report, where I am wearing my Magnoli suit and Guy is wear his Baron’s. The main colour of the Baron suit is still just as dark, and if anything looks more navy than brown compared to the Magnoli, but the pinstripe is much more prominent and visible, being of a brighter colour and wider stripe.

Type of fabric: 55% linen 45% Rayon
Fabric weight: Medium
Colour of fabric: Potting (Warm brown)
Colour of pinstripes: Turquoise
Width of pinstripes (in threads & mm): 2 threads - 1mm
Pinstripe repeat: 14.5mm

This fabric caused a stir when it was first shown on the dw_cosplay forum: Ten Jo-Ann Fabric.
The thread used is fairly thick (compared to the wool mixes above) and the pinstripes are much more noticeable. They are, however, set a little too wide apart, though not as wide as the Magnoli fabric.
The brown, however, is warmer and lighter than the real thing, but overall it photographs well.

Finally, here is a real close-up detailed pinstripe-for-pinstripe comparison between all the fabrics.

Having said all this, the fabrics above are without exception woven pinstripes.
Looking closely at photographs of the brown suit, and close inspection of the blue suit when it was on display at Earl’s Court, the pinstripes are printed onto a plain brown (or blue) glazed cotton fabric.


  1. just wondering, will you be doing something like this for the blue/rust fabric? I'd love to know how they all compared. keep up the good work!

  2. do you know if the baron ten suit is more brown than navy in cotton instead of wool?

  3. I'm trying to make a fem version of 10's suit but I can't find fabric any where (except Magnoli, which is $60 a yard). Any place else you suggest I look?

  4. Hello, Rick.
    I've followed your blog a while now and it's been extremely helpful in making my 'girly' Ten suit. Thank you so much for the guidance. :)
    I do have a question for you regarding the REAL suit (Gap trousers) colors. Coming from a designer POV, have you ever compared the colors to Pantone colors? I'm thinking of having fabric made up, possibly with Spoonflower, and I'd like to know what the closest colors are Pantone RGB to use on my computer, especially if I have to design it myself.
    My current suit is too light in color...I made it more screen accurate rather than realistic color (always looks very dark to me when I see pictures of the actual fabric). I'm still debating if I'd like to redo it in the darker color (needs redoing anyway...the fabric I chose needs to be a little stronger, for all that running. ;) Lol), but if I do it, I want to do it right. If needed I can try to send a picture of my material so you can see the lightness of it.
    Thank you again for all you've done. You are officially my costume research hero. :)

    1. There really is no Pantone match for this. Pantone is a PRINT colour range and fabric is a totally different medium.